11/02/2004: Well.... Now we know why the Cards lost the World Series
It's the ex-Cubs factor.
Basically, it goes like this: any baseball team with three (or more) players who are former Chicago Cubs cannot win the World Series. I've seen a corrolary to the effect that failing the magic "three ex-Cub" threshhold, the team with the most ex-Cubs will lose. According to New York Times columnist Murray Chass, the Cardinals this year had three ex-Cubs (Ray King, Julian Tavarez, and Tony Womack), whereas the Rouge Hose had only two (Mark Bellhorn and Bill Mueller). That left us screwed two ways: we hit the magic number of three, and we had more ex-Cubs than the Sawx.
Strictly speaking, the ex-Cubs factor applies only to the World Series, but Chass points out that quite a few commentators have noted that the New York Yankees, who the Sox whipped like a red-headed stepchild after losing the first three games of the ALCS, had six (count 'em, six!) ex-Cubs on their roster. Draw your own conclusions, though you may want to take the vagaries of small sample size into account.
I hope someone has shot Walt Jocketty a memo, and cc'd Tony LaRussa in on it too.
Chass, incidentally, credits freelance writer Ron Berler as coming up with the ex-Cubs factor back in 1981. I find that interesting because I've always associated it with legendary Chicago Tribune columnist Mike Royko (who, I note, credited Berler with the discovery; see the column here titled Three Ex-Cubs Assure Spurning Of Atlanta). Learn something new every day....
I also note, somewhat depressed, that the Royko column I cite there shows that Tony "Genius" LaRussa should know better, since he's been bitten by the ex-Cub factor before!!! (see A's, Oakland, 1990)
Forget the cc; I hope someone shot both Jocketty and LaRussa that memo.
Len on 11.02.04 @ 07:44 AM CST