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Wednesday, April 24

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Cubs Wed Apr 16 2008

Another "Cubby Occurrence"?

I generally reject talk of billy goats, black cats or Walkman-wearing fans in left field when discussing the alleged otherworldly reasons for the (mis)fortunes of the Cubs. Unless it was a billy goat that drafted Mike Harkey or a black cat that let a ball go between his legs in the eighth inning of the 2003 National League Championship Series.

Still, when you sit back and ponder the collection of freakish incidents that have befallen the team over the years, you might concede that while the gods must be crazy, they are also NOT Cubs fans.

Tuesday’s injury to left fielder Alfonso Soriano might be another page in that weird book. Soriano, to the dismay of baseball fundamentalists, routinely performs this strange little hop while catching a routine fly ball. It’s not baseball blasphemy, but it’s enough to make a Little League coach instruct his team to change the channel whenever a ball arcs its way toward left.

Against the Cincinnati Reds yesterday he performed his usual fly ball shtick, only this time with different results. He landed and immediately lifted his right leg in pain. The end result: a calf injury that could land Soriano on the 15-day DL. (Right now would be a good time to cue to a video shot of Lou Pinella sitting in the dugout rubbing his face and head in frustration.)

Update: Soriano was placed on the 15-day DL late Wednesday afternoon.

Now, stuff like that happens to other teams all the time, but when it happens to the Cubs, it just seems … well, so Cub-like. In fact, Pinella has coined a name for it – “Cubby occurrences” – although he says Soriano’s injury doesn’t fall into that category (If not, what does?).

But the team has had a few incidents already this season that, were I a proponent of voodoo, Santeria or something like that, point the way toward a 100th-straight season of championship futility. To wit: infielder Mark DeRosa’s irregular heartbeat, pitcher Jose Ascanio’s bruised face after getting punched during a robbery attempt at spring training and outfielder Felix Pie’s infamous twisted testicle (not to be confused with rock novelty act Twisted Sister).

And when the season started, things got no less peculiar as staff ace Carlos Zambrano was forced to leave the game on Opening Day due to dehydration, which was caused by his consumption of large quantities of Red Bull and coffee.

Other strange incidents involving players who were with the Cubs or played for them at one time:

  • A couple of years ago, Zambrano was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome after spending as many as five hours daily on the Internet.
  • Sammy Sosa suffered back spasms and was disabled after a violent sneeze (hold all steroids jokes until the end).
  • Former pitcher Mike Remlinger missed 15 days because he broke the little finger of his left hand after getting it caught between two clubhouse recliners.
  • Former pitcher Terry Mulholland scratched his eye on a feather that was sticking out of a pillow.
  • Outfielder Glenallen Hill received cuts over much of his body after he fell out of bed onto a glass table because was having a nightmare about being attacked by spiders.
  • Jose Cardenal missed a game because he said was kept awake all night by crickets chirping in his hotel room.
  • Cardenal also missed an Opening Day start in 1974 because he said he slept wrong and his eyelid was stuck shut.

Like I said, I don’t believe in all of that billy goat, black cat, Bartman stuff, but… well.

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