After the Cardinals won the World Series in 1982, they, like most ball teams are prone to do, celebrated on the field. It is not uncommon for baseball teams to celebrate excessively after winning a championship, and all exploits from those championship winning nights are normally forgotten about and filed under "B" for "Boys Will Be Boys." Unfortunately for the '82 Cardinals, their first baseman, Keith Hernandez, was caught trying to snort the first base line (or so legend has it. In his defense, it was the '80's.Everyone was riding that white dragon. I bet he was trading junk bonds on his huge cell phone, too. Isn't that what everyone did in the '80's?) and a change of scenery was in order for the all-star first baseman.
During June of the next season, Hernandez was traded to the Mets for players who frankly stunk, but were not so obviously addicted to cocaine (Neil Allen and Rick Owenby.)
Hernandez went on to not only lead the Mets to the World Championship in 1986, but also to team up with Roger McDowell in an elaborate plan to spit on a heckler who had poured a beer on McDowell's head during a game at Shea Stadium (the heckler was later identified as one Cosmo Kramer.)
The Cardinals, however, have not won a single championship since Hernandez was sent packing. They have consistently come up short. Over and over, the Cardinals have had key players go down to injuries just before the postseason begins, and normally in bizarre fashion. For example:
During the 1985 playoffs, Rookie of the Year Vince Coleman, the fastest man in the National League, was run over by a damn tarp. A slow moving tarp at that. Oh...the irony!
In 1987, both Terry Pendleton and Jack Clark went out.
In 1996, Ray Lankford hurt himself eating chicken wings and playing Golden Tee (or so I imagine.)
In 2000, Mike Matheny sliced his hand on a hunting knife he had just received as a birthday present from his wife (and I love Matheny, but what kind of redneck gets a hunting knife as a birthday present from their wife?) Matheny couldn't catch in the playoffs, and rookie pitcher Rick Ankiel was clearly flustered having Carlos Hernandez (no relation to Keith, but spooky regardless) behind the plate and promptly threw his pitching career away against the Braves.
2001? McGwire went out.
2002? Scott Rolen.
2004? Future Cy Young award winner Chris Carpenter.
Clearly, Keith Hernandez was not happy with his departure from Saint Louis. And the Cardinals have been one cursed franchise since then.
This year, Rolen was nice enough to go out early in the season. That left plenty of time for Abe Nunez to get adjusted to the hot corner, and become not just adequate, but down right good. In July, Reggie Sanders went down with a broken leg and Larry Walker had been bothered by injuries all year, but he's old and Canadian. These things happen.
Then, on the final day of the regular season, at the final regular season game ever to be played at Busch Memorial Stadium, something strange yet familiar happened. Al Reyes, the Cardinals most effective relief pitcher all season long, hurt his arm doing something (what did he do, anyway? Does anybody know?). Not only did he miss the playoffs, he'll miss all of next year, too.
The Curse of the Keith strikes again, I thought.
As the Cardinals cruised past their NLDS foes, the San Diego Padres, the Curse of the Keith kicked into overdrive. "If they can win a round without their best relief pitcher, what more do I have to do?" the Curse asked itself.
Obviously, the answer was to break the spine of the Cardinal's hottest hitter, Reggie Sanders. And the Curse did as much. And the Cardinals lost the NLCS in six games.
It has become quite clear to me that the first love of my life, the Saint Louis Cardinals, will never win a World Series until Keith Hernandez lifts his evil spell off of the franchise. And so, i use this space as a plea: Please, Keith Hernandez (whom I'm sure Google's himself frequently to see what people are saying about his mustache and will no doubt find his way to this page) what do I have to do to lift your curse?
Grow a mustache of my own?
Develop a coke habbit which could rival yours?
Write an article on The Phat Phree which doesn't mention the Cardinals?
There has got to be something, Keith. I'm begging you! LIFT THE CURSE!
Can Mark Mulder count towards this year's collapse?