Wednesday, October 15, 2003

The Knoblauch Curse

Everybody is paying a lot of attention to the “Curse of the Bambino” in Boston - which has kept the Red Sox from winning the World Series since trading away Babe Ruth - and the unnamed curse that vexes the Chicago Cubs who have not even won a pennant much less a World Series since the end of WWII.

But no one is paying attention to another curse involving the New York Yankees that I think might have an impact this year. I call it the Knoblauch Curse after the Yankees’ former second baseman and leadoff hitter Chuck Knoblauch who faded away into free agent obscurity earlier this year after having a dismal final season with the Kansas City Royals. Knoblauch, a Texas A&M grad who went to my wife’s high school in Houston, was the Rookie of the Year in 1991 when he helped the Minnesota Twins win the World Series that year.

The Yankees have not won a World Series since they decided to bench Knoblauch during the 2001 Series against the Diamondbacks. They began their impressive streak of World Series appearances and back-to-back-to-back victories in 1998 shortly after acquiring Knoblauch from the Twins. But sometime between 2000 and 2001, Knoblauch began experiencing throwing problems and the Yankees were forced to shift him from second base to left field. His hitting started to suffer as well and by the time the playoffs came around they were mostly playing Knobby off the bench. As a result, the Yankees came up short of their fourth WS victory in 2001 and the next year, after they traded Knoblauch to the Royals, failed to make it out of the playoffs.

Maybe this year will be different and the Knoblauch Curse will be shortlived. But if the Red Sox come back and/or the Cubs/Marlins pull off a World Series victory, I will know the real reason.

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