Let the goat in!

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The Cubs were born the Chicago White Stockings in 1876, one of eight inaugural teams. The team would go on to win the first National league Championship and would become one of sports first dynasties by winning six of the first eleven championship titles (1876, 1880-82, 1885-86). The modern day “Cubs” would come into existence in 1903, and continue their success posting a record in wins in 1906 with 116 games won. This would also be their first pennant win as the “Cubs.” The World Series title would be lost to their cross town rivals, the White Sox.

The following year, after a repeat pennant, they would go on to win their first World Series title in 1907. They returned the following year to win their second (and last) World Series becoming the first team in baseball to win back to back World Series Titles.

The Cubs continued their success capturing pennants in 1910, 1918 and an astounding four pennants in a ten year span (1929, 1932, 1935, 1938). The Cubs would play in the World Series in each of those years. Their final pennant would come in 1945, the year the Cubs faced the Detroit Tigers and a local Chicago saloon owner named William “Billy Goat” Sianis with his goat, Murphy.

From 1876 to 1945, The Chicago Cubs were one of the most successful baseball teams in the country. They would post a 5475-4324 (.559) record, with 51 winning seasons, 16 first place finishes, and 16 pennants and World Series appearances. They would win two World Series titles and six Championship titles in that span. This would come to a screeching halt in game four of the 1945 World Series. 1945- “Who Stinks Now?”

October 6th, a sad day in Cubs history. The Cubs entered game four of the World Series leading the Detroit Tigers 2 games to 1, and needing to win only two of the next four games played at Wrigley Field. A local Greek, William “Billy Goat” Sianis, owner of the Billy Goat Tavern and a Cubs fan, bought two tickets to Game four. Hoping to bring his team good luck he took his pet goat, Murphy, with him to the game. At the entrance to the park, the Andy Fran ushers stopped Billy Goat from entering saying that no animals are allowed in the park. Billy Goat, frustrated, appealed to the owner of the Cubs, P.K. Wrigley. Wrigley replied, “Let Billy in, but not the goat.” Billy Goat asked, “Why not the goat?” Wrigley answered, “Because the goat stinks.” According to legend, the goat and Billy were upset, so then Billy threw up his arms and exclaimed, “The Cubs ain’t gonna win no more. The Cubs will never win a World Series so long as the goat is not allowed in Wrigley Field.” The Cubs were officially cursed. Subsequently, the Cubs lost game four, and the remaining series getting swept at home and from the World Series. Billy Goat promptly sent a telegram to P.K. Wrigley, stating, “Who stinks now?” For the next twenty years, throughout the remainder of Billy Goat’s life the Cubs would finish each season at 5th place or lower, establishing a pattern that would reverse the Cubs luck and term the team “The Lovable Losers.” The World Series would become a dream, and “wait ‘til next year” would become the team’s motto. From 1946 to 2003, the Cubs would post a 4250-4874 (.466) record, have only 15 winning seasons, finish in first place a mere 3 times, have no pennants, no World Series appearances let alone wins, with only four post season experiences (1984, 1989, 1998, 2003) resulting in a complete reversal of their fortunes. The Cubs were and are a cursed franchise.

1969- “Miracle” Mets or “Cursed” Cubs
In 1969, a year before he passed away, “Billy Goat” Sianis finally felt satisfied and claimed the curse is lifted, but the goat still was bitter. The Cubs began the season winning and coasted throughout the season into mid-August with a commanding first place lead. By the end of the season a surging “Miracle” Mets overtook the struggling “Cursed” Cubs to claim first place and knock the Cubs out of contention. This would become a pattern over the years.

1973- One limo, a red carpet, and a goat denied once again
In 1973, Billy Goat’s nephew and new Billy Goat Tavern owner, Sam Sianis, with the help of Tribune columnist, Dave Condon, brought the goat to Wrigley in an attempt to lift the curse. The goat was escorted to Wrigley in a white limousine, and given a red carpet entrance to the park with a sign saying, “All is forgiven. Let me lead the Cubs to the pennant.” The ushers at the entrance denied the goat “Socrates,” a descendant of Murphy, yet again. The Cubs saw their mid-season first place lead whither away to another unsuccessful season.

1984- Eight outs away

The Tribune Company, new owners of the Cubs, finally invited the goat to opening day at Wrigley Field in an attempt to lift the curse. Sam Sianis and his goat finally walked the grass of Wrigley Field, and in an effort to lift the curse Sam raised his hat and said, “The curse is lifted.” The Cubs won and won and won their way to their first post season game and division title in almost forty years. They continued their winning taking the first two games of the National League Championship Series against the San Diego Padres. They just needed to win one of the next three games at San Diego to finally reach the World Series. Sam and his goat waited for the call to go along with the team and ensure the victory, only to be left behind in Chicago.

