Friday, October 10, 2008

Greatest Sports Curses

The Cubbies the Cubbies. One hundred years and you'd think they would have learned something. You know ... like don't lose! Or don't own the best record and then get swept. One hundred years is a long time. I hope you weren't planning on doing anything special after the Championship comes to town because you might want to move that date up. The Championship isn't coming anytime soon. Not unless you're a Black Sox ... er .. .White Sox fan. There I go with the whole curse thing again. At least the White Sox broke theirs. As did other teams like the Red Sox and New York Rangers. But the Chicago Cubs and their fans aren't alone. After much research we've compiled a list of ten of the greatest and favorite active curses.

10. Canadian Hockey Teams and the Marty McSorely Curse
In 1993 the Montreal Canadiens played the Los Angeles Kings in the NHL finals. The Kings, up 1-0 in the series and 2-1 in game 2 with 1:38 to play, were in full control until the Canadiens head coach, Jaques Demers, called for the curve of Marty McSorely’s stick blade to be measured. The refs did and found an illegal curve on the blade. McSorely was sent to the penalty box and the Canadiens scored on the power play to tie it. In overtime the Canadiens won and never looked back, winning the cup in five games. Since then no team from Canada has been able to win Lord Stanley. Four teams have made it and all four have lost to their American opponents. Three series went to a seventh game and the most recent, the Senators vs the Ducks, only lasted five.

9. The Curse of Bobby Layne
The Detroit Lions were actually a good franchise at one point believe it or not. In the 50’s they won 3 Titles in 6 years (’52, ’53 and ’57). Their quarterback for those titles, Bobby Layne, was traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1958. Layne in his rage declared that the Lions would not win again for 50 years (that would be this year if you’re scoring at home). He’s close. While they’ve won a few games in the regular season they’ve only been winners of 1 playoff game and owners of some of the worst teams, draft picks, and GM’s in football history. They have the second longest current title drought behind the Arizona Cardinals.

8. The Pottsville, PA Curse
The Cardinals are the oldest professional football team in the country. They also only have two professional titles. One was from an NFL title game in 1947 and the other is from a controversial decision in 1925 that awarded them the league title for having the best record over the Pottsville Maroons. Back then they were the Chicago Cardinals. The Pottsville Maroons played a game against Notre Dame All-Stars in Philadelphia that the league didn’t sanction. The NFL fined the Maroons, revoked league privileges and awarded the title to the Cardinals despite the Maroons having the best league record. The citizens of Pottsville declared a curse on the Cardinals franchise for undeservedly claiming the title saying that the curse will only be lifted when the title is returned to the city. After that the Cardinals went 20 years and only posted 2 winning records. They won an NFL Championship in 1947 and then never won another title. Since their title they have been to the playoffs just 5 times winning only once. Cards … do yourself a favor. Go to the Yeungling Brewing plant in Pottsville and beg for forgiveness. Bring Matt Leinart along for a publicity beer bong stunt. Return the title. Only then will all be forgiven. Refuse and you shall be the NFL’s bitch for all eternity.

7. Coogan's Bluff, The Curse of the San Francisco Giants
When the Giants left New York for San Francisco at the end of 1957 the Giant’s fans in New York professed that the team would never win another Championship. Coogan’s Bluff, another name for the Polo Grounds that the Giants played on, gives name to their curse. The Giants have won 3 pennants since they left New York but zero World Series victories. Even with great players like Barry Bonds and Willie Mays they’ve failed in the big games. Their biggest sign of the curse was in 1989 when a massive Earthquake struck during the World Series and delayed the Giants home half of the series. The Series was delayed 10 days. The Giants were spooked and swept.

6. The Curse of Buffalo
The city of Buffalo has long been host to the proud professional sports teams of the NFL Bills and the NHL Sabres. Few know they also were host to an NBA team, the Braves, that departed for San Diego in 1978 and eventually became the Clippers. The apparent curse explains that no Major Sports Franchise will ever win a title while in the city of Buffalo. The Bill have been affected by the curse by losing four straight Super Bowls at one point. The won two AFL titles in ’64 and ’65 but have failed to win the title since the NFL merger. Their most notable loss was in 1991 when Scott Norwood’s last second field goal attempt went wide right thus ensuring a Giants victory.

