COMMENTARY | Attempting to determine the biggest "goat" in the history of the Chicago Cubs is an almost laughable endeavor.
Based on an organization that has long been considered to have written the book on choke artistry, there has been no shortage of "goats" in the Cubs' long, heartbreaking history. The funny thing is that in the Cubs' case, there is an actual goat at the center of everything. Whether you believe in the "Curse of the Billy Goat" or not, the Cubs have had plenty of "goats" on the field over their century-long vacation from World Series glory.
But to link a "goat" to a singular event in the team's history, it almost has to be Alex Gonzalez and his bobbled double-play ball in the eighth inning of Game 6 of the 2003 National League Championship Series that gets the biggest "goat" prize.
Cubs fans will instantly recognize that event as coming out of "The Bartman Game." I won't recap all of the details of Cubs fan Steve Bartman's involvement, but the eight-run inning that followed the foul ball he "interfered" with could have potentially been avoided if Gonzalez makes a routine play at short (see video for Gonzalez's bobble) shortly after. He doesn't and the wheels come off for the Cubs, who were just five outs away from a World Series berth. It is basically a historical afterthought that the Cubs went on to lose Game 7.
Alex Gonzalez's two-plus years with the Cubs were defined by two things prior to the Game 6 bobble. He was a sub-par hitter and average defender who had a knack for hitting game-winning home runs (five in his time with the Cubs). For all the seeming random late-inning heroics Gonzalez provided for the Cubs, perhaps it is only fitting that it would culminate in a catastrophic lapse when the team needed him most.
The Cubs have all sorts of collapses (big and small) and new "goats" are born every time. Ron Santo, despite the adoration he gets from Cubs fans, was instrumental in the Cubs' "Fall of '69." Of course, 1969 was also the year the black cat ran around the on-deck circle at Shea Stadium (though the Cubs were already on a five-game losing streak prior), which is another superstition surrounding the lack of Cubs success. I'm not a believer in these "curses" (I have always thought there are very practical reasons why the Cubs have such a long drought), but even those of us non-believers have to concede that it has gotten pretty creepy and a little too coincidental at times.
The reason it needs to be Gonzalez is because the most was at stake. In 1969, it was a trip to the playoffs. While the collapse in 1984 (up 2-0 in a best-of-five), like 2003, had a World Series berth on the line, there was no singular event that caused the downfall and therefore no singular "goat." In 2003, there was. Sadly, the singular event was made out to be Bartman and his "interference," but it absolutely should have been Gonzalez and his bobbled ground ball.
It's a little late to apologize to Mr. Bartman, though.
Brian is a lifelong Chicago Cubs follower. Living in Illinois his entire life has given him a chance to closely follow and report Chicago sports as a freelance writer through Yahoo! Contributor and Yahoo! Sports. He is also a senior in college majoring in English and Creative Writing.
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