After a couple of cold ones, a smart guy who happens to root for the Cubs explained to me why Sox fans like me should root for the North Siders to finally end their 108-year World Series championship drought.
The deep thinker who grew up on the Northwest Side avoided the common arguments made in an attempt to recruit guys like me to jump on the Cubbies playoff bandwagon despite South Side allegiances.
He didn’t suggest that a Cubs World Series “W” was good for the entire city or appeal to my love of watching good players play great games and charismatic managers rally a team and fans together in a do-or-die situation.
“All Sox fans should root for the Cubs so you don’t have to talk about Sam Sianis’s Billy Goat curse any more,” he said.
You know that story. In 1945, Billy Goat Tavern owner, the late Sianis, allegedly cursed the Cubs organization after he was ejected from Game 4 of the World Series because of the foul stench of his pet goat, Murphy.
Over the years, Sianis’ nephew, Sam Sianis, has made unsuccessful attempts to break “the curse” by bringing a goat to Wrigley Field. Every time the Cubs have a good team, the legend of the Billy Goat curse — like the “Curse of the Bambino” that haunted the Boston Red Sox until winning the World Series in 2004 — is revived by sportswriters and superstitious sports fans who believe in hexes, jinxes and the like.
“You won’t have to hear about the black cat, either,” the Cubs fan told me.
That’s the evil omen that allegedly doomed the Cubs, which had led their division all year, on Sept. 9,1969.
In an important late-season game against the Mets, a black cat ran on the filed, circled Cubs hero Ron Santo, who was in the on-deck circle and stared down Cubs on the dugout. Everyone laughed … until the Cubs choked and missed the playoffs.
“And Bartman. Aren’t you tired of hearing about that guy?” the Cubs fan said between sips of a session lager.
He was talking about the Steve Bartman incident, a foul (ball) moment in the 8th inning of the sixth game of the 2003 National League Championship Series — which the Cubs were leading 3- 2 — that many people blame on the Billy Goat curse.
Many Cubs fans consider Bartman’s flubbed attempt to snag a souvenir that prevented Moises Alou from catching it for the out was a defining moment in the sudden collapse that kept their team from going to the World Series.
If the Cubs win the World Series, my drinking buddy suggested, there won’t be much of a reason to recount the tale of how Harry Carey’s restaurateur Grant DePorter paid six figures for the Bartman ball just to blow it up to expel demons … and make pasta sauce out of it.
“It will be over. Done,” my buddy said said.
Maybe it was the third session lager, but I started to think that I should be rooting for the North Siders just to rid myself of having to deal with the tired stories of curses and hexes blamed for the Cubs generations-long losing streak.
Let’s face it, Wrigley Field’s much-needed makeover eliminated some of the park's dankness and overshadowed its old-fashioned scoreboard with big-screen TVs.
All that stands in the way of stripping the lovable losers and their fans of that “hope dies last” devotion is a World Series ring.
Without a curse to break, the North Siders would be like every other every other Major League team.
I floated this idea of cheering for the North Siders to a Sox fan who is as tired as I am of hearing Cubs fans run their mouths about breaking curses and winning it all.
“Nah,” she said. “I’d rather still hear people talking about the Billy Goat curse.”
Yeah, me too.
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