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In the midst of the bye week, please allow me to be the last to weigh in on the arrival of The Savior on the North Side.
There is no arguing with Theo Epstein's credentials to run the Cubs, and it is clear he has brought in able lieutenants to assist in the procurement of maximum talent.
The big problem with Theo is the curse factor, i.e., the belief, which I'm sure has already gained tremendous purchase in Cutesy Cubbie Nation, that because Theo was able to deliver Boston from the Curse of the Bambino, he surely is the man to save the Cubs from the Curse of the Goat.
Here's Chicago comedian Jeff Garlin, best known as Larry David's sidekick on Curb Your Enthusiasm, on the rank stupidity of the Billy Goat curse:
A goat? Okay, let's get something straight. It is not a curse to not want a goat at a baseball game, all right? That is not a curse. Nobody wants livestock in baseball games, okay? That is not a curse. You sell Babe Ruth, yeah, okay, maybe that's a curse. You sell the greatest ballplayer ever, OK, I get it. But kicking a guy and his goat out of a baseball game, no, that is not a curse.
You know, this was a time when people dressed up. I mean, nobody would let a goat into a game now, and people dress like pigs. Back then people wore suits to games, they wore hats. There wasn't a team in baseball that would be like - "Sure, oh yeah, the goat's fine."
And by the way, do we know if this guy had any other successful curses? Does he have a list of curses that we can look at? If he had a whole bunch of curses that worked, okay, fine. But I'm not buying that he tried only one curse, and it worked, and it was because they did not let him bring a goat into a game.
I would add that if a local team was going to be cursed, it would have been the team that threw a World Series. And sure enough, after the White Sox lost the 1919 World Series, they went until 2005 before they won another one. When they won, that should have been the absolute end of chatter about curses in our town. But lazy sports media types and opportunist hangers-on (more about that later) keep this garbage alive.
(Just a few weeks ago the Sun-Times - again - saw fit to put a picture of a goat on its back page; no cliche is too hoary for the media.)
Of course the Cubs aren't cursed, no matter what the delightful folks who run the Harry Caray's would have you believe. (Shouldn't the statute of limitations on cashing in on a dead guy's legacy have kicked in by now?)
I suppose it must be noted that Harry Caray's is the perfect place for Cutesy Cubbie fans to theatrically lament (or is it celebrate?) the team's ongoing futility. If "fans" insist on perpetuating an affair with lovable losers, maybe it is best that they have a place to congregate - a place I can avoid like the plague.
As for the rest of us: Fight the Cutesy Cubbie crap!
(I haven't sat in the bleachers in years but if I should somehow find myself out there and if I should somehow catch an opposing player's home run, there will be no throwing it - or a replacement ball - back. I'm also not singing "Go Cubs Go" after wins. At least I will try not to; Steve Goodman can write a catchy tune.)
In the end, all we can say is "Good luck, Theo."
We're with you all the way, unless you pull a Crane Kenny - officially acknowledging that you think a bar owner trying to generate cheap publicity with a farm animal at a baseball game can somehow impact a team's fortunes for the next 60-something years.
Or by doing something like hiring a religious figure to spray holy water in the dugout when a team has its best chance to win in a long, long time despite an utterly oppressive history of losing.
The result of a Crane Kenney, we've learned, is being swept out of the playoffs in the blink of an eye.
So forget about the curse, Theo. It's Crane who has to go.
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