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The odor of Murphy the Billy Goat was enough to prevent the team from reaching World Series glory even after a 2-1 series lead against the Detroit Tigers in 1945. Steve Bartman’s out-stretched arms prevent a crucial second out in game 6 of the NLCS against the Florida Marlins in 2003. The stray black cat that would grace the field at Shea Stadium to send the Cub’s 1969 campaign into losses of historic proportions. All of these omens have seemed to show up at critical times, leaving many bad memories and shock in their pathways. Each time one of these incidents has occurred it has led the Cub’s into a downward spiral each time.
One can put blame on these incidents and some even call them ‘curses’. Can one rationally attribute a team’s failure to certain objects or people? In reality, probably not, but when it comes to a die-hard Cub’s fan mentality, anything becomes fair game for blame. The same goes for all sports fans. The truth in the matter is that putting these omens at the center of attention helps relieve the grieving process for a saddened individual. It is more a question of mental processing then it is a sign of bad things to come.
The Cubs have not won a World Series since 1908. While most of these instances took place at times when the team could task that final series or were involved in a critical post-season component, each time the team fell short. Player performance dwindled, pitching became inconsistent with regular season performance and overall moral fell through the ground and reached rock bottom status. The only good that could come from these occurrences is rising to new challenges and improving upon these mishaps as the years go by.
Theo Epstein did his best in the 2015 off-season to piece together a roster that would feature new talents and new faces across all levels. Bringing in Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist and Aroldis Chapman would help the Cubs deal with adversity in key positional play. The team would also lean on their young players to take on leadership roles despite their age. With the pieces on Theo’s chess board, no team would be safe from defeat. His acquisitions and player management would come full-circle once the 2016 campaign started. The team would go on to boast the best overall record in all of the National League.
The post-season is now underway and in full swing. An easy first-round series win over the San Francisco Giants would be a nice boost for the team leading into the National League Championship Series (NLCS) against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The very first game of that series would feature two more occurrences that have rarely been seen: a pinch-hit grand slam and a steal of home plate. These occurrences led to a game 1 victory over the Dodgers. The team has dropped the last two games and has fell behind 2-1 in the best-of 7 game series.
Can we rationally place the game one occurrences in the category of instances that occurred in previous years even though they benefited the team? Answering yes to this question would render the previous instances invalid and would create for an argument that falls back on itself. There are no curses in baseball; there are occurrences and instances. The way the team ignores or responds to these factors is the true sauce that leads them to victory or defeat. All the weight is on the team’s shoulders now. Stepping up to the challenge like the team did in the regular season could lead this team out of their long World Series dry spell. The pieces are there and the talent is strong, so come on Cubs, let’s win today.