The Sports Illustrated jinx and the Billy Goat curse? Was it something the Cubs said?
The team is on a regional cover of SI this week, which, if you believe in the jinx associated with the magazine, means that one or both of Javy Baez’ legs will fall off any moment now. The cover photo shows Baez being greeted by his teammates at home plate after his walk-off home run Sunday against the Nationals. There’s a long history of bad things happening to athletes or teams that appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
But there’s a longer history of bad things happening to the Cubs, who haven’t won a World Series since 1908. They haven’t been in a World Series since 1945, when team officials asked bar owner Billy Sianis to leave Wrigley Field because the pet goat he brought to the game smelled like a goat. In response, Sianis either said the Cubs would never win a World Series game at Wrigley or that the Cubs would never play in the World Series again.
The current Cubs, the team with the best record in baseball, will tell you it’s all nonsense – and it is. I don’t believe in jinxes or curses, either, but I do believe in the weight of history. The Cubs’ history weighs about 500 tons, and you could feel all of it when they fell apart in Game 6 of the 2003 National League Championships Series at Wrigley. The cheap, easy thing to do is to blame it on the poor fan who put his hands out to catch a foul ball, but the real culprit was a team that couldn’t breathe with history pressing down on its chest.
That’s what the Cubs will have to overcome to win a World Series. I’m thinking they’ll need a large cauldron, eye of newt and a full moon. Kidding.
If you are a believer in the supernatural, which is stronger, the SI jinx or the Billy Goat curse? It’s like the question that has dogged man for ages: Who wins in a fight, Batman or Superman? Joe Maddon, the Cubs’ free-thinking manager, would answer, “That’s obvious — Spider-Man.’’