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Matt StevensonNovember 03, 2015
September 27, 2019

Is the Curse of the Billy Goat Real, or Just Superstition?

The Chicago Cubs, a National League baseball team, has had a storied and very odd history. Many fans feel that their current 107-year drought since they last won the World Series is either a curse or a strange string of coincidences.

The complicated and strange story begins way back at the start of the 20th century. In 1908, amidst the economic boom and in the advent of new technologies, the Cubs, who were owned by Charles Murphy, won the World Series. Much of the city was in a state of bliss and celebrations were taking place all over the city.

Oddly enough, this is where things are believed to have gotten a little strange. Over the next 35 years, the Cubs would go on to see moderate success, but nothing like they had in the early 1900’s. Then, things got strange. What came next involves a goat, a name, and a very upset tavern owner.

In game four of the 1945 World Series against the rival Detroit Tigers, Bill Sianis, the owner of a local pub named The Billy Goat Tavern, decided to bring his goat Murphy to the game. Shortly after arriving and finding his place to watch the game, other fans started to notice the foul smell coming from Murphy. The odor got around, and the complaints began to spread. Bill Sianis was asked to take his prized goat and leave the stadium.

After being removed from the biggest event in baseball at the time, there was a rumor that the humiliated Bill Sianis put a curse on the Chicago Cubs. The “Curse of the Billy Goat,” as it is now dubbed, began to coincide with some pretty weird events. In 1969, The New York Mets employed two men named Murphy – the general manager Johnny Murphy, and Mets announcer Bob Murphy. That year, the Chicago Cubs lost in the Major League Baseball playoffs to the Mets. People immediately began to mention that the name Murphy must be bad luck for the Cubs.

Once again, in 1984, the Chicago Cubs reached the National League Championship Series. They were up against the San Diego Padres, who played at Jack Murphy Stadium. After going up 2-0 in the best of a five-game series, the Cubs traveled to Southern California to hopefully win one out of three games away from home. The Padres had other ideas about being eliminated, and once again the Cubs saw that they were up against the Murphy name, and things went south very quickly. In a huge twist of fate, the Padres went on to win three games in a row and eliminate the Cubs, who were just one win away from reaching the World Series.

At this point, you might start to wonder if the curse has some merit to it. After all, the past three playoff series had the name Murphy associated with it. Things got even weirder when, in 1997, the son of Bill Sianis bought a new goat in hopes of reversing the Cubs terrible curse and bad luck. Needless to say it didn’t work, and according to the Curse of the Billy Goat, Chicago Columnist Mike Royko was quoted as saying, “It’s about time we stopped blaming the failings of the Cubs on a poor, dumb creature that is a billy goat…”

This being one of Mike Royko’s final columns, it really resonated with the fans who felt that the curse was going on for a bit too long and might be time to move on and get away from the idea of the whole silly thing.

Six short years later, another very strange thing happened to the Cubs in the playoffs – again in the NLCS. Up 3-0 in the 8th inning of game six against the Florida Marlins, a Marlins batted ball was headed down the left field line.  Just when it looked like left-fielder Moises Alou was going to jump and catch it, an excited fan reached out and snagged the ball with his glove. While the Chicago Cubs claimed that it was a result of fan interference and that it should be an out, the left field umpire ruled against it and the continued hitting. The Marlines went on to score eight runs that inning. They won the game, and ultimately the World Series. Once again, whispers of the curse were back again in Chicago.

The Chicago Cubs once again reached the playoffs this year, in a remarkable run that was quickly linked by baseball fans to the Hollywood movie Back the Future II. In the movie, Marty travels to the year 2015, and a billboard says that the Cubs had just won the World Series. As the Cubs reached the NLCS once again, hopes were high and fans began to think this time it would be different with such a prediction on their side, however obscure and ridiculous it seemed. However, it seems that the loyal Cub fans were starting to dream of the impossible.

The Cubs faced off against the New York Mets in the hopes that the curse would finally be lifted. Unbelievably, once again the Murphy name would pop up and shock baseball fans around the country. This time, in a best of 7 series, the Cubs went on to lose four straight games and were swept from the playoffs. The Murphy name this time around belonged to Daniel Murphy of the Mets, who went on to slam four home runs in four games and have a batting average of over .500.

The fans of the Chicago Cubs were once again faced to think of the crazy notion that the Murphy curse was back to haunt them. Whether or not you believe in curses, the sheer amount of coincidences involving the Murphy name are hard to ignore.

Bettors apparently don’t believe in curses. The Cubs are regularly the team that has the most money bet on them before the season starts. This year, the amount bet on the Cubs was more than double the next highest team. Then, after their playoff victory over St. Louis, their odds were up to 5/2, the best odds of any of the remaining teams. No wonder there’s a joke that several casinos were built on bets on the Cubs to win the World Series.

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