I grew up as a Yankee fan. I watched Mantle and Mattingly play. I seen Ron Guidry pitch and the last time all three Alou brothers were on the field at the same time. So it hurts when I say that the Yankees won't be in the World Series...
Since the game of baseball has been played, there have been numerous superstitions, which players and fans share. If a team wins because you wear a certain shirt, you always seem to wear it. If you eat a hot dog during the third inning and your team wins, you keep eating a hot dog in the third inning until they lose. The list is endless, the only boundary being our creative mind.
Players also share in these superstitions. John Wetteland, a pitcher for the New York Yankees, wore the same hat all year. He never washed it, sweat could be seen on your TV and it was easy to imagine the smell. Other players will have the same seat on the bench, or go through their pre-game warm-ups always the same way.
Besides these superstitions there are also jinxes. The most famous one was the “curse of the Bambino.” It was put on the Boston Red Sox after they traded Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees. This curse lasted 84 years, when finally the Red Sox won a World Series. There was a bigger curse going on – a bigger jinx. The curse of ARod!
Alex Rodriguez is a superstar. No one can deny that. He started his professional playing career at the age of 18. He is a perennial all-star, who became the youngest player to hit 300 home runs. Then he became the youngest to reach the 400 plateau. Besides his power, he is a top flight defensive player, which only adds to his already Hall of Fame career.
But Alex is cursed. I’m sorry to say that because I am not only a baseball fan but a die-hard Yankee fan. Don’t believe me? Look at the facts. Playing with the Seattle Mariners, ARod was part of a trio of superstars. In centerfield they had a young and healthy Ken Griffey, jr., while on the mound every fifth day was Randy Johnson. Three different times the Mariners made it to the playoffs and twice they won the divisional series only to lose in the league championship. Slowly, the Mariners split apart and finally in 2001, ARod joined the Texas Rangers. That year the Mariners tied the baseball record of winning 116 games, while the Rangers ended their season in last place 16 games under .500.
For the next three years ARod continued to put up impressive numbers as a Ranger and his defensive abilities as a shortstop also improved. But during that whole time the Rangers never did have a winning record.
Finally, by 2004 the baseball world was shocked when Alex Rodriguez was traded to the New York Yankees. He said he wanted to win a World Series. I’m sure everyone thought this was now a certainty. He would move to third base and restructure his contract, just to make it happen. The Yankees struggled through the season but made the playoffs. They won their divisional series against the Minnesota Twins and were prepared to play the Boston Red Sox for the right to go to the World Series. It looked promising that the ARod curse would end in 2004. The Yankees won the first three games, just one more win and Alex would play in his first World Series. But the Red Sox made baseball history, winning the next four games. Once again, Alex would watch the World Series from the comfort of his home. As for the Texas Rangers? Well for the first time in five years they had a winning record, finishing 18 games above .500.
Now in the spring of 2006, Rodriguez plays with another set of all-stars at the World Baseball Classic, pitting countries against each other. Playing for the United States, it seemed in all likelihood, that he would finally be on a winner. The United States lost in the second round. Alex chose to play for Team USA instead of the Dominican Republic, but as Team USA disbands, the Dominican Republic continued to play.
Like I said, Alex Rodriguez will someday be in the Hall of Fame. There is a good chance that he will retire as the all time home run king; he’ll even do it without steroids! But as a Yankee fan, I’m begging Mr. Steinbrenner to please trade him. There are two certainties with Alex. First, his teams are never winners. And second, the teams he leaves always do better after he is gone. I do hope the curse of ARod ends sooner then the curse of the Bambino.
©2006 Dave Harm
note - picture is part of my "wall of fame" - my sport memorabilia collection