The Curse of Shea?

Quote of the Day: "Call this the latest unlucky episode in a season that is growing more doomed by the day." --Ben Shpigel writing about David Wright's injury in The New York Times

Let me start off by saying that I'm a diehard Yankees fan and my dad is a diehard Mets fan, but the love of baseball is one of our common bonds. My father took me to Yankee Stadium when I was a kid, sparking my love for the Bronx Bombers, because his beloved Mets just weren't a good team back then, and he wanted his son to have memories of "Mr. October" Reggie Jackson and "Louisiana Lightning" Ron Guidry. So on this sun-blazing Sunday, he and I went to catch a game at the new Citi Field in celebration of his birthday. And even though my loyalties lie with the men in Pinstripes, it was a fun game, a victory for the Mets that brought a smile to my dad's face during a season that's otherwise best forgotten.

I'm not really a superstitious guy, but I'm starting to think there's a Curse of Shea haunting the New York Metropolitans. Their original ballpark was named after William Shea, who, as founder of the Continental League, was instrumental in returning a National League team to New York in the form of the Mets after the departure of the New York Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers. Surely, Mr. Shea must be looking down from that baseball diamond in the sky, miffed at the disrespect of being forgotten, his moniker replaced by the corporate big bucks of Citibank who purchased the naming rights to the new stadium (despite the recent turmoil in the financial sector).

How else to explain the string of injuries that have plagued the Mets this season except to acknowledge that the Curse of Shea lives? How else to justify how a promising, high salaried team that was thought to be one of the top contenders for the World Series crown has been reduced to a team of second-or-third stringers not even in serious contention for the Wild Card playoff slot?

Need examples of the Curse? Closer Bill Wagner is out for the season with a bad left elbow that required surgery; first baseman Carlos Delgado hurt his right hip; shortstop Jose Reyes has a screwed up right calf; infielder Ramon Martinez broke his finger; reliever J.J. Putz needed right elbow surgery; starting pitcher John Maine has a bad shoulder; star centerfielder Carlos Beltran had a bone bruise on his right knee; outfielder Fernando Martinez had a bum right knee; starting pitcher Fernando Nieve tore his right quadricep muscle; starting pitcher Jonathon Niese tore his right hamstring. Did I forget anyone? And yesterday, star third basemen David Wright was beaned in the head by a pitch and suffered a concussion, probably forcing him to sit out the remainder of the season.

Despite all that, they managed to win on Sunday and bring some joy to my dad's otherwise bleak season. It's tough as it is being a Mets fan -- they haven't won a championship since 1986 (with only one other championship season before that, the Miracle Mets of 1969), and the last time they appeared in the World Series, in 2000, they were the losers of the ultimate Subway Series, falling victim to the last Yankee dynasty.

William Shea was a great man and I'm sure this alleged Curse will be short lived. We're not talking about the infamous Red Sox Curse of the Bambino (may it return to life someday!) or the still-going Cubs Curse of the Billy Goat. But it's a spooky season for the Amazin' Mets and a Curse of Shea is as good an explanation for all these misfortunes and maladies that otherwise have no explanation except for dumb, rotten luck.

Citi Field is an otherwise beautiful ballpark and it will no doubt be home to many good memories in the future. It's a shame that the name is such a blatant sellout.

Now I need to get my hands on some Yankees tickets and take my dad to the new Yankee Stadium (no corporate name needed in the Bronx, thank you very much), and dream of another Subway World Series someday. Too bad it couldn't be this year.


Vinny said…
Let's not forget that not only did they disrespect Mr. Shea by leaving his name off the stadium, they disrespected their own history by making it look more of a tribute to the Dodgers than the Mets. It's great to have a tribute to Jackie Robinson as well as using Ebbett's field as a template, but the lack of any acknowledgement of Shea Stadium nor emphasizing that this is the home of the Mets was a big mistake.