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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Why the Curse of the Bambino lives on

After a championship dearth of 86 years, the Boston Red Sox won the World Series in 2004, and again in 2007 [edit: and again in 2013]. Curse reversed? Nope, no way - of course, I'll tell you why.

The Standard

Between 1903 and 1918, the Boston Red Sox had won more World Series Championships (five, in five appearances) than any other team in the league (Philadelphia appeared in five, winning three of them). Meanwhile, the Yankees had yet to even appear in a championship, let alone win one. 

Babe Ruth joined the Red Sox in 1915. They had already won two, and he helped them win three more by 1918.

The Red Sox were the elite, the standard of championship excellence in MLB.

Red Sox 5 - Yankees 0

And then Ruth was traded…to the Yankees.

The After Math

Within three seasons of the trade, the Yankees would win their first World Series Championship (1921). But they didn't "just win one." They "three-peated," winning in 1921, 1922 and 1923.

They repeated the feat, three-peating again in 1926, 1927 and 1928, and won one more time with Ruth in 1932.

Babe retired in 1935 with the Boston Braves, after winning seven championships with the Yankees, three with the Red Sox and putting up what many argue as the greatest baseball career ever.

And then, after Ruth retired, a funny thing happened to the Yankees…

They four-peated championship wins in 1936, '37, '38 and '39. Then they three-peated appearances from '41-'43, picked up championships in '41 and '43 sandwiching a loss in '42. The Red Sox actually made a World Series appearance in '46 losing to the Cardinals; but the Yankees answered by winning in '47 and then ripping off a five-peat (terrible word, I know, sorry about that, but it's still better than saying "back to back to back to back to...") of championships in '49, '50, '51, '52, and '53.

This rhythm would go on for another fifty years, eventually leading to the New York Yankees amassing 27 World Series Championships and becoming the winning-est franchise - not just in baseball, but in all North American team sport (Montreal Canadiens in the NHL are in second with 24 Stanley Cups).
The Yankees had become the standard of championship excellence.

As of the date of this post, the score is Red Sox 7 - Yankees 27
[edit: Red Sox won in 2013 over the Cardinals again, make it Red Sox 8 - Yankees 27]

As a matter of fact, Babe Ruth won 7 World Series Championships with the Yankees in the 15 years he spent with the Yankees, as many as the Red Sox in their entire franchise history. Add to that the three he won in Boston before the trade and Babe still has three two more Championships than the Red Sox franchise.  No player will ever be able to say he has more wins than the Yankees.

The Upshot

The Curse of the Bambino is more than just "the Boston Red Sox hadn't won a Championship since 1918" - entwined in the curse is the utter reversal of fortunes of two franchises to opposite ends of the spectrum, pivoting on the trade itself:
  • the Red Sox didn't just not win for a long time – they fell from their perch as the standard of championship excellence in baseball; 

  • conversely, the Yankees didn't just win a World Series with Babe Ruth –they went from a team that had never won to the team that would become the winning-est team in baseball during Babe's tenure, and continuing the winning ways over the next 90 years to become the winning-est team ever.

The Bottom Line

So, yes, sure, the Red Sox have won Championships in the last ten years. They've won two, just like the Toronto Blue Jays (oops, sorry, not "just like" the Blue Jays, who won consecutive championships in the early 90s). And, yes, the Red Sox have become perennial playoff contenders. They spend a lot of money and there is an expectation that they ought to be around and dangerous come playoff time. That's fine. Enjoy it, Red Sox fans.

It is even worth noting that the Red Sox in 2004 were down 0-3 to the Yankees before winning four straight games and then rolling on to sweep the Cardinals - yes, they won the World Series for the first time in 86 years, riding an eight-game win streak: a most dramatic and emphatic exclamation point on an emotional and historic Championship win. All due respect, by all means.

But, be that as it may, until they regain the position they lost, and once again become the winning-est team in baseball, and overtake the team that switched places with them (it will never be that the Yankees are the team with the fewest Championships in the league), the impact of the trade has not been, and will not ever be, reversed.

Sorry, but it is what it is.


  1. Everyone knows that the Curse of the Bambino reared its ugly head on the Red Sox in September 2011 (ESPECIALLY on the last day of the season!).

    1. Hey Wowzers, thanks for chiming in. You know I won't be disagreeing with you on this. As much as I appreciate the weight that was lifted off the shoulders of long-suffering Red Sox fans; and even if they themselves feel emotionally that they've finally stepped out from the cold shadow of the trade, the historical panorama simply doesn't support a wholesale dismissal of the full impact the trade had and continues to have, as long as Red Sox trail the Yankees in total championships.

      And the 2011 season was a good return to earth for them. A couple of championships 80 years after the fact is a joke in comparison to the utter dominance the Yankees have held over the same period.

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  3. Oh stupid me. They won 2013 to. Which is in the realm of being relevant since there are still players on the '15 team with 3 rings alive, well and playing.

  4. Well as for red Sox fans, it has been reversed if that's how the majority feel. And they do. So it matters not what a Yankee fan thinks but what the die hard Boston fans do. And unless you can bring to life every player who contributed to every single Yankee championship, the story of 27 - 7 is simply history and relevant only to banners, flags, annoying t-shirts and "rub it in your face" Yankee fans that having nothing better to do than remind people of bygone eras of great seasons in new york. So you guys expect the red Sox to win 20 championships starting now and then we might be able to be mentioned in the good graces of the yanks? Dude, get realistic. You guys were not even born to enjoy any of those Ruth glory days so you have no part in those centry old or even younger winning seasons. The Yankees also spend a ridiculous amount of money than any other team. A David and Goliath amount as a matter of fact which is fine when you pay the luxury tax but yet undeniably one sided, even after the tax. So I don't get it. Is it just the inability to say "try again next year!" or what? What's the point of this article? Talk about soar losers if you say they have to win 20-21 world series to be compared. Red Sox fans are not comparing. They're moving forward like you glory days people should. Face it. We won in 04 and 07 and you particular ppl on this article, commenters included, have to restart the whole bit of wallowing in another teams misfortune. And there's no legit cure. Your a moron if you think that. It was money, a greedy red Sox owner way back and luck. That's right. Money and luck. The 27 championship thing is personal to the yanks and everyone else could care less, really. So get over it. Every other fan in MLB and Red Sox fans have. The Yankees are in first place as of today in the east. That's the only thing that matters that you don't have to scratch your head and remember about. Oh yeah, and it's relevant and happening now. :)

    1. Hey Peteloaf,

      When the Red Sox won that first World Series of their modern string in 2004, it was Red Sox fans going back into history to chant that the Curse was reversed. Not Yankee fans, Red Sox fans. So, I looked at "the Curse" to understand, in history, what it was all about.

      It was in that walk through history that the scope of what actually happened, and had transpired in the 86 years since the trade. And, it brought me to my conclusion.

      If you disagree, as so many (mostly Red Sox fans) do, that's fine. But don't suggest that it's me (or any Yankee fan) going into history.

      I did also say, in my article, hey Red Sox fans, enjoy the wins. So, please do enjoy that your team is playing champiionship-level baseball. Most baseball fans wish their team played as well.

      Please don't bring up how the Yankees spend money. USA is a free country, all the owners are rich and choose to spend, or pocket, the money they spend/pocket. And, we all know money does NOT buy championships - if it did, the Yankees would win every year, and we know they don't. What the Yankees do, in spending all that money, is give every other team that beats them once a while the chance to feel good that they beat the team with the highest payroll. Only one team wins the World Series every year - for most other teams, beating the Yankees is as much satisfaction as they're going to get that season. We should be thanking the Yankees for providing that service to all of baseball.