The team with more Ex-Cubs will inevitably lose the World Series...
Columnist Ron Berler originated the ex-cub factor theory in a Boston Herald article in 1981. He stated that any team with three or more former Chicago Cubs players could not win the World Series.
Any fan of baseball knows that the Cubs lose. Year after year they play in the magical Friendly Confines, sell out every game and break the hearts of the loyal and true. They haven't won a World Series since 1908, the longest drought of any team. Legend claims that an eccentric owner of a tavern across the street tried to bring his goat into a game one afternoon. When the goat was refused admittance, the man put the evil eye on the Cubs, hexed with perennial loss. This loss an infectious virus, sticking with players as they journey from team to team.
When the article originally appeared, most thought it a passing blurb in a sport of statistics. Only one team of thirteen since 1945, the 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates, were able to win with three or more Ex-Cubs. An interesting fact, but lacking significance. Now, twenty years later, it is one of the most important variables to consider when picking the winner of the World Series.
Former (and loved) Chicago Tribune columnist Mike Royko wrote a humorous article in 1993 discussing the Atlanta Braves' chances of winning the World Series. (They lost in the NLCS to the Phillies). This was the pivotal journalistic boost for the theory. Everybody read Royko - and the historical nonsense surrounding the mystique of Ex- Cubs began new life.
Still Skeptical? Well, I'll ask you to think about the three BIGGEST, most significant World Series plays in the last 15 years. I found each one here on Everything.
- 1986 World Series. The play that made Bill Buckner move to Idaho. Boston vs the Mets. Who can forget that ball trickling through Bill Buckner's legs? Former Cub. Boston has the second longest stretch without a Series.
- 1988 World Series. Kirk Gibson stumbles out of the dugout, limps to the plate and hits a towering home run hobbling around the bases, pumping his fist in the air. Who did he hit it off of? The best closer in baseball that year, A's pitcher and former Cub, Dennis Eckersley.
- 1993 World Series. I call this one the Canada rule. Former Cub Joe Carter hits a home run in game six to win the world series for the Toronto Blue Jays. Carter only played 23 games for the Cubs, granted an Ex-Cub, but the twist here is that he hit the home run off "Wild Thing" Mitch Williams another former Cub.
Let's take a look at the 2001 ex-Cub factor.
(4) Miguel Bautista, Mr. Cub Mark Grace, Mike Morgan and Luis Gonzales
(3) Dave Martinez, Rey Sanchez, Greg Maddux
(1) Jamie Moyer
New York Yankees:
None. Bench coach Don Zimmer does not count.
UPDATE: Arizona Diamondbacks join the Pitsburgh Pirates as the two teams to overcome the curse. Ex-Cub Mark Grace hits a lead off single in the ninth (which becomes the tying run), then Ex-Cub Luis Gonzales becomes only the fifth player in the history of MLB to hit a walk off seventh game hit.
Some interesting variables to consider:
- Mark Grace was "Mr. Cub" for fourteen years, playing first base in the friendly confines. New GM Andy Mcphail let him go as a free agent despite Grace's popularity and desire to stay. He also brought a goat to Wrigley in the beginning of the 1997 season, when the team started 0-13. He kept the goat in the bull pen.
- The only series when the ex- cub factor failed was the 1960 series. The Pirates beat the Yankees in seven games, when Bill Mazerowski hit a homer in game 7 to win.
- San Francisco Giants - 3 Shawon Dunstan, Manny Ayabar, Benito Santiago
- Anaheim Angels - 0