Tagged: Cubs

Baseball Curses and Dejá Vu All Over Again

Back in 2004, there was an older version of this site. It was pretty much a blog like it is today, but it was running Moveable Type and I was posting to it a lot more often than I do today. Since 2009, I migrated the site to WordPress and, although I vowed to import all those old entries into the new CMS, I never did.

Eleven years ago this month, the Yankees held a commanding 3-0 lead over the Boston Red Sox in the American League Championship Series. Game 3 was an absolute ass kicking at Fenway Park. The Red Sox were embarrassed at home by the Yankees, 19-8, and were in danger of being swept the next day.

At the time, I wrote the following on the old blog:

Saturday night’s Game 3 was tragic for the Bostons and their fans1. The Yankees pummeled them 19-8. The game lasted over four hours, partly because it was an American League playoff game and partly because the teams combined to score 27 runs. After losing that game, the Red Sox would have to win the next 4 games to advance to the World Series. Fat chance because, as we’ve all heard by now, only hockey teams have come back from an 0-3 deficit in a best o’ seven series.

Then I get into numerology to foretell the greatest comeback in postseason baseball history.

But it might not be all that bad for the Bostons. The Red Sox have retired the jersey numbers of four player’s numbers: 1 (Bobby Doerr), 9 (Ted Williams), 8 (Carl Yastrzemski), and 27 (Carlton Fisk). Those numbers are the same as the score of Saturday’s game, 19-8, and the combined runs for the game, 27. I think this bodes well for the B-towners.

By now, everyone knows the story. The Red Sox beat the Yankees four games in a row, including two epic extra-inning affairs in Game 4 and Game 5, to beat the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS.

Last night, the Mets took a commanding 3-0 lead against the Chicago Cubs in the National League Championship Series. The Mets beat the Cubs at Wrigley Field, 5-2, in a game that seemed much more out of hand than that slim three-run margin would suggest. Around here, Mets fans and their bandwagon seat-mates are confident that the Mets will take the pennant and advance to the World Series.

Allow me to play devil’s advocate. Wouldn’t it be something if the Cubs took the series? After all, there’s a lot of similarities between the plight of the Chicago Nationals in 2015 and the Bostons in 20042. If that happens…

The Cubs would have broken their “curse” by going down 0-3 in a league championship series to a New York team and then won four games in a row to advance to the World Series.

It’s also hard to overlook that both cursed teams have the same general manager in Theo Epstein. Too bad Ramiro Mendoza wasn’t around to pitch last night for the Cubbies.

This afternoon, about two hours before the NLCS Game 4 takes place at Wrigley Field, this outcome seems unthinkable. But baseball is a strange game. The Cubs still have a chance to advance to the World Series, and if they win, it would be, as someone who passed away earlier this year reputedly said, “dejá vu all over again.”

Update: I did some post-facto “research,” and found that Phil Rogers at MLB.com has also linked the 2004 Red Sox and the 2015 Cubs to Theo Epstein and a 0-3 deficit to a New York team. Also similar, Rogers refers to the Cubs by their location, calling them the “North Siders.” Cute.

  1. At the time, I apparently referred to baseball teams by their city names. It now seems strange that I ever did that. 
  2. There I go…naming baseball teams after their cities again. 

We Were at That Game!

Dodgers vs. Cubs at Wrigley Field

On Friday, the Dodgers six-game winning streak came to an end. And it was a remarkable loss. As beat writer Ken Gurnick wrote:

this was a hideous loss of historic proportions, a 16–1 pulverization by the Phillies for the most lopsided home loss by a Dodgers team since 1947 in Brooklyn (19–2 to the Giants) and the largest margin of defeat since 2001 (20–1 to the Cubs).

An even more remarkable fact was that my brother and I were at the 2001 game versus the Cubs…in Chicago. It remains our only trip to Wrigley Field. As sons of an airline employee, we used to be able to fly for almost free. During the 2000 and 2001 baseball seasons, we flew to a few ballparks on overnight flights and often returning the same day on the last flight of the day to Southern California.

On May 4, 2001, we took a red-eye flight from LA to Chicago, arriving super early for a Dodgers-Cubs game. After breakfast and some brief window shopping, we headed to Wrigley field. Both teams, as I remember, were playing well and were probably in first place in their divisions. (They were.) But, as any serious baseball fan knows, your positions in the standings in early May means nothing because there’s still more than 130 games of baseball to play. We expected two overachieving teams to play a good game. We were wrong. Instead, we witnessed[1] the Cubs pummell the Dodgers, 20–1. The Dodgers’ only run came off a Gary Sheffield double. Since we arrived at the ballpark early, we saw the Dodgers take batting practices, and he was hitting shots over the brick wall. No one else stood out in my mind, and that now seemed like a prescient analysis of what was to come.

Dodgers vs. Cubs at Wrigley Field

Because we were dressed in Dodgers gear, we were heckled. Nonstop. A notable taunt was “Hey, Hollywood!” We deserved it. We were in enemy territory. Our team was getting killed. And because we had no sense of “springtime” in Chicago, we were underdressed, wearing shorts on a drizzly day that seemed much colder than the afternoon temperature of 57°.

My brother and I had a strict policy of not leaving a game early. However, we agreed that if the Cubs scored twenty runs, we’re outta here. But we came back only to see that the relief pitcher for the bottom of the eighth inning was utility infielder Chris Donnells, who threw three pitches to end an eighth-run eighth inning.

This morning, my brother reminded me of that game. It was bad. But it was also great and not only in how bad it was. Thanks, brother, for the reminder.

  1. as in “witnessed an atrocity.”  ↩