Ex-Cub Factor

The phrase "ex-Cub factor" has been thrown around quite a bit. It 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. He was right -- they lost to the Dodgers in six games.

Up until 2001, the curse of the ex-Cub had been almost
complete. Since the Cubs last won the NL pennant in 1945, only once had
a team with three or more ex-Cubs won the World Series. That was the
1960 Pirates, and Berler even manages to explain that anomaly away in
his article.

In 2001, though, the Arizona Diamondbacks won the championship
with a healthy contingent of ex-Cubs: Mark Grace, Luis Gonzalez, Mike
Morgan, and Miguel Batista. It would appear that the curse has been
broken, and Mark Grace even said as much during a post-game interview.
In response, all I can say is it's pretty interesting that the World
Series to which this one has most been compared is the 1960 Series, won
by the Pirates. In both cases, the National League team beat the New
York Yankees in the bottom of the 9th inning of the 7th game of the
Series. Coincidience? Or SOMETHING MORE???

You can now read the entire original Ex-Cub Factor article right here. Special thanks to Ron Berler, and as always to Mark McClusky, for bringing this website to Berler's attention.

2003 Update: How will the ex-Cub factor affect
this year's playoff race? Well, here are the teams in the playoff races
and the ex-Cub contingent on their rosters:

Atlanta (4): Will Cunnane, Matt Franco, Ray King, Greg Maddux
San Francisco (3): Benito Santiago, Tim Worrell, Eric Young
New York Yankees (2): Felix Heredia, Jon Lieber (DL)
Cubs (2): Doug Glanville, Mark Guthrie
Houston (2): Orlando Merced, Jose Vizcaino
Florida (1): Lenny Harris
Boston (1): Bill Mueller
Oakland (1): Micah Bowie (DL)
Minnesota: None

As usual, the Braves look to be in trouble when it comes to
ex-Cubs in the playoffs. Maddux will be on the post-season roster, and
I imagine Franco will be, too. That leaves the two relief pitchers.
Cunnane has been effective in John Smoltz's absence, so he very well
may make the playoff roster. If he does, the Braves are doomed.
Likewise the Giants, who feature ex-Cubs at starting catcher and
closer. Eric Young was acquired as insurance against Ray Durham's
injury. With Durham healthy, Felipe Alou would be wise to leave Young
off the October roster unless he wants to treat fans to a repeat of
last year's heartbreak.

I've been tracking the ex-Cub factor for the past few years,
and Carl Condon has gone back to the earliest days of the World Series
to track The Factor. I have combined the work he and I have done and I
am in the process of making it available on the Historical Ex-Cub Factor page. You'll see that the Curse of the Ex-Cub has held true almost perfectly throughout the years.

Is there a lesson to be learned from this? I think so. If you find your team in a pennant race, RELEASE ANYONE WHO USED TO BE ON THE CUBS. It's really pretty simple. Guys like Shawon Dunston and Mike Morgan might help you get into the playoffs, but you'd better ditch them come playoff time.

2002 UPDATE: Angels (one ex-Cub) defeat Giants (three ex-Cubs) in World Series. Ex-Cub Factor fulfilled for the 20th time.

Recent comments

The first 600 characters of the last 16 comments, click "View" to see rest of comment.
  • Per Jesse Sanchez at mlb.com, Cubs reportedly have signed 20-year old Cuban OF Eddy Julio Martinez for $3M bonus. 

  • BLOCK: Of course any advantage is an advantage. An MLB, NBA, or NHL team getting the extra game at home in a seven game series is an advantage, I just don't think it is enough of an advantage for winning a division and/or having the best record in a conference or league over the course of an 82-game season (NBA and NHL) or 162 game series (MLB).

  • TEX takes the opening game from TOR (@TOR) 5-3.

    TOR lost bautista + donaldson in-game due to injuries...TEX lost beltre...dunno if any will be lingering issues leading to missed games.

  • Ride the Kid Magic! Schwarber hadn't homered in a long time before last night.

  • Greg Maddux was 8-18 in his rookie season. Kyle has the 8 wins down pat.

    Think Baby Maddux.

    Prof. Harold Hill's THINK system at work.


    Kyle is on the far left.

  • I support this. Hendricks has not only looked better lately but seems to start struggling after a few innings which is better than the 1st in the playoffs.

  • Just tweeted via Jesse Rogers: Hendricks starting Game 2. Wow. Just wow.

  • That was good!

  • Well said. On one hand, I thought the HBP was a bad baseball play -- down 4 runs, put a runner on for a red-hot Fowler. On the other hand, they needed to do something -- I hadn't thought about the warning/pitching inside point. Is Hurdle that smart? He does not strike me that way. By the way -- not clear which fan base you are referring to in your "first" 3rd point.

  • My unsolicited opinions on topics covered in this thread:
    1. I hate the fact that after 162 games, a team could be out after 1 game. However, I think the system is pretty close to perfect right now. 2 of 3 isn't feasible unless they shorten the regular season, and it ices the division winners for way too long. This creates excitement, and rewards the division winners.

  • Personally, I think the game could have had a very different look had the Pirates held onto the ball and tagged Fowler out on the steal in the first. Cole was clearly frazzled, but if they took that runner off the base, it could have relaxed him a lot.

  • Football games are played once a week. There are 16 games a year. I'm not even remotely following at all how you can compare the two leagues and playoff systems. It is physically impossible to play a home and away series. The idea of not having any road games in baseball playoffs is certainly a head scratcher.

    How is not having the first and last game at home a benefit for the division winners and team with the best record? How is it not an incentive to win the division when a WC team has to blow their top pitcher?

    Call me lost.

  • Two 97+ win teams in a do-or-die, great bullpens, overpowering starters, plenty of pop--hard to believe that game wouldn't be tense. A 4-0 lead is not a blowout, especially in that situation and with the Cubs' young bullpen. Not only would a defensive play here or there make a difference, but you get the win there also on the home plate umps strike zone (generous strike calls for Arrieta, including a couple Ks), and on Schwarber sitting on the right pitch at the right time.

  • Unbeleivable Dodgers:
    I just noticed the Dodger's payroll today. It is just absurd. $300,000,000+!!
    Here is where just some of their money is for 2015:


    Some "Highlights"
    Carl Crawford $20MM
    Brandon McCarthy $17MM
    Bronson Arroyo $3.5MM
    Darwin B $2.2MM
    Dan Haren $10MM
    Matt Kemp $18MM
    Brian Wilson $10MM
    Ryan Webb $2.2MM
    Dee Gordon $2.5MM

  • So I think tomorrow will be the most important test of how far we can go. We can win it all with two pitchers since Arietta has shown he can carry over his success to the post season. If Lester can be dominant also then I think we can go far no matter how Hendricks or Hammel do.


    And in terms of pitching just went through to see how we could maximize Lester and Arietta and came up with this (Lester would be going on 4 days rest three times and Arietta twice):

  • i still can't believe that crawford contract (7/142). all that loot and years for a LF'r who's entire hitting game revolves around his legs and line-drive power. those triples that raised his value are deceptive as hell to his true power, but it helped him get paid.

    there's also pause about a guy who's ob% is almost totally driven by hits rather than walks. BOS got lucky unloading that crap deal.