Great year so far for the Cubs. They are on a trajectory to win 92 games and qualify for a Wild Card one game playoff against the Pirates. Since I didn't expect them to contend until next year, it's all gravy. So, why am I expecting a dreadful end to the season?
Above, Cubs' third baseman, Ron Santo, watches a black cat walk by as he waits in the on deck circle during a game against the Mets in the old Shea Stadium in 1969.
Mets' fans remember 1969 as the year of the Miracle Mets of Tom Seaver vintage. Cubs' fans remember 1969 as the year the team lead the National League by 8-1/2 games in August and ended the season trailing the Mets by 8 games. The Cubs' collapse was epic. Nothing quite captures the voodoo spell that descended upon the Cubs than this pic of Santo.
A Cubs' team that featured four future Hall of Famers... Santo, Billy Williams, Fergie Jenkins and Ernie Banks, couldn't finish off a playoff run.
I was only 19 years old during that fateful season. Yet to come was Leon Durham's error on a routine grounder that deep sixed the 1984 Cubs' playoff team... caused by a Gatorade spill!
And, then there was the Bartman game in 2003! When I attended a game at Wrigley back in July, I asked one of the ushers to point out Steve Bartman's seat. He told me that everybody asks the same questions. Five outs away from a World Series appearance, all hell broke loose.
Me and the Cubs have a long history of living with catastrophic collapses.
So, what's the next chapter? I'll believe the curse is over when the Cubs record the final out in a World Series victory.
Maybe this year's team is different. Joe Maddon was hired precisely because he knows how to take the pressure off young players. Next year might be the Cubs' breakout. The pressure hasn't really descended yet on this team. That will bear down on them when they finally reach a National League Championship Series and play at Wrigley in front of a crowd that anticipates another dramatic collapse.