After losing games three and four in San Diego, the Cubs were leading the Padres 3-2 in the seventh inning, with only eight outs needed to win the game and the ace pitcher Rick Sutcliffe at the helm. An eerie chain of events would ensue. A routine ground ball was hit to first baseman, Leon Durham, which dribbled through his legs allowing the tying run to score. An overworked Rick Sutcliffe, who dominated game one, yielded the remaining three runs. The Padres swept the Cubs in San Diego, and swept the Cubs out of the series. The Cubs were still cursed.

1989- So Close, So Far
Hoping for a repeat of 1984, Sam Sianis and his goat again walked the field of Wrigley on opening day. The Cubs again won their way to first place and their second division title in five years. But the goat was left behind once again in the post season, where the Cubs lost to the San Francisco Giants four games to one.

1994- “Let the Goat in!”
The Cubs started the 1994 season horribly, losing twelve home games in a row. Their worst home start in history. In an effort to end this streak, Sam Sianis and his goat went to Wrigley Field only to be denied entrance yet again. Amidst the chant of “Let the Goat in!” amongst the Wrigley crowd, Hall of Famer, Ernie Banks helped by escorting Sam and his goat into Wrigley. The Cubs won the game 5-2, ending their worst home start ever. A lesson learned?

1998- Bring in the Wild Card
In 1998, the Cubs finished the season with 89 wins, tied with the San Francisco Giants for the Wild Card. During the Tiebreaking game on Sept. 28th, the Cubs brought in their Wild Card, Sam and his goat. The Cubs would go on to win the game 5-3 and went into the post season as a Wild Card. But once again Sam and his goat were left behind in Chicago, while the Cubs got swept in Atlanta, and swept out of the post season.

2003- Five outs away
The Cubs ended the 2003 season in a tight race with the Houston Astros. When the goat was sent to Houston in an effort to reverse the curse, Houston lost while the Cubs won their first division title in fourteen years. The Cubs were on a roll. They would go on to beat the Atlanta Braves, winning their first post season series in almost 100 years. In the National League Championship Series against the Florida Marlins, the Cubs took a quick 3 game lead needing only one more victory to go to the World Series for the first time in almost sixty years. In game six of the series, with the ace Mark Prior at the helm, the Cubs entered the eighth inning leading 3-0. Once again the goat was left behind, and an eerie chain of events would ensue. With only five outs needed to secure a victory, a pop foul seemingly in play was interfered with by a fan taking away a sure out. That was followed by the next play, when a routine ground ball was hit to the sure handed Alex Gonzalez only to be bobbled, taking away an inning ending double play. Ace pitcher, Mark Prior, overworked, yielded the tying and leading runs, until the Marlins left the eighth leading 8-3. The Marlins ended up winning the game, then swept the Cubs at home and swept them out of the playoffs yet again.

What does the future hold in store for the Cubs? Many attempts have been made to lift the curse, yet the goat still has not seen his baseball game. One moment in time, one horrible mistake in game four of the 1945 World Series, has yielded years of pain and anguish for Cubs fans abroad. The Chicago Cubs prior to the curse were one of the best teams in baseball, and after the curse have become the “Lovable Losers.” If the Cubs are ever again in a situation, where they are outs away from the World Series, will the goat get the call? For the sake of the Cubs, “LET THE GOAT IN!”

2015 – Murphy’s Law
Under new Manager Joe Maddon, the 2015 Cubs fielded a team of exciting young players. They captured the Wild Card, won a single game playoff against the Pirates, and went on to beat the rival St. Louis Cardinals in the division series. Only the Mets stood between the Cubs and their first World Series appearance since 1945. However, their momentum came to a sudden halt when they ran into Daniel Murphy. He hit a home run in all four games of the series and the Cubs were once again swept out of the playoffs.

2015 wasn’t the first time “Murphy” played a role in Cubs’ history:

  • The owner of the Cubs the last time they won the World Series in 1908 was Charles Murphy
  • The name of the goat Sam Sianis brought to the game in 1945 was named “Murphy”
  • The 1969 Mets General Manager was Johnny Murphy and their announcer was Bob Murphy
  • The site of the 1984 NLCS was Jack Murphy Stadium
  • The MVP of the NLCS was Daniel Murphy. He finished the series batting .529 with 4 homeruns.