<
>

Cubs hoping to be 'Goatbusters'

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs are doing everything they can to keep it together as a team.

Trying to show solidarity, team veterans made up T-shirts with a "Goatbusters" logo on the front and a saying on the back: "(Expletive) the goat." The team wore the shirts on the field during early workouts before batting practice on Tuesday.

With the second-worst record in baseball, the Cubs' veterans are doing their best to keep everyone motivated and going in the right direction.

Manager Mike Quade is amused by the pregame attire, and the existence of the much-discussed Curse of the Billy Goat.

"I find the whole conversation comical," Quade said. "What's the best way (to deal with a jinx)? I'm not Dr. Phil. You want to embrace it, laugh at it, hide from it. Everybody has their own way of dealing with it. To me, I come to the park everyday and (I think) The Girl and The Goat is a (local) restaurant. That's all I think about (goats). Somebody like (Kerry Wood) and (Ryan Dempster), (they) deal with this all the time, so they came up with a slogan. I don't care! I got news for you: When you take the field, nobody's thinking about the goat."

Over the years, the Cubs have gone to great lengths to reverse the much-discussed curse. The team has had a Greek priest try to exorcise the field. Another time, Dusty Baker put Holy Water from the Vatican over the field. Even Lou Piniella got into the act, kicking a paper-mache goat around the field in the spring of 2007, mocking the possibility of any jinx on the team.

The genesis of the jinx dates back to the 1945 World Series when fan Billy Sianis arrived at a game with his goat. With livestock in tow, Sianis was denied admission to the ballpark. Sianis then put a hex on the team, saying the Cubs would never win a World Series because of the organization's slight toward him and his pet.

Before the beginning of the 1994 season on Opening Day, the organization allowed Sianis' son to walk a goat across the field in an attempt to reverse the hex.

Catcher Koyie Hill likes the idea that the team is trying to stay together during tough times.

"We can really throw some four-letter words together," Hill joked. "That's kind of the nature of this clubhouse. It's more laid back. We're a lot stronger than maybe even sometimes we think."

At 26-39, the Cubs have lost 10 of their past 13 games.

"There's no one else to go out there and win ballgames," Hill said. "There's just us. So we can either quit, and I don't see us doing that because our mind set is, how much fun would it be to make a run at it and come back. That would be fun and there is plenty of time to do it."

Just for the record, since the curse, the Cubs have gone 65 years without winning the National League pennant. And, by the way, the Cubs lost the 1945 Series four games to three against the Detroit Tigers.

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs for ESPNChicago.com.