by Julian Spivey
Much has been made recently about “Back to the Future II” predicting that the Chicago Cubs would snap their century-plus championship-less streak in 2015. In 1989, “Back to the Future II” had Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) travel to 2015 on Oct. 21, 2015 and find out that the Cubs finally won the World Series by beating a franchise in Miami (which didn’t yet exist in 1989).
Forgetting that the now Miami Marlins play in the National League and could never face the Cubs in a World Series as a result, the prediction of the film (like many others) was a possibility. The Cubs were facing the New York Mets in the National League Championship Series with the winner going on to the World Series, but the Mets had jumped out to a 3-0 series lead.
Only once in baseball history has a team come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a series, the 2004 Boston Red Sox who would go on to break The Curse of the Bambino by winning the World Series.
But, some curses are just too strong and movies about the future are merely fiction instead of prophetic.
The Cubs turned out to be the same lovable losers they’ve always been and on “Back to the Future” Day no less became just the third team in playoff history to be swept in the NLCS when the Mets thoroughly dominated them winning game four of the series 8-3.
The Curse of the Bambino was broken by the Red Sox in 2004, but the curse haunting the Cubs – The Curse of the Billy Goat – is still alive and well.
You say you don’t believe in curses? Well, let’s see if this can change your mind …
If you don’t know about The Curse of the Billy Goat the story goes like this:
The last time the Cubs made the World Series was in 1945 against the Detroit Tigers. During that World Series, Billy Sianis, the owner of a local tavern called the Billy Goat Tavern, was forced to leave Wrigley Field during a game because his pet goat, named Murphy, who attended the game with him was bothering fellow patrons due to its odor.
Upon being kicked out of the ballpark that day an outraged Sianis exclaimed: “Them Cubs, they ain’t gonna win no more.”
And, for the last 70 years that haven’t.
There have been many reasons to believe in The Curse of the Billy Goat since that day, most notably the infamous Steve Bartman play in 2003 when the Cubs were just five outs from securing a World Series berth.
But, the interesting side of the curse has to do with the name Murphy, the name of the banished goat. It pops up too many times on the bad side of Cubs history for it to be merely a coincidence.
The last time the Cubs won the World Series in 1908 the owner of the franchise was Charles Murphy. In 1969, when the Cubs suffered a late season collapse of epic proportions and would end up being passed in the division by the Amazin’ Mets team that would go on to win the World Series the Mets general manager was named Johnny Murphy and the Mets announcer was Bob Murphy. In the 1984 NLCS, which was then a best of five series, the Cubs won the first two games of the series and looked like they’d reach their first World Series since the curse was placed upon them before they’d lose three straight games and the series to the San Diego Padres in San Diego’s Jack Murphy Stadium.
Finally, here comes the kicker.
The Cubs got past their rival St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Division Series relatively easily and it looked like destiny was on their side and a fictional movie from 1989 was truly going to be prophetic.
But, in the NLCS this past week the Cubs ran up against the hottest hitter in quite possibly the entire history of the baseball playoffs. It was the Mets second baseman: Daniel Murphy.
Murphy completely owned the Cubs hitting a home run in all four games of the series and six playoff games in a row going back to the division series against the Los Angeles Dodgers to set a new MLB playoff record. Murphy hit .529 against the Cubs with six RBI to go along with his four homers. In the clinching game of the series he was 4-for-4.
Billy Sianis’ Curse of the Billy Goat always manifests itself in the name of his goat Murphy.
Daniel Murphy only hit 14 homers all season long and had never hit homers in more than two consecutive games. Now he has seven through nine postseason games and in six games consecutively. You can’t tell me there isn’t a little black magic helping him out a bit. By the way, what do they call an athlete who’s the “greatest of all-time” – you guessed it a G.O.A.T. Murphy has been the G.O.A.T. of the postseason and Murphy the goat always gets his revenge.