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MARKETPLACE:  Auto | Jobs | People Search | Personals | Travel | Yellow Pages  January 16, 2005
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St. Louis again on brink of losing title to Boston team
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ST. LOUIS (AP) -- On the verge of ridding themselves of �The Curse,� Boston�s Red Sox chased their first World Series title in 86 years. And many St. Louis fans were muttering curses of their own, lamenting just another season in which a Beantown team sought to snatch away another title.

The last time any St. Louis professional football, hockey or even basketball team has made it to a title game, Boston claimed the prize. That city now hopes to extend that to baseball.

On Wednesday night, the Red Sox entered Game 4 of the World Series looking to complete a sweep of the Cardinals and snap the �Curse of the Bambino��a whammy that landed on the franchise after it sold Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees in 1920.

The refrain in this Gateway City: Curses, not Boston again.

�I�m very, very sick of them. You just want to scream,� said Marianne Sutter, a 37-year-old Missouri Baptist Medical Center patients-accounts representative who cheers for the hometown Cardinals, Rams and Blues. When it comes to Boston, �they�re definitely a thorn in our side.�

If a reverse curse is in play, that�s OK with Red Sox fan Jeff Figueiredo.

�If one curse cancels out the other, that�s fine with me.  Whatever it takes,� the 25-year-old Boston-area native now living in Seattle said while in a Busch Stadium line Wednesday, hoping for a ticket to Game 4, having flown into town the previous night.

�It�s definitely easy to be a Boston fan right now. It just pays off after�what? -- a lifetime of disappointment. Now, finally, it pays off.�

For Boston teams, it�s paid off before at St. Louis� expense.

Rams fans salivated during the 2001 season over the hometown

team billed as the �Greatest Show on Turf.� Seeking their second NFL title in three seasons, the Rams rolled to a league-best 14-2 regular-season mark, leading the league in offense and finishing third in defense while outscoring opponents by more than two touchdowns per game.

Kurt Warner was the league MVP, his 4,830 passing yards second only to Dan Marino by any quarterback in any season. And running back Marshall Faulk, with his fourth straight 2,000-yard season of combined yardage, was offensive player of the year.

The Rams already had beaten New England 24-17 that season, and odds-makers favored St. Louis by more than two touchdowns in what many saw as a classic Super Bowl mismatch.

�I�d like to win by 30 points. I�d like to win by 20 points,� Warner said then of facing the Patriots, who play their home games in Foxboro, Mass. �But I�d be perfectly happy if we win by one.  That�s the only thing I care about. A one-point win.�

It wasn�t to be.

The Patriots scored a 20-17 upset on Adam Vinatieri�s 48-yard,

last-play field goal.

�We shocked the world,� Vinatieri exalted then after the Patriots became the first from the New England region to win a pro football title since the 1928 Providence Steamrollers. �We�re champions. Wooooo!�

St. Louis Blues fans had hoped to shout the same in 1970, after watching the hockey franchise in its first two years of existence make the Stanley Cup finals, only to be swept both times by Montreal.

The Blues� bid for the 1970 crown were unhinged by the Boston Bruins, who also swept to victory. Hall of Fame defenseman Bobby Orr scored the series-clinching goal in overtime of Game 4, his heroics captured in a famous photo showing him flying through the air after being tripped by St. Louis� Noel Picard.

The title ended the Bruins� 29-year Stanley Cup drought. The Blues�despite last year extending to 25 its run of consecutive playoff appearances, the longest streak in the four major sports�haven�t been to a Stanley Cup final since.

Even when St. Louis had professional basketball, Boston proved to be this city�s bane. The St. Louis Hawks and Bill Russell�s Celtics squared off in championship series four times between 1957 and 1961, with the Hawks� only title coming in 1958. A decade later, the Hawks left for Atlanta.

With the baseball season winding down and a lockout clouding the NHL season, St. Louis fans soon will be turning their full attention to the Rams (4-3), the defending NFC West champions enjoying a bye week.

Next up on the schedule? The Patriots, defending Super Bowl champs.


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