Sports Jinx

It is well established amongst my friends that I am a notorious jinx. I mean this when it comes to various sports teams and when they are in championship games. This was established during the first run of three consecutive championships for the Chicago Bulls. At any time, when it looked like Jordan and his group was in any kind of trouble, I was routinely shuffled into another room. Inevitably the team would turn it around while I was hiding down there and so the routine continued. I never saw live, for example, the winning basket of John Paxson during that game against Phoenix to complete that first three-run championship streak. Yet, I never got a ring or to hold the trophy, can you imagine.

It’s a funny thing when it comes to superstitions. People who are very into sports hold onto them because you just have to hold on to something. I have heard of guys who wear the same baseball jersey over and over and over again until a team loses, for example, actually believing that by wearing that jersey their team is going to continue the winning streak.

This is very true in a city like Chicago where championships are few and far between. Thankfully, I have been alive for a bunch of championships now, but there must have been a lot of Chicagoans who never got to see a football, basketball, hockey or baseball championship. I got to see the Bears win the Super Bowl and that was fantastic. If there was one team the entire city could support it would be the Bears. I got to see the Bulls not only break the basketball losing streak but I got to see the greatest player ever work his magic and bring home six championships total. All of that paled in comparison to what I got to see last year, of course. The problem? Well, I didn’t actually get to see most of it live.

I know exactly where I was when the Chicago White Sox got their last out to bring home the first World Series championship in Chicago in 88 years and that was hiding on a staircase at my friend Pat’s house. It was a tight, tough game. I was doing my part, I figured, just as closing pitcher Bobby Jenks was doing his part. It was obvious from the get-go that this was going to be a pitcher’s game. I was able to see the one run that Willie Harris drove in, but it was becoming very obvious that this was going to be the one and only run.

You have to understand how important this was. In Chicago, being a baseball fan is an exercise in futility. The last time the Chicago White Sox had won a World Series was 1917. They deliberately threw the game in 1919. They made it back to the series in 1959, but lost to the Dodgers. On the north side of town the Chicago Cubs had not won a World Series since 1908 and had not made it back to the Series since 1945 where they had lost.

The White Sox had started the season in first place, by beating the Cleveland Indians 1-0. They remained in first place throughout the entire season, despite a late stumble and run from the Indians. They outlasted and then they moved into the post-season like a juggernaut. They swept the defending world champs, the Boston Red Sox, in the first round. They lost the first game against a tough Anaheim Angels team and I immediately declared it hopeless. Then they came back and beat the Angels with stunning complete-game performances by the starting pitchers. Then came the series and somehow they managed to be in the spot where they could close the whole thing out in Houston that night.

I was sent to the staircase in the ninth. Men got on base and people around me began pointing up the stairs from the basement where we had clustered. I nodded in appreciation of what they were saying. I was needed. The team and the city needed me. I trudged up the stairs, out of the basement, through the kitchen and then dining room and living room. I then walked about half-way up the stairs that lead to the second floor, having grabbed a Rolling Stone magazine from a basket of magazines, and sat down to read.

I listened to the moans and groans emanating from the basement. I heard them all cheer wildly as the first out was achieved. I heard more moans and groans and shouts of “Come ON!” I heard more wild cheers followed by, “be quiet or else Bryan might think the game is over and come back down.” When the final out was achieved, I descended the stair to be met in the kitchen by my friend Tim. I then walked the rest of the way down to catch the plays I had missed on TiVo. Thank God my friend had TiVo.

With the safety of distance I have been able to watch and re-watch that final inning many times. I got to see the amazing grab in the stands for that crucial out. I got to see the final throw to Paul Konerko for the final out of the game and the season. However, much like that shot from John Paxson, I did not see it live. That’s the price you pay when you are a jinx. You have to do what you have to do for the team, for the city.

I think I deserve a World Series ring for that, don’t you? Think I could convince Jerry Reinsdorf and Kenny Williams of that? Probably not, but it’s nice to think about. I’d look good with that ring.

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