Cubs blessed with talent, burdened by 'curse'

Thu Oct 8, 2015 12:15am EDT
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By Larry Fine

(Reuters) - The Chicago Cubs, who have gone 107 years without a World Series title, gave their long-suffering fans a shot of optimism with a victory in a do-or-die Wild Card game on Wednesday to reach the National League Division Series.

"It's tremendous for the city, it's been a while," said Cubs ace Jake Arrieta, who threw a four-hit, complete game shutout in the 4-0 road win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. "Chicago has been waiting for this. But it's only step one."

Cubs fans packed into a Chicago bar that was captured on TV roared with delight, hugged their partners and friends and waved signs, including one that read "It's Gonna Happen."

Chicago are blessed with young talent bursting to prominence in Major League Baseball, but high anxiety has plagued fiercely loyal fans frustrated by a bitter history of near misses.

They have blamed the agonizing dry spell on "The Curse of the Billy Goat," "The Black Cat Curse," and an incident in which a Cubs fan became the 2003 scapegoat of the latest painful disappointment for the Cubbies, who have not reached the World Series in 70 years.

One of the most successful teams in MLB's early years, the Cubs were the first team to win back-to-back titles (1907-08), and between 1910 and 1945 they reached seven World Series but failed to claim the crown.

In 1945, the Cubs led the Detroit Tigers 2-1 in the best-of-seven World Series when Billy Goat Tavern owner Billy Sianis was asked to leave Wrigley Field because his pet goat, who had a paid ticket, smelled bad.

Escorted out, Sianis declared a curse on the Cubs. Chicago lost the game and the series in seven games and have not been to the Fall Classic since.   Continued...

Oct 7, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; The Chicago Cubs bullpen runs in as the benches clear after Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jake Arrieta (49) was hit by a Pittsburgh Pirates pitch during the seventh inning in the National League Wild Card playoff baseball game at PNC Park. Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports