Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Curse of the Cubs

(We haven't done a historic piece for awhile, and the way the Cubbies have been taking the Bucs to the woodshed, we thought we'd tell you why the boys from Wrigley don't have a chance to wear World Series' rings this year.)

Yah, the Pirates are making the Chicago Cubbies look like the reincarnation of the 1927 Yankees. You might know that the Chi-town North Siders haven't won a World Series since 1908. But did you know they were cursed - by a wet goat?

Back in 1945, William "Billy Goat" Sianis brought his goat, named Murphy, to Wrigley Field during Game 4 of the World Series. Sianis was the owner of the nearby Billy Goat Tavern and a true blue Cubs fan. Murphy was a stray goat that had fallen off a truck, wandered into the ginmill, and was adopted by the barkeeper.

Since there were no signs or warnings that barred animals from the park, Sianis figured he would have no problem bringing Murphy to the park. Ready with a ticket for himself and a ticket for his goat, Sianis and his pet were allowed into Wrigley Field and even paraded around the field before the game.

After some arguing with security and the ushers, the pair took their seats and watched the game, until it started to rain.

Then orders came directly from Cubs owner Phil Wrigley to escort both Sianis and his goat out of the park. The reason given was "because the goat stinks". Well, yah, wet goats do. As the outraged Sianis left, he was heard to say "The Cubs ain't gonna win no more. The Cubs will never win a World Series so long as the goat is not allowed in Wrigley Field."

Sianis left Chicago the next day on vacation. After the Cubs lost the Series to the Tigers in seven games, Sianis sent a wire to Wrigley that simply said "Who stinks now?" Cub fans believe the curse still exists.

Examples of the curse? Here's just a select few:

* The 1969 Cubs featured a team of Chicago legends like Bingo Banks, Ron Santo, Ferguson Jenkins, and Billy Williams. Many consider it the greatest Cub team of all time. The were 9-1/2 games up on the Mets in late August and rolling towards destiny.

The curse is said to have resurfaced on September 9th, 1969 when a black cat ran onto the field as the Cubs played a crucial series against the Mets at Shea. After running circles around Ron Santo in the on-deck circle, the black cat quietly darted back underneath the stands.

The Cubs lost the series and eventually finished 9 games out of first.

* In 1984, led by MVP Ryne Sandberg and Cy Young Winner Rick Sutcliffe, the Cubs jumped to an early 2-0 series lead over the San Diego Padres. The Padres took the next two meetings to force a deciding game 5.

Leading 3-0, it looked like the Cubs would finally break the curse. Instead, the Padres scored two runs to trim the lead to one. Then in the 7th inning, with a runner on second, a ground ball was bounced to 1B Leon Durham. It rolled between his legs and the Padres scored. Two batters later, the Padres would take the lead and the win.

* How about the goat curse traveling to Boston with an ex-Cub? Bill Buckner's infamous error cost the Bosox the 1986 Series. And now we know the cause of the misplay. A picture of him walking off the field in dejection showed a tattered batting glove under his first baseman's mitt. A Cub batting glove.

* On October 14, 2003, during a playoff game against the Florida Marlins, Steve Bartman tried to snag a souvenir foul ball near the left field wall. As Cubs LF Moises Alou attempted to catch the fly, Bartman (and others, in fairness), slapped the ball out of his grasp. The Cubs finished that year one game away from the Series.

Bartman almost had to join the witness protection program. Before the 2004 season the Steve Bartman ball was ceremonially destroyed at Harry Caray's Restaurant.

We won't even count last year, when the Cubs stranded 30 runners in a three game brooming by the D-Backs, and Sweet Lou yanked Carlos Zambrano in the sixth inning of a pitcher's duel because he wanted to save him for the fourth game - which was never played.

And forget the June swoons and late season leads squandered over the years. After all, you can't blame Murphy for everything. The ballplayers and managers brought some of it down on themselves.

A butchered goat was hanged from the Harry Caray statue on October 3, 2007, but the Sun-Times dryly noted: "If the prankster intended to reverse the supposed billy goat curse with the stunt, it doesn't appear to have worked." Nope, there's only one cure.

If we were Cub suits, we wouldn't hesitate to hold a goat day at Wrigley. Maybe that'll satisfy Sianis and Murphy, who must be enjoying the commotion they caused from their box seats in the sky.

Cub Curse Video

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