Friday, October 12, 2012

Like Stevie Wonder Said... (The Final Chapter)

What a grind to be a Cubs' fan...
The last time they won a World Series, Theo Roosevelt was president and the Model T Ford had just been introduced. They've had their chances since 1908. They've been to the postseason on more than a dozen occasions and come out on the losing end each time. At this point, most reasonably informed fans have heard the one about the disgruntled tavern owner who was kicked out of Wrigley Field for bringing his goat to a 1945 World Series game. The curse he placed on the team allegedly still persists despite numerous attempts to drive it away. And just when things were looking up, the club got jinxed again. Ahead of the Mets by nine and a half games in early-August of '69, the lead began to slowly evaporate. During an important series of games between the two teams at Wrigley Field, a black cat that lived beneath the stands wandered in front of the Cubs' dugout in broad daylight. The Mets swept the series and stole the pennant. The Cubs would wait another 15 years to gain entry into the playoffs.

Another curse that has garnered some attention in recent years is the Sports Illustrated cover photo jinx. In 2002, researchers determinded that 37 % of all featured cover subjects had experienced "a demonstrable misfortune or decline in performance" following a cover appearance. This unfortunate run of bad luck allegedly began with Hall of Famer Eddie Mathews, who hurt his hand shortly after gracing the cover of the magazine in 1954. Other players who have been afflicted include Nolan Ryan (who lost 8 consecutive decisions after a '75 cover shoot), Matt Williams (who broke his foot immediately following a '95 appearance) and Nomar Garciaparra (who ripped a tendon in his wrist days after posing shirtless in 2001). A total of 2,456 issues were surveyed from a 47-year period, revealing 916 "jinxes." And though a reasonable explanation has been offered by non-believers since the 2002 study took place, the curse appears to be alive and well nevertheless (at least in the realms of baseball).

--Shortly after appearing in April of 2004, Cubs' hurler Kerry Wood was diagnosed with tendinitis. He missed more than 10 starts that year and had a sub-par season overall.

--Ken Griffey Jr. bravely agreed to a cover shoot in June of 2004. He ruptured a hamstring a few weeks later and missed the remainder of the season.

--Generally considered to be among the most promising young pitchers in the majors, Dontrelle Willis was photographed in spring training of '07. He suffered through the worst campaign of his career to that point and never returned to previous form.

--Posing for a photograph in June of ''07, Mets' manager Willie Randolph watched his team collapse down the stretch, squandering a 7-game lead to the Phillies. He was fired the following year.

--Philly southpaw Cole Hamels appeared in February of '09 then performed inconsistently all year. MVP of the World Series and NLCS in '08, he was an October flop in '09, allowing 16 earned runs in 19 innings of work.

--Numerous cover subjects have been embroiled in steroid scandals since 2002. They include Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz.

And that is just a small sampling. Check it out for yourself and you'll see.
Have a happy and safe Halloween season everyone!!!

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