Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2005
Bad Day: You wouldn't want to have been a White Sox fan at the White House staff meeting this morning. The boss and all the other Texans were already grumpy from staying up till 2:20 a.m. to watch the Astros lose the longest World Series game in history. Now they have to spend the rest of the day watching some suit from Chicago serve up indictments.
This morning's split-screen highlights of the president's mother suffering through last night's loss and the president's staff suffering through this week's waiting game raise the uncomfortable question: Is Texas cursed?
Texas is the second-largest state in the nation. Yet in its entire storied history, the state has produced two presidents, both of whom crashed and burned after five years in office, and two baseball teams, neither of which had even made the World Series until this year. Now the Astros are one game away from elimination, and Bush is one indictment away from a similar fate. (Quibblers: Bush 41 was a Connecticut Yankee who vacationed in Maine; Ike was born in Texas but grew up in Kansas.)
Not even Oliver Stone could have imagined the eerie parallel between Bush and LBJ. Both men overcame the soft bigotry of low expectations to enjoy surprising electoral success. Both brought Texas-sized ambitions to the White House and insisted that America could binge on both guns and butter. Both squandered their high-flying popularity by mismanaging foreign entanglements. In their fifth year in office, both watched their own party sour on cronies they nominated for the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, Astros fans have every right to assume their team is cursed. When this season began, the four teams whose fans had waited the longest for their team to make the Series were from Chicago and Texas.
Both Chicago teams are famously cursed: The Cubs haven't won the Series in nearly a century; the Sox haven't won in four score and seven years. Cubs fans blame the Curse of the Billy Goat; Sox fans blame the Black Sox scandal of 1919.
By contrast, if the Texas teams are cursed, nobody outside Texas has shown much sympathy, or even noticed. Both the Rangers (born in Washington in 1961 and transplanted to Arlington in 1972) and Astros (born in 1962) are expansion franchises—rather like Texas itself. So, even though neither had even made the Series until this year, both are still too young to tug at the heartstrings of America's most nostalgic pastime.
Texans no doubt seethe at this traditionalist bias of the baseball press corps. In its Series preview, the closest the Washington Post could come up to identifying a curse was that Houston's original Colt .45s logo included a "smoking gun." Down in Texas, fans must have rolled their eyes and scoffed that only liberal elite city boys would consider a smoking gun to be a curse.
Rain DeLay: After watching Astros relievers serve up not one, but two, game-winning home runs in Sunday night's thrilling White Sox victory, and another one last night, it's hard not to consider another uncomfortable question: Is Houston on the take?
Scrawny White Sox outfielder Scott Podsednik, who won Game 2 with a 400-foot blast, hadn't hit a home run in over 500 at-bats in the regular season. Last night's hero, Geoff Blum, hit only one other home run for the Sox this year, and his batting average for Chicago was right at the dreaded Mendoza line.