An interesting thing happened to me the day before yesterday.
I work in a place with a lot of people who are either under 30 or not from the new England and are going absolutely mad about the upcoming world cup and completely excited at the prospect of it coming to the US in 8 years.
During the conversation about sports I causally mentioned the Red Sox being in first place and how it is such a change from the time of the Curse of the Bambino.
Now there was a time not all that long ago that if you said “The Curse” in New England every single person regardless of age knew what you were talking about without having to mention Babe Ruth, the Yankees or “No No Nanette”
They had no idea what I was talking about.
Yesterday I expanded the experiment, at work I randomly asked almost two dozen people two questions.
- If I say “the curse” to you what am I talking about?
- If I say “the curse of the bambino” what am I talking about?
Of the two dozen people I asked two people knew at once what the curse was, two more realized what I was talking about when I mentioned “the bambino”.
The rest didn’t have a clue.
Just 14 years ago that would have been unthinkable. For generations the curse of the Bambino was an integral part of being a New Englander. It would not even have been necessary to include “of the Bambino” just reference to “the curse” would have been enough for heads to nod. Books were written about it. Plays were made about it. HBO’s real sports did a full show on it.
and it was the reason why in New England, Bucky Dent’s middle name isn’t Earl.
To say “the curse” was an obsession would be the ultimate understatement. When 2004 began you would have been hard pressed to find a single man woman or child in New England that didn’t know what the curse was.
Then this happened
and this the next day
and this a few days later
and then finally the following week.
a few days later my sons and I were part of the 3 million people who poured into Boston for this
It was the biggest thing you ever saw in the area. We have won two more World Championships (2007 & 2013) and as of today two years after the retirement of Big Papi the Red Sox sit in first place and are likely to win over 100 games this year. It’s a great time to be a Red Sox fan.
But it seems like nobody cares anymore.
It’s been just under 15 years later and I can be in a place full of people who live in New England who have no idea what I’m talking about when I bring up the curse and that is going to grow when you consider that high schools and colleges around New England will graduate tens of thousands of students this year who have no memory of a time when the Red Sox were not Champions. 15 years ago every single caller on sports talk radio would be in a state of excitement with the Red Sox neck and neck battle of titans in the AL East on the 100th anniversary of Babe Ruth’s last World Series win in a Red Sox Uniform. Nothing else would have mattered
On Thursday night the 1st place Red Sox were about to start a 4 game series against the surprising 1st place Seattle Mariners. An epic battle, yet what was the topic of conversation on the home station of the Red Sox as I drove in…An interview with Tom Brady’s wife and Brady’s interview with Oprah!
It was typical. During the Sox amazing run if you turned on sports talk radio you were much more likely to hear about Tom Brady not showing up for voluntary workouts and should the Celtics make a play for Lebron James than Red Sox talk. On the late night drive a few days ago I actually heard a guest state that the only reason a host mentioned the Sox at all is that the station compels him to because they carry the games.
If the Red Sox had not won that world series in 2004 or 2007 or 2013, this would not be the case but with victory came comfort and with comfort the loss of collective memory of the shared frustration that united us here in New England.
In the last hour of the week I noted four guys talking sports at work, none of them were discussing the Sox Seattle series or the game in progress (The Red Sox would win 2-1 despite a nail biting 9th) all they were interested in was Russia beating the Saudis at the world up and if that Russian team was the real thing or not.. As I listened to them for a brief moment I found myself missing the curse that was the common bond that bound six states and everyone in it together…
… but then I remembered all those wonderful moments from 2004 and that regret disappeared overwhelmed by a wave of pure joy that come over me faster than you can say: “Big Papi”
The curse was a cultural milestone but I’ll take winning any day.
Closing thought. I wonder how much larger over the norm the graduating classes of 2023 will be in New England and if anyone will realize the reason why?