Now it is the Sharks’ turn to overcome the Curse of the Bay-bino. No, our teams didn’t sell Babe Ruth — just traded Willie Mays and Mark McGwire — but they’ve been undone by a jinx, the Left Coast version.
Fame of late has been achieved less through suspension bridges than suspended belief. They did what? We’re the kings of the “Here We Go Again” syndrome.
That is, for those teams even successful enough to make the postseason.
At the moment, that category includes only the Sharks, the guys on ice having replaced those on the hot seat, the Giants, as the franchise most likely to get smacked in the kisser with a dirty dish rag.
You do remember Game 5 of the 2002 World Series?
The game which might haunt the Sharks was the Sunday opener of the Western Conference finals, no matter how the series turns out.
It was a rotten way to start a series, especially after crushing the Red Wings, and all those negative Bay Area feelings came zooming back with the force of a slap shot.
A few years ago, when the Englishman Tim Henman reached the Wimbledon semifinal for a fourth time, an English newspaper
produced a warning headline along the lines of, “Don’t you dare fail us again, Tim.”
Tim failed them again, getting eliminated once more just before the final, where no British man has appeared since 1936. Even the Giants have won a World Series since then, albeit as the New York Giants.
We’re not quite as desperate as the Brits at Wimbledon, but we’re getting there. Last Bay Area champion? The 1994 49ers.
Last Bay Area finalists? The 2002 Giants, who blew that three-games-to-two lead to the Angels in the World Series, then a few months later, the 2002 Raiders, who were blown away by Tampa Bay in Super Bowl XXXVII.
The Sharks have been teasing us for too long, getting accolades, getting upset. A season ago, they even had the best regular-season record in the NHL and then, arrgh, were beaten in the first round of the playoffs by Anaheim.
Explanations for that came at us almost as quickly as they did from BP about the oil leak. The Sharkies, however, never leak oil. They just implode.
Maybe not so much because of management or players as the curse. “I want winners,” shouts Niners coach Mike Singletary from those billboards. Well, make that shouted. That was last year’s promo. Now we’re told it’s “Never over ’til I say it’s over.”
The question is whether these Stanley Cup playoffs are over for the Sharks or, on the contrary, just beginning. Is this the time San Jose finally goes where it never has gone — to the finals — or goes as usual up in smoke?
It’s the Sharks. It’s the Bay Area. It’s life on the fault line, translated as, it’s not our fault, it’s yours. Or the goaltender’s.
But with hands over our eyes, we attempt to ignore history.
That would be fog in the summer, June swoons and teams which, no matter how talented, ultimately prove incapable of holding the trophy. Or even reaching for it. Curses!