Thursday, October 16, 2003

Uh, About that Curse. . . .

It's a convenient out, this Curse of the Billy Goat. Every news outlet outside of South Florida has trotted it out over the last 16 hours or so as a way to explain the inexplicable -- the Marlins' National League pennant victory over the Cubs, sending Florida to the World Series and banishing Chicago to yet another long winter watching ER for local landmarks.

You can talk about curses, you can talk about hometown fans and ill-advised reaches for foul balls; hell you can talk about voodoo. But if you really want to know what happened, you have to talk about Kerry Wood and Mark Prior coming up small when it counted most, and the Marlins doing what they've done over the last two months -- playing inspired baseball at exactly the right time.

Lost in the shuffle of Cub Fever was that Chicago wasn't all that good to begin with. The Cubs just barely won a weak division, they were the beneficiaries of the Braves' annual postseason implosion, and then they ran into a team that played better than they did. Theirs has always been a great storyline -- bad news sells papers, after all -- but games aren't played on newsprint.

If you insist on getting all mystical about it, though, blame the baseball gods. Cub fans have treated this year's World Series as their birthright, and the baseball gods frown on feelings of entitlement. Why do you think the Yankees have gone a few years without garnering a ring? Because their fans got so complacent after the incredible success of the mid-to-late '90s and began to see a championship as something they were owed, not something they had to earn. It'll be interesting to see if the baseball gods smite the Red Sox for their thuggish behavior in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series.


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