Friday, June 10, 2005
freaky friday: curses
The game is being played right now as I type this - the first confrontation between Red Sox and Cubs since 1918! So much shared history... Two Cubbies who used to be Sox... Two Sox who used to be Cubbies... Ominous signs like black cats and dark clouds all around Wrigley Field, where the games will be played... Even though it is NOT in the friendly confines of Fenway Park, my money is on the Red Sox!
Jun 9, 5:20 PM (ET) By NANCY ARMOUR
CHICAGO (AP) - The black cat wandered from one dugout to the other and made its way toward the Chicago Cubs' bullpen before disappearing into the Wrigley Field stands.
A few days before the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs meet for the first time in almost 90 years, the poster child for bad karma shows up at Wrigley.
"He wasn't all black," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said after the cat sighting Tuesday night. "It was black and white, so it doesn't mean nothing."
Maybe. But until last October, the Red Sox and Cubs were united in angst and despair, a dismal fate that went beyond their near-century of futility. They had no hope, these teams, cursed by the Bambino and a Billy Goat.
"It's like a badge of honor that you never won, sort of," said Dennis Eckersley, who played for both the Red Sox and Cubs before going on to win a World Series title, AL MVP and Cy Young Award with Oakland.
"It becomes part of your life."
The Red Sox and Cubs would begin each season with the same hope, convinced this really was their year, only to wind up disappointed yet again. The ways they lost may have been different - the Cubs were almost comical in their ineptness while the Red Sox came close enough to really make it hurt - but the result was the same.
While Florida and Arizona celebrated championships quicker than you could say expansion, generations of Boston and Chicago fans grew up wondering if they'd live long enough to see their beloved teams win a World Series.
"They're just passionate about it," said Cubs second baseman Todd Walker, who played for the Red Sox in 2003. "Their parents and their parents' parents probably were big Cubs fans and Red Sox fans. It's just carried down through the generations."
The Red Sox and Cubs weren't always hopeless. The last time they played each other in a real game was the 1918 World Series, and winning was somewhat of a routine for both clubs.
The Red Sox were in the World Series for the third time in four years, having won it in 1915 and 1916. The Cubs had been in it as recently as 1910, losing to Philadelphia, and had won it all in 1907 and 1908.
Babe Ruth was still pitching for Boston in 1918, and he set the tone for the series with a complete game in Game 1. He won Game 4, too, and the Red Sox went on to win their fifth championship.
Everybody knows what happened after that. Boston traded Ruth to the hated New York Yankees in 1919, and "The Curse of the Bambino" took hold. The Red Sox wouldn't play in the World Series again until 1946, and it would be 86 long years before they'd win another championship.
"In Boston, most of the people believe in (the curse) just because of all of the stuff that has happened," said Red Sox third baseman Mark Bellhorn, who played for the Cubs in 2002 and 2003.
"It's kind of the same way in Chicago. They expect something to go wrong because that's what's happened over the years."
Who could blame them? How else to explain Joe Morgan's go-ahead bloop single in the ninth inning of Game 7 that gave Cincinnati the championship in 1975? Or, even worse, the grounder through Bill Buckner's legs in 1986?
"A break here or there, and you could have had it. That's more frustrating then being 10 games out all year," said David Skonieczny, a Red Sox fan who now lives in Chicago. "When you're that close and it's taken away ... it makes you more frustrated."
But the Cubs' haplessness was no less painful to their fans.
Though the Cubs haven't won a World Series since 1908, their gloomy fate wasn't sealed until 1945. That's when legend has it that local bar owner William Sianis put a hex on the Cubs because his goat was barred from Game 4 of the World Series.
The Cubs, leading two games to one, lost the Series and haven't been back since. Haven't come close too many times, either. Aside from a short span in the late 1960s and early 1970s, it's been losing, losing and more losing.
Chicago has been to the playoffs only three times since 1946. They were five outs from clinching the NL pennant in 2003, but collapsed in spectacular fashion.
"He's been listening to the Cubs on the radio since the '30s and he's still waiting for a World Series" title, Cubs fan Ross Fisher said, pointing at his 79-year-old father, Dorian. "I've never seen them win except for the last few years. And I'm 40."
Yet Cubs fans keep hanging on, optimistic again that this could be their year. If anything, Boston's improbable rally to beat the Yankees and sweep of St. Louis in the World Series only hardened their resolve.
After all, if Boston could finally break through, Chicago's turn can't be far behind.
"That's why I love playing here. You work so hard to get to (the World Series) and if, in fact, it comes about, there's only a few cities that really, truly genuinely appreciate that," Walker said. "There's only a few teams that I want to win a World Series with. Boston was one, and Chicago is another."
AP Sports Writer R.B. Fallstrom in St. Louis contributed to this report.
