Red Sox can't fault Curse this time, but what about those haircuts?

October 18, 2004|By PETER SCHMUCK

CAN'T BLAME the Bambino for this one.

The Curse has always been a subtle thing. Like the Babe calling his shot in the 1932 World Series, you're always left to wonder if it's real or just imagined. But there was nothing subtle about the best-of-seven American League Championship Series, which - for all practical purposes - ended in three games on Saturday night.

The Yankees squashed the Sox like so many bugs around a drain, leaving little doubt who would be the eventual American League participant in the World Series. The only thing haunting the Red Sox were those horrible hairdos, which don't look quite so rakish and charming when somebody's smacking you across the face.

The Babe took this October off. His services weren't needed. The only otherworldly presence at Fenway Park on Saturday night was author and ubiquitous Sox fan Stephen King, and I could have sworn I saw him reading a comic book in the eighth inning.

The Red Sox were so overmatched that fans were waxing nostalgic for Bill Buckner and Grady Little. At least they provided some drama.

No, if anything, the Sox have fallen victim to the curse of the union lawyers, who sat in their New York offices last winter and decided superstar Alex Rodriguez could not be allowed to devalue his ridiculous contract and accept a trade to Boston.

It was the right decision (from a labor standpoint), but it created this monster that stomped through Boston on Saturday night, crushing automobiles, spitting at the Citgo sign and tearing the hearts out of the Fenway faithful.

A-Rod scored five runs in the crushing 19-8 victory. He entered Game 4 last night hitting .429 with a home run, three RBIs and seven runs in the ALCS. Hideki Matsui, whose nickname - coincidentally enough - is Godzilla, also scored five runs Saturday night.

And you want to know the worst thing about it?

The Bambino is going to be tanned, rested and ready next October.

Still don't get the whole marathon thing. John Itati, 30, the Kenyan who won the Baltimore Marathon on Saturday, finished in 2 hours, 14 minutes, 51 seconds, which means he averaged an impressive 5:09 per mile over the 26.2-mile course and spent yesterday disguised as a giant icepack.

Maybe I'm just jealous because I couldn't do that on a 10-speed, but didn't Henry Ford work some pretty long hours to make sure no one would ever have to run 26 miles again?

Bonus marathon quip: The women's champion was Ramilia Burangulova, the first sports figure since NASCAR driver Dick Trickle to make me feel pretty good about being called Peter Schmuck.

Fun Academy Facts: Before Saturday, the last time Army won a football game and Navy lost a football game on the same day was Nov. 16, 2002, when Army defeated Tulane, 14-10, and Navy lost to Connecticut, 38-0. Army would begin a 19-game losing streak the next week against Memphis and Navy would end a 10-game losing streak with a lopsided win over Army the week after that.

The resounding 58-12 victory over Army in '02 began a 14-5 turnaround by the Midshipmen that was interrupted by the loss to Notre Dame on Saturday. They have not had a more successful run of that length since George Welsh led them on a 15-3 run during the 1978 and 1979 seasons.

Personal note: My car is holding my golf clubs hostage, thanks to a jammed trunk latch that prevented me from taking advantage of a beautiful autumn Ravens bye week.

That's what you get when you drive a '92 Toyota and spend all your money trying to prop up the failing company that makes Twinkies.

Final thought: I'm not saying the Redskins had reached the desperate stage before yesterday's 13-10 win, but owner Dan Snyder held a seance last week and tried to hire Vince Lombardi.

Contact Peter Schmuck at peter.schmuck@baltsun.com.

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