For the first time since the Chicago Cubs won it all last November, I decided to sit down and watch Game 6 of the 2003 National League Championship Series. Here is my story.
Pure ecstasy. There’s not a better way to describe what fans at Wrigley Field enjoyed with one away in the top of the eighth inning of Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS. Their beloved Chicago Cubs were five outs from their first World Series appearance since the end of World War II.
And, really, why wouldn’t they believe? Chicago led the Florida Marlins 3-0 and the team’s horse, Mark Prior, was cruising. On the national broadcast, commentator and big league pitcher Al Leiter actually commented, “He’s mentally strong enough to not allow distractions.”
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First, it was a lazy fly ball down the left-field line. Shortly after, the National League’s best-fielding shortstop during the regular season, Alex Gonzalez, booted a ground ball and the Chicago Cubs themselves breathed life back into the Curse of the Billy Goat.
Before the dust settled, Florida pushed across eight runs and batted around in the inning. It was just the second eight-run frame for the Marlins in well over 1,000 innings played that year. And it came at the perfect time.
Leading up to that fateful eighth, momentum was firmly on the Cubs’ side. Prior scarcely gave fans to have even the slightest cause for concern, dominating the Florida bats with a mix of heat and knee-buckling breaking stuff.
But when the Cubs stumbled, they fell hard. The lore surrounding the franchise and the curse emerged from the ’03 NLCS more alive than ever, dominating Chicago baseball stories until it all changed last November.
More than a decade ago, however, it was the end of the world as we knew it.