There's an old saying, "May you live in interesting times" and heaven knows times are interesting here in New York.
For starters, we just had an attempt by Gino Castignoli, a hard hat-wearing Red Sox fan, to hex the new Yankee Stadium by surreptitiously burying a David Ortiz jersey in the concrete of the visitors' clubhouse floor. Tipped off by concerned construction workers, the Yankees promptly aborted the dastardly scheme.
Or did they?
Curses, hexes, spells, voodoo, hoodoo and other metaphysical hookie-dookie are all great fun, a little supernatural byproduct of the superstitious tendencies of players and fans. But does anyone really believe that the Red Sox were actually cursed by the sale of Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1919? Or that the Babe's piano, from the murky depths of a New England pond, caused disastrous bouts of mental vapor lock, bad hops, and wild pitches while converting light-hitting infielders into late-inning lumberjacks for the next 85 years?
And what of that Billy Goat in Chicago? It must have also jinxed the Cardinals, who last won an NFL title in 1947, when they made their home in the Windy City. Did the Montreal Canadiens fan who tried to swipe the Stanley Cup from a display case at Chicago Stadium in 1962 install a whammy that has denied the Blackhawks since their last sip from the grand old mug in 1961?
What of the NBA Braves/Clippers? Three cities, 38 years, no titles. When they left Buffalo in 1978, they must have taken some of the spell that vexes the Sabres and Bills...
Far more realistic to blame entrenched misfortune on decades of occasional mismanagement coupled with the usual vagaries and difficulties of the game. But this latest Curse, the Curse of Papi's shirt, is very real and it has already taken effect.
Why? Because the Yankees management just coughed up 50 grand to have the enchanted threads dug up and carted away. That, and the fact that criminal or civil charges may be forthcoming, tells me that the Steinbrenners place a little more stock in Mr.Castignoli's prank than if it were a mere practical joke.
I can't believe that an imbedded t-shirt in a floor creates a dangerous structural defect, but a growing urban legend taken too seriously does have the power to weaken girders in the mind. And for Pete Sheehy's sake, the shirt was in the visitor's clubhouse. Maybe I could see the need for the big dig/exorcism if it were in the floor of the Yankees' locker room or under the pitcher's mound or in Monument Park, but even then...
Quite a message to send to your players, that upper management has the unholy whim-whams about the lore attached to this overblown but compelling rivalry. As it is, the players must deal with the circus-like atmosphere that surrounds it. But hey, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe evil spells really can be placed by enemy clothing.
Case in point: Last January, the Poughkeepsie Journal carried the story of a New York Giants fan from the Hudson Valley who got into Texas Stadium in the days before the NFC Divisional Playoff Game and rubbed his Big Blue shirt on the Cowboys' star at midfield as well as the lockers of Tony Romo and Terrell Owens.
Final score: Giants 21, Cowboys 17.
Maybe, Jerry Jones better have that field torn up and those lockers ripped out before the losing gets out of hand.