Friday, September 28, 2007

Friday Fun, Sept. 28, 2007 - Curse of the Billy Goat

The baseball year is coming to an end and my Cubs are doing their best to kill me. They're dangerously close to losing their division lead with only three days left in the regular season, and bedeviled Cubs fans like me are wondering if the Curse of the Billy Goat is at work again.

The curse can be traced back to the Billy Goat Tavern on Lower Michigan Avenue. It's a historic bar and grill that's literally under Chicago's Magnificent Mile.

The Goat, as it's familiarly known, was the model for the old Saturday Night Live's Olympia Cafe skit. They really do shout, "Cheezborger! Cheezborger! No Pepsi - Coke!"

As in the skit, patrons line up in front of the lunch counter where their orders are taken and then famously called to the cooks. The food isn't great, but is sufficiently greasy to coat your stomach in defense of the many glasses of Schlitz or shots of Early Times (or both) you can drink in the perpetually dark, underground bar.

The Goat has long been a hangout for Chicago's journalists, many of whom are memorialized on the walls. The late, great columnist Mike Royko was a regular and his "Wise Guy's Corner" is still there.

During our 11 years in Chicago, it was one of my all-time favorite places to drink and socialize. But there's that darn curse.

The curse started when the Cubs' owner, P.K. Wrigley, prevented the tavern's owner, William Sianis, from bringing his pet goat to game 4 of the 1945 World Series. Sianis was so upset, he cried, "The Cubs ain't gonna win no more!" Well, it was effective. We're still waiting to get back to the series for the first time since the curse was invoked. You can read the full history of the curse and more about the Billy Goat Tavern here. And my former colleague, Rick Kogan, wrote a terrific book about The Goat, called "A Chicago Tavern: A Goat, A Curse, and the American Dream."

Now excuse me while I curl up in the fetal position for the rest of the weekend.

Go Cubbies!

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