The world according to babeball

The curse of the billy goat

Leah Scheitel // Copy Editor

“The Chicago Cubs will win the last Pennant before Armageddon” – This is an old Milwaukee proverb that is found in the back of a book of W.P. Kinsella’s short stories, and while it’s hard to put stock in an old adage from the Mid West, this might be worth paying attention to.

Last year, the Chicago Cubs broke a curse that plagued the organization for over seven decades when they won the World Series. It was the epitome of a nail-biting game that Hollywood screenwriters couldn’t even fathom – an intensely close game, with both the Cubs and the Cleveland Indians in the lead position at times. They were tied in the bottom of the ninth and had to go into extra innings to settle it, but not before a rain delay.

Seriously, this is the shit that movies are made of. But the Cubs inched a win, a seemingly impossible feat. Their World Series win was the first for the Club since 1908 – 108 years, and the longest drought in the history of baseball since a Pennant win.

It should be noted that the club that now has the honour of the longest Pennant drought is the Cleveland Indians, the team the Cubs beat, who last won in 1948.

Seriously, this shit is better than Hollywood.

As the folklore is told, way back in 1945, the owner of a local tavern, William Sianis, was pissed when he was asked to leave Wrigley Field – home of the Cubs – because he brought his pet goat to a playoff game there and the goat’s odour was offending other spectators. Rumour has it that Sianis infamous words of “Them Cubs, they ain’t going to win no more,” acted as a curse on the Cubs, who didn’t win another championship until 2016 – all of this because some guy’s goat was insulted.

The Chicago Cubs franchise spent 71 years as the butt of jokes, as they haven’t played in the World Series since 1945. This lore acted as the inspiration for the Milwaukee proverb, among other stories and some Cubs fans lived their entire lives waiting for their beloved team to break the curse, in vain.

Illustration by Paul Boici

There were many attempts to lift the curse, including several from Sianis himself. Sianis’s nephew went to multiple games at Wrigley Field with a goat as his date in desperate attempt to lift the curse. Over the years, fans have gone to insane measures to lift the curse, such as hanging a butchered goat on a statue of Harry Caray, having a Greek Orthodox priest spray holy water into the Cubs’ dugout and sending the severed head of a goat to the club’s owner, Thomas Ricketts in 2012.

The largest effort may have been in 2003, when a battalion of Cubs fans marched into Houston, Texas with a billy goat named Virgil Homer alongside them. They attempted to get into Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros, the Cubs division rivals. Instead of getting into the park, they stood outside and read from a scroll that they were “reversing the curse.”

For years, the idea of the Cubs ever winning another Pennant seemed like an impossible feat, and it would happen when hell froze over or – as the Milwaukee proverb prophesizes – before Armageddon. But on Nov. 2, 2016, the Cubs won the Pennant. Exactly one week later, Donald Trump was elected as President of the United States.

Make of that what you will, but since he has been elected, it has been nothing short of political chaos in the US, which has impacted the international political tapestry as a whole.

On Oct. 12, the Cubs beat the Washington Nationals 9-8 to advance to the National League Championship Series against the LA Dodgers. If they win that, they will once again play for the Pennant, begging the question – can Armageddon happen twice?

 

 

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