Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Curse of WFAN.

       You wouldn't know it by watching them for the last five years, but the New York Mets won a World Series in my lifetime.  It's true!
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On October 27, 1986 at Shea Stadium in Queens, Jesse Orosco struck out Marty Barrett of the Boston Red Sox and the New York Mets were world champions.
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That was an amazing team stacked with veterans and young players.  11 year old Max expected to watch title after title roll in for the orange and blue.
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They won one other division title in 1988 but that one World Series was all the Mets had to show for that great team.  Was it injuries and age and drugs or were there darker forces at work?
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After the Red Sox blew the series in such ignominious fashion, The Curse of the Bambino was born (or at least widely perpetuated).  Mostly an angle for a sportswriter to sell books, nevertheless it became a larger than life theory. If you have lived with your head in a hole in the ground for the last 30 years or so, the curse basically said that when Babe Ruth was sold by the Red Sox to the Yankees, he put a curse on the team that they wouldn't win another World Series. If you were a fan of the team in 1946, 1967, 1975, 1986, and 2003, this seemed as logical a theory as any. 
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I mean, it couldn't possibly have been a combination of institutional racism and inept management.  Nope, it was a terrifying hex on the Olde Towne Team from Fenway that kept them from a championship for for 86 years.  That's the nice thing about curses, they don't need any reasons other than belief. 

The Mets also won a Series in 1969 in what some call a Miracle. 
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That means the Mets won two World Series in 17 years, not too shabby in the overall scope of things.
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That 1969 team was loaded with young pitching and if they had ever developed and/or kept some good hitters, that team should have won more. Sound familiar?

As it was, the Mets also made the Series in 1973 in what was probably what some folks look at as a fluke, but hell, Ya Gotta Believe!
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That team took the dynastic A's to a 3-2 lead but then let it all slip away.  Still, the '73 team is held in high regard in Mets fan circles.  And as I was saying before, three World Series in 17 years is nothing to sneeze at especially when you win a couple of them. Ask Cub fans if you think I'm wrong. 

On July 1, 1987, the Mets flagship broadcast station, radio station 1050 WHN, changed its call letters and the wildly popular all sports radio format was born as WFAN.
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The New York Mets were on WFAN from that very day.  They have not won the World Series since.

Oh sure, they have come kinda close.  I mean hey, they made the Series against the Yankees in 2000 but were quickly dispatched in five games.  Man, that late 20th century team was a lot of fun to watch.
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They also had a great team in the mid '00s, although they never quite made it to the series - and they came about as close as you can without making it.  Carlos Beltran stared at strike three during the bottom of the 9th in game seven of the 2006 NLCS (with the bases loaded even) and the Mets haven't made the playoffs since, painfully so.  They haven't even had so much as a winning season in the last 5 years.  If you are keeping track, that means the Mets made 3 World Series and won 2 in their first 25 years and then made one and won zero in the next 27. 

On April 1, 2014 WFAN began broadcasting the games of the New York Yankees. 
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After the 2013 season, future hall of famer and renowned "best closer of all time" Mariano Rivera retired.
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Also after the 2013 season, Andy Pettitte retired.
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After the 2011 season, Jorge Posada retired.

These three men are 3/4 of the famous Core Four that helped the Yankees win five World Series (and make 2 others beside) from 1996 to 2009.
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As an aside, Bernie Williams should have some fucking issues with the whole "Core Four" concept.  He is a much better ballplayer than Posada and Pettitte could ever imagine being and while he might not be a hall of famer, he is closer than they are.  Bernie came up to the Yankees in 1989 and retired in 2006, so he saw four of those five Series titles.  Most teams would be very happy to develop a player the caliber of Bernie.  End Bernie rant.

Back in February, future hall of famer and "class act" Derek Jeter announced that 2014 would be his final season.
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These five players - Jeter, Rivera, Williams, Posada, Pettitte - represent a terrific phase of Yankee history when they eschewed big money free agents and developed star players from within.  Back in the late 1970s and all through the 1980s, the Yankees never met a free agent they didn't want to sign.  This worked well in '77 and '78 but not so much through the 1980's when they went the whole decade without a Series title.   Since the turn of the 21st century, this philosophy seems to have returned. 

Right now, the Yankees fans are rooting for formerly great players like CC Sabathia. 
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CC is literally and figuratively half the man he used to be.  The Yankees will be paying him $25 million a year through 2017.

Over at first base is the corpse of Mark Teixeira.
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Once a great hitter, Teixeira has slowly morphed into a .230 pull hitter who has been overly tempted by the short porch at new Yankees Stadium.  He's also been hurt.  A lot.  To the point where you have to wonder if his family tree includes paper mâché.  The Yankees will be paying him $22.5 million through 2016.  Teixeira was signed because the first baseman they overpayed to get before him, Jason Giambi, didn't work out.  I could also mention Alex Rodriguez, but the less said about him the better. 

Also this year, the Yankees decided to dive into the international free agent pool and sign Masahiro Tanaka.  They paid him the GDP of a small nation to be their ace for the next seven years.
Oh hey!  Look what magazine Tanaka was on for their baseball preview.  Wanna talk about curses...

Sure, he might be another Yu Darvish, but he also might be Hideki Irabu 2: Electric Boogaloo.  Lucky for them, he already has more career wins than Kei Igawa.

The Yankees have slowly become what they were all through the 1980s, a chemistry-less mercenary squad with very little home grown talent.  Think Steve Kemp, Dave Collins, Lamar Hoyt, Eddie Whitson, etc.  The Mets have slowly become what they were in the early 1980s, loaded with great young pitching.  Think Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Noah Syndergaard,  Rafael Montero, etc.   There is no rhyme nor reason to how a curse starts, but I am going to pinpoint April 1, 2014 as the official bellwether of The Curse of WFAN.  If billy goats, Lions quarterbacks, KFC spokesmen, Video Game sponsors, and the existence of the city of Cleveland can all be the impetus for curses, why not an all-sports radio station? 

Oh, and who else did the Yankees signed in the twilight of his career?  And who made his first Yankee at bat in that very first WFAN Yankee game on April Fools Day?  Yup...
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It'll all make more sense in 27 years, trust me.

1 comment:

Stack22 said...

Other than Bernie Williams, how many other players not in the Hall of Fame can claim to be the best player on a team that won 4 World Series?