Cubs fans, beware? The ‘SI cover jinx’ is real (maybe)
CHICAGO — The news of Sports Illustrated’s Midwest edition featuring the surging Chicago Cubs on its cover came as a nice surprise to some Chicagoans. But to others, it signaled only prognostications of doom.
“It’s a jinx darn !!!!!!” wrote Facebook commenter Lolly Lindemann when WGN shared the story Tuesday afternoon.
Wrote another user, John McGarey, “Oh crap. Sports Illustrated? NOW we’re doomed!”
And so on.
For those wondering, “Why the negativity,” there is a more recent sports superstition having nothing to do with goat owners named Billy or scapegoats named Bartman. It’s called the “SI cover jinx,” and it is real. Sort of.
Just ask baseball star Nelson Cruz. In 2011 Cruz, at the time an outfielder for the Texas Rangers, appeared on Sports Illustrated’s cover prior to that year’s World Series. Cruz and the Rangers lost the World Series in seven games despite being one strike away from winning in Game 6. The tying runs in Game 6 came after Cruz misplayed a ball in right field. The Rangers lost that game, and later Game 7, to the St. Louis Cardinals.
You could also ask the 2003 rendition of the Chicago Cubs themselves. In 2003 the Cubs and Boston Red Sox, both longing for their first championship in decades, were featured on Sports Illustrated dual covers during the teams’ respective league championship series. The Cubs lost their series to the Florida Marlins after the infamous foul ball incident and subsequent Alex Gonzalez error; the Red Sox lost to the Yankees after a controversial decision by manager Grady Little that ultimately cost him his job.
There is a long list of teams and athletes who have fallen victim to ill fortune after appearing on the Sports Illustrated cover. In 2008 New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady suffered a season-ending injury during the first quarter of Week 1 after appearing on the cover of SI’s NFL preview edition.
In both 2003 and 2004, then-Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated heading into the NFL playoffs. In both years Manning lost in the postseason, despite being heralded by many as a championship favorite.
The saving grace for the Cubs could be that they are being featured only on the Midwest edition of the magazine. (Tennis star Serena Williams is on the national version.) It seems most jinxes come from more mainstream circulations or preview editions.
Or, the North Siders’ saving grace could be that superstition is just that: superstition, and this team could overcome any perceived bad luck based simply on their merits, and the fact they are very good in 2015.