Category Archives: chicagocubs

WHO’S NEXT ON HISTORY’S RADAR?

After a three-week hiatus I’m back.  I spent the past two weekends having fun with good friends and family celebrating my birthday and my wife’s too.  That being said, what a time to take a vacation!

While I was gone, America elected an unlikely president.  Even more eventful, however, they will be raising the World Championship Flag above the iconic scoreboard at Wrigley Field next spring.

Anyone who is a sports fan, and a baseball fan in particular, has to be happy about the outcome of this year’s Series (unless you are from Cleveland and possibly St. Louis or the South Side of Chicago).  Even some of the White Sox faithful may have gotten swept in the “fly the flag” hysteria that swept the Windy City following the Cubs victory.  Congratulations goes out to the Cubs organization and their long-suffering fans.  To quote New York Rangers voice Sam Rosen “this is one to last a lifetime!”

Since 1994 we have seen three so-called curses broken.  The Rangers broke the National Hockey Leagues longest drought of 54 years by defeating the Vancouver Canucks in a gripping seven game final that year.

In 2004 we witnessed history on many levels, courtesy of the Boston Red Sox.  Trailing the Yankees 0-3 in the American League Championship Series it appeared to be another Boston nightmare.  The beloved Sox seeing the Curse of the Bambino advance to year number 87, while the hated Yankees head to yet another Series and possibly another MLB leading World Championship.  This self-proclaimed Cast of Idiots chipped away at that lead one game at a time and would win the series in seven dramatic games.  The World Series would result in a four game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals, who, by the way own the second most titles behind the Yankees.

No other organization in professional sports has been associated with more curses than the loveable losers from the Near North Side.

Consider the following:

  • 1945  Billy Goat Tavern owner William Sianis is asked to leave Game 4 of the World Series by officials at Wrigley Field due to the odor of Murphy, his pet billy-goat.  Sianis was so incensed that he proclaimed “Them Cubs aint gonna win no more!”  The Cubs would lose the 1945 Fall Classic and not make another appearance until this year.  The loss would continue the famine that began following the Cubs 1908 World Championship.
  • 1969 The Cubs lead the National League Eastern Division by nine games over the New York Mets.  Chicago had a chance to put a nail in the Mets coffin during an August series at Shea Stadium.  During the series a black cat mysteriously ran on the field.  It passed behind Ron Santo in the Cubs on deck circle.  The Mets would win that game and go on to win all but five games the rest of the way.  The Cubs collapsed and saw the Mets win the division and go on to defeat the Atlanta Braves and Baltimore Orioles to win the 1969 World Championship
  • 2003 Six outs away from finally breaking the curses that followed them, fate would strike again.  Florida Marlins shortstop Luis Castillo launched a foul ball down the left field line at Wrigley.  Cubs left fielder Moises Alou had a beat on it and poised to catch it and record the first out of the eight inning of game six.  Cubs fan Steve Bartman snatched the ball from his seat overlooking the left field line.  Alou was incensed, Bartman was escorted out of Wrigley, like William Sianis, but this was for his own safety.  Castillo would hit a grounder to shortstop Alex Gonzalez, however it went between his legs.  Florida would go on to score eight runs to win game six.  They would come from behind the next night to end the Cubs season.  Oh, and by the way the Marlins defeated the Yankees in six games to win the World Championship.

In a hard-fought series this year, Cubs fans had to be wondering once again.  Holding a 6-3 lead over the Cleveland Indians, six outs away from breaking all of the curses, a gasp can be heard around Wrigley Field all the way from Cleveland.  Brandon Guyer’s RBI double drove in Jose Ramirez to bring the Indians within two runs.  Rajai Davis’ home run to left field brought a chill to Waveland Avenue as the Tribe tied the game at 6.  A rain delay and an extra inning later history was made!

Five million fans crowded downtown Chicago to celebrate baseball’s version of Sam Rosen’s iconic hockey call.

So where does history go from here?  The longest baseball drought now belongs to the reigning American League champions.  The Indians last won the World Series in 1948.  Can this team follow the Cubs and end their drought?  There aren’t any storied curses affiliated with this team, just years of bad baseball.  They did make World Series appearances in 1995, 1997 and this year losing to the Braves, Marlins, and Cubs respectively.

