The longest title-drought in professional sporting history is on the verge of being broken.
For Chicago Cubs baseball fans, 107 years of no championships could end this season, with the Cubs reaching the post-season for the first time since 2008.
The thought of lifting the title is tempered by the idea that the Curse of the Billy Goat hangs over the team. The curse dates back to Game 4 of the 1945 World Series against Detroit at the Cubs’ home, Wrigley Field.
On that day William Sianis, owner of the Billy Goat Tavern in Chicago, arrived at the game with two tickets; one for himself and one for his goat Murphy.
After entering the stadium and watching a majority of the game, both Murphy and Sianis were asked to leave. The order came directly from Cubs owner P.K. Wrigley; the reason was the stench of the goat.
On leaving, the agitated Sianis is claimed to have said “The Cubs, they ain’t gonna win no more. The Cubs will never win the World Series so long as the goat isn’t allowed into Wrigley Field.”
The Cubs lost that day and lost the World Series in seven games. On hearing the result, Sianis sent a telegram to Wrigley asking “Who stinks now?” The curse was born.
Since that fateful day in 1945, the closest the Cubs have been to reaching the World Series was in 2003.
What happened in Game six of the National League Championship Series against the Florida Marlins still haunts Cubs fans. There were thousands of fans crammed into Wrigley Field that October night, hoping to see the Cubs, on a 3-2 lead, clinch a berth in the World Series. All seemed to be going to plan with the Cubs leading 3-0 in the eighth inning and sitting just a few outs away from victory.
The Marlins batter, Luis Castillo, fouled a ball into the sky and towards the crowd. Tracking the ball in the hope of making the catch was Cubs outfielder Moises Alou. Just as it seemed Alou would make the catch, a number of fans reached out to catch the ball. One made contact with the ball and stopped Alou from making the grab: Steve Bartman, a name that lives in infamy for the club.
The Marlins still had a chance to force a game seven with five outs remaining. The Marlins took that opportunity and capitalised on a spate of errors from the Cubs to win the game 8-3. The Cubs had opportunities to move on from the Bartman play and win the World Series in game seven, but they lost the decider 9-5.
Many Cubs fans believe that Bartman’s play was a sign from the curse of the Billy Goat, stopping them from winning the championship.
This happens to be the Year of the Goat. There could surely be no more fitting way to move on from the Bartman incident, and rid the Cubs if the curse, than to lift the World Series trophy this year. – Luke Cullen.
Top picture: Chicago Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta from the Chicago Cubs Official Twitter.