The real curse on the Indians has been brought down by general managers with a lack of foresight and owners with a lack of money. In one 22-month period from '58 to '60, Cleveland sent packing Roger Maris, Hoyt Wilhelm, Rocky Colavito and Norm Cash. When Vernon Stouffer owned the team, from '67 to '72, he squeezed the farm system and scouting department so dry that his general manager, Hank Peters, now G.M. of the Orioles, said, "What Vernon Stouffer is doing to this franchise will hurt the Indians for the next 20 years."
And here are just a few of the people that Gabe Paul and Phil Seghi—"two old men sitting up in the booth playing checkers," according to disgruntled pitcher Bert Blyleven—have traded away in recent years: Pedro Guerrero, Lonnie Smith, George Hendrick, Alfredo Griffin, Jerry Mumphrey, John Denny, Ed Whitson and Bo Diaz. One tradee, White Sox pitcher Jim Kern, has said, "The first thing they do in Cleveland, if you have talent, is trade you for three guys who don't."
At the start of the season, a Cleveland radio announcer, Greg Brinda of WERE, decided to do something about the hex Bragan claims he never cast. In the early morning hours the day before the home opener, he flew a witch in by helicopter. Her name was simply Elizabeth, a sorceress from nearby Lakewood. She went out to second base, built a charcoal fire and burned a little eye of newt, or something, and called upon a supreme goddess to "remove the curse that was put on the Cleveland Indians by a rather misguided individual." Elizabeth then pronounced the curse removed, although she did have this caveat: "There are no guarantees in life...my lawyer told me I have to say that."
We would in no way wish to demean Elizabeth's witchcraft, but her powers clearly were not up to so great a task. Here are some highlights of the Indians' season so far:
Otis Nixon, a speedster acquired in the off-season from the Yankees, becomes the Indians' 13th Opening Day leftfielder in 14 years, Joe Charboneau—now with the Class A Prince William (Wood-bridge, Va.) Pirates—being the only repeater. Batting coach Bobby Bonds predicts that Nixon will break Rickey Henderson's base-stealing records before he's through.
In a tense game Blyleven sneaks up on manager Pat Corrales and tries to give him a hotfoot. "Try that again during a game and I'll put lighter fluid on your locker and light it," snarls Corrales.
In a game against Kansas City, shortstop Julio Franco is thrown out twice on the bases and misplays a grounder in the ninth. After the game pitcher Rick Sutcliffe brings him a slice of pizza in the clubhouse and says, "Here, let me feed you. I'm afraid you'll drop it."
Pitcher Jamie Easterly, who hurt himself just before spring training running backward, refuses to go to the Triple A Maine Guides to pitch himself back into shape.
After Cleveland won 19-inning and 16-inning games in one week, Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote, "It's obvious now that if you don't get the Indians in the first five hours, that you can't beat them."