The longest drought in professional sports belongs to the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals.  The Cardinals last won the NFL Championship (way before the AFL, AFC and Super Bowl)  in 1947 as the Chicago Cardinals  They defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 28-21.  Since then the Cardinals franchise have called St. Louis and Arizona home.  By the way the last time the Eagles won a championship was 1960, seven years before the advent of the Super Bowl and the same year as the birth of the American Football League.

So who’s next to make history and how long will it take?

I want to take this time to wish all of my readers a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

 

THE GRAND DADDY OF THEM ALL

The Stanley Cup has the claim to fame of being the oldest trophy in sports.  The Super Bowl is a unique one shot deal spectacle to crown the NFL champion.  The NBA Finals may bring out glitz and celebrities, but there is one special championship series that is a piece of Americana-the World Series.

The Fall Classic has been around since 1903, longer than any professional championship in North America.  Throughout its now 113 year history so much has happened.  We’ve seen perfect games, walk off championships, back and forth seven game battles.  We’ve also seen upsets and miracle teams that won a series to cap their first winning season.  The advent of the Wild Card in 1997 brought a new dimension, teams that weren’t division (or regular season league winners) coming out on top.

The Yankees have won the series 27 times, far and away the most of any franchise.  The Cardinals have won it a National League leading eleven times.  There are however many fan bases who haven’t seen baseball played in late October.  This year is the poster child for those long-suffering followers.

Before I get into droughts and curses I must mention the teams that haven’t seen the big show in their locality.  Consider Seattle and Montreal.  The Pacific Northwest saw the Pilots begin play in 1969 only to see them leave for Milwaukee prior to the following season.  They wouldn’t even see Major League Baseball again until 1977 when the Mariners began play.  The Mariners have seen their expansion brothers in Toronto win the World Series twice (1992, 1993).  Although they have made post season appearances over the years the World Series continues to elude Seattle.

In 1969 the city of Montreal was awarded the first Major League franchise outside of the United States.  Though marginally successful through most of their existence, the Expos franchise made the post season only once, the strike shortened season of 1981.  The Montreal franchise won the second half National League Eastern Division title of the strike interrupted season that year.  They made it to the National League Championship Series only to be denied on what has become known as Blue Monday in Montreal.  The Dodgers Rick Monday’s ninth inning home run in game 5 (in Montreal) sent the Expos home and the Dodgers to the World Series.  The city of Montreal would see its Expos leave for Washington DC following the 2004 season.  Since their arrival in America’s Nation’s Capitol the Nationals have not made a Fall Classic appearance.

A total of six franchises have made appearances in the big show but have not brought home the prize (San Diego, Texas, Colorado, Tampa Bay, Milwaukee Brewers, Houston).

This year we have a matchup of the two longest droughts in World Series history.  The Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians have waited longer than any of the teams I just discussed since their last World Series victory.

The plight of the Cubs fan has been well documented.  Wrigley Field saw its first Fall Classic action since 1945 on Friday night.  It was also the first World Series night game played in the historic venue.  The ultimate “W” flag hasn’t flown above Wrigley since 1908.  As of this writing it’s not looking good right now for this year either with the Tribe holding a 3-1 lead in the series.

So much has been made of the 108 year drought on the Near North Side of Chicago.  There has been a bar owner with a billy-goat that was denied entry into Wrigley Field during the ’45 series.  There was the black cat at New York’s Shea Stadium that crossed the Cubs on-deck circle that lead to a collapse of a nine game lead over the second place Mets.  There was Steve Bartman, the poor fan that went after a foul ball in the 2003 NLCS with the Cubbies six outs away from the World Series.  Can the tide turn at Wrigley beginning tonight?

Like the Boston Red Sox, who finally broke an 86 year drought of their own in 2004, the Indians have made appearances since their last victory in 1948.  Most notably Cleveland made it to the Fall Classic twice in three years in the 1990’s (1995, 1997) only to lose to the Braves and Marlins.

So many stories that have been told.  Carlton Fisk trying to wish a ball fair at Fenway in 1975, Reggie Jackson hitting three consecutive home runs against the Dodgers at Yankee Stadium in 1977.  There were walk off home runs by Bill Mazeroski and Joe Carter. A walk-off single by Edgar Renteria in the eleventh inning of Game 7.  Babe Ruth calling his shot in 1927 at Wrigley.  Don Larsen’s perfect game against the Brooklyn Dodgers.  Will history be written as early as tonight?  Will the Cubs stage a comeback?  Stay tuned to the Grand Daddy of them all!