CHICAGO — Last October, I sat in The Bartman Seat. Seemed like the thing to do in Chicago’s first trip back to the NLCS since that fateful series against the Marlins in 2003. Of course, the actual action by lifelong Cubs fan Steve Bartman — accidentally preventing left fielder Moises Alou from catching a foul ball — had very little to do with Chicago losing that series. No, that team’s fate was sealed by a cavalcade of errors, miscues and fat pitches left over the middle of the plate.  But Bartman instantly became part of Chicago baseball lore, so I sat in the seat.  With the Cubs back in the NLCS again this October, I decided to visit another spot etched in Chicago baseball lore. This one goes back a bit further than 2003, all the way back to 1945. This one’s about a farm animal that belonged to a business owner miles away from Wrigley Field. MORE: Every team's worst postseasn memory, revisitedThat’s how I ended up at the Billy Goat Tavern for lunch on Monday. I ordered a double cheeseburger — well, more accurately, I was pretty much commanded to eat a double cheeseburger moments after I walked in (“It’s the best,” I was told in no uncertain terms. And it was) — then sat down at the bar and ordered a Billy Goat Dark beer from John Sianis, the bartender. (Ryan Fagan/SN) A moment later, another patron sat down two barstools over, shook his head in frustration and said to John, “That Kershaw guy … He ordered a Bud Light and a double shot of something clear. It wasn’t yet noon. I knew I was in the right place. Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw had blanked the Cubs in Game 2 of the NLCS the night before, tossing seven shutout innings in L.A.’s 1-0 victory. That evened the best-of-seven series at 1-1; Game 3 is Tuesday night. MORE: The 13 most stunning sports conspiracy theories, rankedJohn comes from a long line of Sianis family members who have worked at the various Billy Goat Tavern locations in Chicago. Like his cousins, he started helping out as soon as he “was old enough to stand upright.” Then, he bussed tables and poured Cokes. He’s 36 now and he runs the bar most nights at what’s considered the “original” location, a subterranean spot under Michigan Avenue in the heart of Chicago (the actual original location was near what’s now the United Center).The tavern is kind of amazing. The walls are crammed full of history — pictures of the family members and friends with various goats, stories on the family penned by legendary Chicago newspaper writers like Mike Royko and David Condon and homages to the 1978 Saturday Night Live piece, with John Belushi, Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd.  (Ryan Fagan/SN) What is the Billy Goat Curse?Like everyone in the Sianis family, John knows the legend and lore of the Billy Goat Curse. Here’s the quick version (long version here): Bill Sianis was a tavern owner who had immigrated to Chicago from his native Greece. One day, a billy goat fell off a truck in front of his establishment and wandered into the tavern. Sianis kept the goat and named it Murphy. He loved the goat, which quickly became a fixture at the tavern. Sianis’ friends even started calling him Billy Goat. You get the picture. In 1945, Sianis wanted to try and help the Cubs win the World Series (they were leading the Tigers, 2-1), so he thought he’d bring along his good luck charm, the billy goat, to Game 4. Well, the Cubs wouldn’t let him in with the goat. Sianis made a personal appeal to P.K. Wrigley, the owner of the club. Still, no dice (“The goat stinks,” Wrigley said). Sianis could go in, but the goat was not allowed to enter the ballpark. Sianis was pretty annoyed, and he famously proclaimed the Cubs would never again win the World Series so long as the goat wasn’t allowed in Wrigley. Over the years, the Cubs have allowed members of the Sianis family into the park with descendants of the original goat, but, as you know, no World Series yet. And the series of connections to the name Murphy — remember, that was the original billy goat’s name — and spectacular Cubs failures have been, well, eerie. In 1969, the Cubs held a nine-game lead in the NL East in mid-August, but went just 17-26 the rest of the way and were overtaken by the Mets, who would go on to win the World Series against the Orioles. The Mets’ GM was Johnny Murphy and the team’s announcer was Bob Murphy. MORE: The 10 greatest Cubs player of all timeIn 1984, the Cubs made the playoffs for the first time since that 1945 season, and they were tied with the Padres, 2-2, in the best-of-five NLCS. But a crucial error by first baseman Leon Durham in the seventh inning of Game 5 led to a heartbreaking loss. The site of the game? San Diego’s Jack Murphy Stadium. Last year, the Cubs bulldozed past the rival Cardinals in the NLDS and rolled into the NLCS against the Mets brimming with confidence. Problem was, there was this one guy in the Mets’ lineup who could not be stopped. This guy hit .529 with four home runs and six RBIs in

New York’s four-game sweep. His name? Daniel Murphy. Yeah. Probably all coincidences, but they’re entertaining coincidences (unless you're a Cubs fan). So far, there are no obvious Murphy connections to this Dodgers team. No players or coaches have the last name Murphy. I couldn’t find anyone in the front office with the name, either. No broadcasters or top prospects, either. So the Cubs should be in the clear, right? This is the year the Billy Goat Curse ends, right?  (Ryan Fagan/SN) Not so fast. John updated me on the latest goat-related Cubs fiasco. It’s … interesting. On Oct. 10, during the Cubs’ division series with the Giants, Roe Conn and Anna Davlantes at WGN radio wanted to do an interview with Sam Sianis (John’s grandfather and Bill’s brother) and his new billy goat, which is named Murphy, of course. The WGN offices are in the Chicago Tribune building, across the street from the Billy Goat Tavern, and there’s a walkway under Michigan Avenue that connects the two buildings. Billy Sianis, John’s cousin, thought it would be easier to take the billy goat to the Tribune building this way, instead of trying to cross the always-busy Michigan Avenue. Well, he got to the door and security wouldn’t let him in with the goat.No, really. Just flat-out refused. PHOTOS: The Billy Goat Curse, through the yearsBilly could go in, but the goat was not allowed to enter the building. That, um, sounds familiar, doesn’t it? As John pointed out to me, “The Cubs lost to the Giants that night. Just sayin'.”The next day, a deal was struck and Murphy was allowed in — wearing a muzzle — and the Cubs made a dramatic ninth-inning comeback that night to close out the Giants in Game 4 of the NLDS. Just sayin'.

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