Number 27 means the end of the Toxic…

…Curse.

Forget the Curse of Donnie, Curse of the Republicans, this is the big one and when Mariano got Victorino to ground the ball to Cano and the Yankees players almost made it onto the pitch from the dugout before the ball found it’s way to Teixeira’s mitt at first, it was the end of a long wait.

Mark Teixeira and Mariano Rivera celebrate the final out of the New York Yankees 27th World Series title

It was a curse that started some time ago, in the dim and distant past before mortals could get their hands on teh interweb, back when we only knew of The Babe and Joltin’ Joe. Back when the BBC ruled sport in Britain and Dickie Davies – he never did finish painting that ceiling – sat there on a Saturday afternoon in an ITV studio knowing most of the viewing public were watching Grandstand as he introduced World Of Sport‘s latest bizarre offering between the racing and the wrestling.

I’m pretty sure we witnessed Bucky Dent hitting a homer of some significance, back when I remember a wiry, mustachioed man in pinstripes with a 1 on his back going mental at an ump, kicking dirt at him, after a batter was called out when either the official or the batter or both were looking up at the passing BA 747 flying overhead in an advert for said airline.

Jim Catfish Hunter

Something caught my attention, then my family from New York came over for a visit, I saw that famous logo in other places and that was it. But there wasn’t much baseball round here, my first trip to a playing nation meant my first bat and first ball. That first ball also helped my allegiance as it contained the book pictured on the right, Catfish was wearing the right uniform and that ubiquitous logo was right there on his cap.

Rich Goose Gossage

Downtown in the city we lived in there was an amazing sweet shop, but I’ve never been the one for gorging on candy I was more interested in little packets of cards and the first packet I got contained one card that just sealed it. How could Goosge Gossage not have me hooked into a life as a Yankee fan?

A trip to the baseball nation followed, I could now get my own Yankees cap, jacket, jersey, the mitt didn’t quite work out right but the Nolan Ryan job was the right price. Just couldn’t see a game as it was the wrong time of year. Still it was going to be a good time to be a Yankee fan Donnie had arrived. But no the Toxic Curse had kicked in the very moment I clamped my allegiance to the most successful and famous team in the sport. A glory hunter they said in the late 90s, ah yes the 1980s was just non stop glory. It’s hard to remember throughout it which was the most glorious moment, was it watching Bobby Meacham commit his last two errors as a Yankee player? Or was it watching Rickey, Donnie, Winfield, Randolph amass a whole hit between the four of them. Hell I didn’t even get to see that wiry little guy from the ad all those years earlier, he’d been sacked a few weeks earlier for the fifth and final time and Sweet Lou didn’t throw a fit. Or was it all those playoffs they didn’t reach?

There certainly wasn’t much glory when British TV decided, on the back of the NFL success, to give the game a go. Now what would be the worst year of that decade for baseball to be shown on telly with respect to a Yankees fan. Oh yes it would be ’86 now wouldn’t it, the Curse was working overtime that year. Your execution, would you prefer the gas chamber or the electric chair? Red Sox or Mets, thank you very much Channel 4.

Back to the States, I know lets head over to Uncle Tech’s to see England in the World Cup, thank you very much Graham Taylor. Oh well I’ll get to see the Yankees, thanks to the updates from my uncle I knew they were doing well. Top of the AL East, best record in the AL, second best in the majors. Bernie was burning, Paulie was hitting, Donnie had hopes. So what happens? The strike, baseball ends the middle of August, the Curse strikes with a vengeance.

At this point the Curse decides to play a cruel trick 1996 comes round, Pettitte, Jeter, Tino it was all here, it ended with #23. But better news was to come Channel 5 started broadcasting and decided to fill the wee small hours with various off the wall shows, including live MLB, just at the right time the beginning of a dynasty. Then the Curse pointed something out, you can’t get 5 round here, the signal isn’t strong enough. 1998, ’99 and 2000 passed with only teh interweb reports to follow. A couple more World Series appearances followed, but no wins, 2003 was the first thing I blogged about, testing various blogging packages. Damn fish.

Then finally a digibox, C5 is available, A-Rod is at the hot corner, all is well with the world. They’re on the TV every Sunday and Wednesday it seemed. Happy, happy, joy, joy. 101 games won, A-Rod spanks the Twins, the Sux are getting a lesson and then the Curse plays it’s cruelest trick yet. Game 4, it’s a Sunday, it’s the only game in town, live on 5. Live up to a point, that point being 6 o’clock, when they just cut off because some kiddies show has to be put out. You stay up all that time and it’s a mad rush to the PC to find out what happened, though I wish I hadn’t.

Game 7, Wednesday, so again on C5, didn’t really need to stay to the end the moment Ortiz hit the bleachers in the 1st, it just had that feeling written all over it. One curse had ended because The Curse was more powerful.

The following four years saw things go from bad to worse, the Sux winning another to the Yanks not making the playoffs last season. And then rumours started that changes in broadcasting rules meant C5 could get away with not using the live baseball to fulfill certain broadcasting requirements, it was to be binned by the channel.

Season ’09 started again with hope, a new stadium a new hope, hope that big spending brings. It also started with revelations, injuries and results that dented hope. I decided to test the Curse, I wouldn’t blog as much about the games, just the odd thing here and there, Swisher pitching, milestones for Mo and Jeter, the anniversary of the Iron Horse’s last game and retirement. All I had was interweb reports, highlight videos and blogs for what was going off out there. Funnily it seemed to have a positive effect on my fantasy team, one brief moment I was top of that C5 league, then August hit and I turned from Matsui to Cano in this World Series.

So 103 wins was reached, playoff bound, it had to happen I couldn’t watch it. Twins dispatched with ease, then the dreaded Angels, how many times had they destroyed the Yanks when I could view games? But no they’d bottled up ever mistake and error they could have made in those past games just for this series. I only viewed a bit of the games online, I was testing the Curse, it was working the Yanks were in the Series.

But I could test it no more, I couldn’t resist. I tuned into game 1, Cliff Lee worked the Curse to the full. Phills were up, I left early the Yanks lost. Even with this I couldn’t stop myself I had to watch games 2,3 and 4 each time the Yanks were ahead when I stopped viewing and each time they won, was the Curse working a pattern here? It did it again in game 5, Yanks losing, I’m off Yanks lose.

But game 6, I was going to stick this one out, it was going to end the Curse and at about 4:50 am, fittingly with Mariano on the mound, the Curse died a death. #27.

Apologies for this rambling mess of a post but, like CC, Pettitte and Aj, I’m on short rest so while there may be touches of CC and Andy in there it’s more likely to be an AJ game 5 ramble.

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