The Curse of the Bambino lives!

It's been 2 ½ years since the Boston Red Sox finally exorcised their famous demons.

But ever since the World Series victory of 2004, something weird has been going on. Maybe the bad luck that had haunted the team for 86 years didn't go away ... it just transferred itself to the team's owners.

Both John W. Henry, the principal owner, and New York Times ( NYT), his partner, have suffered an astonishing string of bad news ever since that famous moment.

And there are some very eerie coincidences.

Henry's business is now in a deep crisis. Long-standing client Merrill Lynch ( MER) is yanking $500 million from his commodities and futures trading company, according to reports published Tuesday in The Wall Street Journal.

Merrill, as usual these days, declined to comment. Ken Webster, president of John W. Henry & Co., did not return calls either.

Can't say I blame them.

The move would send Henry's assets under management plunging to barely $500 million. That compares with a peak of $3.3 billion at the end of 2004.

They're down 70% this year alone.

The move leaves Henry's firm just a couple of banana-skins from disaster, according to one longtime observer.

"If the performance doesn't recover, and continues as it has for the past three years, he'll experience further withdrawals and it would be very difficult for him to continue," warns industry veteran Perry Jonkheer, president of Illinois-based Institutional Advisory Services Group.

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