I have lived most of my life as a tortured baseball fan. I grew up in the Boston area, and spent years cheering on a team that just couldn’t get to the world series. Everything changed in 2004 when they ended their 85 year drought and won. At that time, the Red Sox and the Cubs were on the top 5 list of most years between championships, 85 years and 96 years respectively. If the Red Sox could do it, surely now it’s time for the Cubs, right? I’ve said that so many times since 2004! (Oh and that other Chicago team, the White Sox endend their 87 year drought in 2005.)
There have been several close calls over the years, but this spring everyone I know was convinced that this, this is the year. We pulled out the W flag out and started flying it this spring. My husband is traditional, so the flag only flies after they win. It came down at the end of June for a loss and then I changed it out for the American flag in preparation for the 4th of July. Several weeks went by and then my son grabbed the flag and put it in with his dorm room boxes. So now what, the flag is with him. I guess I better buy another one.
I will be the first to admit, I’m not a great fan. I love spring training and we go to Florida every year for spring break so when the dates match up, we try to go to a Red Sox game (The Cubs train in Arizona). We see them either at the Twins stadium or at Mini-Fenway and it’s so much fun. Usually I watch the opening day games and gradually follow results as the season progresses. I definitely lose interest in July and August, because really, there are still so many games and things get more interesting in September. Between the Red Sox and the Cubs, I’ve had enough disappointment to make me a bit cynical until the play-offs get close.
But here we are, about to watch game 1 of the World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians! In preparation for that, I’ve put together some fun-facts with freakish coincidences that relate to these teams and the World Series:
- The two men that ran the 2004 Red Sox team, that ended the 85 year drought between championships, are now on opposite sides. Theo Epstein is now the President of the Cubs and Terry Francona is the manager of the Indians.
- The two teams with the longest active championship droughts are the Indians (68 years) and the Cubs (108 years).
- The 1948 Indians finished their regular season tied with the Red Sox. They play a one game play-off and beat the Red Sox to then go on and beat the Boston Braves in the World Series.
- In the 1989 film Back to the Future II, The Cubs won the World Series in 2015 after more than 100 years. Prediction off by just one year? Let’s hope!
We can’t forget about the curses!
The Curse of the Bambino: The Red Sox sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees who had never won a World Series. After that, the Red Sox hit their slump and the Yankees have won 27 championships. It wasn’t unusual for the “ghost of the Bambino” to be seen running through Fenway when the Yankees were in town. There were many years of torment including chants of “1918” during rivalry games. Some declared the curse broken during a game on August 31, 2004, when a foul ball hit by Manny Ramirez struck a boy in the face, knocking two of his teeth out. This 16 year old fan whose favorite player was Ramirez, lived on the farm in Sudbury, MA once owned by Babe Ruth. That same day, the Yankees suffered their worst loss in team history, 22-0 to the Cleveland Indians. Of course, that is the year they came back from an 0-3 disadvantage to beat the Yankees and go on to win the ALCS and the World Series! (If you want to relive that excitement watch the 2005 movie Fever Pitch.)
The Curse of the Billy Goat: During game 4 of the 1945 series Billy Sianis, the owner of The Billy Goat Tavern, showed up with his pet goat Murphy. Other fans were offended by Murphy’s odor and Billy and Murphy were asked to leave. In his outrage Billy shouted “Them Cubs, they ain’t gonna win no more,” which has been interpreted to mean that either the Cubs would never win another National League Pennant or else that they would never again win a World Series.
Prior to his death on October 22, 1970 (let’s pause and look at that date) Billy Sianis tried multiple times to reverse the curse by sending his nephew to Wrigley Field with a goat. He did this on opening day in 1984 and 1989 both years in which the Cubs won their division. He also went in 1994 to stop a home game losing streak and again in 1998 for the Wild Card tie-breaker game, which the Cubs won. On October 22, 2016, the Cubs beat the Dodgers to earn their first trip to the World Series since 1945!
I have read that some Indian fans plan to bring goats to Progressive Field tonight to keep the goat curse alive. I don’t think it works that way, but I appreciate their spirit!
Now for some fun:
The Cubs have just added Kyle Schwarber to tonights line-up as a DH. He had a great rookie season last year but was injured early this season. It’s great to see his name again, plus it’s fun to say!
In 2013 we attended a fundraiser for St. Judes Hospital and won a framed Kerry Wood jersey and tickets to “family day” at Wrigley Field. We got to go down on the field, the kids ran the bases, hit balls in the batting cages, sat in the dugout and we all got to peek into the Cubs locker room.
And now, it’s 10 minutes til game time so I better wrap this up! Go Cubs!