This Year’s Cubs Are Not Comparable to the 2004 Red Sox

Stop that right now.

On the 11-year anniversary of the Red Sox shocking the Yankees and becoming the first team to rally back from an 0-3 postseason series deficit, the Cubs went down 0-3 to the Mets in the National League Championship Series.

This stuff writes itself.

It’s tempting to make comparisons between the 2004 Red Sox and 2015 Cubs. The Sox were in the midst of an 86-year championship drought in ’04 and the Cubs are currently in their 107th season of playoff futility. Boy wonder Theo Epstein was general manager of the Red Sox 11 years ago, and what do you know, he’s in charge of the Cubs today. Sportswriters, get your columns ready!

But once you get past the surface, this year’s Cubs aren’t like the ’04 Red Sox at all. Sorry to ruin the narrative.

For starters, the Cubs’ “curse” is L-A-M-E. Everybody knows the Curse of the Bambino—Red Sox owner Harry Frazee sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1920, who at the time had never played in a World Series. The Red Sox, meanwhile, were the most successful franchise in baseball, winning five championships in 18 years after the turn of the 20th century.

In the ensuing 86 years after Frazee sold Ruth to the Yankees, they won 26 titles while the Red Sox experienced nothing but anguish. All four of the Sox’s World Series losses during that period came in Game 7, and there was plenty of agony in between—from Bucky Bleepin’ Dent to Aaron Boone.

As far as mythical sports curses are concerned, that’s pretty logical and straight forward. The Cubs’ just comes across as a lame copycat attempt.

According to Chicago folklore, Billy Goat Tavern owner Billy Sianis wasn’t allowed to bring his pet goat into Wrigley Field to watch a 1945 World Series game between the Cubs and Tigers. He then allegedly threw his hands in the air, and proclaimed the Cubs would never win again.

But then in 1969, Sianis took his words back. So if we’re to believe this cockamamie story, the curse has actually been over for 46 years.

There are baseball reasons why the Cubs’ situation this year isn’t analogous to the Sox’s in ’04, too. The Yankees ran out of pitching that year. The Mets, conversely, have arguably the best staff in the National League.

But perhaps the biggest difference is this: the Yankees were the Evil Empire. There was nothing lovable about that $180 million collection of All-Stars. The Mets, though, are actually pretty endearing.

Pulling for the Yankees to get their comeuppance was pleasurable. But rooting against the Mets, the red-headed stepchild of the New York sports scene, is just mean-spirited.