The Ex-Cub Factor. Ignore It At Your Own Risk.

The phrase "Ex-Cub factor" has been thrown around quite a bit, often incorrectly. For example, Bill Madden took a swing at it a while ago, and missed, in the Daily News. Since you've come to this page, though, you obviously want to know the straight scoop, and I'm just the guy to give it to you. After all, that's what the New York Times did in 2004, and they got it right.

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.

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 managed 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 that one had 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. Plus, almost as soon as Grace said that, the Diamondbacks became bad. Really bad. 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.

Here is the list of ex-Cubs on the 2006 playoff teams:

LOS ANGELES DODGERS (4): Nomar Garciaparra, Kenny Lofton, Greg Maddux, Ramon Martinez
NEW YORK METS (2): Michael Tucker, Steve Trachsel
NEW YORK YANKEES (2): Miguel Cairo, Kyle Farnsworth
MINNESOTA TWINS (2): Phil Nevin, Rondell White
SAN DIEGO PADRES (1): Todd Walker
DETROIT TIGERS (1): Neifi Perez
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (1): Jose Vizcaino
OAKLAND A'S: NONE

So the Dodgers are screwed. With four ex-Cubs, none of whom could be left by the side of the road, they have no shot if they make it to the World Series.

The Mets were smart to leave Mike DeFelice off the roster -- if they had carried him, his four at-bats with the Cubs in 2004 would have loomed large in the 2006 post-mortem. As it is, it will probably be the injuries to the pitching staff which do them in.

Other than that, though, these playoffs are blessedly ex-Cub-free. And to answer your unasked question, Neifi Perez counts as only one ex-Cub, despite what Cubs fans might think.

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 it. 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. I've only made it back a decade or so, but when it's all done 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 Scott Williamson and Michael Tucker might help you get into the playoffs, but you'd better ditch them come playoff time.


This site was recognized as a "Times Pick" by the Los Angeles Times on 18 October 1996, back when there were only 4 or 5 people total on the World Wide Web. Eight years later, we're in The New York Times. Ain't that somethin'?

All logos are copyright © Major League Baseball and/or the respective teams. all-baseball.com is not affiliated in any way with Major League Baseball or any major league baseball team.