Jim Austin's Vermonter at Large
Jim Austin
Jim Austin
is a freelance writer from Putney, Vermont.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 10.20.03


Baseball...and curses

Who in the hell is Aaron Boone? He sounds like a Jewish frontiersman, not a baseball player. Like everyone else in New England I was taking a tentative breath in the bottom of the eleventh inning when this lightweight came to bat.

The problem, ladies, is that he was facing Tim Wakefield whose pitching style is "nothing but knuckles". Wakefield's knuckler looks like an "efus" pitch on crack. It jukes and jives, dives and deeks. Only a succubus from beyond the grave could have connected with Wakefields drunken wiffle ball to once more shatter the spirit of all New Englanders.

Boone was truly an evil imp dispatched from beyond the grave by that fat drunk, Babe Ruth. He's the same malevolent dead guy that sent Bucky Dent and a certain Mr. Buckner to snatch victory from the Sox of Boston.

My team is the Toronto Blue Jays.

I was in Exhibition Stadium for the very first game of the franchise back in the 70s. (Doug Ault hit two homers on the way to beating the White Sox.) But when the Jays fly south for the winter I root for Boston. I, in fact, would root for a team captained by "Chemical Ali" if they could wipe the smug smile off of Steinbrenner's face.

I know it sounds like sour grapes to talk about the Yankees as the "best team money can buy" but come on. It has always burnt my biscuits that these guys make so much money. Roger Clemons will retire in his 30s to a mansion in Houston when he s finished this year. Here's a guy who would be lucky to get a job as a sneeze-guard scraper at an all-you-can-eat catfish buffet.

Boston cursed themselves this time, though. Last Saturday the dopey Beantown bozos built up more bad karma than Ken Lay's wife when she cried about losing her Enron expense account. The main contributor to Thursday's loss was Pedro Martinez. He started Saturday's melee with an attempted beanball and ended it by grabbing 72-year-old "Popeye" Zimmer by the head and throwing him to the ground.

Zimmer, who bear's a striking resemblance to the way the Babe looked just before he was interred, rushed out of the dugout to do battle with Pedro. Instead of stepping aside and letting the simple-minded geezer stagger off wheezing, Pedro grabbed the old boy's melon and performed some Hispanic ju jitsu on him.

Add to that the cry-baby performance of Manny Hernandez who made as if to charge the mound when "Rocket" Roger threw a head-high fast ball that was "over the plate" and nowhere near Manny. Did Grady Little organize this little fracas to try and shake up the volatile Clemons? We may never know. What we do know is that the Sox smelled pretty bad at the end of that game and the stink didn't go away.

The Cubs of the National League have a more recent but equally powerful curse at work against them.

Apparently Sam Gianis, a local restaurateur tried to bring a billygoat to a Chicago Cubs game in the 40s; his odiferous friend was denied admission and Sam placed "the curse of the goat" upon them. Game six of the National League Championship series was when the revenge of the goat kicked in.

We all know that a Cubs fan interfered with Moises Alou who was trying to catch a foul ball that would have ended the eighth inning for the Marlins. Goat-boy reached out and deflected the ball. The fish went on to score eight runs and win the game 8-3. The pennant was lost. Goat boy will join Mrs. O'Leary's cow as a symbol of disaster for Chicagoans and Cubs fans everywhere.

Now we've got to endure the wretched fish against the overpaid tycoons in the World Series. What a bore.

I hereby levy a curse of my own on Steinbrenner and his filthy-rich philistines. A flock of carnivorous birds should swoop down from the North next season and peck out your souls, they'll steal your pennant, and send you home crying to your trophy wives. Could happen. If the Blue Jays can trade for a really good reliever.