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Saturday, September 30, 2023


Bad sports luck through the ages

For decades, the world of professional sports has had its share of bewildering events. From Billy goats to television movies to high-profile girlfriends, the outcomes of some of sports’ most memorable games are not remembered for what happened on the field, but instead for the actions of those who have never worn the team’s uniforms.

>> The Billy Goat Game

Billy Sianis, a tavern owner in Chicago, had two tickets to game four of the 1945 World Series featuring the Chicago Cubs and the Detroit Tigers – one for himself and the other for his pet goat. As the legend has it, Sianis was permitted to enter Wrigley Field with the goat, but later asked to leave because of the rotten smell of his furry friend. An angry Sianis was said to have put a curse on the Cubs that would keep the team from ever playing another World Series game at Wrigley Field. Although the team has since returned to the fall classic, they have not won a championship since 1908 – the longest championship drought in baseball.

>> The Curse of the Bambino

The Boston Red Sox were the team to beat up until 1918, having compiled five championships, the last four in a span of six years. In 1920, Red Sox owner Harry Frazee sold prized pitcher Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees to fund his Broadway production of No, No, Nanette. Although the sale of the Babe was two years after the Sox had won their last championship, legions of Boston fans have blamed the sale for their 86 years of unsuccessful seasons. Not until 2004 did the Red Sox win another championship, some believing the win came as a result of the Babe’s old piano finally being pulled out of the bottom of a lake, bringing peace to his ghost’s ominous presence.

>> The Heidi Game

The 1967 game between Joe Namath’s New York Jets and the defending American Football League champion Oakland Raiders was an epic battle. With 65 seconds left in regulation, the Jets were ahead 32-29 and poised to win the game, but Oakland never gave in, scoring 14 quick points and winning the game. It’s too bad that nobody got to see the amazing finish. NBC was scheduled to air the movie Heidi at 7 p.m. that evening, and they did so right on time. Millions of furious fans called NBC to protest the decision to air the movie, but it was too late. In what is now considered one of the most memorable games in football history, it is unfortunate that it’s mostly because of a children’s movie about a little girl.

>> Bartman Game

Sitting in his front-row seat between third base and left field, Steve Bartman was enjoying his night at Wrigley Field watching the Chicago Cubs leading the Florida Marlins in what looked to be the end of a 59-year lapse between World Series appearances for the Cubies. With Chicago leading the series 3-2 and the game 3-0 in the eighth inning, a pop foul was hit high in the air in the direction of Bartman’s seat. Cubs left fielder Moises Alou had the ball in his sights and jumped to make the catch, but the reaching hands of Bartman got to it first. A succession of dire events happened on the field for the Cubs, who not only ended up losing that game, but the next as well, causing them to extend their World Series drought. Unfortunately for Bartman, he is still not safe on the streets of north Chicago.

>> Madden Curse

Before 1998, fans of the video-game series Madden NFL could expect to see Joe Madden featured on the cover year after year. However, beginning in 1999, a picture of a player appeared on the game’s cover instead. Although it may seem like an honor, those who have been on the cover have been said to share a curse of playing badly the season they are featured.†

The curse began with NFL running back Garrison Hearst, who appeared on the 1999 cover of the game. In the 1998 season, Hearst had a career-best 1,570 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. However, in a playoff game against the Atlanta Falcons, Hearst suffered an ankle injury and did not play in the game, which the 49ers lost. Hearst went through rehabilitation and did not play football again until 2001.†

The 2008 cover of NFL Madden showed Tennessee Titans quarterback Vince Young. He threw 9 passing touchdowns and 17 interceptions that season, and the Titans did not make the playoffs for the first time since Young entered the NFL. Young also missed his first game ever because of an injury that year against the Houston Texans.

>> Jessica Simpson

On Dec. 16, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo had some extra support in the stands at Dallas’ game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Romo’s parents along with girlfriend singer/actress Jessica Simpson, wearing a pink Cowboys jersey, watched from the luxury suites at Texas Stadium.†However, Romo completed just 13 of 36 passes as the Cowboys lost to Philadelphia. He threw 3 interceptions in the game and had no passing touchdowns. It was the Cowboys’ second loss of the season, the first coming to New England in week four. Following rumors that her presence caused Romo’s disappointing†performance, Simpson did not attend Dallas’ playoff game against the New York Giants Sunday, but the Cowboys still suffered their only two consecutive losses of the season. Pictures of a Mexican vacation Romo shared with Simpson and her family did nothing to squash rumors she was a curse, despite Dallas wide receiver Terrell Owens publicly defending Romo, saying it was a "team loss."

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