The Cubs: 108 years

A game for the ages; it only took the Cubs 108 years. On Wednesday November 2, 2016, the Chicago Cubs battled a 3 – 1 series lead against the Cleveland Indians, winning the World Series in an epic fashion. Chicago was up 6 – 3 leading into the eighth inning, during which Cleveland would rally to tie the game, and after a runless ninth, the game entered extra innings. After a 17-minute rain delay, the anticipation became unbearable. Cub veteran right fielder Jason Heyward used the delay to assemble his broken team. Cursed with over a 100 years of titleless seasons, the Cubs seemed to be on the verge of another breakdown. Heyward said, “It’s about everybody trying to get something done. I let them know that I loved them.” Heyward’s rain delay pow-wow propelled the Cubs offense. They scored two runs in the top of the tenth, gathering momentum for a defensive stand. Cleveland’s Rajai Davis’ hit to center field sent Brandon Guyer home, cutting the lead to just one run. With two outs, manager Joe Maddon made the Cub’s fifth pitching change of the night, letting Mike Montgomery take the mound. Montgomery would force a soft Cleveland groundout to first, sealing the Cubs’ first World Series victory since 1908.

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William Sianis and his goat. Photo credit: Chicago Tribune

Even more entertaining than the game itself is the history of the Cubs’ “Billy Goat curse,” which is said to be the reason behind the longest championship drought in the history of North American sports. The curse began in the 1945 World Series, when the Cubs played the Detroit Tigers. William “Billy Goat” Sianis, a local Cubs fan and owner of the Billy Goat Tavern, planned to attend game four at Wrigley Field. In an effort to bring the Cubs good luck, Sianis brought his pet goat, Murphy, to the game. He bought a ticket for himself and for Murphy. The park ushers refused to allow Sianis in because animals were not allowed in the park. Aggravated, Sianis addressed the owner of the Cubs, P.K. Wrigley, who replied, “Let Billy in, but not the goat.”

“Why not the goat?” Sianis asked, becoming increasingly frustrated. Wrigley answered, “Because the goat stinks.” The legend states that Sianis and the goat were upset by this, and, as a result, Sianis threw his arms in the air and exclaimed, “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 would lose that game and be swept at home in the remainder of the series.

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Steve Bartman nabbing the ball from a Cubs player during the 2003 NLCS. Photo credit: Elsa/Getty Images.

After the final loss, Sianis immediately sent Wrigley a telegram which said, “Who stinks now?” The curse was in full effect. Disappointing seasons became the norm; from 1946 to 2003 the Cubs would only have 15 seasons with a winning record and only four postseason appearances. In 2003, the most infamous play in Cubs history occurred at Wrigley Field. In game six of the National League Championship Series, the Cubs lead the Florida Marlins. They led the series 3 – 2 and were five outs away from the World Series when Steve Bartman, a Cubs fan, reached onto the field to catch a foul ball, stealing the out from Chicago’s Moises Alou. The Cubs would lose the game and eventually the series, again finding themselves at the mercy of the Billy Goat. The curse continued until last Wednesday, November 2, 2016. The end of the curse and a 108-year drought is certainly mind-boggling.

To put this into perspective, here are some facts about what was happening in 1908, the last time the Cubs won the World Series.

Theodore Roosevelt was the president of the United States.

The average life expectancy in the U.S. was about 51 years (about 70 years now).

Alaska, New Mexico, Arizona, and Hawaii were not states yet.

The Wright brothers first successful flight was in 1903.

The Ottoman Empire still existed (it ended in 1922).

The five leading causes of death in the U.S. were:

  1. Pneumonia and influenza
  2. Tuberculosis
  3. Diarrhea
  4. Heart disease
  5. Stroke

Crossword puzzles, canned beer, and ice-tea had not been invented yet.

About the author

Matthew is a senior at Collegiate and is currently waiting for you in the A gap.