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Breaking the Cubs' Curse

After a drought of 58 years without a place in baseball's World Series, the day has come for an act that can remove from Chicago's Wrigley Field the Billy Goat Curse of 1945.

Time is ripe. Bolstered by the strongest young pitching arms in baseball, the Chicago Cubs-- longtime symbols of diamond futility-- have mystifed the baseball establishment by staying in the tight race for the Central Division lead in the National League. So they should be ready for the mystical that could free them of the curse that has kept them out of the World Series since 1945.

The somber tale is familiar to longtime Cubs fans who had grown accustomed to pennant winners during the first half-century of Big League baseball. It was the 16th World Series for the Cubs when they played the American League's Detroit Tigers in 1945. Division playoffs were a long way off, and each team was the champion of its eight-team league. Fans laughed when a Chicago tavern-keeper, Sam Sianis-- angered over his ejection from a '45 Series game-- pronounced in his broken English: "Never agin will World Series be played in Wrigley Field." The laughter has died, as almost six decades have passed without the Cubs adding that elusive 17th pennant. They have become America's "favorite losers," as Chicago super TV station, WGN-- owned by the same company that runs the Cubs, the Chicago Tribune-- has given the perennial Cubs frustrations a national viewing audience.

One fan, angered by the Cubs image of ineptness, has proposed an exorcism to disolve the curse. He even has arranged for the exorcist: Fr. Guido Sarducci, the "Saturday Night LIve" television identity of actor, Don Novello. Fr. Guido said he is prepared to come to Chicago to perform the exorcism. He would be resplendent in his vestments as he invokes a cleansing invocation while a cherrypicker lifts him high above the main entrance of the ballpark.

The original Billy Goat Sianis, who bequeathed his business-- and the curse-- to his nephew, gave Wrigley Field ushers good reason to eject him from that Series game against the Tigers. He used his second ticket to bring with him his tethered goat. Getting through the gates with his smelly pet was an achievement. Being ejected was a foregone conclusion, as nearby fans complained about the goat's odor.

As the years passed, the curse evolved into one of Chicago's unique traditions, like Ms. O'Leary's cow kicking over the lantern that started the Chicago fire. Mike Royko, Chicago's famed syndicated columnist, wrote an annual column about the curse-based failure of the Cubs.

In 1994, Tom Trebelhorn, one of a string of 10 successive Cubs managers to last no more than a year in the job, did his best to get rid of the curse. He arranged for the second generation Sianis and Cubs great, Ernie Banks, to join a robed group of chanting monastic monks in what was intended to be a curse-cleansing procession around the vine-covered interior walls of Wrigley Field. Nothing changed, and Trebelhorn headed out the Cubs managerial revolving door at the end of the season.

Trebelhorn made one mistake. He failed to involve an exorcist. Now the time has come. Fr. Guido awaits a summons to Chicago to evict the curse of the goat, and resurrect the glory days of the Cubs.