Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Curse of the Benbino

It's hard to feel bad for Red Sox fan. He has movies made about him, a championship (replica) ring from the 2004 season and a pretty damn good team to root for in one of the most fabled ballparks in history. But lets face it, when Boston won the World Series last year they lost their soul. This team was about losing, make no mistake about it. The Red Sox Nation's entire identity was about being losers and scraping themselves up to go at it again next season. Winning is OK up until a point but then they had to unravel. These obnoxious noreasters would wail about what great fans they were and then wrap themselves in their collective Red Sox flag and drown their sorrows in gallons of the nearest pilsner. But now that they have won they are just another bloated and overpaid team from the northeast.

But thankfully for Red Sox fan there is the great Ben Affleck. As most everyone who is plugged into popular culture knows, Affleck is a die-hard Sox fan. Who can ever forget the disgusting image of Affleck and Jennifer Lopez snuggling at Angel Stadium (in damn fine seats behind the Angels dugout) while he smugly wore his Boston cap and she was dressed in some sort of fur-lined skin-tight outfit with a Dr. Zhivago Russian snow hat. Bizarre. Anyway, Affleck's birthday was yesterday, August 15th. In addition to celebrating his 33rd year on Earth, Big Ben is also notching another year in the Red Sox new curse: The Curse of the Benbino TM. TCOTB is simply the fact that the Red Sox have lost on August 15th every year since 1998. The last Sox victory on the 15th day of August came in 1997 when they defeated the Minnesota Twins 5-4 at Fenway Park. coincidentally, the Twins won the World Series exactly ten years earlier so clearly there are dark forces at work here.

But to officially be a 'curse' you need to not only lose but lose in excruciating ways. For Affleck to have his special day affiliated with Red Sox losing may seem excruciating to him but we are looking for a shared experience that will hurt-so-good for all of Red Sox Nation. Enter this year's TCOTB game at Comerica Park where the Sox were looking to finally breakout and end this curse as they led the Tigers 6 - 3 entering the 8th inning. Chad Bradford came into the game and gave up an earned run but the Sox were still leading 6 - 4 with Curt Schilling ready to pitch the 9th and all talk of curses once and for all. Placido Polanco singled off Schilling to start the inning but the veteran rebounded, inducing a popout from Chris Shelton. Schilling looked to be in control until Dmitri Young blasted a shot off the left field fence right where it meets the center field fence. Polanco scored and by the time the Sox had the ball back to the infield Young was belly-flopping into third. Enter pinch-runner Nook Logan who was singled home by Magglio Ordonez and we have a tie game. No doubt visions of Affleck danced in the heads of Red Sox players and fans everywhere. Craig Monroe then walked on four pitches moving Ordonez into scoring position with the winning run. But Schilling struck out Brandon Inge and with two outs John McDonald and his career .238 average was up. Detroit Manager Alan Trammel had Ivan Rodriguez on the bench and available to pinch-hit but he was out of infielders. If Pudge failed to come through then he would not have anyone available to play shortstop in extra innings. So McDonald battled Schilling, falling quickly to an 0-2 count. Schilling tried to finish off McDonald with a split-fingered fast ball but he left it too high and McDonald stroked it down the left field line past Manny Ramirez, scoring Ordonez and preserving The Curse of the Benbino TM.

Feel the burn Red Sox fan, you have at least a portion of your identity returned to you thanks to the Affleck.

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