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August 21, 2006: Can’t Top This (My Unlucky Hat)

I lost my hat sometime between 11pm Thursday night and 1pm Friday when the Yankees/Red Sox five-game-set began. This was my black-on-black New York Yankees hat, the one I bought on Opening Day a few years ago. Given what’s happened since then (the Sox won the World Series, for example, and the Yankees have not), I was sure it was not a lucky hat.

But I never dreamed it was an UNLUCKY hat. But I lost it right before the series began and, guess what? The Yankees swept all five games. Apparently I should have gotten rid of this hat long ago! Why couldn’t I have lost it in the hazy elation that followed the 19-8 win in Game Three in 2004 ALCS?

Anyway, the hat is gone, and so is hope from the breast of Red Sox Nation. The wailing and gnashing of the past several days has returned to pre-2004 levels here in Boston, meaning that many, many disappointed fans have been calling talk radio to bare their souls. It is the most entertaining sports radio in the country.

On Saturday, I went into the Forest CafŽ, which happens to not only have the best Mexican food in Cambridge but also to be two blocks from my house and an excellent place to watch the Sox and talk baseball. Everyone in that bar loves baseball (and if they don’t they hide it well). Cambridge is like a ghost town in mid-August, as the student population has yet to arrive and everyone else is at the Cape or out of town. So it was just me, Brian the bartender, and two or three other patrons.

I could not help but overhead the woman at the other end of the bar, to whom Brian was lending a sympathetic ear around the time the Yankees took the lead. The previous day, of course, had been the doubleheader smackdown.

“My boyfriend is a Yankees fan,” she told Brian. “And last night, I picked a fight with him.”

“About the Yankees?” Brian asked.

“No, just cuz. He wasn’t even doing anything, just sitting there minding his own business, but I was like, all over his ass, screaming and yelling. I told him, if you don’t quit liking the Yankees, I’m leaving you.”

“So, are you leaving him?”

“No, of course not. I was just pissed off.”

My own paramour of the past fifteen years unfortunately missed much of the game action in those first three glorious poundings, as he is of the same persuasion as me. He had flown to Florida for a family wedding, and was due to return near midnight on Sunday night.

I figured Sunday I would watch the game at the Forest Cafe, then hop in the car to pick him up at the airport. This plan was foiled by the fact that every game in this series has taken over four hours to play, plus there was a rain delay of almost an hour. So it was that the Red Sox were winning 4-3 when I left to retrieve him, up 5-3 by the time he got off the plane, and then the score was 5-4 by the time he got in the car.

We drove directly to Chinatown to get something to eat, and by the time we parked the car, the ninth inning was about to begin.

“If the Yankees tie the score, we should put on the MyFi and listen in the restaurant,” he said.

“Agreed.” He even had both sets of headphones and a splitter with him in his travel kit.

“If David Ortiz is Mr. Clutch for the Red Sox, then Derek Jeter is Captain Clutch for the Yankees,” said Jerry Trupiano. Jeter brought in the tying run with a bloop single off Papelbon.

We went into the restaurant with our XM Satellite radio plugged into our ears. XM carried the ESPN radio broadcast, so it was Dave Campbell who got to incredulously detail Giambi’s home run in the tenth, and the subsequent two-run shot that made it 8-5. Various people in the restaurant were staring at us–my MUSSINA jersey made us kind of conspicuous, as did the high-fives.

Mariano shut the door around the time we were getting our check (this Chinese restaurant is lightning fast: the Grand Chau Chow) and by 1:30 am we were back in the car and on the way home.

Then, today, I just knew the Yankees were going to sweep when poor Keith Foulke struck our Derek Jeter and retired all five men he faced, yet he let the insurance run score on a wild pitch on only the second or third pitch of his appearance. After both teams had scored all those runs in the previous four games, for the Yankees to win 2-1 just seemed like the ultimate coup de grace.

In the old days we would have called that a Curse. Now we know it’s that the jinx of Cecilia’s black hat has been lifted.*

*The only problem with this is that next weekend we’re flying to Anaheim and we’ll see the Yankees play there. But now I have no hat to wear…

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