As Halloween approaches, it is almost no surprise that the infamous 'Billy Goat Curse' came back to haunt the Chicago Cubs in the 2015 National League Championship Series. Until the NLCS, however, it seemed as though for the first time in over a decade, the Cubs had a young, talented team that potentially had what it would take to end their 108-year World Series drought.
Ace Jake Arrieta had been almost otherworldly with a 1.88 ERA, 22 wins, and a no-hitter during the regular season. Future superstars Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo combined for 61 home runs and 200 RBIs, hitting the ball as if they were unaware of the Cubs’ historic postseason struggles. The team’s management had experience breaking curses. President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein assembled the 2004 Boston Red Sox team that ended the 'Curse of the Great Bambino' by winning the team’s first World Series title in 86 years. Manager Joe Maddon did not help a team break any curses, but he did lead a team formerly known as the 'Devil Rays' to their first World Series in franchise history.
Even luck seemed to be on the Cubs side, as the 1989 film Back to the Future II famously predicted that the team would win the 2015 World Series. The Cubs also had a talisman in left fielder Kyle Schwarber’s moonshot home run ball from the divisional series against the Cardinals. The Cubs' management enshrined the ball on top of Wrigley Field’s new scoreboard, perhaps intending it to be the antithesis of the Steve Bartman foul ball.
However, when the Mets took the field in the 2015 NLCS, all of the Cubs’ magic disappeared. For four games in a row, the Mets pitching staff, led by flamethrowers Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard and Jacob DeGrom, absolutely dominated a very powerful lineup of Cubs hitters, giving up a grand total of eight runs. The Mets' offensive lineup also put forth a strong showing, especially in Game 2 in which they scored four runs off of Arrieta, a National League Cy Young frontrunner.
Daniel Murphy, who ironically (or perhaps not ironically) shares the same name as Murphy the Billy Goat, continued his postseason explosion with a home run in a MLB record six straight games. Unlike in the 2003 NLCS, this time there was no infamous play that deprived the Cubs of a World Series bid. The New York Mets were simply the better team.
Returning to the October Classic for the first time since 2000, the Mets will face the winner of the ALCS between the Kansas City Royals and the Toronto Blue Jays. For Cubs fans, it will be another long year of waiting for a World Series title in the north side of Chicago.