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Banbury Cross

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Post details: All Star Game '07

All Star Game '07

Baseball is more riddled with curses than a drunk sailor staggering amid the bunks of a nuclear submarine.

Everyone remembers the epic end of "the Curse of the Bambino" in 2004 at the expense of the Yankees and the Cardinals. Or the unraveling of "the Curse of the Black Sox" a year later. These were removed and laid to rest once and for all, although Chicago did not get off the witchcraft hook just yet - across town the Cubs are still plagued by "the Curse of the Billy Goat". But if wizardry is your cup of tea, shed no more tears for the untimely demise of the Big Curses. After watching this year's All Star game, I think there is a new kid on the block. And he seems to be just as vicious and forcible as the Old Bambino.

National League hasn't won the All-Star game since 1997. That is a losing streak of 10 - try flipping ten heads in a row - a strong indication that the Gods of Baseball have vested interest in this game. Plus, after Alfonso Soriano's resuscitation effort in the ninth, the National League lost only by one run, much like last year, a further evidence that dark forces of netherworld are afoot.

Now what exactly went wrong in 1997? The Marlins stared down the Indians in the World Series - that much we know. But could it be that Livan Hernandez smuggled a few jars of home made voodoo potion from Cuba, which then leaked loose and turned on its Masters? Or did the Cleveland Indians spend several jolly midnights shoveling through a pet cemetery to dig up some fish and in the process forever rob the National League of a home-field advantage? That much we can only guess.

It was an exciting game nonetheless and the Cardinals' fans had two genuine opportunities to sigh deeply during its course. First, when they had to watch Dan Haren open the game for - ouch! - the American League. Yeah, the same Dan Haren who left the Birds' Nest only in 2004. And then at the end, when Albert Pujols, one of the League's sharpest harpoons, was left idling in the dugout, although the bases were loaded, half of St Louis was on a prayer alert and the helm of the boat rested in the hands of the man who knows his lethal power best - Tony La Russa.

For the most part, the Cardinals' skipper was submerged in a brooding mood from which he rarely emerged. If I was a Wall Street Journal reporter, I'd say he was trying to form an opinion on Collateralized Debt Obligations during the game - but I would be gravely amiss. He was merely standing on the prow of an ill-fated ship and peering through the perplexing fog, like Captain Ahab pursuing his All Star whale.

I can only hope that when he comes to DC next month, he and his boys will have more reasons to be merry.

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