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Chicago Cubs’ Billy Goat Curse: Ten Heartbreaking Near-World Series Moments

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The Chicago Cubs last won a World Series in 1908. They last played in one in 1945, the year of the "Billy Goat Curse." Since 1969, the Cubs have come close to the World Series seven times. Each time, though, something happened to reflect the Billy Goat Curse. Some postseason series even had multiple things go wrong.

Here are 10 cursed moments (linked to video) that have kept the Cubs out of the World Series:

#10 - Miracle Mets, 1969

I was born just after the 1969 season ended, but I have heard, seen, and read about the Cubs' loss of a huge lead over the New York Mets in the NL. East. Standings show that the Cubs led by five games on September 1 but finished eight games behind. In an MLB Network interview with Bob Costas, Cubs pitcher Fegie Jenkins describes the black cat that ran in front of Ron Santo and stopped at the Cubs' dugout during a September series in New York. He said he does not believe in the Billy Goat Curse, but he did believe that the black cat cursed them.

#9 - Wild Card Loss to Braves, 1998

The Cubs won their first-ever NL wild card in 1998 by beating the San Francisco Giants in a one-game playoff. The Atlanta Braves won Game 1 of the NLDS. The Cubs led Game 2 1-0 in the bottom of the ninth when the Braves' Javy Lopez homered with one out to tie it. Chipper Jones then won it for Atlanta with a walkoff double in the 10th. The Braves won Game 3 in Chicago to sweep the Cubs off the postseason stage.

#8 - NLCS Game 7, 2003

After the Florida Marlins scored three runs on Miguel Cabrera's shot in the first, the Cubs went ahead 5-3 on Kerry Wood's and Moises Alou's two-run bombs. It appeared that the Cubs had momentum. The Marlins, however, scored three in the fifth to take the lead and never relinquished it. Florida won the game and the series.

#7 - Will the Giant, 1989

The San Francisco Giants' Will Clark set the tone for the Cubs' five-game loss in the 1989 NLCS. Clark homered twice in Game 1, including a grand slam off Greg Maddux. He put the series away in Game 5 with a tie-breaking two-run single off Mitch Williams in the eighth. Clark hit .650 with three home runs to win the series MVP.

#6 - Arizona Sweep, 2007

The Cubs won the NL Central title in 2007 and opened the NLDS in the Arizona desert. The Arizona Diamondbacks had an easy time as they swept the Cubs. Arizona won by four runs in Games 2 and 3. The Cubs hit only .194 in the three games and had a 5.76 team ERA.

#5 - Josh Beckett Shutout, 2003

The Cubs took a commanding 3-1 lead over the Marlins in the 2003 NLCS after winning three straight; the curse would soon be broken. Then, in Game 5, Marlins starter Josh Becket threw a two-hit shutout to send the series back to Wrigley Field for the infamous Game 6. Beckett struck out 11 and was untouchable for the entire game.

#4 - L.A. Sweep, 2008

The Cubs won 97 games to win their second-straight NL Central title. I believed that 2008 would be the year, exactly 100 years later. My stomach dropped at James Loney's Game 1 grand slam. In Game 2, three infield miscues led to five runs for the Dodgers in the second inning. The Cubs never recovered. They lost Game 3 in Los Angeles to cap a cursed end to an otherwise terrific season.

#3 - Alex Gonzalez Error, 2003

I will always remember the foul-ball incident in the eighth inning of Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS. However, Alex Gonzalez's error soon after prevented a possible inning-ending double play. The Cubs had a 3-1 lead at that moment before the Marlins exploded for seven more runs. If Gonzalez had made the play, we might not have this game to talk about in the same way.

#2 - Leon Durham Error, 1984

The Cubs were tied 2-2 in the series with the San Diego Padres in the last best-of-five NLCS. They led 3-2 in the seventh inning of Game 5. First baseman Leon Durham let an easy ground ball through his legs to tie the game. The Padres added three more runs in the inning to give themselves the 1984 National League pennant.

#1 - Steve Garvey home run, 1984

In Game 4 of that same series, the Cubs came from behind to tie the game at 5-5 after eight innings. In the bottom of the ninth, Steve Garvey hit a Lee Smith fastball over the right field fence to give the Padres a 7-5 win. The announcer proclaimed, "There will be tomorrow!" The Durham error happened "tomorrow" night.

These cursed moments still make this Cub fan's heart ache. I can only hope that we will see the winning side of them in our lifetimes and see the end the Billy Goat Curse.

Sources:

Baseball Reference, Chicago Cubs Team History and Encyclopedia, baseball-reference.com.

Baseball Reference, Game Box Scores (Linked Above), baseball-reference.com.

Major League baseball, Video Highlights (Linked Above), mlb.mlb.com.

Raymond grew up in Florida and began watching the Cubs on WGN in 1982. He became a fan in 1984 when Ryne Sandberg hit the two famous game-tying home runs off Cardinals closer and former Cub Bruce Sutter. Raymond then solidified his team loyalty when the Cubs won the division later that season and has been a fan ever since. He played baseball through high school and soon after became a varsity coach. Raymond previously produced radio sports talk shows and hosted a weekly MLB radio call-in show. Follow Raymond on Twitter @RayBureau.

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