There are no curses in baseball – only bad management. Teams consistently fail because management fails. Don’t believe me? Do you think Vince Lombardi would lose 90 games with any Major League team – even the Chicago Cubs or Houston Astros? Hint: The answer is ‘no’.
Remember Vince Lombardi’s first coaching experience was as the basketball coach at St. Cecelia’s High school in New Jersey. Think any of those teams had a losing record? Did one of his teams win the only state basketball championship in school history? I’ll let you guess the answers. He knew nothing about basketball but he demanded of himself that he learn better than anyone else. He knew how to get the best out of a person. He knew how to win.
What is the point of all this, you ask? It is this: There is no curse on any major league team – even the Chicago Cubs. Example: Once the Boston Red Sox upped their ownership and front office commitment to winning, the rest took care of itself. Once they decided to stop making excuses, the ‘curse’ went away. So it can be with others. (Aside: With the current owner of the Houston Astros, they will never succeed but that’s beyond the scope of this article.)
Now I will admit there is no team more deserving of a curse than the Chicago Cubs. A few of their exploits over the centuries include:
- Cap Anson refusing to take the field when Moses Fleetwood Walker was playing for the opposition and leading the charge to remove all ‘players of color’ from the league.
- Johnny Evers shenanigans in the 1908 pennant chase by which Freddy Merkel became known as the ‘bone head’. (Note: That is the last year in which the Cubs won a championship.)
- The monstrous fan and entire city reaction to Steve Bartman touching a foul ball in the 2003 NL Championship Series. The reason the Cubs lost the series was not because a random fan touched a foul ball (which the illustrious, sure-handed Moises Alou would no doubt have caught!). No, it was because they were outplayed and outhustled by the Florida Marlins. Other teams experienced fan interference. Do they or their fans use it as an excuse for losing? No.
- And then, of course, there’s the ‘goat’ curse that’s supposed to be in place also.
OK, is this fair? Should I really be jumping on the Cubs so much? Probably not. But grown men and organizations do not make excuses. As I learned in business: ‘Winners perform. Losers ask for understanding.’ So with the underperforming MBL franchises: Get committed, start performing and you’ll be amazed at the results.
Fair disclosure: The Rich is a recovering Cubs fan. He occasionally followed the Cubs from the late 60’s until the 2003 playoffs. After the Bartman episode The Rich moved on to more mature organizations.