With the Major League Baseball Playoffs just around the corner, people are starting to wonder whether or not some of baseball’s hottest teams will pull through in the stretch-run. The Chicago Cubs, in particular, have been putting on a real show since the start of the season. The Cubs, the first to clinch their division during the regular season, started off hot and continued to dominate throughout the lull of the mid-season summer heat. As one of the oldest teams in professional baseball, the Cubs’ organization is often thought of instantly when someone mentions the sport, but their history is often shrouded by seasons of utter failure and discontentment.
One of the most famous downward spirals for the Cubs involved a man named Steve Bartman. In 2003, during game six of the National League Championship Series, Moisés Alou, left-fielder for the Cubs at the time, ran over to the left field wall, outside the foul line, to catch a fly ball that would have been the second out of the eighth inning. During the play, Steve Bartman, a Cubs fan, reached over the wall to catch what appeared to be a rewarding foul ball he could later take home and show off to his friends. As he leaned over the railing to snag the fly ball, Alou jumped up to record what would have been the second out of the inning. His spectacular play was thwarted by Bartman’s soon to be regretful hands. Because of Bartman’s interference on the play, Alou dropped the fly ball and the inning continued. At that point, the Cubs were up by three runs, but ended up losing the game soon after the incident. They went on to lose the NLCS to the Florida Marlins, who also won the World Series that year. Bartman was escorted from the game by security guards and had to disguise himself whenever he went out in public thereafter. Ever since then, the Cubs were cursed with bad luck during postseason play, and have yet again come that close to reaching the World Series.
However, the Cubs are all too familiar with curses already. Along with the Bartman incident, Cubs fans are very fond of the Curse of the Billy Goat. The curse originates from 1945, when a fan was asked to leave game four of the 1945 World Series because his goat smelled too repulsive to be around others in attendance at Wrigley Field, the Cubs home stadium. While the fan was leaving, he shouted at bystanders prophesizing that the Cubs would never win another World Series. The Cubs went on to lose the 1945 Series and have not been to a World Series since.
Since their most recent World Series title in 1908, the Cubs have suffered seasons with win percentages as low as 36.4 percent. Despite these hardships, the Cubs have been successful during some of their not-so-unfortunate seasons, including this past year when they went on to win 97 of their 162 regular season games, a praiseworthy year.
This year’s outstanding athletic showcase nothing short of impressive. The Cubs are on pace to win more than 100 games, a prized feat in professional baseball. This success comes several years after the Cubs’ horrendous 2012 campaign, where they managed to lose over 100 games. One might be curious as to how an organization can go from a 100-loss team to a 100-win team in only a matter of a couple years. The answer, young talent. Anthony Rizzo, 27, and Kris Bryant, 24, have yet again placed themselves at the top of the National League leaderboard in home runs, while Kyle Hendricks currently leads the MLB with the lowest earned run average. Jake Arrieta, another starting pitcher for the Cubs, leads the NL in wins this season. The Cubs’ sensational talent has caused doubt in some fans of opposing teams. If the Cubs repeat their postseason run similarly to last year, those fans will not have much to worry about. After losing to the Mets in the National League Division Series last year, their promising regular season turned into a distant memory.
The absurdly young talent that leads the Cubs will be put to the test again this year, with all resources at their disposal. They have the talent, the fans, the momentum, but it all comes down to which team will thrive under pressure. With an impressive season, they have the ability to win it all. However, the Cubs may once again be hindered by the Curses of Steve Bartman and the Billy Goat of 1945.