The Red Sox lose a key part of their allure with Series victoryDoes the name Susan Lucci ring a bell? A few years ago, she had a publicity juggernaut going that kept her in the news. And it was built on failure, not success.
Lucci, who stars in the perennial daytime series All My Children, was famous for having never won an Emmy Award, despite being nominated something like, I don't know, 6 million times. Her inability to win the trophy was, year in and year out, the biggest story in the soap-opera world. Publicity gold. Then something awful happened. She won. The biggest achievement of her career marked the beginning of its end. Now you never hear about her.
"Winning the Emmy basically ended Lucci's reign as queen of the soaps," says a publicist from a rival daytime serial. "She lost the gimmick [that] made her familiar even to those who didn't watch daytime TV."
Lucci's Pyrrhic Emmy victory draws similarities to the Boston Red Sox, whose unbelievable comeback against their nemesis, the New York Yankees, coupled with their subsequent World Series triumph - an almost anticlimactic four-game sweep over the St. Louis Cardinals - may end up being a "Lucci." The Red Sox hadn't won a World Series since 1918 -a bad-luck streak stemming from the club's trade of Babe Ruth to New York about a year later. Known as "The Curse of the Bambino," it's provided a publicity mother lode for the Sox, generating attention that transcends sports and enthralls casual fans across the US.
Who doesn't love an underdog? Or a good ghost story? The idea of the Babe's spirit shadowing the Sox and jinxing their chances is priceless publicity. The Cowardly Lion believed in spooks and so does most everyone else, at least in the dark.
From purely a publicity point of view, the Sox Series triumph will have great payoff in the near future, but may very well be a strikeout in the long run. Without the Curse's magic, the team loses the very identity that's made it so popular. Austin Powers without his mojo. Kong Island without Kong. Pamela Anderson without her, well, you get the point.
If I were the club's publicist, I would have lit a candle beneath Ruth's picture while wishing for a shattering, heartbreaking World Series loss. The Curse would become more legendary, more powerful, more alluring. As it stands, Boston's victory will likely cause millions of causal fans to support the Chicago Cubs.
Lawrence Mitchell Garrison is an LA-based freelance publicist and writer