Friday, November 4, 2016

Billy Goat Curse Officially Broken

The sporting world is one of the few places where people publicly give credence to the idea of curses. One of these, the famous "Curse of the Billy Goat," was allegedly placed upon the Chicago Cubs baseball francise in 1945. For seventy-one years, the Cubs won no pennants and never reached the World Series. This year, though, the Cubs at last broke the curse. Wednesday night, they defeated the Cleveland Indians in Game 7 to win the World Series. From Wikipedia:

The Curse of the Billy Goat was a sports-related curse that was supposedly placed on the Chicago Cubs Major League Baseball franchise in 1945 by Billy Goat Tavern owner William Sianis that lasted in a 71-year period from 1945 to 2016. Because the odor of his pet goat, Murphy, was bothering other fans, Sianis was asked to leave Wrigley Field, the Cubs' home ballpark, during game 4 of the 1945 World Series.Outraged, Sianis allegedly declared, "Them Cubs, they ain't gonna win no more," which has been interpreted to mean that either the Cubs would never win another National League (NL) pennant, or that they would never again win a World Series.

The Cubs lost the 1945 World Series to the Detroit Tigers, and did not win a World Series championship again until 2016. After the incident with Sianis and Murphy, the Cubs did not play in the World Series for the next 71 years until, on the 46th anniversary of Billy Sianis' death, they defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 5–0 in game 6 of the 2016 National League Championship Series to win the NL pennant. The Cubs defeated the American League (AL) champion Cleveland Indians 8–7 in game 7 (which lasted 10 innings) to win the 2016 World Series, thus ending the curse.

It's hard to say whether an offhand remark from a tavern owner could really conjure a curse that would last for more than seventy years. Effective practical magick is not something everyone does routinely, all the time, without knowing it, but rather a discipline that requires dedication, practice, and often some amount of training.

The fact is that according to a number of experts, the Cubs franchise has been poorly managed for years, and all the club needed was a good manager. Joe Maddon was hired in 2015, and was able to quickly turn the team around. Maddon has had a very successful career, and he's no master sorcerer. He just knows how to play the game, and how to win.

So maybe the "curse" was just a self-fulfilling prophecy. The idea that the club couldn't win became so ingrained that management stopped trying quite as hard, while at the same time talented players were predisposed to play elsewhere. In professional sports, the difference between a good team and a bad team is so tiny that even those small effects can have significant consequences.

It's been a while since I heard of a new one of these "sports curses," and over time the old ones have continued to be broken. It makes me wonder which one will be next.

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