Established in 1876 as the White Stockings, the Chicago Cubs is one of Major League Baseball’s oldest teams. Since its inception, the team has amassed 11,016 wins and 10,456 losses, a win-loss ratio of 0.514, the sixth-highest of all time; In terms of the number of games played, the Cubs top every other team at 21,547 to date.
But there’s more to baseball than just numbers. Behind the team’s remarkable career is a series of successes, failures, and peculiarities. Who knows, you might find inspiration at what had transpired over their years of playing professional baseball. Here are several facts about the Cubs players you might find interesting.
The Curious Case of Max Flack
In 2011, the Chicago History Museum uploaded a 1920 court deposition suggesting that the Cubs threw the 1918 World Series against the Boston Red Sox for USD$10,000 (almost USD$180,000 in today’s rate). Whether any of this is true to an extent is still up in the air. But, the controversy seems to center around a certain player: then cubs leadoff hitter Max Flack.
His reputation as the greatest of all time (GOAT) in 1918 hardly showed during Game 4 of the Series, where he made a string of unusual errors. Among these is the fact that he got picked off twice in one game, where he remains the only Series player to do so. But no one could be sure if it was just a bad case of the blues or, in the case of the allegations, the greens.
Flack would continue to play for the Cubs for four more seasons after that. His last game came in September 1925 for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Anthony Rizzo’s Broken Phone
The Cubs are superstitious, at least beginning in 1945. Game 4 for that season saw a hard-hitting loss against the Detroit Tigers but not because of the latter besting them. It all began when William Sianis, a tavern owner, wanted to watch the game with his pet goat Murphy but wasn’t allowed to. He cursed the Cubs, claiming that they would lose this game and never win a World Series again.
And so, the Curse of Billy Goat was born. The Cubs’ Series drought remained for 71 years, finally breaking with a win in 2016 against the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0.
But that didn’t stop some Cubs players like first baseman Anthony Rizzo from being too cautious. In an interview on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Rizzo revealed that his phone broke during the season. But he was so afraid of the curse persisting that he refrained from having it fixed or getting a new one, at least until the postseason.
Javier Baez’s ‘El Mago’ Nickname
To be called ‘El Mago’ or ‘The Magician’ is no little feat. As a magician, you must leave the crowd bewildered by acts thought to be difficult, if not impossible. But time and time again, Puerto Rican shortstop Javier Baez had proven that he’s worthy of the title.
To start, he plays with his right hand despite being born a leftie. He’s used his right to help the Cubs win some games, but he means business when he switches to his left. In a recent game against their rivals, the Chicago White Sox, El Mago swung leftie and reached second base without a foul.
There’s also his uncanny agility, which has proven useful in offensive and defensive plays. Among his highlights in the 2019 season involves a stop-and-go to avoid getting tagged while running to first base and tapping out a runner the moment his glove catches the ball. At this point, almost no one doubts Baez’s magic defining Cubs baseball.
Moises Alou Pees on His Hands
Most batters wear batting gloves to enhance their grip on the bat and withstand the shock of contact with the ball. That’s not the case for former outfielder Moises Alou, though.
Throughout his seasons, he performs the unusual (and gross) ritual of peeing on his hands to harden them enough to wield the bat. He believes that the ritual had helped him average 0.301 on batting throughout his 14-year career. But scientists aren’t convinced, as research shows the urine softens the skin instead of hardening it.
That didn’t stop the ritual from catching on, though. Long after Alou’s last game for the New York Mets, other players like Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher James Taillon resort to urinating on their hands for several bizarre reasons and, in Taillon’s case, healing the cut on his middle finger.
These examples show how interesting the Cubs are as a team. It’s been through so much since its foundation in the late 1800s, born out of pride to bring the city of Chicago some degree of honor. Despite its ups and downs, they manage to pull through and play another day.
Though, for safety’s sake, don’t try to pee on your hands.
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