10/26/2004: The Clash of the Curses?
St. Louis Post-Dispatch sports columnist Dan O'Neill is already busy making excuses for the Cardinals' recent World Series futility: apparently Boston is benefiting from The Curse of Keith Hernandez
It's obvious something sinister is at work here, something perversely unnatural.Apparently, we can blame The Curse of Keith for the double whammy of '85 (Vince Coleman being eaten alive by a tarp mechanism, and A Certain Incident that I promised Pete Vonder Haar I'd never mention again (twice, even)--and that's probably saying too much as it is) and the double whammy in '87 when we lost Jack Clark to injury, and then couldn't get a victory in the Hubert H. Humphrey Homerdome if our lives depended on it. And then there's Tony LaRussa's continuing flailexes in the postseason since coming to St. Louis:
A curse has descended on this World Series, as sure as the sutures on Curt Schilling's ankle. And let's be clear, we're not referring to the celebrated "Curse of the Bambino," the hex that has haunted the Boston Red Sox since they sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees after the 1919 season. The fractured franchise has been without a world championship since.
But this newly identified enchantment is so powerful it is neutralizing the Sultan of Spells, making the 86-year-old BoSox curse seem like an amusing little sidebar. The Red Sox finally have found an opponent with a poltergeist more profound than theirs, a curse that is reversing the flow of negative energy and threatening to frustrate Cardinal Country for the 18th season in succession.
The revelation revealed itself to this scribe and some colleagues early Monday morning. We were engaged in some incoherent conversation on a rental car shuttle bus at Boston's Logan Airport at 4 o'clock in the morning.
But, intentionally or deliriously, we were onto something. The Cardinals are in dire shape in this World Series, down two games to nil. More disturbing, they have not looked anything like themselves. The team, which was consistent and efficient enough to win 105 games in the regular season, has been out of sorts in this series from the get-go.
The Cardinals have walked 14 Red Sox batsmen, plunked three others and put runners on the bases like they were making donations in the Sunday basket. The Red Sox have plated 17 base runners in the Series, while stranding 21 base runners. They have had more opportunities than Tony Danza.
It's not like our boys. We have been missing location, missing bases, missing in action. Boston was nothing but bad weather, bad hotels and bad karma.
It's the curse, I tell you, the Curse of Keith Hernandez.
This franchise has not won a world championship since it dealt Hernandez to the New York Mets for Neil Allen and Rick Owenby on June 15, 1983, just months after winning the 1982 World Series.
The "Curse of Keith" has tormented the franchise during Tony La Russa's regime as manager. Each time the club advances to the postseason, whether it's Mark McGwire, Mike Matheny, Scott Rolen or Chris Carpenter, it loses a key player to injury. Perhaps the most inglorious disappointment was in 2002, when the team lost Rolen during a sweep of the Diamondbacks in the division series and then lost the NLCS in five games to the San Francisco Giants.We can but pray that the Curse of Keith is less potent than the Curse of the Bambino. Or, Gawd help us, the Billy Goat.
Keith Hernandez was born in San Francisco. You see the pattern here?
Don't think La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan aren't aware of it. When they play host to the visiting Red Sox in Game 3 tonight, they will send Jeff Suppan to the mound. He will wear No. 37, the same number Hernandez wore.
Soupie will tell you he is approaching this game from strictly a baseball standpoint, focusing on hitters, mechanics, pitch selection, etc., etc.
But let's not kid ourselves. The mission is simple. Reverse the curse.
Len on 10.26.04 @ 05:27 PM CST