I planted Shamrocks in the back yard this week (true), but not with any hope of producing a four-leaf clover for my favorite, flummoxed, tortured sporting franchise.

The market on jinxes and hexes is, in fact, drying up. I saw a witch doctor on the corner this week holding a sign “Homeless since Cubs won.”

These days, outside of the Cleveland Indians’ office,  you can’t find a pagan priest not on the dole.

Forget about flowers–where have all the curses gone?

Wednesday night, to the thrill of my journalism colleagues with degrees from the prestigious School of Ann-Medill-Margret, Northwestern basketball defeated Michigan on a last-second basket.

Fans stormed the court in Evanston as fast as Northwestern sportswriters stormed Twitter.

Stewart Mandel, in attendance as an alum and history recorder,  penned an excellent story for Fox Sports about the night HIS school finally clinched (likely) its first NCAA Tournament bid.

Mind you, Northwestern hosted the first NCAA Tournament in 1939, but has never played in it…until now.

Official word won’t be delivered until Selection Sunday on March 12. In the bible, Moses delivered the good news from on high. In basketball,  it comes from Greg Gumbel.


“It’s really happening,” Mandel wrote. “I wouldn’t believe it, except I saw it with my own eyes.”

This was a glorious night for Northwestern and its band of merry journalism pranksters—Michael Wilbon, Christine Brennan, Andy Bagnato,  Tim Kawakami, Helene Elliott, Alan Abrahamson, Brent Musburger, Ben Bolch, Mark Purdy, J.A. Adande, Mark Fanaru-Wada and TMG’s very own Herb Gould.

Now what?

In 1999, I went to my bosses at the Los Angeles Times and pitched a story on “curses” in sports.

It was borne of my own belief that my boyhood team, ironically nicknamed “Angels,” was forever haunted by goblins from the netherworld.

This wasn’t just blowing smoke up Gene Autry’s cowboy hat.  A series of mishaps and tragedies, on and off the field, plagued the franchise to the point General Manager Buzzie Bavasi once ordered a real exorcism to be performed at home plate.

There were hearsay stories that the organization had been condemned for erecting Anaheim Stadium, in 1966, on an old Indian burial ground.

The clincher for me came opening day in 1999 when first baseman Mo Vaughn, in the first inning of his $80-million contract, tumbled into the dugout chasing down a pop fly.

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