I’m sorry y’all, but it’s my fault. I’ve thought a lot about the series of unfortunate events that have happened at the expense of the Yale Bulldogs recently, and I have come to the grim realization that I am responsible.
I finished my job calling play-by-play for the Yale women’s basketball team’s broadcast on the Ivy League Digital Network and rushed to my friend’s apartment to watch the end of the Yale-Dartmouth men’s basketball game. I got there with less than one minute to go. The Wall Street Journal later reported that Yale had a 99.1 percent chance of winning at that time. I was the 0.9 percent. Abandoning my thesis, I then road-tripped down to the Palestra the next weekend, only to watch Yale’s hopes at the NCAA tournament rest on the rim, then crash into the ground. I returned to the library Sunday, but was drawn to Ingalls by the Twitter updates that were blowing up my phone. I got there just in time for the second overtime loss. That was all in just one week.
Like most tragedies, this started with the purest of intentions. I love sports. I loved playing them first and foremost, but no coach in their right mind would have given me one look, other than to see how effortless it looked when the opposing pitcher rung me up or when a runner took an extra base on one of my signature dropped fly balls. What a pity, because if some coach had been foolish enough to let me ride the end of the bench or carry the water, maybe none of this would have happened. I guess hindsight is 20–20.
With no opportunity to play sports other than intramurals, I looked to find another outlet for my passion. I found it in the Yale Daily News sports section. Writing about sports seemed like a perfect fit — I loved to write, and having made every mistake possible on the field, I knew how to spot when a player messed up.
My first beat was the Yale men’s basketball team. The first game I went to, Yale at Quinnipiac, would portend things to come. In what could only be described as an “ugly” game, the Bobcats out-muscled the Bulldogs for a close win. But then the tide seemed to turn. Led by forward Greg Mangano ’12 and guard Reggie Willhite ’12, the Elis were a force to be reckoned with in the Ivy League. Yale went into the final weekend of the regular season with a chance to win the League, and claim its automatic bid to the Big Dance. But the first seeds of Yale’s misfortune had begun to grow and bear fruit. Injuries depleted Yale’s backcourt, denying the Bulldogs their best chance at the Ivy crown.
From there, it snowballed. I covered a talented Yale baseball team that somehow lost 33 games. I then transitioned to football, covering the squad’s injury- and misfortune-riddled 2–8 campaign in 2012. In retrospect, I may have done more damage to Yale’s quarterback corps than any defensive lineman ever could, as I watched three signal callers get wounded in a single game, forcing head coach Tony Reno to raid his wide receivers for a quarterback.
After that season, my editors gave me a choice that I believe has had repercussions throughout the history of Yale Athletics. They asked me if I wanted to cover men’s ice hockey or men’s basketball. Hockey may be Yale’s best sport, but growing up in Richmond, seeing that much ice in one place just made me think I would have school off the next day. Plus I am a college basketball fanatic, and I had grown to really care about head basketball coach James Jones and the great group of players he had brought together as I had covered them the previous season. I chose to stay with basketball. They finished under 0.500 and the Yale men’s ice hockey team won the National Championship. Was I responsible? The short answer: Yes. I only hate to imagine what would have happened if I hadn’t had the presentation in Natty Resources that prevented me from traveling down to Pittsburgh to watch the Frozen Four.
Looking at the statistics for how Yale has fared with and without me, my curse crystallizes. Yale is 0–4 in the Game with me in attendance. I covered the baseball, football and men’s basketball teams for five combined seasons, and those teams had a total of one winning season during my reign of terror. The seasons that I stopped covering those teams, football shot back up to 5–5, the baseball team came within a playoff of the Ivy League championship series and the basketball team fought its way to the final game of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament. Yale men’s basketball has tipped off against Harvard nine times in my four years. I have been to six of those games. The Bulldogs are 0–6 when I am in attendance, but 2–1 when I fortuitously stay home.
The Boston Red Sox suffered from the Curse of the Bambino for 86 long years. The Chicago Cubs still endure the effects of the curse of the Billy Goat that started more than a century ago. Stock up on your horseshoes and rabbit feet, Yale fans, because the Bulldogs are under the Condro Curse.