Curses aren’t real.
Luck, time, and coincidence can converge to create a tantalizing tale, but it is just that — a fiction. The eviction of a goat from the bleachers did not cause the Cubs to lose for more than 100 years. The trade of the Great Bambino, while ill-advised, did not reverberate beyond its immediate impact to lift Bill Buckner’s glove at the last moment. Gracing the cover of Sports Illustrated or Madden makes an athlete no more likely to tear a ligament or blow a lead than any other.
That only accounts for the large scale. What about our own, personal lives? Can curses exist in the mundane if they cannot in the massive? No. Curses aren’t real.
Luck, time and coincidence are why I have discarded every jersey I’ve ever owned. I’ve mentioned it from time to time on Facebook Live videos, and occasionally in the comments, but it is worth listing the chronology again here.
- I received a Shaquille O’Neal Magic jersey in the spring of the year that he left Orlando for Los Angeles
- When Grant Hill signed with the Magic, I bought his jersey.
- I received a Dwight Howard jersey in the spring of the year that he left Orlando for Los Angeles.
- I owned a Grady Sizemore T-Shirt, briefly, during the 2009 season.
- I bought my sister a Rashard Lewis jersey at the beginning of the 2010 season, before he was traded and subsequently forgot how basketball is played. I later bought her a JJ Redick jersey in 2012.
It’s not a very good track record.
Curses aren’t real, but I’ve abstained from buying a jersey for quite some time now. Part of this is because the Magic have largely resembled a trash compactor being compacted in a larger trash compactor for nearly a decade. The other is that, despite my lack of superstition, I can’t help but worry that someone’s name on my back spells doom for their career or the team for which they currently play. Did I once make eye contact with Travis Hafner at spring training? I never owned anything that said “Brantley” on it, but is the mere touching of a giveaway jersey enough to explain his injury issues of the past few seasons?
A butterfly flapping its wings on Mars is about as likely to cause a tidal wave in Kansas as my ownership of a player’s jersey affecting his career. And yet, I asked for a Corey Kluber jersey for the last three Christmases, and no one bought me one.
Until this year.
Yes. I received a Corey Kluber jersey for Christmas this year. Aforementioned sister of the Lewis and Redick jerseys gifted it to me, so let’s just say that we’re in this together. Curses aren’t real, but do I sort of want to prepare a letter for the Kluber family apologizing for my transgression? Yes. I want to be clear - Kluber is unmistakably my favorite athlete ever. It’s was easy to fall in love with Shaq, who drop stepped around buildings in a single bound and brought games to a halt with his dunkstrength. Kluber represents a different sort of athlete.
In a way, his journey to greatness reminds me of the track that fiction writers sometimes take. Do they show early promise and some raw talent? Sure. And so they toil through some early books and short stories that have moments of true promise, and endings of molten garbage. They push through, they try new things, maybe they find a mentor who pushes them is a certain direction. One day, they finish a book that hits the shelves and flies off of them soon after. What looks like an overnight success was actually a decade or more of persistent practice, curious tinkering, and unwavering commitment to the craft.
As someone who stupidly wants to sell a book one day, it might not be so surprising that I like a late blooming pitcher who goes on to destroy the entire league. As a kid who always wanted to pitch and never got the chance, the tale of another who forced his way onto the mound and refused to give up also resonates.
It is also a fiction that his jersey on my back will have any impact on his or the Indians’ success this season. If I say that curses aren’t real, must I also give up the idea that they can be broken? I can think of no better way for the Indians and myself to discard mythical nonsense than by winning a World Series in 2018, perhaps buttressed by another Corey Kluber Cy Young Award.
At the same time, if Kluber blows out his elbow, you have every right to @ me.