Another “Curse” on America’s Youth

babe

As a long-time Boston Red Sox fan, I am thoroughly familiar with what has been coined as the Curse of the Bambino. Avid sports fans everywhere talked about it for most of the twentieth century, and it added to the “fun” of professional baseball, which has changed drastically from the Great American Pastime to another money-grabbing institution.

Arguably the best to ever play the game, the great Babe Ruth was traded from the Red Sox to the archrival New York Yankees after the 1919-1920 season. The Red Sox had been one of the most successful professional baseball franchises up to that point, winning the first World Series as well as four others in the early days of the game. After trading The Babe, the Sox went without a Series title for the remainder of the century, while the so-so Yankees became a smashing success in professional sports. Sports writers and fans blamed The Curse, which became a focal point of the Yankees–Red Sox rivalry over the years.

Many times in Red Sox history, the team came close to winning a World Series championship, but fell short of the mark, lending credibility to The Curse. However, never did it appear more real than in 1986, when the Sox faced the New York Mets in a seven-game post season Series. The Red Sox hosted a fantastic team and appeared unstoppable. Nevertheless, in Game 6, Boston leading the series three games to two took a 5-3 lead in the top of the 10th inning. This was it! The Curse was over! Not so fast.

In the bottom half of the 10th, the Red Sox retired the first two batters, putting the team within one out of winning the World Series. And then the unthinkable. With the game in hand, Boston first baseman Bill Buckner allowed an easy ground ball to roll through his legs, forcing a seventh game, during which the Red Sox took an early 3-0 lead only to lose 8-5. Now this event was a nightmare for Sox fans, (me included). However, what followed was despicable. Buckner began receiving death threats, which epitomizes our changing American culture.

In 2004 and again in 2007, the Sox won World Series titles, loyal fans were delighted, and The Curse was no more. Yet, in an age of multi-million dollar salaries, ticket prices out of control, and steroid abuse among professional athletes, the game I enjoyed so much as a youngster has deteriorated into a warped version of what it once was for fans. One can no longer take a couple of kids to a game as a family event inexpensively. Even pre-season exhibition tickets can go for hundreds of dollars. Players are prima donnas, and few stay with teams for very long. It is all about salary, and only the fans get hurt.

In this new era of sports, when kids look to professional athletes as heroes, they deserve good role models. After all, despite the hype and big business of baseball, it is only a game.

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Comments

  1. It is only a game but a game that provides a paycheck for a lot of people.

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    1. Manzie: I can't argue with that. Yet, $100,000 sounds like a paycheck to me. $40 million for hitting a baseball sounds like they are ripping off the public. I do acknowledge that those enormous salaries are possible because people are willing to pay the price, but it just seems like a tremendous waste to me when we cannot provide essential services to so many American citizens. Times have changed.

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  2. I second what Manzanita said. As soon as you put money in the game, it's a business, a business where winning pays big bucks. Big bucks, big changes in attitude.

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    1. Linda: I can't argue with that.

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  3. I agree with you. I was an avid Orioles fan, and went to many many games as a kid. Our family didn't have much money, but it only cost a couple bucks to sit in the bleachers. Now, I don't even want to think of how much it'd cost for a family to take in a game.

    The '69 Series sticks in my craw the way the '86 Series sticks in yours. New York may have been bananas over the "Amazing Mets" and pitcher Tom Seaver, but those of us rooting for the O's weren't at all impressed...

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    1. Susan: It is great to be a fan. It is great to show your kids sportsmanship and fair play. Sports are a healthy alternative to some of the trouble young people can get into unsupervised. However, it should not cost a person $750 to take a few kids to the game, even if the hotdogs are 10 or 12 bucks a pop!

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  4. I had no idea what to post for today. Between you and Manzanita, I think I found my muse. Thanks!

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  5. If Buckner did not hurry his play, he was never going to get Mookie, if fielded flee my it was going to be very close...Mookie could fly.

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    1. joeh: I can't argue that. I was not thrilled with Buckner's blunder or Stanley's wild pitch, but death threats? What are we coming to? It's a game.

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  6. I don't know how families can go to any major sporting event now. We'll go see a hockey game now and then, and even for just my wife and I, it's $150. (Minor league is much more reasonable when it comes to baseball.)
    The day the curse lifts from the Cubs, will any fans be there to see it live? (And no, not my team.)

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    1. Alex: I agree. When we lived in New Hampshire, we traveled often to McCoy Stadium in Rhode Island to see the PawSox play minor league ball. The games were terrific, the prices were even better, and we got to see many of the future stars along the way.

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  7. You brought back memories of watching Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale with my grandfather at Dodger Stadium. And as was mentioned earlier, taking my three kids to a D-Backs game here in Arizona is beyond my budget.

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    1. #167 Dad: Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale were two of the all-time greats. Every kid should have an opportunity to see players like them. It is a pity they priced most families out of the market.

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  8. Interesting post. Thank you for educating me on this.
    And thank you for your comment on your blog. Happy belated Fourth of July.

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    1. Julia: There are always hidden stories out there. Thanks.

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  9. I meant to say thank you for the comment you left on my blog but I hit the "publish" too soon...

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    1. Julia: Happens to me all the time. You are very welcome.

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  10. As an avid ANGELS fan, I too remember the '86 season as one of lost chances... :(

    PS: The Cyber Road Trip is "live" so feel free to grab the keys and away you go!

    PPS: Sorry about last weekend in Anaheim :)~

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  11. That's why just last night I attended a T-Ball game, with 5 year olds playing! Just for fun and a delicious treat after the game! Ha! Ha!

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  12. I remember how much fun it was when I knew the names of the players for our local team and they stuck around for years. Now it's just not the same. I'm all for creating jobs and profit, but I'm not sure how long that will be the case with baseball. We went to a game the other night with tickets from my husbands office and there was hardly anyone there- on a rare beautiful and perfect evening here in Seattle. Even the ushers were kind of jerks when we stayed too long watching them close the room to the stadium. They used to encourage people to stay and watch. It feels like the magic is gone...

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