CHICAGO -- Hard to imagine why the Chicago Cubs took so long to win a game at Wrigley Field. The formula's pretty simple:
Just take the ugliest goat in the state of Wisconsin -- preferably one that looks like somebody's dear old mother. Round up a voodoo doll from Jamaica. And mix in a healthy dose of infectious optimism from the greatest Cub of all: His Happiness Ernie Banks.
Oh, yeah. It helps, too, if rookie Steve Trachsel pitches seven solid innings, and Sammy Sosa and Eddie Zambrano chip in with home runs.
That's all it took yesterday for the Cubs to end their longest losing streak of the 20th century at 12 games with a 5-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.
"I feel like the weight of Jupiter has been lifted off my shoulders," said first baseman Mark Grace. "I feel like we're in first place right now."
Doubtless, that feeling passed pretty quickly. Because the reality is the Cubs still have the worst record in the major leagues at 7-18.
Some of the credit for yesterday's win went to Banks and Billy Goat.
Manager Tom Trebelhorn had suggested bringing in a goat to break the jinx that Sam Sianis, owner of the Billy Goat Tavern, put on the Cubs in 1945. Sianis' uncle, the tavern's first owner, bought a ticket for the goat to attend a World Series
game between the Cubs and Detroit Tigers that year.
When the Cubs refused to let the goat into Wrigley, Sianis swore the Cubs never would get back to the World Series again until the goat was allowed back in to Wrigley.
Banks led the goat past both dugouts before the first pitch.
Just in case that didn't work, Cubs public relations director Sharon Pannozzo broke out a voodoo doll that she brought from vacation in Jamaica and followed instructions that called, among other things, for her to read the 23rd Psalm.
"I think Trachsel had more to do with us winning than anything, but I tell you what: I wanted to ride that goat. I wanted to pet it. I wanted to keep him around," said Grace, who drove in one of the runs with a sacrifice fly.