The Curse Of The Chicago Cubs

Darrell HorwitzSenior Writer IIApril 14, 2009

CHICAGO - OCTOBER 4:  A live goat is brought onto the field to 'remove a curse' placed on the Cubs during their last World Series appearence in 1945 before the Atlanta Braves take on the Chicago Cubs during game four of their National League Division Series October 4, 2003 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois.   (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

Screaming from the headlines in Chicago on Monday morning, opening day for the beloved Cubs, was word of a dead goat hung from the Harry Caray statue outside Wrigley Field.

It’s a replay of what also happened in 2007.

Last year, before the playoffs started, Cub chairman Crane Kenney had a Greek orthodox priest sprinkle holy water in the dugout.

What’s with all of this superstition?

Are the Cubs cursed?

The curse allegedly started on October 6, 1945 when William Sianis brought his billy goat named Murphy with him and tried to bring him into the ballpark. The Cubs were leading the series at the time two games to one.

After being refused admission, he put a curse on the Cubs saying that they would never play in the World Series again.

It must have been one helluva curse because the Cubs have never returned to the fall classic.

In 1969, the Cubs best chance up to that time to break the curse, the Cubs were sailing along with a nine and a half game lead on August 13.

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The Cubs started faltering, the New York Mets got hot, and on September 9, a black cat scurried around Ron Santo in the on deck circle before finally retreating from the field.

The Cubs also retreated as the Mets left them in the dust on their way to winning the World Series.

In 1984, the Cubs were up 2-0 on the San Diego Padres and were just one victory away from reaching the series.

The Cubs dropped the next two, and with Cy Young award winner Rick Sutcliffe pitching the decisive game, and leading 3-0 entering the sixth inning, the Cubs again fell apart.

Cub first baseman Leon Durham had supposedly spilled some Gatorade on his glove before the game, and the sticky substance hindered him fielding a ball that went between his legs and left Cub fans in the wake once again.

There were a few other playoff appearances in between, but the Cubs were overmatched both times.

Then came 2003 and the infamous Steve Bartman game, where he reached out trying to catch a foul ball and interfered with Moises Alou trying to secure the second out in the eighth inning with the Cubs leading 3-0.

We all know what happened next so I’ll spare you the details.

So, are the Cubs really cursed, or are they just cursed by really bad ownership and management throughout the years?

William Wrigley was a great owner and a big baseball fan, and while the Cubs were under his reign, they were constantly in the running for all the marbles.

He passed in 1932 and his son Phil Wrigley took over.

As is often the case, a dynamic leader with vision is often cursed with offspring that fall far from the family tree.

That was Phil Wrigley.

In perhaps his biggest error of which there were many, he left the Cubs as the only team without lights in Major League Baseball during his tenure.

There were plans at one time to install lights, but during World War II, he decided to donate them to the war effort and left the Cubs in the dark.

Playing all day games was definitely a detriment to the team, especially in the dog days of summer in Chicago.

That could be a reason why the Cubs have failed miserably for so many years.

Finally in 1988, under the Tribune Company, the team installed lights, bringing the Cubs into the 21st Century.

But just like Phil Wrigley, who viewed the team as an amusement, the Tribune Company had similar ideas, at least when it came to winning.

They initially hired Dallas Green to run the show and he appeared to have them on the right track, until he was fired and former Cub manager Jim Frey was pulled out of the announcing booth to take over his duties.

That was a big mistake as he ruined the team for years, though they did make the playoffs in 1989.

One inept GM after another came in to run the team until the Cubs brought in Andy MacPhail, a third generation baseball man who had helped lead the Minnesota Twins to two world titles.

But alas, he caught the same disease as everyone else and forgot how to put together a team. I won’t mention how cheap he was with the purse strings.

The Tribune viewed the Cubs as a business, and if you want to view their tenure in that way, they were a huge success.

But on the field, they were generally as abysmal as ever.

A new owner is waiting to take over the team from interim czar Sam Zell, who acquired them along with the newspaper and other holdings.

Tom Ricketts is his name, and he’s still gathering the funds together to put the finishing touches on the deal. The timing of the turnover keeps on getting delayed and is now pushed back to May or later.

Nobody knows what kind of owner he will be, but he grew up a Cub fan and met his wife in the bleachers at Wrigley Field.

The Cubs are currently in their 101st year of ineptitude, and while they have made the playoffs the last two years, they went down without a fight both times to further the suffering of their loyal fans who will not accept anything less than winning the World Series.

So to answer the question, are the Cubs cursed or cursed by bad management; it’s kind of a little of both.

They’ve definitely had bad luck throughout the years, but they’ve also brought a lot of that bad luck on themselves.

So I’m going to leave it up to you to decide if the Cubs are really cursed or not.

But in the meantime, the next time they want to hang something on Harry Caray’s statue to break the curse, I’m suggesting they string up current Billy Goat restaurant owner Sam Sianis.

He was at a party before the season started to supposedly again take off the curse. He had this wry smile on his face.

I took it as look at these suckers buying into this, as his cash register continues to go cha-ching, cha ching, at the expense of the Cub faithful.