HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
October 9, 2006

Curses!

By Matt Kane

Remember when you and your brother or sister would say the same exact thing at the same exact time, and one of the parties involved would declare a “jinx?”

If you were too slow to first call out a jinx on the other person, you had to refrain from talking for a matter of time.

Jinxes are a spooky part of life that many don’t believe in, while others live and die by the mystic powers of the supernatural.

Webster defines a jinx as “1. one that brings bad luck; 2. to foredoom to failure or misfortune.”

Three hundred thirty-three pages earlier, a definition reads “1. Evil or misfortune that comes as if in response to imprecation or as retribution.”

That definition is for the word “curse.”

Jinx or curse, they tend to be one and the same, and they tend to hang around athletic fields.

Thanks to the World Series run of the Boston Red Sox in 2004, everybody who turned on the television or opened the newspaper in October of that year knows the Red Sox broke the Curse of the Bambino.

The next season, in the same sport, the Chicago White Sox broke an 86-year curse initiated by the infamous Black Sox scandal. While the White Sox were sipping champagne and saluting the crowds along LaSalle Street for their victory parade, to the north, Cubs fans were still crying over the Curse of the Billy Goat.

The story goes, Vasili “Billy Goat” Sianis, a tavern owner in Chicago, near Wrigley Field, brought his pet goat to Game 4 of the 1945 World Series. The two were allowed in the stadium and watched several innings before Cubs owner Philip Knight Wrigley ejected the two due to the goat’s odor.

Sianis, allegedly, cursed the Cubs, declaring they would never win a World Series at Wrigley Field.

Since then, Leon “The Bull” Durham, in the 1984 National League Championship Series (NLCS), and Steve Bartman, in the 2003 NLCS, have reawakened the power of the goat curse for the Cubs, just as Bucky Dent, in 1978, and Bill Bucker, in 1986, did with the Curse of the Bambino for Red Sox Nation.

The idea for this column came to me Tuesday night while watching Game One of the American League Division Series between the Yankees and Tigers.

One of the players said he enjoyed playing the video game “Madden NFL” football. In response, announcer Joe Buck mentioned the “Madden Curse.”

Now, I don’t know if I believe in the Bambino and Billy Goat curses, but after researching the Madden Curse, I have started to wonder.

The 2001 version of “Madden NFL” was the first to feature a NFL player, Eddie George, on the box, and not John Madden, himself.

That was the only season, from 1996-2003, that George did not rush for 1,000 yards.

The curse continued in 2002, when former Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper graced the box. He was injury plagued the entire season and took a statistical hit.

The same statistical spiral occurred the next year, when St. Louis Rams running back Marshall Faulk was the cover boy.

The day after Madden 2004 was released, Michael Vick broke his fibula in a preseason game and the Falcons finished 5-11. Since then, Ray Lewis, Donovan McNabb and current cover model Shawn Alexander have all been victims of the Madden Curse.

Are these curses or just coincidences? You be the judge.

If everybody answers “curse” or “coincidence” at the same time, I call a “jinx.”

Whether it has any lasting implications on your life is to be determined.


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