Curses! The Babe is BackPosted: May 24, 2010
The Curse of the Bambino is back. Actually it never left — it simply moved south, past the Mason-Dixon Line, to Baltimore. And it is rearing its ugly, Yankee-cap laden head at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Having recently moved to Boston’s South Shore, no one around here would agree. Red Sox Nation would argue that the curse originating with Babe Ruth being sold from the Red Sox to the Yankees in 1919 was forever eliminated in 2004 when Boston won its first World Series in 86 years. Just to make sure, they won the Series again in 2007 (who cares if Big Papi was on the juice?).
But it’s back and as nasty as ever — though it no longer has anything to do with the Red Sox. The Babe has turned his fat face onto his hometown of Baltimore. Which is enough to give this lifelong Orioles fan a severe case of hot dog and beer-induced indigestion.
How did this happen? Basically it’s baseball’s version of whack-a-mole. The moment the Red Sox threw off the curse, The Sultan of Swat sought out another American League East team to haunt. How else to explain the utter collapse of a once-proud franchise that was a dominant force from 1966 to 1983, winning three World Championships and six American League Pennants? They had another brief era of winning baseball in the mid-1990s but a bratty kid named Jeffery Maier (another annoying Yankee fan!) put an end to that by reaching out from the right field stands at Camden Yards and turning a sure out into a Derek Jeter “home run.”
Despite all the amenities like Boog’s Barbecue, microbrews, and crab cakes, there is something inherently wrong with Camden Yards. It’s not so much a design flaw (you can’t discount the beauty of initiating the 1990’s retro stadium revolution) as it is the location. The stadium was built on the site of a tavern owned by Babe Ruth’s father. And it’s cursed.
Even Peter Schmuck, the Baltimore Sun’s outstanding baseball writer, agrees. He recently wrote a column where he admitted that he “used to laugh at the notion of an Orioles Curse, but…you know what the Babe did to the Red Sox for 86 years. Mark your calendars for the next Orioles World Series in 2069.” I’m personally not too worried since I plan to live until I’m 101 anyway but still.
Baltimore has always had a tenuous relationship with Babe Ruth. As any Yankee-hating Oriole fan knows, you can tour the Babe Ruth Birthplace in Baltimore’s west side “Pigtown” neighborhood. And while they’ve tried to doll it up with a bunch of Orioles memorabilia, it’s still a monument to the greatest player ever to play for the Evil Empire. And that, frankly, grates. Sure it’s worth a trip but make sure to avoid it during a Yankeees-Orioles weekend at Camden Yards; you know, when the place becomes Yankee Stadium South and is invaded by marauding (and free spending) Yankees fans.
Now, I’m not one to complain without offering a solution. The opposite of “curse” might be “blessing” but I’m thinking we need something more dramatic. We need an exorcism. I’m not afraid to state the obvious: Oriole Park at Camden Yards is cursed. As a priest and Baltimorean, an Oriole fanatic who owns a stadium chair from the late, great Memorial Stadium, someone who has lived in New York (mere minutes from Babe Ruth’s grave), and currently lives in Red Sox Nation, I believe I am uniquely qualified to offer my services. So I am willing to come to Baltimore, stand on the pitcher’s mound at Camden Yards, and take care of business. I’ll sprinkle a little holy water to drive out the demons of the Babe’s curse, of Jeffrey Maier, of loud, obnoxious Yankee fans; while invoking the name of Wild Bill Hagy, Rex Barney, the Miracle on 33rd Street, and all that is true and noble, just and pure, lovable and gracious, excellent and admirable.
Friends, I’m afraid it’s the only way. And I’m here to help.