The Chicago Cubs vs. a Smelly Goat

Many of you know that I’m a Chicago Cubs fan. I need you to know that it’s not a recent development, either. I’m not some bandwagon fan who jumped on board when they played well last year. I’m afraid I’ve been a Cubs fan for a long time, and it’s usually miserable.

Harry Caray interviewed Cubs star Ryne Sandberg in 1996. Photo by Eric Risberg, AP.

It all started during the summer before seventh grade. We had recently moved to a new town, so I spent the summer at home, entirely friendless. No big deal, since we had cable. TBS played a good number of Braves’ games, and WGN played the Cubs. I enjoyed watching both of them, and the Braves were tearing it up that year (1996), going as far as the World Series, which they lost to the Yankees.

Despite their excellent season, and excellent seasons to follow, they became a sort rivals to the Colorado Rockies (the home team for me, and the first live baseball game I ever attended), so I was obligated to cheer against the Braves, as futile as it was.

Regardless, I still liked the Cubs more than the Rockies. Sure, let’s root, root, root for the home team, unless the Cubs are in town.

I guess I blame Ryne Sandberg and Harry Caray, the Cubbies now Hall of Fame second baseman, and their iconic announcer.

With that in mind, I guess maybe it started before that fateful summer. Ryne Sandberg was a coveted player in my baseball card collection, and we managed to share a nickname.

Ryno, before you ask. And no, I don’t answer to it anymore.

Side note: Christmas is coming. This is my list.

Whatever the reason, I love my Cubbies. They may not have played like the Braves in the late 90s, or ever, but they can’t help it.

They’re under the Curse of the Billy Goat.

Makes perfect sense, right? Of course it does. It all started in 1945, which up until about last week or so, was the last time that the Cubs played in the World Series.

Things were going well. We were up on the Detroit Tigers 2-1 in the series and playing at home. And then Billy Sianis showed up with his plus-one: Murphy the goat. Everything was as legitimate as you’d hope. Sianis had purchased two tickets to the game and everything. After all, what kind of lunatic let’s his goat sit on his lap during the World Series?

william-sianis-and-goat-02

William “Billy” Sianis and Murphy. Hardly as lovable as the pair pictured above.

Maybe this is the better question: What kind of a guy brings a goat to a baseball game in the first place? Simple. The guy that owns the Billy Goat Tavern. The goat wasn’t merely livestock. He was the bar’s mascot, and Murphy came draped in a banner that read “We got Detroit’s goat.” Frankly, it was an excellent marketing stunt, and a killer sentiment. Boo Tigers!

From here, the story gets a little fuzzy. Some say neither William or the goat were admitted into the game. Because duh.

Others suggest that they were indeed admitted, but other fans began to complain following a rain delay. As it turns out, wet goats stink worse than dry ones, and the pair was asked to leave.

Either way, Billy and Murphy were greatly offended by their mistreatment, and Sianis allegedly said that “the Cubs will never win a World Series so long as the goat is not allowed in Wrigley Field.”

The Aftermath

The Cubs went on to drop three straight to the Tigers and lose the 1945 World Series. Some even say that in the days following the loss, Sianis sent a telegram to Cubs owner P.K. Wrigley that read: “Who stinks now?”

Following the placement of the curse, the Cubs’ record was 1683-2073, carrying a less than stellar winning percentage of .448 through 1969. I guess Sianis felt bad after seeing the mess that he spoke into existence. He actually lifted the curse before his death in 1970, not that it helped.

Since then, mostly in jest (I hope…) several attempts have been made to break the curse. William’s nephew Sam has been invited to Wrigley Field on multiple occasions to walk a goat around the field. A charity has even been founded where goats (and other essentials) are provided to families around the world that could use them.

In April, 2013, a valiant effort was made by an unknown fan to break the curse. This person left a box at Wrigley Field, which contained the severed head of a black goat. Nice try, but we finished that season 66-96.

Our First Post-Curse World Series

Things were looking up this season. We ended the 2016 season with a 103-58 record, firmly in first place. We stormed through the playoffs, and clinched the National League pennant for the first time since the curse was placed. And then we ran into the Cleveland Indians.

Cleveland has a way with shutting down the best team in the league. The Cavaliers of the NBA did it to the Golden State Warriors last season, bringing the championship trophy to Cleveland, even after the Cavs were down 3-1 in the finals.

You know who else is down 3-1 in the series? Yeah… the Cubs. Does this portend of great fortune for us?

It could happen, and I will cheer accordingly, but whether we win or lose, I’ll still be a fan.

holycow

It makes more sense if you watch that video up there. It’s only six seconds. Do it.

 

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