By Dave Wischnowsky –
(CBS) You’re well-versed in the “Curse of the Billy Goat.” You’re plenty familiar with that hex the Black Sox put on the White Sox way back in 1919. And you’re fully aware that when it comes to spooky baseball shenanigans, Chicago is “Curse Capital, USA.”
But here in 2012 as spring training is once again sprung upon us, what you likely don’t know is that there’s another baseball “curse” that’s been lurking beneath the Windy City’s collective radar for more than a century.
And it just might be the most powerful one of them all.
More than six years ago after the White Sox captured their first World Series title since 1917 – and finally busted the ghosts of the Black Sox in the process – I first identified this previously unknown hex that’s long been quietly haunting Chicago’s big league ballparks.
But it wasn’t until last week, when news broke that the Cubs might play their 2013 season down at U.S. Cellular Field while Wrigley Field gets a gut rehab, that my memory of this “Curse of Chicago” was jogged.
And I thought I’d run ii past you today.
Last week, I wrote a blog entry where I imagined a bittersweet scenario in which the Cubs finally fulfill their fans’ dream of winning a World Series, only to end up doing so while nightmarishly displaced at The Cell. Now, you can certainly call that tale science fiction. But the story I’m about to share with you is nothing but the truth.
Even the most seasoned baseball observers among you might not realize that, in spite of that White Sox title in 2005, Chicago still remains a championship graveyard.
And that’s because the Windy City – or, perhaps more appropriately, the When-dy City – still hasn’t celebrated a postseason baseball series championship of any kind on its own soil since 1906. In fact, the only reason why that championship was celebrated within the Chicago city limits was because the 1906 World Series never left Chicago city limits.
In that showdown, the White Sox topped the Cubs at South Side Park in Game 6 of a crosstown Fall Classic, sparking a celebration that surely rocked the city but also appears to have somehow rankled the baseball gods.
Because they haven’t forgiven Chicago since.
After all, get a load of this list of the city’s all-time championship-game history – and perhaps get a couple of chills in the process …
2005: The White Sox won the American League Division Series in Boston, won the AL Championship Series in Anaheim, and won the World Series in Houston.
2003: The Cubs lose the potential series-clinching Game 4 of NLDS at Wrigley Field, before going on to win the series in Game 5 in Atlanta. Then, in the NLCS, the Cubs lose potential series clinchers, Games 6 and 7, at Wrigley Field.
1945: The Cubs lose the decisive Game 7 of the World Series to the Detroit Tigers at Wrigley Field.
1917: The White Sox win the World Series over the Giants in Game 6 at the Polo Grounds in New York City.
1908: The Cubs win the World Series over the Tigers in Game 5 at Bennett Park in Detroit.
1907: The Cubs win the World Series over the Tigers in Game 4 at Bennett Park in Detroit.
For those keeping score, that’s seven Chicago postseason series victories since 1906 – with each and every one of them being clinched outside the City of Big Shoulders. And that’s four times – three in 2003, and one in 1945 – that the Cubs had an opportunity to secure a series championship on city turf only to come up short.
In all the years that this metropolis has played Major League Baseball, Chicago has celebrated only one postseason series clincher within its city limits (1906). And, again, it took two Chicago teams to make that happen.
Now, of course, in 2005, the White Sox were so efficient in the playoffs that they didn’t need to come home to clinch a series. Same can be said for the 1907 Cubs, who swept Detroit in four games.
Nevertheless, with all of this in mind, perhaps it doesn’t matter one lick if a future championship-caliber Cubs squad played its games at U.S. Cellular Field. After all, even if that hypothetical team were to finally win a World Series, the clincher likely would take place on the road.
Otherwise, it doesn’t seem as if it could take place at all.
Because until further notice, the Windy City should be considered inhospitable for all series-clinching celebrations as this under-appreciated “Curse of Chicago” lives on.
But, hey, at least the Billy Goat probably appreciates it.
After all, it means he still has company, right?
If nothing else, Dave Wischnowsky is an Illinois boy. Raised in Bourbonnais, educated at the University of Illinois and bred on sports in the Land of Lincoln, he now resides on Chicago’s North Side, just blocks from Wrigley Field. Formerly a reporter and blogger for the Chicago Tribune, Dave currently writes a syndicated column, The Wisch List, which you can check out via his blog at http://www.wischlist.com. Follow him on Twitter @wischlist and read more of his CBS Chicago blog entries here.