10/16/2003 4:27 AM ET
Curses! Does the hex exist?
CHICAGO -- While the Chicago Cubs may have exceeded everyone's expectations in advancing to the final game of the National League Championship Series against the Florida Marlins, the season ended with the same mantra it has for the last 95 years after a 9-6 loss -- wait until next year.
As fans sat in the stands after the game, many in shock, some in tears and just about everyone with a blank look on his or her face, the realization that the 2003 season had come to a premature end was sinking in.
For some Cubs fans, the explanation was simple. The Cubs, the loveable losers, just could not shake the curse. Call it what you will, but of the many theories out there, the Cubs faithful take it for granted that a higher power is at work in keeping them away from a World Series trophy.
The Billy Goat Curse is the most well-known of the hexes and came about after Billy Sianis tried to bring his goat to a World Series game in 1945. When he was denied admission with the goat, he put a hex on the Cubs and said they would not appear in another World Series.
Well, they haven't.
A few fans at Wrigley Field on Wednesday said they think there has to be some other explanation for their team giving up three straight contests to the Marlins to lose the NLCS.
By Amy Sternig / MLB.com
Greg Dye of Lake Zurich said it is kind of a coincidence that several factors came together for the Cubs. First, they lost Game 5 in Florida and dropped Game 6 in Chicago after a fan prevented Moises Alou from making a catch of a foul ball and the usually flawless Alex Gonzalez flubbed a possible double-play ball as the Marlins scored eight runs in the eighth inning. In Game 7, the Cubs stared a three-run hole in the face to start the game, roared back to score five straight and eventually lost the contest when the Marlins scored six more.
"I was in the game with a stuffed goat head on, sitting two rows behind home plate," Dye said. "I was wearing it initially, and then they told me not to wear it. They took me out and took my ticket stub -- I couldn't even have a souvenir. So it's kind of ironic that they kicked me out with the goat head and then they lose."
Carol Palka of Niles said she believes in a curse. What else could have caused such a collapse? But she does see the futility of such beliefs as well.
"That's how it is, that's how it's been," Palka said. "We don't want to admit that maybe we can't get to the World Series because we're not good enough and we want to blame it on a little goat."
Cherie Smith of Grand Rapids, Mich., said she does not believe in the curse and she thinks people who do are simply misleading themselves.
"It's easier to blame a curse because then there's a reason why they didn't win -- it's not their fault then," she said.
Marilyn Rice, a Cubs fan who was around the last time they went to the World Series, said she was not going to blame goats or anything else for the team's poor performance.
"I don't believe in curses or any of that stuff," she said. "They just didn't play up to par. It's just like the old excuse -- 'It's not my fault, it's somebody else's fault.'"
Manager Dusty Baker has said repeatedly this season that he doesn't buy into the curse and he dislikes even talking about it. His players are no different. After the loss Wednesday, several Cubs said they still don't think some higher power has it in for them or the organization.
"That's nonsense to us," said catcher Damian Miller. "The only curse there was was the Florida Marlins. They played great baseball."
Outfielder Doug Glanville also dismissed any talk of hexes, curse, spells or potions.
"It's just like anything else," Glanville said. "Some people believe in these things, but I can't believe that you're cursed if you are playing in the National League Championship Series. I have to believe that's a gift if nothing else."
Gonzalez, who could have easily blamed his error that led to the Marlins' comeback in Game 6 on a supernatural event, summed it up best when he contrasted the Cubs and Florida.
"We went a long way and we were playing one of the hottest teams in baseball," he said. "All year long they were making comebacks like this -- not just against us. If we're cursed, then maybe they are blessed."
Amy Sternig is an editorial producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
"I can't believe that you're cursed if you are playing in the National League Championship Series. I have to believe that's a gift if nothing else."
-- Doug Glanville