Cubs 14, Red Sox 6
Jun 10, 6:58 PM (ET) By RICK GANO
CHICAGO (AP) - Greg Maddux got shoved out of the dugout for a curtain call after a rare home run, a strange sight for sure at Wrigley Field.
But this was not like any other regular-season game, even though it was. It was the Cubs meeting the Red Sox for the first time since the 1918 World Series, and there was an electricity all day.
Everyone could feel it. Even the 39-year-old Maddux, known for his no-big-deal shoulder shrugs, was soaking it up.
"It's always fun. There's not a lot of history between these two teams and I think that's what made it a little bit special today," Maddux said after the Cubs erupted for 20 hits - four homers - to rout the World Series champions 14-6 Friday in Red Sox's first visit ever to Wrigley.
"The Red Sox were our rival in Atlanta for a couple of years, so you are lucky enough to pitch in Fenway and face them," said Maddux, now 5-0 against Boston.
"They're the best team in baseball until somebody beats them and nobody's done it yet. So just going up against last year's champions, that's special enough."
Maddux (5-3) got career win No. 310, allowing seven hits and three runs in 6 2-3 innings, including David Ortiz's sixth-inning homer. Ortiz also homered in the ninth for Boston.
An electric crowd of 39,215, including a noisy contingent of red-clad Red Sox fans, withstood a sweltering 89-degree day of high humidity.
"It had sort of a playoff atmosphere," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "Other than the Cardinals series rarely do you see as many fans on their side as our side."
Jeromy Burnitz hit two of the Cubs' homers.
"It was nice and loud. I loved when Maddux got his curtain call and after he was done. A lot of noise and a lot of energy," Burnitz said.
The 39-year-old Maddux connected off reliever John Halama in the sixth inning.
"I hit it high enough for the wind to blow it far enough," Maddux said of his fifth career homer and first in six years.
Burnitz added a two-run homer in the sixth to make it 11-2.
Burnitz hit a solo homer, and Todd Hollandsworth had a two-run shot in the second. And the Cubs added four more runs in the third off Bronson Arroyo (4-3), using five hits, including Michael Barrett's two-run double off Johnny Damon's glove in center. Jason Varitek's throwing error allowed another run to score and Aramis Ramirez had an RBI single.
"Playing here in Wrigley I think our outfielders got a chance to see how the ball can carry and it did," Damon said. "That ball Barrett hit came off my glove and, of course, I wish I could have caught it but it just kept going and going."
Chicago scored three more in the seventh, with Hollandsworth and Barrett hitting RBI doubles.
"It's a worst case scenario. Going out there against a guy like Greg Maddux, to give him seven runs early, it's putting us in a hole that's almost impossible to get out of most of the time," Arroyo said.
"You never want to go out there and get embarrassed, like I did today. That's enough to get you going, but it's definitely fun to pitch in a ballpark where the atmosphere is upbeat."
Former Cub Bill Mueller doubled and scored on Edgar Renteria's hot-shot RBI single off Neifi Perez's glove in the third.
Boston scored three runs in ninth on Mark Bellhorn's leadoff homer and Ortiz's two-run shot - his 16th of the season.
The Red Sox enjoyed the atmosphere, if not the result.
"I thought it was great. We know the Cubs have some great fans and we had a lot of fans that traveled here to see us," Damon said.
The teams, known more for their curses than their postseason success until the Red Sox broke through and won the World Series last season, were meeting in the regular season for the first time.
The last time they faced off, Babe Ruth was pitching the Red Sox to the world title in six games. Boston didn't win another one until last season, so one of the teams with a so-called curse is off the hook.
The Cubs still haven't won a World Series since 1908 or been in once since 1945 when, according to legend, a local bar owner put a hex on the team because his goat was barred from Game 4.
The agony for long-suffering Red Sox fans may have ended, the "The Curse of the Bambino" over with a victory over the Yankees and then the Cardinals last fall.
In Chicago, it continues.
"Now half of it's over and the other half of it is to be completed by us," Baker said before the game. "Then what? I'm anxious to get there and find out the 'then what."' ^
Maddux's last homer came on May 30, 1999, with Atlanta against the Dodgers. He hit it off Kevin Brown. .. When the Cubs and Red Sox met in the 1918 World Series, three games were played at Comiskey Park. ... Through the 2004 season, 152 players had played for both the Cubs and the Red Sox. ... Despite the rare meeting, only four members of Boston's 25-man roster Friday had never played at Wrigley Field.
At least, in dropping a second one to the Cubbies, the World Champion Boston Red Sox led 4-0 early on... and their starting pitcher, Wade Miller had singles in his first two at-bats to become the first Boston pitcher to have a multihit game since Sonny Siebert did it against the Yankees in 1972...
Fair is fair thus - although this CANNOT end in a sweep!
Whatever happens... the Cubs still haven't won since 1908!!!