The Sabres have been to just one Stanley Cup Finals losing in six games on the infamous Brett Hull foot in the crease goal. [Update: I've been corrected. The Sabres also lost in the '74-'75 Finals to the Flyers. That makes 2 Finals that they've attended. Apologies.] The Music City Miracle … Miracle for who? Oh yeah …. And OJ.

5. The Toronto Maple Leafs: 1967 NHL Expansion Curse
In the early days of hockey there were the Original Six. The Toronto Maple Leafs, as one of them, was a dominant team winning 13 titles as a franchise. In 1967 the NHL decided to expand it’s league from 6 teams to 12. In the 41 years since the expansion the Maple Leafs haven’t won the Stanley Cup once. The team hasn’t even made the Finals. In fact they’ve only even won their division once! Hell even if they did make it they’d still have to find a way to get past the Marty McSorely Curse.

4. The Curse of Billy Penn
The City of Philadelphia has now gone 100 Sports Years (since 1983) without a Championship in the Four Major Sports despite numerous Finals appearances. Unfortunately (for them) they can only blame themselves. The city had a long standing gentleman’s agreement that no building in the city’s center would be built higher than the shoe buckles of the William Penn statue that sits on top of City Hall. In 1985 the agreement was broken when they started to build One Liberty Place. Since that time Philadelphia has incurred the wrath of Billy Penn. In 1987 it started with the Flyers losing Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals to the Edmonton Oilers. The Eagles added to the misery losing three straight NFC title games from 2001-2003 before winning in 2004. They then went on to lose the Super Bowl thanks to a 4th quarter field goal from Adam Vinateri. The worst moment in Philly Sports History may belong to Mitch Williams who served the Blue Jays’ Joe Carter a delicious home run which ended the 1993 World Series.
Oh yeah … Phillies … 10,000 losses … enough said. Last year a group of Union Workers attempted to break the curse when they attached a small William Penn statue to the top of the Comcast Center which is now the tallest structure in Philadelphia. You Stay Classy Philly!

3. Mistake By the Lake - The Cleveland Curse
In an obvious attempt to duplicate a much better city, Cleveland has followed the Buffalo blueprint of no success. With three major sports franchises, the Cavaliers, the Indians, and the Browns, the city of Cleveland has gone since 1964 without a Championship of any kind when the Browns won the NFL Championship (pre-merger). The following year Jim Brown retired to work on his acting career. The Indians last title came in 1948 when it beat the Boston Braves. The Cavaliers have only been to one NBA Finals since entering the league in 1970. Cleveland have been on the receiving end of many gut wrenching and amazing sports moments such as ‘The Drive’, ‘The Fumble’, Willie Mays’ ‘The Catch’, Michael Jordan’s ‘The Shot’, and ‘Red Right 88’. All of this might invoke some sympathy if it was any other city but Cleveland. Suckas!!!

2. The Curse of Barry Bonds
As I write this I’m shuddering in crazy convulsion. Got I hate this curse. Most people think the Pirates 16 straight losing seasons started when we failed to sign Barry in the 1992-1993 off season. Our curse actually started when Barry told Andy Van Slyke to piss on a rope and refused to move up when Cabrerra came up to bat in the 1992 NLCS. Cabrerra hit a single into left and Barry failed to throw out a bum-knee Sid Bream who was running from second. Braves win. Buccos began losing season number 1. From there Barry began an unprecedented period of baseball by winning the MVP five more times and being crowned the single season and career Home Run King. The Pirates haven’t had a winning record since stretching the streak to 16 straight years. They have had two of the worst GM’s in baseball history and made historically bad trades. The sad thing is, like the Cubs and city of Philadelphia, there is no end in sight.

