OCTOBER 7, 2003
The Curse of Big Mac
By Steve Lombardi, NetShrine.com

Bucky, Buckner, and, for about 18 pitches in the bottom of the 9th inning of Game 5 of the 2003 ALDS between the Boston Red Sox and Oakland A’s, it appeared that “Bullpen” would be the “B” hat trick clincher for the last quarter century of “The Curse of the Bambino.”

However, in reality, what was truly confirmed on the evening of October 6, 2003 was the “The Curse of Big Mac.”

For the 4th straight season, the Oakland A’s have lost an ALDS in Game 5. 

In 2000, the A’s and Yankees were tied at 2 games apiece and then the A’s lost Game 5 in Oakland.  In 2001, the A’s had the Yankees down 2-0 and then lost three straight games, with the last one coming in New York.  In 2002, the A’s had the Twins down 2-1 and then lost two straight games, with the last one coming in Oakland.  In 2003, the A’s had the Red Sox down 2-0 and then lost three straight games, with the last one coming in Oakland.

It is staggering to consider that the A’s squandered a chance in 2000 to advance to the ALCS, three chances to advance to the ALCS in 2001, two chances to advance to the ALCS in 2002, and three chances to advance to the ALCS in 2003.  Think about this for a moment – in a period from October 8, 2000 to October 6, 2003, which is two days short of a phase of 36 months, the A’s let advancement in the post-season slip through their fingers nine times.  (That’s “nine times” best said in the voice of Ed Rooney from “Ferris Bueller's Day Off” - - as in - - Ed Rooney: He's been absent nine times.  Mrs. Bueller: Nine times?  Ed Rooney: Nine times.)

Oakland A’s G.M. Billy Beane is quoted in the book “Moneyball” as saying that “What happens” in the post-season “is f****** luck."  

If this is true, the A’s have certainly had their share of bad luck in the last 36 months – nine lives, make that games, worth of dreadful luck.

This brings us back to “The Curse of Big Mac.” 

Prior to Beane taking over as G.M. for the A’s, his predecessor at that position, Sandy Alderson, traded Mark McGwire to the St. Louis Cardinals for pitchers T.J. Mathews, Blake Stein and Eric Ludwick (on July 31, 1997).  It was McGwire’s Oakland A’s who last managed to appear in an ALCS game (on October 14, 1992).  If this is not the makings of a curse, what is?

Now, many may say that poor old Billy Beane cannot be held accountable for “The Curse of Big Mac” – after all, he did not create it.  Beane merely stepped into it much like any unsuspecting traveler may land a foot on a hot, steaming, pile (or road apple, if you prefer) freshly deposited by some innocent stray animal.

However, the fact of the matter is this – maybe Beane did not create “The Curse of Big Mac,” but, since the confirmation of the curse occurred under his watch, Beane sure as heck “super-sized” it (albeit "f****** luck" or not).

Fear not for Billy as perhaps he can turn this heartrending saga into another book opportunity.  Look at all the literary mileage that has been squeezed out of “The Curse of the Bambino.”

Steve Lombardi is the Creator & Curator of NetShrine.com.  Scrawling On The Scorecard appears regularly during the baseball season and sporadically during the off-season.  Steve can be contacted at sots@netshrine.com

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