The last time Chicago Cubs fans had something to celebrate about was in 1908 when the baseball team won the World Series for the second consecutive year against the Detroit Tigers. Though the Cubs went on to appear in seven World Series thereafter, they came up empty each time. The 108-year drought, the longest by any major American sports team, finally came to an end after an 8-7, 10-inning victory over the Cleveland Indians in a thrilling Game 7 that began Wednesday night (Nov 2) and ended early Thursday morning (Nov 3).
En route to the championship, the Cubs became the first team in 31 years to recover from a 3-1 deficit. The last team to do that was the Kansas City Royals in 1985. Additionally, they also won the final two games on the road. It has been 37-years since the Pittsburgh Pirates had a similar World Series victory against the Baltimore Orioles in 1979.
But most important of all, the win indicates that the Cubs have finally buried the Curse of the Billy Goat, which has been tormenting the team for over 70 years. According to the legend, in 1945, William Sianis, the owner of Chicago’s famous Billy Goat Tavern, decided to bring the bar’s mascot, a goat named Murphy, to the Cubs’ fourth World Series game against the Detroit Tigers. However, animals were not allowed in the field. Hence despite having a ticket, Murphy who also smelled bad, was denied access to the game.
The upset Sianis allegedly declared, "Them Cubs, they ain't gonna win no more!" He then continued his rant in a telegram to team owner Philip K. Wrigley, saying, "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." The Cubs not only lost the 1945 World Series but also finished in 5th place or lower for the next 20 years until the death of “Billy Goat” Sianis.
Over the years, there have been numerous attempts to lift the curse. Sianis’s nephew has shown up at Chicago’s Wrigley Field with a goat several times on Opening Day for good luck. In 2009, a Greek Orthodox priest was brought in to bless the Cubs’ dugout with holy water. In 2012, five Cub fans, who dubbed themselves “Crack the Curse,” walked all the way from the team’s training camp in Mesa, Arizona to Chicago’s Wrigley Field, a distance of 1,700-miles, with a goat named Wrigley in tow!
But the team never quite recovered from the curse until 2011, when Theo Epstein became President of Baseball Operations. Under his management, the Cubs went from being dead last in the league to making the playoffs in 2015. This year, they are champions. Though the world may be surprised by the turnaround, especially given the famed curse, Epstein is not. The 37-year-old knows that a solid roster of players can break any curse.
That is, after all, exactly what Epstein did after joining the Boston Red Sox in 2002. The team had been plagued by a similar curse that came about when Babe Ruth was traded to the New York Yankees in 1919. In 2004, under Epstein’s guidance, the Red Sox were finally able to overcome the “Curse of the Bambino” and win the World Series.
This year’s disappointing loss means that the Cleveland Indians, who last won the World Series in 1948, are now the team with the longest dry spell between championships. Hopefully, they too will be able to break the streak of bad luck in 2017.
Resources: cnn.com, nbcnews.com, wikipedia.org.