Add another jinx to the collection
By Dan Shaughnessy, Globe Staff, 3/23/2000
FORT MYERS, Fla. - It'll be arriving in the mail any minute. It'll be staring back at you from every magazine rack in the country. In dentist offices and on library shelves, it will haunt the Red Sox from now until the end of October.
This week's issue of Sports Illustrated features a nifty cover shot of Pedro Martinez and a headline you thought you'd never see:
''Why the Red Sox will win the World Series.''
Wow. Like there weren't enough cosmic forces stalking the Red Sox. Now there's double-barreled action in the bad-luck bullpen. The Sports Illustrated cover jinx takes its place alongside the Curse of the Bambino. Black Cat Bookends.
It's really quite an amazing development. I knew things were looking up for the hometown team. I knew optimism was running at an all-time high. I knew Sox fans were buoyed by last year's 94 wins, the demolition of Cleveland, and the addition of center fielder Carl Everett.
But this? Anointment by the bible of weekly sports publications?
It's nice to see the Sox finally getting some respect, but the cover prediction undoubtedly will contribute to the paranoia and collective angst that pains the soul of Red Sox Nation.
''We got the SI jinx, we got the Bambino, we got all kinds of crap,'' said Boston first baseman Mike Stanley.
''Boston people think about that so I guess this is a bad thing for people in Boston,'' said pitcher Bret Saberhagen.
''It's always a jinx with the Red Sox,'' said infielder Jeff Frye. ''Why not the Curse of Jim Corsi?''
The Red Sox have learned not to believe prognostications. In the wake of Mo Vaughn's departure, most 1999 spring publications picked them to finish fourth, behind New York, Toronto, and Baltimore. We might also mention that Sports Illustrated is the same publication that picked the Boston Bruins to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals. I think they also picked Gary Bauer to win the Republican nomination.
''Nothing changes now,'' said Stanley. ''We didn't pay attention to everybody picking us fourth last year. This doesn't change the way we go about our business.''
''It's a nice compliment,'' added Saberhagen, ''especially coming from where we were picked the last few years, and especially with the team the Yankees have. We've got a playoff-contending team, that's for sure. We've improved our team. People are opening their eyes and seeing what we've done.''
Nomar Garciaparra was offended in '99 when the Sox were picked to go in the dumper. He likes this better.
''It's just people's opinions and stuff,'' said the shortstop. ''This is great. Pedro deserves to be on the cover.''
What about the famed cover jinx? ''I believe the Yankees have been on the cover and they have a bunch of rings,'' said Garciaparra.
Sox publicist Kevin Shea issued the official club statement, saying, ''Pedro's been on the cover before and he's done very well. There is no SI jinx around Pedro or the Red Sox. And I don't know anything about that other curse, either.''
Tell it to Flash Gordon and Stephen King. Last spring, King had a bestseller with ''The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon.'' Within months of publication, both Gordon and King were on the shelf with injuries. Gordon blew out his arm and King was nearly killed by a wreckless driver. Happily, both are on the comeback trail.
Typically, Red Sox manager Jimy Williams was unmoved by the cover.
''I don't have any reaction,'' said the manager. ''I'm boring. I know.''
Better boring than a boor. Twelve years ago, the Sox were steered by the jovial John McNamara, and Mac had this reaction to predictions of first place: ''Some people pick you to finish first just to see you get [expletive] fired.''
Say hello to the new century, a special time in the history of mankind when sheep are cloned, groceries are ordered online, Arena Football Players are Super Bowl MVPs, and ...
THE RED SOX WILL WIN THE WORLD SERIES.
''It definitely could happen,'' said Garciaparra.
This story ran on page E01 of the Boston Globe on 3/23/2000.
© Copyright 2000 Globe Newspaper Company.