Baseball lore is an important part of the game, especially when teaching kids about baseball. As a youth baseball coach, I’ve told countless kids the stories of the Black Sox, the Bambino and the Billy Goat and I can assure you the rapt attention I get from those stories dramatically surpasses the attention I get when I try to teach defensive positioning.
Baseball is a superstitious game, and I’m certain I will post about the more common ones, but for this post I want to focus on Curses. Curses are much bigger than mere superstitions, like not stepping on the foul line as you enter or exit the field. Curses befall an entire franchise, a town and the suffering fans. Players, coaches and ownership will tell you they don’t believe in Curses, but denial doesn’t help anyone. In 2004, the Curse of the Bambino, baseball’s most famous Curse, was finally broken after 86 years. In 2005, The Curse of the Black Sox was finally broken after 88 years! But as of 2010, the Curse of the Billy Goat lives on!
The Chicago Cubs have not won a World Series in over 100 years, but they haven’t even been in one in over 60 years! It all started in 1945 when Cubs fan and tavern owner Billy Sianis was asked to leave Wrigley field during a World Series game. Mr. Sianis, owner of the Billy Goat Tavern, had purchased two tickets to the game, one for him and one for his Billy goat. At some point during the game, other fans complained about the goat’s oder and Mr. Sianis was asked to leave. As he left, he spit on the floor and yelled “Them Cubs, they ain’t gonna win no more!” The Cubs lost that World Series, prompting Mr. Sianis to write to Cubs ownership “Who stinks now?”
As I mentioned earlier, ownership frequently denies the existence of a curse, but as the losing persisted, attempts were made to break the curse. Personally, I think these attempts have only strengthened the curse. The Cubs have come tantalizingly close to getting back to the Fall Classic and ending the Curse, only to lose on the doorstep of greatness. I can personally attest to the Power of this particular Curse with this story, which I swear to you is absolutely true. Every word.
In 2003, during the Marlins magical run, I had taken my family to Wrigley to see the Marlins v Cubs series. We had a fabulous time even though the Fish lost 2 of 3 games. When the Marlins next met the Cubs it was for the National League Championship Series! In Game 6 of that series, in the 8th inning, the Cubs were up 3-0 with one out. They needed only 5 more outs to win the Series, break the Curse and head to the World Series. After the Steve Bartman incident, the Marlins loaded the bases. My family was on the edge of our seats with our rally caps on. Miguel Cabrera hit a ground ball to short, a sure double play ball to end the inning. I knew I had to do something, so I did. I did my best Billy Goat impression, a loud “baaaaaaaa” sound, and Cubs shortstop Alex Gonzalez booted the grounder and everyone was safe. A few moments later, the floodgates were opened, and the Marlins scored 8 runs. You still doubt the Power of this Curse?! I didn’t think so.
So while my favorite baseball story of all time, the Curse of the Bambino, has lost some of it’s luster now that the Sox have broken it, the Curse of the Billy Goat still shines. Or should I say stinks?