The Curse of “The Curse” : An Introduction
My name is Jay Burnam. I am a 27 year old resident of Austin, Texas who has spent a large portion of my adult life writing and singing songs on a guitar for people. I like baseball, good food and drink, the company of good people and my family, live music, moments that evoke laughter, as well as a bevy of other things.
I am the reason the Texas Rangers lost the World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals in 2011. I’ll wait a few moments to the let the air clear of the deafeningly audible and collective gasp that just occurred across the planet…there we are. It’s true, and I’m sorry. I’m sorry to my family, my friends, Rangers fans around the world, and anyone who’d have my head on a pike after reading what they just have. Allow me to explain. That Thursday evening, the 27th of October, I had been enjoying Game Six with my family in the den of my parent’s home. It was magical. The whole thing really. The team I had shown a life’s worth of dedication to, MY team, were on the doorstep of baseball immortality. The veritable apex of sport’s Everest. There were few things I had waited longer to see.
My dad, who shares my love for most things and also shares my fickle, mainly sports fueled blood pressure, had had enough fraternization downstairs and had adjourned to their room upstairs. Josh Hamilton had put faith in action as he launched an extra inning homerun, and there we were; one strike away from heading home with a title. Here’s where things get critical. In my foolishness, I went upstairs to join my dad, citing that he ‘was the reason I had ever loved the Rangers as much as I do.’ And it’s true. He is. I wanted to watch the Texas Rangers win a Championship with the man who had cultivated not only my love for Texas, but for baseball altogether. The words “you’re the reason I love the Rangers” were leaving my tongue when Nascar Berkman put a Scott Feldman pitch into center, tying the game. The rest is a story all too familiar and haunting for Rangers fans, myself included. What followed was a steady decline in post season vitality, September batting averages, the Daniels-Ryan break-up, and years of injury which finally hit an historic all time low last season.
Did you catch it? Do you understand now why I am to be solely blamed for a Commissioner’s Trophy-shaped hole in the case at the Ballpark?
I WENT UPSTAIRS.
I tossed logic to the wind, disregarding my crucial post next to the kitchen bar that I had occupied for the entire game for an instant of nostalgic selfishness with my old man. I had single-handedly shifted the weight of the earth’s entire axis just enough to put what should have been strike three into some fresh Kentucky bluegrass at Busch that night. And I’ve regretted it ever since. I kick myself, knowing that had I just manned the snack table (prime real-estate at any Burnam gathering), we’d be relishing in the glory days of 2011 as ‘the year we won it’, as opposed to ‘the year Jay Burnam stranded the pigs in a blanket and lost the Series for us”.
Superstition is funny, isn’t it? Superstition tells us that, despite everything that’s happening around us on a humongous, spinning ball of gas, trees and water, we have some element of absolute and all encompassing control over most everything going on. Ha. And, for guys like me, who’s only real contribution in the sports arena peaked with a pretty nice little turn around jumper in the third grade, superstition is a crutch big enough to support a one legged Paul Bunyan. I am incredibly superstitious when it comes to sports. I’m convinced, to this day, that the reason the Cowboys won the ‘ship in 1995 is because I had spent most of the game in an adjacent bedroom beating Sonic the Hedgehog 2 on Sega Genesis (you’re welcome, Dallas.) And I have legitimately found myself angry with the decision I made that night in October. You can ask my dad.
As I approach the latter half of my 20’s, I’m trying my hardest to tone back my superstitious mind set. It is, to put it simply, an uphill battle. I still find myself convincing people not to move from spots on the couch, rubbing a hole in the bill of my ballcap during certain counts, and just hoping I can be of some assistance to guys who may or may not be hundreds of miles away from me at the time. And ‘hoping’ is really the operative word. Throughout the set backs and sadness and nail-decimating tension baseball has provided me, hope has been the underlying engine that keeps me attentive, that propels me to watch and wait, and see a baseball team perform at a high level.
Hope is Leonys Martin showing the prowess and patience at the dish that moved him from the number nine hitter on Opening Day 2014 to the probable lead-off hitter in 2015. It’s a happy, energetic Elvis Andrus returning to form and making the left side of the infield and the right side of the plate that much stronger. It’s Adrian Beltre continuing to be Adrian Beltre. Hope is a healthy Prince Fielder legging out two (count ’em) infield hits in a spring training game,with one being a bunt to beat the shift employed specifically for him. It’s Ross Detweiler getting a shot to show what he is capable of back in a starting role, after spending time last season buried in the Nationals bullpen. Hope comes in the form of names like Odor, Rua, Smolinski and Gallo. Hope has the tendency to grab superstition’s hand and start sprinting, and I’m not convinced that’s a bad thing.
My name’s Jay. It’s a pleasure to meet you.