This Year’s Cubs Are Not Comparable to the 2004 Red Sox
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.
Who’s going to give the “Don’t let us win tonight” speech for the Cubs before Game 4?
— Chad Finn (@GlobeChadFinn) October 21, 2015
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!
Elias: Up 3-0 in best-of-7, teams are 33-1 (.971) in winning series. Of course, Theo Epstein knows that.
— Adam Rubin (@AdamRubinESPN) October 21, 2015
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.
Once again Cubs fans trying to co-opt the Red Sox experience because their own isn’t working out. — Marc Normandin (@Marc_Normandin) October 21, 2015
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.
I look forward to the inevitable 2015 Cubs/2004 Red Sox comps because of Theo, as if the Mets are going to start Javy Vazquez at some point.
— Mike Axisa (@mikeaxisa) October 21, 2015
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.
Don’t compare Theo’s current team down 0-3 to NY to his past one. The Yankees were an evil destined for karmic vengeance. Mets are sorta fun
— Jason Schwartz (@JasonSchwartz) October 21, 2015
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.