1. Fred Merkle and the Curse of the Billy Goat
This one is so good that it has two curses! Chicago. Chicago, Chicago, Chicago. Damn. I’m from Pittsburgh so you better take this as a slap in the face when I talk about your baseball team. You Guys Suck!!! I mean that in the nicest way possible. Not really but whatever. Whenever a team goes 100 years without a Championship its bad and it’s serious business. I mean Philly went 100 Sports Seasons without one but that’s between 4 teams. You guys went 100 full years (and counting) without a World Series Title. In America’s Pastime! And you guys have one of the highest payrolls!! You haven’t even won a pennant since 1945! You guys Suck!!! Anyways let’s look at why. In 1908 the Cubs were playing the Giants in a game on September 23rd. On a game winning single Fred Merkle of the Giants failed to touch 2nd base and was ruled out when the Cubs ran over and touched the base. The game was declared a tie and a few days later the season ended with the Cubs and Giants tied for the best record in the National League. The Cubs won in a one game playoff and went on to win the World Series. Since then the Cubs have yet to win the World Series. Another attempt to explain the absence of titles is the Curse of the Billy Goat. In 1945 Billy Sianis brought his pet goat along to the World Series against the Detroit Tigers. After being ejected from the stadium Sianis was enraged and proclaimed that the Cubs would never win a World Series or a Pennant while at Wrigley Field. And they haven’t. The historic moments against the Cubs include Babe Ruth calling his shot, the 1969 epic collapse where they lost an 8 ½ game lead in the final month and a half, and the Steve Bartman interference. Oh yeah and Cubs baseball still sucks.

Honorable Mentions:
Coin Flip Curse - Phoenix Suns
The Madden Curse
Curse of Norm Smith - Melbourne Football Club, Australian Football League
Regards to: Seattle, San Diego, Houston


DanMcB said...

Good grief, I didn't realize that the Leafs haven't even made the FINALS since 1967.

Anonymous said...

Sabres have made it to 2 finals...

Anonymous said...

"Regards" to Seattle? You're kidding me, right? One pro sports title between the 3 major teams, and a grand total of 3 appearances in the title game between them? You have the only title being the illustrious 1979 Seattle Sonics, then in 1995 the Sonics met the Bulls in the championship, then in 2005 the Seahawks made it to the Superbowl...THAT IS ALL!! If you include the UW Huskies you have one SHARED national title. You were talking about the Cardinals having "only 2 titles". Think about this year alone in Seattle sports:
Mariners: First $100 million team to lose 100 games
Seahawks: 1-5 record
UW Huskies: 0-5 record
Seattle Sonics: No longer in Seattle, after posting the worst season in franchise history.
I'm sorry, but other sports teams that complain make me laugh. The Cubs? Yeah, I might feel sorry for them...but anybody remember the Chicago Bulls circa the Jordan era?

Anonymous said...

It's POTTSTOWN (not Pottsville) Maroons, moron. So Yuengling Brewery reference would not apply.

Anonymous said...

You missed St.Louis and the curse of Scotty Bowman. Bowman coached the Blues to several Stanly Cup finals during their first several seasons in the 1960's and was then fired by the team. Since then the Blues have not returned to the final round while Bowman went on to become the winningest coach in Stanley Cup History.

Irish Road said...

Wrong genius. It's Pottsville Maroons. I even gave you a picture of the football trophy the town sent to the Hall of Fame and you still got it wrong! It says Pottsville Maroons on it. Man, short of giving you the hooked on phonics version I don't know what else I could have done.

Irish Road said...

Sorry I completely missed the Sabres thing. My bad. Thanks for correcting me. I've never heard of the Scotty Bowman Curse. That's a really good one. It would have at least made honorable mention if not the top ten. As far as Seattle goes I really mulled over that one. I gave the Cards a top ten because there was an actual curse. Philly and Cleveland both made it for 2 reasons. One this is mostly a Pittsburgh site and we hate those cities and two because the curses were interesting. Seattle was debated highly though.

Here's a link to the POTTSVILLE MAROONS.

sptrfn said...

Another curse that people overlooked was the Keith Hernandez curse. After he was traded from the Cardinals to the Mets in 83 for Neil Allen and Rick Ownbey, he was so mad he put a curse on the Cardinals that lasted until the 06 World Series.