TELANDER: Goat’s head delivered to Wrigley bizarre enough to be part of Cubs lore
BY RICK TELANDER firstname.lastname@example.org April 15, 2013 10:03AM
BILLY GOAT TAVERN
Updated: May 13, 2013 6:48AM
How Cubs lore grows!
You might think that lore would have to do with baseball. But it doesn’t, really.
It has to do with patience, futility, low-grade humor, improbable coincidence, primitive symbolism, stupidity, horrendous planning and, above all, human suffering.
Now we have a goat head to add to the mix.
Not a whole goat. Just the head, stuck in a box — according to reports — delivered to (well, dropped in front of) Wrigley Field on Wednesday, addressed to chairman Tom Ricketts.
The meaning? God knows.
But it’s not something cheery.
Of course, everyone knows the story of the ‘‘Billy Goat Curse’’ laid on the Cubs over a half-century ago by one of the Sianis clan — a curse that has been removed so many times it should be listed with the dodo and prairie chicken. Done, over, extinct.
But here in 2013, as the Cubs have already fallen low in the pennant race after only two weeks, management is caught in a ridiculous, drip-drip-torturous stadium renovation plan that has a neighborhood telling them what they can do with their own building. If I were Tom Ricketts, I would’ve lost my mind already. I would’ve asked somebody — maybe my dad, Joe Ricketts, the patriarch of our financial empire who came to town Wednesday — what in the hell was wrong with our entire family when we bought into this pie-throwing circus.
Instead, we get a goat head.
And it didn’t come from the Billy Goat Tavern.
‘‘There was no goat meat in the burgers today, so it wasn’t from us,’’ veteran Michigan Avenue Billy Goat bartender Jeff Magill said.
And the dusty goat head hanging above the bar in the middle of the yellowing bylines of old Chicago sportswriters?
‘‘It’s still here,’’ Magill said.
Over at the Madison Street Billy Goat Tavern, owner Sam Sianis was even more adamant about the franchise’s non-involvement.
‘‘No, no, no!’’ Sam said. ‘‘That was a very, very mean guy. Really mean guy to do that. Why?’’
It’s reminiscent of the bloody horse head placed ominously on the Hollywood movie producer’s bed in ‘‘The Godfather,’’ or that special box delivered to Brad Pitt in the serial-killer movie ‘‘Seven.’’
It’s not funny. It’s scary. But it’s just crazy enough to be part of Cubs history. History that begins, as they say, as tragedy and ends as farce.
Think of what other teams have as historical moments. The Yankees have Babe Ruth sold to them after the 1919 season, followed by four World Series crowns and those 60 home runs. The Yankees have Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak in 1941, and Reggie Jackson’s three homers in a game to help win the 1977 World Series.
The Cubs’ nemeses, the Cardinals, have Bob Gibson’s dominance in the 1967 World Series, the 2006 World Series championship after a middling 83-78 regular-season record, David Freese’s walk-off homer in the 2011 Series.
Even the Marlins, a low-level franchise, have Josh Beckett’s amazing 2-0 shutout of the Yankees to win the 2003 World Series, their second title in six years!
The black cat. The folding to the Mets in 1969. The folding to the Padres in 1984. The folding to the Marlins in 2003. The folding to the Dodgers in 2008. And on Wednesday, hot prospect Jorge Soler going bat crazy in Class A ball.
Goats. A fellow named Bartman. A priest hopelessly sprinkling holy water. Rooftops that aren’t part of the arena but legally own part of the baseball product. The dumbest contract (20 years of rooftop service) in the history of Chicago sports.
And now a severed goat head.
Who knows if the Cubs will ever finish this renovation deal? Who knows if Wrigleyville will ever concede to modern times and fairness and a touch of 105-year insanity?
Who knows if the Cubs will ever be able to focus on winning sports championships?
I wouldn’t be surprised if the next bit of lore isn’t something like president Theo Epstein running madly from the Friendly Confines, crashing out of the gate, dressed in his old Boston gorilla suit.
In a Cubs kind of way, it would make sense.