To the horror and disappointment of Chicago Cubs fans everywhere, the cursed team scored no runs against the dominant Cleveland Indians on Monday, who scored six runs to lead the World Series by one game.
And while a high school yearbook photo is making the rounds for being a potential prophet of a final Cubs win this year, fans are squirming, unsure of whether the Cubs will go on to swing a historic win. It’s especially poignant because the Cubs have not been able to win a World Series, dating back to an infamous curse placed on the franchise in Game 4 of the 1945 World Series, when tavern owner William “Billy Goat” Sianis was forbidden from bringing his stinky goat along, even though the goat had a legal ticket.
“You are going to lose this World Series and you are never going to win another World Series again!” Sianis declared. Since that fateful day, the Cubs have gotten tantalizingly close to a World Series win a couple times, each time getting bamboozled by a weird obstacle: in 1969’s playoffs, it was a black cat; in 2003, a fan named Steve Bartman tried to intercept an incoming ball that would have been caught had he not interrupted left fielder Moisés Alou from catching it.
So it makes sense that Cubs fans are notorious for being insanely superstitious. Goat sacrifices are popping up in an effort to appease the baseball gods for one last win. Sianis’s nephew has been brought in to bless the Cubs, along with various Catholic and Greek Orthodox priests. Fans and players alike follow elaborate rituals — from beards to peeing on hands to wearing the same clothes every day in a certain order — the Cubs’ thirst for a win, finally, is real.
All those superstitions aren’t crazy talk. In fact, science wholeheartedly supports the weird shit Cubs fans will do to make this year the year. You see, that’s because Cubs fans are (probably accidentally) clued into the fact that superstitions work. One study found that perfectly rational humans performed rituals, even though their brain was like, “No bro, that’s stupid.” Another study extended that one, hoping to understand why on the one hand, we recognize a superstition will literally do nothing to guarantee an outcome, but on the other hand, we decide it’s a good idea to throw salt over our shoulder.
Here’s what that study on rituals found: We perform these superstitions to make ourselves feel like we have more control in a chaotic world. It’s a weird way for us to try to make sense of the world with imaginary tools. It obviously doesn’t lead to order, but it makes us feel like we have some order. That goes for both players and fans.
So Cubs fans: Keep up with your superstitions. They work, and might lead the Cubs to that elusive World Series win.
Photos via Getty Images / Elsa