John Keen, Staff Writer
Perhaps no team in MLB history understands the relief a World Series title can bring a city like the 2004 Boston Red Sox, a team managed by Terry Francona and whose front office was led by Theo Epstein.
That Boston squad was a team mired in curses and bad fortune until they overcame a 3-0 American League Championship Series deficit to their hated AL East rivals: the New York Yankees.
Epstein and Francona have since moved to other teams and are both now seeing their careers come full circle. Francona now manages the Cleveland Indians. while Epstein is the general manager of the Chicago Cubs.
Coming into the season, the two teams faced historically long World Series droughts with neither having won a title in 65-plus years. However, as fate would have it, 2016 will bring the end to one of baseball’s longest championship droughts, as Cleveland and Chicago face-off in this year’s Fall Classic.
Much like Boston, the Cubs’ history is mired with curses and misfortune.
Where Boston dealt with Bambino’s curse, named after Yankee slugger and Red Sox pitcher Babe Ruth, Chicago has their own curse of the goat.
In 1945, a Chicago tavern owner named Billy Sianis was kicked out of game four of the World Series at Wrigley field against Detroit, for bringing his goat named Murphey to the game. Upon being kicked out, Sianis said “Them Cubs, they ain’t gonna win no more.” Thus, starting the goat’s curse.
2003 appeared to be Chicago’s year to return to World Series action but the curse reared its ugly head in the form of Steve Bartman.
The Cubs, already holding a 3-2 National League Championship Series lead, led the Florida Marlins 3-0 in the eighth inning of Game 6 when Luis Castillo fouled a ball down the left field bleachers.
Cubs outfielder Moises Alou ranged over and stuck his glove up to the stands trying to make a play on the ball. When Alou reached into the stands for the ball, a Cubs fan, later identified as Bartman, reached out and caused the player not to make the catch.
Florida went on to when the game 8-3 and the series in seven games, keeping the Cubs from making their first World Series appearance since 1945.
Chicago failed to return to NLCS play until last season, where they were swept by the New York Mets. However, fortune has finally shined on Chicago Cubs after they defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 6 on Saturday, Oct. 22 to get back to the World Series for the first time in 71 years.
While Cleveland’s history is much less romanticized than Chicago’s, their playoff struggles are still well documented.
Cleveland’s last trip to World Series play ended in heartbreak. Ironically, the Marlins played spoiler again as they defeated the Indians in 1997, six years before their rally over the Cubs thanks to Bartman.
Now Cleveland looks for their chance at redemption in 2016.
As old associates Francona and Epstein pit their respective teams against each other, the collective baseball world awaits to know which historic drought will finally come to an end.