In your darkened bathroom, you say Bloody Mary three times, and neither the drink nor the woman appears before you when you turn on the lights. You might proclaim that all this curse stuff is hooey.
You would be wrong.
You see, in the world of sports, there is a world behind this one that would shake you to your core if you ever saw it – a place where karma, curses, and bad luck make us mere pawns in a much grander game. Here are a few examples that prove the dark arts are alive and well in this realm…
The Chicago Cubs and the Curse of the Billy Goat
Billy Sianis had a humble dream: He wanted to watch the Cubs in the 1945 World Series at Wrigley Field, and he wanted to bring his pet goat. He and his goat Murphy initially got in, but Cubs owner Philip Wrigley had Sianis and Murphy ejected in the seventh inning because the goat’s smell was allegedly become a problem for some of the other patrons. A livid Sianis cursed the Cubs and proclaimed, “The Cubs ain’t gonna win no more.”
Sianis was right.
The Cubs went on to lose the ’45 World Series, even though they had been up two games to none. Since then, they haven’t sniffed a championship – and have rarely even been to the playoffs. The last time the Cubs won it all was 1908.
Magnitude of suffering:
Significant. The team hasn’t won a championship in more than a century, and while teams like the Red Sox still had frequent winning seasons amid their curses, the Cubs have generally been terrible.
5 out of 5 black cats
The weirdness of Sianis bringing a goat to the stadium adds a larger-than-life quality to this curse. Plus, there’s a certain karmic quality of letting the goat in only to later change one’s mind near the end of the game. Sianis might not have the credentials of someone you’d expect to lay down an effective curse, but you can’t argue with the results.
4 out of 5 ventriloquist dummies.
The Boston Red Sox and the Curse of the Bambino
Once upon a time, the Boston Red Sox were an incredible baseball team. Then they sold Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees for $100,000, and it all went kaboom. Babe Ruth became the sport’s greatest player, and Yankees transformed from a mediocre franchise into the most successful one. The Sox, on the other hand, didn’t win a World Series from 1916-2004.
It wasn’t just the losing, either. The Red Sox developed a penchant for losing in the most heartbreaking ways possible, often times making a deep run into the playoffs only to cough up the lead late in the game. Ultimately the Red Sox broke the curse in 2004, when they rebounded from a 3-0 series deficit to defeat their rival Yankees and roll to a World Series victory.
Magnitude of suffering:
Prior to 2004, the suffering was absolutely off the charts. Unlike the Cubs, who typically haven’t been good, the Red Sox have frequently been in the mix only to lose in heartbreaking fashion. It has been said (perhaps by Batman’s nemesis Bane) that you can’t have true despair without hope, and such was true for the pre-2004 Red Sox fans.
That said, the Red Sox have seemingly broken the curse and rattled off some spectacular World Series victories, so that tips the scales in the opposite direction.
3.5 black cats out of 5
If selling off the greatest player in the history of your sport doesn’t come back to bite you in some significant way, something is wrong with the universe.
4.5 ventriloquist dummies out of 5
The Australian national soccer team hired a witch doctor
Affectionately called the Socceroos, the Australian national soccer team really, really wanted to qualify for the World Cup in 1970. With an upcoming match with Rhodesia standing in their way, they did the only logical thing they could to ensure victory: They hired a freaking witch doctor to curse Rhodesia. The witch doctor actually buried bones beneath the goalposts. Whose bones? Um … actually, good question. Moving on.
The Socceroos, dealers in the dark arts that they now were, won the match 3-1. They proceeded then to commit an atrocious misstep; they couldn’t come up with the money they needed to pay the witch doctor. Akin to falling asleep when Freddy Krueger is on the prowl – they were headed for pain and misery.
The witch doctor turned around and cursed the Australians, who lost to Israel and failed to qualify for the World Cup – and then failed to qualify for the next 32 years. The curse was eventually lifted when documentarian and media personality John Safran hired another witch doctor to lift the curse. This one got paid, and the Socceroos qualified for the World Cup the very next year.
Magnitude of suffering:
If we’re being totally honest with ourselves, it could have been a lot worse. Sure, not qualifying for a World Cup for 32 years is painful. Let’s not minimize that. But, really? Dining and dashing on a witch doctor? They’re luck it didn’t result in a bunch of mysterious accidental deaths or the coaching staff inexplicably losing weight until they vanished into thin air. This could have gone so much worse.
3 out of 5 black cats
Are you freaking kidding me? An actual witch doctor was responsible for both the application and removal. It involves the cursed party going backsies on their deal with the witch doctor, so there’s even a karmic angle in play here. This curse is so real that I’m concerned that I’m putting my own life at risk just typing this article.
5 out of 5 ventriloquist dummies.