Cubs need a smelly old Billy goat, not 'Clark'
Thursday, January 23, 2014 7:22 AM
So the perennial, all-time-greatest (?) losers are hoping a mascot can change their luck and help lead the likeable knuckleheads to the promised land of baseball glory ... yeah right. If only it were that easy.
While America's sports-adoring citizens were locked on the battles between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, and the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers and the impending Super Bowl, the Chicago Cubs organization announced that this year's team would feature an adorable mascot called Clark the Cub.
Why the name Clark? Because ...
To say the least, according to the plethora of negative reactions on just about every form of social media, Clark has not been well received. Ridiculed and mocked would be more accurate terms.
While the hapless Cubs organization birthed Clark in an attempt to make attending games at Wrigley Field more family friendly, the frustrated followers of the hapless team are upset with the whole endeavor. And then some.
According to comments flying around cyberspace, they are angered that the only off-season move to make the club better was to come up with a cute mascot to make kids and their parents happy.
To paraphrase a typical Internet posting: "While other teams are making trades or signing stars to long-term contracts in order to improve performance on the field, all the Cubs can do is come up with a fuzzy little bear to run around the field making children laugh and smile."
Or: "The Chicago Cubs haven't won a World Series in 105 years, and have lost a whopping 197 games during the last two seasons, and this is how they're going to turn things around? I've had it. I'm done. The Cubs are dead to me."
And then: "Are you kidding me? A mascot is the best the Cubs can do? If Clark can win 20 games on the mound or hit 50 home runs, I'm buying it, but if not, then I won't be renewing my season tickets. Just when I thought the team couldn't sink any lower, they come up with Clark the Cub. This is a Major League Baseball team, not a Disney movie."
Personally, I don't have any problem with Clark, and if he'll help promote the great game of baseball to future generations, then his creation should be considered a good thing ... a very good thing.
In fact, one could make a solid argument that Clark is just what the doctor ordered. With him prancing around Wrigley the fans will actually have something entertaining to watch as opposed to enduring the "action" on the field. Put another way, Clark might be the best thing the Cubs have to offer this season ... and probably for the next 105 years.
If I have an issue with the warm, cuddly mascot that has no pants, it's the choice of animals. It shouldn't have been a bear, it should have been a goat. That's right, a goat. And here's why:
Believe it or not, there was a time, many, many foul balls ago, when the Cubs were a powerhouse. From 1876 to 1945, the Chicago National League franchise posted a 5,476-4,324 record with 51 winning seasons and 16 pennants and World Series appearances. They won two World Series titles, with the last coming in 1908.
During that remarkable span, the Cubbies played in 10 World Series, and then came 1945 and the beginning of the end. That was the year of their final NL pennant, and in the Series they faced the Detroit Tigers along with a local Chicago saloon owner named William "Billy Goat" Sianis and his goat, Murphy.
October 6 was a sad day in Cubs history. The Cubs entered game four of the World Series leading the Detroit Tigers two games to one, and needed to win only two of the next four games played at Wrigley Field.
A local Greek, "Billy Goat" Sianis, owner of the Billy Goat Tavern and a Cubs fan, bought two tickets to game four. Hoping to bring his team good luck, he took his pet goat, Murphy, with him to the game. At the entrance to the park, the Andy Frain ushers stopped Billy Goat from entering saying that no animals are allowed in the park.
"Billy Goat," frustrated, appealed to the owner of the Cubs, P.K. Wrigley. Wrigley replied, "Let Billy in, but not the goat." Billy Goat asked, "Why not the goat?" Wrigley answered, "Because the goat stinks" (do they ever).
According to legend, the goat and Billy were upset, so Sianis threw up his arms and exclaimed, "The Cubs ain't gonna win no more. The Cubs will never win a World Series so long as the goat is not allowed in Wrigley Field." The Cubs were officially cursed. Subsequently, the Cubs lost game four, and the remaining series getting swept at home and from the World Series. Billy Goat promptly sent a telegram to P.K. Wrigley, stating, "Who stinks now?"
For the next 20 years, throughout the remainder of Billy Goat's life, the Cubs would finish each season in fifth place or lower, establishing a pattern that would forever reverse the Cubs' good luck and earning them the nickname, "The Lovable Losers." The World Series would become a dream, and "wait 'til next year" became the team's motto.
From 1946 to 2003, the Cubs would post a 4250-4874 (.466) record, have only 15 winning seasons, finish in first place a mere three times, win zero pennants, no World Series appearances, let alone wins, and only four post-season experiences (1984, 1989, 1998, 2003) resulting in a complete reversal of their fortunes. The Cubs were and are a cursed franchise.
Over the next 10 years, the Cubs had a few brief, shining moments but no World Series rings to show for it. They remain a cursed baseball team, and a few rather bizarre incidents that cost the Cubs some key victories over the decades have only enhanced that all-too-real "curse."
That's why the mascot should have been a goat with the name Billy, or Murphy, or, better yet, Lucky. Perhaps then -- when the goat is welcomed and cheered at every home game -- the curse will be lifted and the beloved Cubs will return to glory. I doubt Clark has that power.