Makes no sense though that the Red Sox will be giving Cubs SS Nomar Garciaparra a championship ring "for past contributions" while they're in Chi-Town... when Nomar did NOT contribute to the miracle comeback against the Yankees... nor to the sweep of the Cardinals last fall!
If you give Nomar a ring - then give Todd Walker one too!
I liked Walker fine - when HE was a Sox player... and at least, with HIM, I never had the impression that HE was an embodiment / living reminder of "the curse"...!
Red Sox 8, Cubs 1
Jun 13, 12:35 AM (ET)
By ANDREW SELIGMAN
CHICAGO (AP) - On a night when Johnny Damon just missed hitting for the cycle, Tim Wakefield found control of his knuckleball.
That helped the Red Sox avoid a sweep with an 8-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Sunday night. The three-game series was the first meeting between the teams since the 1918 World Series, which Boston won.
Damon doubled in the third, homered in the fifth and broke open the game with a two-run triple in the sixth, before walking in the eighth and flying to right in the ninth. All that happened after he was robbed of a hit leading off the game.
"I had confidence I was going to hit it," Damon said of the single he needed in his final at-bats. "I was going to give it a whirl, give it a try. Obviously, it didn't work out that way."
It wasn't the first time he had come close to a cycle. When he was with the Royals, Damon remembers stopping at second when he was a triple shy. He didn't go for third because Kansas City was routing its opponent.
He had three hits, raising his average to .343.
After struggling in his previous seven starts, Wakefield (5-6) allowed one run and four hits in seven innings. And after walking 25 batters in his previous six starts, Wakefield had no walks.
The humidity on a 75-degree night might have helped.
"I was able to get the ball down a little more," Wakefield said. "When you make a mistake down, it's better than making a mistake up."
Wakefield made few of them, and the Red Sox gave him an early lead.
Kevin Youkilis homered with two outs in the first, and Damon made it 2-0 in the fifth when he pulled a 1-1 pitch into the right-field stands. That made Damon the 30th active player with 1,000 runs.
The series at Wrigley Field was the first meeting in the regular season between the teams known more for their curses than their postseason success until the Red Sox broke through and won the World Series last season. The Cubs haven't done that since 1908.
"The atmosphere was amazing," Damon said.
Damon's two-run triple in the sixth made it 5-0 and chased Cubs starter Glendon Rusch (5-2). Kevin Millar started the rally with a leadoff single to left and scored when Wakefield forced Mark Bellhorn at second for the inning's second out. Damon tripled to left-center, driving in Doug Mirabelli and Wakefield.
After allowing five runs in his previous four starts, Rusch gave up 11 hits in 5 2-3 innings and tied a season high with seven strikeouts.
The Red Sox had 17 hits, the most allowed by the Cubs this season.
"They got one clutch hit obviously in the sixth that hurt us," Rusch said. "Other than that, the solo homers you can take. I don't think you can ever knock yourself out of the game giving up two or three solo home runs. But when you give up the big inning like I did in the sixth, that takes us out of the game."
After scoring 21 runs in the first two games of the series, the Cubs couldn't figure out Wakefield's knuckleball. Wakefield had been 2-5 with a 6.97 ERA in his previous seven starts.
"We were just dying for a solid start," Boston manager Terry Francona said. "He pitched great. He contributed with his bat, on the bases. He was outstanding, and we needed it."
Wakefield singled, scored and drove in a run. He joked that as he was running from first to home, the only thought crossing his mind was, "Oh my God. I hope I have enough gas to make it."
He had plenty in his tank Sunday. ^
Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano does not expect to miss his next start after spraining his left big toe on an awkward slide into second base Saturday night. "(Saturday) night, when I got home, it was better," said Zambrano, who is scheduled to start Friday against the Yankees in New York. ... Cubs RHP Kerry Wood, on the DL with a sore shoulder, is scheduled to make a rehab start Monday at Triple-A Iowa. ... Mirabelli, who had been on the DL since May 20 with a sprained left wrist, started for Boston after being activated from the DL before the game. The Sox sent catcher Kelly Shoppach to Triple-A Pawtucket. ... Boston manager Terry Francona will miss Monday's home game against Cincinnati to attend his daughter's high school graduation. ... David Ortiz, Trot Nixon and Bill Mueller were not in the starting lineup.
You see a pattern with the Red Sox though - they come to a series like this not knowing what to expect, it seems... get a nasty surprise in the first game... regroup and nearly win the second game (came so close - a 7-6 score... come on!!!)... and then they convincingly shake it all off and trounce the competition in the third game! 8-1... fitting... reverse it and you get... 18! The Sox sure have had the Cubs' number since 1918... at least! *LOL*
Yep... take me out to the old ballgame... just singing that old song on every seventh inning stretch is likely enough to jinx the Cubs into repeating the same mistakes they've made in all those years of losing... They could have easily dropped two in a row after their surprise win in game one... It takes more than one game to win championships... the Red Sox finally understood that too - last October! :)