For generations, the Chicago Cubs and the Boston Red Sox were twins in misery. Here were two of the most beloved teams in the league, both steeped in baseball folklore, both suffering epic championship droughts. We’re talking losing streaks so bad that they could only be explained by dark, supernatural forces.
The tales of those forces, like the pain of the losses they apparently perpetrated, were handed down from one generation to the next, woven into the identity of fandom. This is how curses become almost sacred, something to be cherished as much as despised. From 1918 to 2004, Boston endured the curse of the Bambino, a hex on the franchise that began with the loss of Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees and lasted 86 long years, until the Sox finally won the World Series.
But the Cubs suffered even longer. The team’s World Series win Wednesday night marks its first championship in 108 years, a dry spell that’s often been blamed on the Curse of the Billy Goat. (To cut a long story short: A pub owner who was made to leave Wrigley Field during a World Series game in 1945, on account of the smelly pet goat he had with him, declared a curse on the team as a result.)
For those who doubt the ruthlessness of the baseball gods, consider the Bill Buckner tragedy of 1986, one of the most infamous moments in postseason history—and an incident that represents an overlap in the two team’s curses. Buckner, who had previously played for the Cubs, was blamed for throwing away the Red Sox’s chance at winning the World Series when he let a ball roll through his legs at first base, enabling the New York Mets to score a winning run.*