In the bottom of the 8th inning during Tuesday’s National League Wild Card Game, Brewers fans watched a bases-loaded single to right field off the bat of Washington Nationals young slugger Juan Soto go under the glove of Milwaukee rookie Trent Grisham. In an instant, the Brewers 3-1 lead turned into a 4-3 loss with the error when Milwaukee failed to score in the top of the 9th.
After the game, Grisham said “It’s going to sting. It’s going to sting for a long time. Essentially gifting the Nationals a divisional berth. It’s going to hurt. And I expect it to hurt when I debrief and go into the offseason.”
Since the Green Bay Packers won the Super Bowl in Dallas in February of 2011, the Milwaukee area has seen a series of moments that certainly sting with their beloved teams.
As fans watched a dejected Brewers dugout grab their gear Tuesday night and head up the tunnel and into their offseason, one couldn’t help but wonder: Is Milwaukee a cursed sports town?
Are the Big Three Franchises Cursed?
Of course, the unfortunate outcome beset to the Brewers has been collectively placed on a community of their fans in the afterglow of the Wild Card Game loss.
These feelings aren’t the same when we see an individual like Tiger Woods fail down the stretch at a golf tournament because his driver wasn’t finding the fairway. We don’t bond over individual sports like we do over team sports.
Our favorite sports teams have a history and, for everyone that doesn’t love teams in the New England area, a lot of suffering. But does the pain mean our teams and our town is cursed?
Looking at the three major sports teams in the Milwaukee area, there are several moments that each franchise can point to as evidence of a sports curse. Perhaps the curse doesn’t rival what the Boston Red Sox or Chicago Cubs endured before their recent championships, but our favorite Milwaukee teams have taken their fair share of bad beats.
Starting with the Green Bay Packers, you first have to acknowledge the improbable run to the 2011 Super Bowl title as evidence that the football team has avoided a curse. The Packers were the sixth and final seed in the NFC for the 2010 season, and yet they managed to win three straight playoff games on the road to make it to the Super Bowl against Pittsburgh where quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw for three touchdowns and 304 yards in the 31-26 win.
When looking at the Packers’ successes, it is hard even to argue that they are cursed. They’ve won four Super Bowls after the NFL/AFL merger, and since 1993 the team has only missed the playoffs seven times. So it is quite clear that the Packers are not cursed, regardless of how you feel about the onside kick in the NFC title game against Seattle in 2015.
Moving to the Milwaukee Bucks, it is hard to contend you’re cursed when you’re just bad. The NBA’s Milwaukee franchise has won one title back in 1971, lost another in 1974 and hasn’t returned to the big dance since.
The closest the Bucks have come to return to the NBA Finals was in 2001 when they took the Philadelphia 76ers to seven games only to lose the final game of a see-saw series.
This past summer, the Bucks’ chances rose once again under the MVP season of budding superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo. Milwaukee made it to the Eastern Conference Finals and immediately jumped out to a 2-0 series lead only to cough it up as Toronto won four straight, enabling them to win their first NBA title a couple of weeks later. Knowing the history of the franchise and their few chances of returning to early 1970s glory, it’s easier to say that the Bucks have simply been bad and not cursed.
The same cannot be said for the Brewers, who are undoubtedly the closest Milwaukee pro team can be to claiming the “cursed” moniker.
When you look at the Brewers’ recent failings down the stretch in the MLB playoffs, it is hard to deny that there have been some shady dealings by the hands of fate. Maybe the players should re-focus on getting back to their level they used to have, instead of making headlines for the player’s love for bulldogs. Appearing in only one World Series in 1982, the Brewers have fallen twice by one game in the 2010s to making their second franchise Fall Classic.
With Grisham’s error on Tuesday night, there will be no shot at getting to the Series this season, yet for all intensive purposes, this has been arguably the most successful decade in Brewers’ history, especially when you factor in the steal the team pulled off when trading for 2018 NL MVP outfielder Christian Yelich before the 2018 season.
When we begin, as sports fans, to toss out the dreaded “cursed” word when speaking of our beloved sports teams we fail to acknowledge how hard it is to win for one year, not to mention consistently winning every year.
Each professional sports franchise has its fair share of terrible luck and moments that will sting, but it is hard to argue that Milwaukee is cursed when the city has seen more good than bad as of late.