Chicago Cubs: What If the Team That Plays at Wrigley Field Is Cursed
People joke about curses and how they don't believe in them, and in most cases they are right.
But the more you look at the Chicago Cubs, the more you see things that just cannot be explained.
The history of the "Billy Goat curse" placed on the Cubs dates back to 1945—the last time the team played in the World Series. The owner of a local drinking establishment, William Sianis, brought his pet goat to the 1945 World Series with him and was subsequently kicked out due to the odor emanating from the goat.
That's when the curse was allegedly initiated, and since that time, the Cubs have never played in a World Series.
It could be coincidence.
It could also be bad ownership and management.
P.K. Wrigley, who was responsible for the goat being ejected, was not a baseball fan but kept the team out of respect for his father, William Wrigley, who had died many years before.
The Cubs were a powerhouse prior to 1945, and made it to the pinnacle—the Series—seven times.
Historically, one of the most famous curses was the "Curse of the Bambino."
That occurred after the 1919 season when the owner of the Boston Red Sox sold Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees for cash so he could finance a play.
The Red Sox had five World Series victories under their belt at the time but strangely never won again until 2004 when the curse was finally broken.
That brings us back to the Cubs. The "curse-breaker" running the team was none other than Theo Epstein.
The thinking is if you can break one curse you can break them all, but things might not be quite as easy in Chicago as they were in Beantown.
Unlike the Cubs, the Red Sox were always pretty good throughout the years—just coming up short when they played in the Fall Classic.
The Cubs, meanwhile, rarely competed, and for years, wallowed near the bottom of the standings when there were no divisions like there are today.
Even with the advent of divisional alignment, the Cubs still rarely excelled, except for an occasional good year or two.
But why weren't they able to break through even one time and win a World Series?
Not only couldn't they win one, they couldn't even get there.
But the organization came close.
In 1969, everything seemed right.
Under the direction of manager Leo Durocher, who worked the team like plow horses, rarely giving his starters a day off, the team broke down in the summer heat.
The black cat circling Ron Santo in the on-deck circle in New York as the season wore into September was just icing on the cake.
Then came 1984.
The Cubs surprised everyone and made the playoffs for the first time since 1945. It looked like the curse would be broken—at least the part about playing in the series with the Cubs up 2-0 in a best-of-five series.
They were a far superior team to their opponents, the San Diego Padres. The Padres evened things up at two games apiece going into that fateful final game.
With Rick Sutcliffe on the mound, the Cubs still looked like a good bet to win. He won the Cy Young award that year with a 16-1 record, following a trade from Cleveland in June.
The Cubs were leading 3-0 in the sixth before things started going downhill. All hope for the series was lost the next inning on a misplay by first baseman Leon Durham that was blamed on some Gatorade that had gotten on his glove.
It could only happen to the Cubs.
Was it just bad luck, or was it the curse?
That didn't compare to 2003 when Wrigley Field was rocking on a Thursday night with Mark Prior shutting down the Florida Marlins 3-0 in the eighth inning. Just five outs to go before "Wrigleyville" went up for grabs and the Cubs went to the World Series.
We all know what happened next.
Cubs fan Steve Bartman reached for a foul ball heading towards the stands that Cubs left fielder Moises Alou had a bead on. The ball dropped harmlessly in the aisle as Alou erupted and the fans wanted blood.
Have you ever heard that scenario play out in any other town to any other team before?
Of course the Cubs lost that game and the final game as Cubs fans wept once more.
After a few more teases in 2007 and 2008, a new era was on the horizon after a dismal 2011 season.
A savior had arrived.
Theo Epstein—yes, that Theo Epstein—left Boston and decided to try his luck in Chicago.
Finally, Cubs' fans had someone who had achieved the impossible with a plan to do the same in Chicago.
He would utilize money that new owner Tom Ricketts provided to draft talented players in the free agent draft and over-slot them, (meaning overpay them for where they were drafted) to replenish the Cubs barren system.
That was the plan.
But as is the Cubs luck, baseball decided to change the rules and make it almost impossible to do that anymore. That was decided the off-season after Theo came to town.
The world market was also shut out. There was now a cap on spending for players there too. The era of just throwing money at them to come to your team was over.
The timing is strange, isn't it? It all happened just as the Cubs hired a guy with the plan to utilize those methods to turn the team into a contender.
Was it just bad luck, or something else?
With that opportunity out the window, Epstein was hoping to parlay some of the Cubs veteran players into assets for the future at the trade deadline.
Ryan Dempster, seemingly a good guy, had said he would waive his trade rights so the Cubs could trade him to a contender. His contract was up after the season, so this would give him a chance to win this year while helping out the team that had secured his families' future.
Epstein pulled a rabbit out of a hat getting the Atlanta Braves to agree to swap him for Randall Delgado. Delgado was rated one of the top pitching prospects in baseball.
But wait: Dempster decided to exercise his 10 and five rights to quash the deal.
The Cubs ended up trading him right before the deadline for a much-lesser haul.
The other piece that would net the Cubs a number of top prospects was Matt Garza. A few weeks before the deadline, he came up with arm problems that shelved him and the Cubs dream of a package of goodies to restock the system.
Texas was supposedly going hard after him with a great group of prospects, but an arm injury for a pitcher who had never been hurt suddenly came at the most in-opportune time for the Cubs.
Strange how that happens—isn't it?
It was yet another roadblock out of nowhere hurting the teams' future.
Everyone has heard the saying "It's better to be lucky than good." The Cubs have rarely been either but luck definitely has its place in sports.
The St. Louis Cardinals made the playoffs on the last day of the season last year and ended up winning the World Series. They weren't the best team in baseball, but they won. The same thing happened for them in 2006 when they won only 83 games in the regular season but ended up the champions.
Meanwhile, the Atlanta Braves made the playoffs 14 consecutive seasons and came away with only one championship. You can't say they weren't good, but you can say they might not have been lucky.
Is not being lucky a curse in itself? If that's the case, then the Cubs are indeed cursed.
And how about the hallowed grounds of Wrigley Field—the beloved home of the team that has never brought them a World Series title. It makes you wonder if it was built over an ancient Indian burial ground or something.
That would be a curse, wouldn't it?
That reminds me of a line a former Cubs broadcaster once said many years ago, "Strange things continue to happen at Wrigley Field."
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