Hi, everyone. What's new? With the Cubs back in the playoffs for the first time in four years I thought it was a good time to dip my toe back in the Cub Reporter writing pool again. Truth be told with the group of guys writing here now, I've been content to sit back and relax, and just read and enjoy. But since it's playoff time, I thought it was time to dust off the old Ex-Cub Factor and see whose quest for the Commissioner's Trophy is, ultimately, doomed.
For those who are unfamiliar with the Ex-Cub Factor, I wish I could point you to the pages and pages of stuff I've written about in the past, but all my All-Baseball archives are in limbo at the moment. I was able to find a couple
that show what the Factor has looked like back to 1980 (as well as showing my propensity for starting a big project and then not following through, but that's another story).
So what is the Ex-Cub Factor? As I wrote long, long ago:
The Ex-Cub Factor was originally coined by writer and Cub fan Ron Berler, who wrote an article in 1981 stating that since the Yankees of that season had five ex-Cubs on their roster, they were doomed to lose the World Series if they got there. Chicago newspaper legend Mike Royko picked up on the factor early on, and was a tireless champion of it, especially after Berler's 1981 prediction turned out to be right, as the Yanks lost to the Dodgers in six games.
The ECF is very simple: if you have three or more ex-Cubs on your playoff roster, you cannot win the World Series. Only twice since 1945 has the factor not held, 1960 and 2001. Interestingly in both of those cases, the ex-Cub-laden team won the Series by beating the New York Yankees in the bottom of the 9th inning of Game Seven of the Series. As Mel Allen said, "how about that?"
On to this year's rosters (a caveat -- playoff rosters don't need to be set until tomorrow morning so it's possible that some of these guys will be left off the rosters once they're finalized. Of course, that only matters for one team, as you will see). Here are the ex-Cubs currently lurking on the rosters of the eight playoff teams:
PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES (3): Antonio Alfonseca, Tom Gordon, Jamie Moyer
LOS ANGELES ANGELS (2): Gary Matthews,
ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS (2): Juan Cruz, Augie Ojeda
CLEVELAND INDIANS (2): Joe Borowski, Kenny Lofton
CHICAGO CUBS (1): Steve Trachsel
BOSTON RED SOX (1): Julian Tavarez
COLORADO ROCKIES (1): Latroy Hawkins
NEW YORK YANKEES (1): Kyle Farnsworth
So as you can see, the Phillies are phucked this year, since all three of those guys are locks to make the roster. All they can hope for, I guess, is to match up against the Yankees and hope that the Game Seven Corrollary continues to hold true.
One thing I think is interesting (though unrelated to the Factor itself) is that every single other team in the playoffs this year has at least one ex-Cub reliever. The Cubs have scattered their late-inning pitchers around baseball like a Johnny Appleseed of million dollar arms and ten cent heads, and many of them are pitching for a ring this year. Odd.
Oh, and to answer two questions that come up every so often:
* The Cubs can be affected by the Ex-Cub Factor. This came up in '98 when the Cubs had three ex-Cubs and I got a ruling from Ron Berler himself.
* Players who only played in the Cubs' minor league system do not count. For this year that means the Red Sox don't need to worry about Eric Hinske.