COMMENTARY: Curses! Did Wally the ex-Beer Man vex Minnesota Twins?
ST. PAUL That something of the paranormal world might explain this mysterious baseball season for the Minnesota Twins has been explored by a Mr. Bill Daly of St. Paul, who insists that the club is cursed. Daly would remind us, as a precedent for ...
That something of the paranormal world might explain this mysterious baseball season for the Minnesota Twins has been explored by a Mr. Bill Daly of St. Paul, who insists that the club is cursed. Daly would remind us, as a precedent for voodoo, of the curse placed on the Chicago Cubs by William "Billy Goat" Sianis.
Sianis had two tickets for the Oct. 6, 1945, World Series game at Wrigley Field, featuring the Detroit Tigers and the Cubs. Sianis brought his goat to the game but was asked to leave either because the goat smelled bad or because it was eating hot dogs purchased by other fans.
Sianis was outraged and said, upon leaving the ballpark, "them Cubs, they aren't gonna win no more."
And then, according to legend, Sianis sent a telegram to Philip K. Wrigley, informing him that the Cubs would never win a World Series "because you insulted my goat."
Well, they haven't. Up two games to one in that series, they lost to the Tigers four games to three and haven't been back. That this might be attributed to a restaurateur stupid enough to bring a goat to a game is a stretch, but ...
Daly, a former Hamm's employee and an Irishman, insists that he knows a curse when he sees one. He believes the origin of the present troubles dates to last year's first playoff game when Walter McNeil, known as Wally the Beer Man, was arrested in a sting. Wally was accused of selling alcohol to a minor, a charge he was acquitted of earlier this year.
"I emphatically believe,"
Daly wrote, "that Wally did not invoke the curse himself; rather some enraged beer-drinking elf is the likely culprit."
I always thought Wally was one of those guys who milked the gig about as well as a beer-hawking gig can be milked -- the guy had his own baseball card! -- but I, too, would agree with Daly that Wally didn't call for a curse. He is essentially a gentle character who knows his marketing, but I don't think he would go so far as to call for a spell.
But shall we examine the facts? The Twins have won six Central Division titles in the past 10 years, never finishing worse than third in that span. No, they didn't get to a World Series in that stretch, but they were credible contenders each and every year.
Until this year.
Wally hasn't sold a beer at a Twins game since his arrest. And the Twins appear headed toward a collapse of near-historic proportions. They are having a season not unlike that miserable season of 60-102 in 1982. The injuries have been insurmountable. The play has been distinguished by buffoonery. They brought over a fellow from Japan who appears to have arrived already cursed himself, getting a busted leg on the first double play he ever tried to turn in the big leagues and then, upon his return, demonstrated that he could not play for possibly even a local Town Ball team.
The team's superstars spent more time in an MRI tube than they did on the field. Everybody, it seems, got a concussion.
The idea that a curse is responsible for these failings is appealing if for no other reason than the alternative, which is to believe that this collection of players was a spectacular flash in the pan and the team might, in fact, be embarking on about a six-year run wandering in the desert.
Daly would lift the curse by calling for a free beer night, or perhaps an elf night, but that is the Irish in him.
"The important thing," Daly wrote, "is to identify the source of the problem (the curse) and get the owners and players on board to eliminate it and get back to the brand of baseball we have enjoyed in the past."
I buy it. Well, I buy it more than I buy a goat causing such distress.
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