Spring is just around the corner here, on the first day of winter, and Spring Training will be here in ein Augenblick, or the blink of an eye. The “Boys of Summer” will be back at it, and could there be fans this season that aren’t cardboard cut outs? But there is a food related curse that should be known to every baseball fan. Naturally, it involves the Japan League, Kentucky, and fried chicken.
A favorite Christmas meal in Japan, according to Deutsche Welle, is a big box of KFC fried chicken, which is known as a “party barrel.” KFC restaurants will decorate their Colonel Sanders statues in Santa suits as well, which is better than the Tokyo department store whose Christmas display was Santa nailed to a cross (a definite holiday mix-up there). “Party barrels” may include wine and cakes with fried chicken, which makes them so not KFC USA. So why would the revered Colonel curse part of Japan?
The Hanshin Tigers could be considered the equivalent of the Cleveland Sports ball team of the MLB American League. You win some, you lose some, at about an equal clip. The Tigers, however, became the sworn enemies of the fried chicken gods in 1985.
The Tigers won their only Japan League title that year, and the celebration turned both epic and Dionysian. Revelers gathered on the Ebisu Bridge in Osaka, and began throwing people into the river below (canal, actually,) who resembled members of the team. One problem–their star player was an American slugger named Randy Bass, who had a beard. There were no Americans with beards in the crowd.
Therefore, a plastic statue of Colonel Sanders was thrown in instead. Within moments, the Colonel was swimming with the fishes, and the curse was on.
Curses make much easier excuses than bad management and crappy players. Eighteen years of last and next to last place finishes ensued. In 2003 the team won a division, and over 5,000 fans jumped into the canal. The Colonel was unimpressed, and the Tigers lost in the playoffs.
Finally, in 2009, pieces of the Colonel were rediscovered, with eventually everything but his glasses and left hand being found. These were reproduced, and the Colonel returned to KFC. Sorry, but it didn’t work. Still crappy players and mediocre management.
They need to follow the example of a perennial doormat like the Atlanta Braves. They finally sign Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz, three Hall of Fames pitchers, and Bobby Cox as Manager, who racked up 162 Manager Ejections (a record by far for Managers,) but also racked up a bushel of league, and one World Series, title. Funny how talent beats a curse every time.