The Cubs Curse: Everything You Need to Know

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It is one of the most enigmatic and misunderstood myths of Major League Baseball Association (MLB). Some think of it as a hoax while others -perhaps the more of the superstitious kind- believe it to be true.

It has been referred to as the, ‘Curse of the Billy Goat.’

What may come off to many as a quintessential fairytale narrative, the curse started in 1945 when the owner of a Billy Goat Tavern, William Sianis, gained entrance to Wrigley Field—the home stadium of the Chicago Cubs. It should also be noted that the Cubs had not won a World Series since 1908.

After the game had begun, Sianis was eventually escorted out of the stadium due to the sordid odor of his pet goat, which was allegedly bothering the other fans during the game. In an outrage, Sianis declared that the Cubs would never ‘win no more,’ a statement that has been the source of controversy and debate both in recent months -given the success of the Cubs- and in the past. Subsequently, the team went on to lose the 1945 World Series, which many rationally dismissed as coincidence, while others believed that the omen had begun its curse.

Of course, the accuracy of his generic, riddled claim can be measured in ways that others have been hard-pressed to quantify. Could he have referred to the outset of the team never qualifying for the World Series? Or maybe winning a single game during the championship? If either of these queries are true, then the curse would be fallacious in nature. On the other hand, if Sianis was referring to the possibility of never winning a World Series, then he may have some legitimacy.

If we are to arrive at pragmatic conclusions about an irrational claim, then we have to consider the historical facts.

First, the Cubs have not won a World Series since 1908, nor have they qualified for the coveted prize since 1945 despite acquiring extremely talented players by the likes of Sammy Sosa, Greg Maddux, Jimmie Foxx, Richie Ashburn, Fred Lindstrom, Ernie Banks, Kerry Wood and many more. Many of the aforementioned players were Hall of Famers—some of whom played for more games with the Cubs than any other team.

So their predicament has not been due to a question of luck as much as, shall we say, luck?

Then on the irrational side, one has to recognize the frequency of bad omen-like occurrences during the games of recent past. One the most controversial and incidental happenings -perhaps in all of sports history- occurred during the eighth inning of the 2003 during the National League Conference Championship. With the Cubs having onto a 3-2 series lead against the Florida Marlins, Luis Castillo fouled a ball that was playable for Moisés Alou. His catch was interfered by a fan named Steve Bartman, however, which many say disrupted the flow of the inning.

The Marlins would eventually score eight runs in the inning, thereby gaining victory and clinching the series in game seven. For many, this is the most commonly associated game with the curse.

However, sometimes a mere player can supposedly spread the curse.

In 1986, first baseman Bill Buckner, who played for the Chicago Cubs for seven seasons before being traded to the Boston Red Sox, committed a routine error that cost the latter team its first championship since 1918. However, the Red Sox would gain three titles in the 21st century, which put an end to all prattle regarding their curse.

It goes to surmise that the Cubs’ curse is simply incidental, and has no remote affiliation to the history of William Sianis and his goat. To suggest otherwise would imply that the Red Sox simply gained their three World Series titles through sheer luck. But to posit that argument would only bolster the notion that all accolades in sports are acquired through the same process?

What does this writer think?

Let the athletes play and put all of the cryptic jargon to rest.

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