3. Losing some of the time makes you want to win; losing all of the time makes you a loser.
The many decades of ineptitude have become the truth. They call it a curse, and it is, but not the kind summoned by Greek tavern owners (the curse of the Billy Goat) or slighted shortstops (the curse of Ernie Banks). It’s the kind known as a complex.
A bad century has made winning seem like a fairy tale. It doesn’t matter what wizard managers the team hires, players, executives—once it was Lou Piniella; now it’s Theo Epstein. People who have won everywhere lose in Chicago. The tradition is just too powerful to deny.
For years I dismissed this as hocus-pocus, the mumbo jumbo of psychologists. Then I saw it with my own eyes in the eighth inning of Game 6 of the 2003 National League Championship Series. This was the infamous Bartman game, in which a foul ball, which might otherwise have been caught by Moises Alou, was grabbed at by Steve Bartman, a Cubs fan. The Cubs, up 3-0 and just five outs from their first World Series appearance since 1945, immediately allowed eight runs, lost the game and, a day later, the series.
And whom do Cubs fans blame? The million-dollar players who couldn’t overcome the slightest turbulence? Of course not. They blame the fan. That’s what 100 years of losing does to your psyche.