The Chicago Cubs finally ended their 71-year absence from the World Series by pushing aside the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series.
Long the subject of a so-called curse, the Cubs continued their spectacular season at Wrigley Field late Saturday.
They now head to Game 1 of the World Series in Cleveland, where they will face the Indians on Tuesday.
Long time coming
The last time the Cubs appeared in the World Series was 1945, when the team lost to the Detroit Tigers.
The Chicago Cubs has the longest championship drought in the National League after winning a title in 1908 — 108 years ago. The Cleveland Indians, which has the longest drought in the American League, last won the World Series title in 1948.
Fans steadfast till the end
Cubs fans have long been conditioned to expect the worst through decades of team misery..
But during Saturday’s game, the Cubs gave fans some breathing room. They scored in the first inning and never looked back, shutting out the Dodgers.
Now they’re just four wins away from the World Series title.
“The Chicago Cubs are the chimpanzees of baseball’s zoo — cute, popular, always a delight to see,” CNN contributor Mike Downey wrote earlier this month.
“They just don’t inspire any awe or fear the way the lions and tigers do. You never think of the Cubs in terms of menace and prowess, circling their prey. You think of the Cubs as sacrificial lambs.”
This year though, the Cubs roared. These Cubs have been highly touted since spring training, with many baseball writers predicting a championship.
They started hot with 11 wins in their first 14 games and spent all but one day in first place. They posted a 103-58 record, the best in baseball. That’s the most games any Cubs team has won in one season since 1910.
“Incredible. Absolutely incredible,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement. “We are witnessing history right before our eyes.”
The Billy Goat curse
Saturday’s victory may have put the curse of the Billy Goat to rest.
Legend has it that a Chicago tavern owner named Bill “Billy Goat” Sianis pronounced a curse on the club on October 6, 1945 — just a month after the end of World War II.
Sianis went to Wrigley to cheer on his beloved Cubs against the Detroit Tigers in the World Series, according to the tavern website, which dedicates a page to the Billy Goat curse.
For Game 4, he purchased a ticket for himself and one for his pet goat Murphy, thinking it would bring the Cubs luck.
But ushers stopped Sianis from entering with Murphy. Sianis appealed directly to then club owner P.K. Wrigley, asking him why he couldn’t take his personal mascot to the game.
“Because the goat stinks,” Wrigley replied, according to the Billy Goat Tavern.
So Sianis threw his arms up and cursed the team.
“The Cubs ain’t gonna win no more!” he declared.
When the Cubs lost the series to the Tigers, Sianis sent Wrigley a telegram.
“Who stinks now?” it read.
The Cubs were never the same again. Over the years, ghoulish pranksters have left dead goats at the stadium. They became known as the “Lovable Losers.” A popular Chicago T-shirt reads, “What did Jesus say to the Cubs? Don’t do anything till I get back.”
Last year, the Cubs won 97 games. In the National League Championship Series, however, they were swept by a New York Mets team that won 90.
And who could forget the eighth inning of Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS between the Cubs and Florida Marlins?
The Cubs led 3-0. They were just five outs away from their first trip to the World Series since 1945.
Then a lifelong Cubs fan named Steve Bartman, seated down the left field line, reached for a foul ball. He tipped the ball away from the outstretched glove of leaping Cubs outfielder Moises Alou. His interference was the catalyst for a heartbreaking Marlins rally and eventual series win.
Loyalty to the Cubs
Despite decades of misery, the Cubs have won over many steadfast fans. One of them is actor and comedian Bill Murray, an Illinois native. On Friday, he crashed the White House briefing room in a Cubs jacket.
He was seen cheering and laughing in the crowd as fans reveled throughout Chicago.