CHICAGO – White Sox relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel’s struggles on the mound after being traded from the Cubs this year might seem significant, but that might not be the only thing that might not bode well for a White Sox playoff race – according to your superstition, this is.
Kimbrel, who has moved closer to the Crosstown Cubs, ranks among the worst contracts to expire this season.
But it could be his North Side pedigree that spells DOOM for the Sox, if you believe in the “Ex-Cubs factor” – a theory developed years ago by Chicago writer Ron Berler, and made famous by the late columnist. by Tribune Mike Royko.
Royko introduced Berler’s theories in 1989, after Berler discovered that since 1946, 12 teams had reached the World Series with at least three Cubs players in their roster. Of the 12, only one won the Fall Classic. This led Berler to speculate that after being a Cub, players possess a “Cubness virus” that spreads around the clubhouse, Royko wrote for the Chicago Tribune.
That brings us back to Kimbrel, who was posting a 0.49 ERA with the Cubs before trading. Since arriving at Sox Park, Kimbrel has a 5.68 ERA and has allowed twice as many points (12) in 20 appearances as in 39 games with the Cubs. He also missed three save chances. For you non-baseball readers, that’s not exactly what the Sox expected to get in return.
Manager Tony La Russa – who played part of a season with the Cubs in 1973, by the way – used Kimbrel in a bigger role for the closest Liam Hendricks. But Kimbrel, who was to be one of the key elements of a possible World Series championship race, was clearly not the same and led many Sox loyalists to wonder aloud why the front office of the Sox chose to bring him the south side.
Could Berler’s “virus Cubness” theories come to life? It is far too early to tell.
The Sox are set to clinch their first American League Central Division title since 2008. But if the “Ex-Cub Factor” superstition has any legs, perhaps it should be seen as a public service to remind South Siders that there are three ex-Cubs. on the program, including La Russa, the 76-year-old skipper. Pitcher Ryan Tepera, who is expected to return to the mound next week after a finger injury, played for the Cubs earlier this year.
During La Russa’s brief stint on the North Side, he only appeared in one game, according to MLB.com, but scored the opening day game-winning game against the Expos after entering the game. as a pinch runner. Still, it’s worth considering.
Berler’s Beliefs may well be a rooster and bull story of epic proportions, and may fall short of the Sox’s power. But before we dismiss the black cat completely into the play, let’s remember that history has once been mean with one of Chicago’s baseball teams which, in turn, has shaken championship dreams for generations.