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The team with more Ex-Cubs will inevitably lose the World Series...

Columnist Ron Berler originated the ex-cub factor theory in a Boston Herald article in 1981. He stated that any team with three or more former Chicago Cubs players could not win the World Series.

Any fan of baseball knows that the Cubs lose. Year after year they play in the magical Friendly Confines, sell out every game and break the hearts of the loyal and true. They haven't won a World Series since 1908, the longest drought of any team. Legend claims that an eccentric owner of a tavern across the street tried to bring his goat into a game one afternoon. When the goat was refused admittance, the man put the evil eye on the Cubs, hexed with perennial loss. This loss an infectious virus, sticking with players as they journey from team to team.

When the article originally appeared, most thought it a passing blurb in a sport of statistics. Only one team of thirteen since 1945, the 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates, were able to win with three or more Ex-Cubs. An interesting fact, but lacking significance. Now, twenty years later, it is one of the most important variables to consider when picking the winner of the World Series.

Former (and loved) Chicago Tribune columnist Mike Royko wrote a humorous article in 1993 discussing the Atlanta Braves' chances of winning the World Series. (They lost in the NLCS to the Phillies). This was the pivotal journalistic boost for the theory. Everybody read Royko - and the historical nonsense surrounding the mystique of Ex- Cubs began new life.

Still Skeptical? Well, I'll ask you to think about the three BIGGEST, most significant World Series plays in the last 15 years. I found each one here on Everything.

  • 1986 World Series. The play that made Bill Buckner move to Idaho. Boston vs the Mets. Who can forget that ball trickling through Bill Buckner's legs? Former Cub. Boston has the second longest stretch without a Series.
  • 1988 World Series. Kirk Gibson stumbles out of the dugout, limps to the plate and hits a towering home run hobbling around the bases, pumping his fist in the air. Who did he hit it off of? The best closer in baseball that year, A's pitcher and former Cub, Dennis Eckersley.
  • 1993 World Series. I call this one the Canada rule. Former Cub Joe Carter hits a home run in game six to win the world series for the Toronto Blue Jays. Carter only played 23 games for the Cubs, granted an Ex-Cub, but the twist here is that he hit the home run off "Wild Thing" Mitch Williams another former Cub.

Let's take a look at the 2001 ex-Cub factor.

National League:
Arizona Diamondbacks:(4) Miguel Bautista, Mr. Cub Mark Grace, Mike Morgan and Luis Gonzales
Atlanta Braves: (3) Dave Martinez, Rey Sanchez, Greg Maddux

American League
Seattle Mariners: (1) Jamie Moyer
New York Yankees: None. Bench coach Don Zimmer does not count.

UPDATE: Arizona Diamondbacks join the Pitsburgh Pirates as the two teams to overcome the curse. Ex-Cub Mark Grace hits a lead off single in the ninth (which becomes the tying run), then Ex-Cub Luis Gonzales becomes only the fifth player in the history of MLB to hit a walk off seventh game hit.

Some interesting variables to consider:

  • Mark Grace was "Mr. Cub" for fourteen years, playing first base in the friendly confines. New GM Andy Mcphail let him go as a free agent despite Grace's popularity and desire to stay. He also brought a goat to Wrigley in the beginning of the 1997 season, when the team started 0-13. He kept the goat in the bull pen.
  • The only series when the ex- cub factor failed was the 1960 series. The Pirates beat the Yankees in seven games, when Bill Mazerowski hit a homer in game 7 to win.

2002 -

  • San Francisco Giants - 3 Shawon Dunstan, Manny Ayabar, Benito Santiago
  • Anaheim Angels - 0

As a Cubs fan, I can tell you we haven't won the Series since 1908. (Don't say that was the only time, though. We won it in 1907 too.) We haven't even been there since we were cursed in 1945. We didn't even make the playoffs from 1946 through 1983. We've sucked, and when we haven't sucked we've had other things happen *coughBartmancough*. And even worse, our players can't even win when they go to other teams.

Since the Curse, only two MLB teams have won the World Series with 3 or more ex-Cubs on their teams -- the 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates and the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks. Thus the only proven way to defeat the Factor is to score the winning runs in the bottom of the 9th in the 7th game of the World Series, and it must be against the Yankees (who swept the Cubs in two World Series in the 1930s).

The Factor has been especially powerful in the last two years, however -- in 2004, the Boston Red Sox broke their Curse by becoming the first team to come back from being down 3 games to none to win the ALCS over the Yankees 4-3, and going on to beat the Cardinals in the World Series.

Who could predict this? Ex-Cub Factor aficionados. The Yankees were set up perfectly for a historic collapse, taking no fewer than SIX Ex-Cubs on their team.

In 2005 the Factor was again powerful. Four teams - the Yankees, Cardinals, Red Sox, and Padres - had 3 or more Ex-Cubs. None of these made the World Series, and 3 of them (all but the Cardinals) lost in the first round. The Braves, who had 2, also lost in the first round, leaving the Angels (1) vs. the White Sox (1), and the Cardinals (3) vs. the Astros (1). The White Sox defeated the Astros in the Series, and the Factor held again.

Here's a list of Ex-Cubs on the rosters of the 2006 playoff teams (note: coaches, managers and the like do not count, nor do players that were only drafted by, but did not play for, the Cubs):

Los Angeles Dodgers: Greg Maddux, Nomar Garciaparra, Kenny Lofton, Ramon Martinez (4)
San Diego Padres: Todd Walker, Mark Bellhorn, Manny Alexander, Scott Williamson (4)
New York Mets: Michael Tucker, Steve Trachsel, Mike DiFelice (3)
New York Yankees: Miguel Cairo, Kyle Farnsworth (2)
Minnesota Twins: Rondell White, Phil Nevin (2)
Detroit Tigers: Neifi Perez (1)
St. Louis Cardinals: Jose Vizcaino (1)
Oakland Athletics: None (0)

Thus the Dodgers, Padres, and Mets will not win the World Series in 2006. Better luck next year, guys.

Edit: The St. Louis Cardinals, the only playoff team from the National League with fewer than 3 Ex-Cubs, won the 2006 World Series. Their opponents, the Detroit Tigers, were not cursed -- unless Neifi Perez counts as 3 Ex-Cubs by himself.

Do not taunt the Ex-Cub Factor.

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