Home / Robert Farley / The Cubs Must Not Win (III)

The Cubs Must Not Win (III)


When the Cubs last won the World Series, the Ottomans ruled Turkey and much of the Middle East:

The House of Osman began as one of many small noble families that ruled the Turkic peoples during their migration west around the end of the first millennium CE. The Osmans steadily accrued power and influence, and in the disruption following the Mongolian invasions established its lands as an independent power center in Anatolia. Although he did not claim the title of Sultan, Osman I, who lived at the end of the 13th and beginning of the 14th century, is understood to be the dynastic founder of the Ottoman Empire. After securing his territory from Turkic rivals, Osman looked to the crumbling Byzantine Empire, which the Osman’s would eat at for the next two centuries. This would grant them access not only to Europe, but also gave the resources to extend their power in the Islamic world.

Critical in the expansion of Ottoman power was the victory at the Field of Blackbirds in 1389, which helped stem Serbian power and ensure Ottoman access to the corpse of the Byzantine Empire. Sultan Murad I died on the battlefield and was replaced by his son, Bayezid I. As was common custom at the time, Bayezid had his brother strangled upon his ascension in the wake of the battle. Succession in the House of Osman did not operate on the principles of primogeniture, seniority, or even on the selection of the current Sultan, but rather most often depended on a free-for-all between sons upon the death of the Sultan. The new Sultan would often, although not always, follow up his ascension with the murder of any remaining brothers. Over time this practice, which of course proved quite destructive both within the family and without, was replaced by a general preference for the principle of seniority. Unfortunately for Bayezid I, the invasions of the Tartar under Tamerlane prevented him from following up his success in Kosovo. The Tartar captured Bayezid I, and although the story is probably apocraphyl, it is said that Tamerlane used the Sultan as a footstool.

The disruptions associated with the Tartar invasions weakened the enemies of the Osman’s more than the Osmans themselves. In 1453, Sultan Mehmed II captured Constantinople, putting the Byzantine Empire (and, by extension, the ancient Roman Empire) to effective end. The last Byzantine Emperor was presumably killed in the fighting, as he was last seen throwing himself into hand-to-hand combat after the breaching of the city walls. Upon the fall of the city, Constantinople became the new capitol of the Ottoman Empire. The Osman’s continued their expansion into Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East, reaching the gates of Vienna in 1529. The Empire reached its apogee under Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, who reigned between 1520 and 1566. Periodically, Sultans asserted the title Caliph of Islam, although this was not used with any regularity.

Of course, ever empire that rises must eventually fall. The growing borders of the Empire extended its responsibilities beyond that which was economically and bureaucratically efficient. Ottoman military forces became victims of their own success, as tactics and formation became hidebound and increasingly vulnerable to military advances in the West. The succession process tended to leave young (and, eventually, older) men without any education or policy experience, and incited unrest and dissension. The Sultan would typically have an enormous harem with many children, which created a poor incentive structure for the training of any given successor or for vigorous political action. Although the Empire experienced several periods of rejuvenation, the period from 1566 on can be understood as one of long, slow decline. This decline accelerated in the 19th century, when the superiority of Western military practice became evident.

The Ottoman Empire slowly shed its external territories and influence over the course of the 19th century. It lost Greece in 1829, Egypt in the Napoleonic Wars, Cyprus in 1879, and various parts of the Balkans throughout the century. Further efforts at reform helped lead to revolution and the curtailment of royal power. In 1908, the “Young Turks” seized the reins of policy. The Empire joined the Central Powers in late 1914, and although it saw some initial success, eventually suffered dramatic defeats in the Middle East. The end of the war resulted in the loss of virtually all remaining European territories and most Asian territories outside the Turkish peninsula. Sultan Mehmed VI accepted an Allied peace plan that threatened to partition Turkey, enraging Turkish nationalists. After much jockeying for power, the Sultan boarded the British battleship Malaya on November 17, 1922, and fled to Malta.
osmanbayezidefendiSeven men have headed the House of Osman since the end of the Empire. The next-to-last was Ertugrul Osman V, ten years old when the last Sultan fled. Ertugrul Osman lived for decades with his wife, Princess Zeynep Tarzi of Afghanistan’s ruling  in a two bedroom apartment on Lexington Avenue around 70th Street. Reportedly, he and his wife paid $350 in rent. After Ertugrul’s death, the apartment became the focus of a dispute between Princess Zeynep and a local real estate developer. The Sultan maintained political pull into his later years; when they roof in his bathroom collapsed, he contacted Mayor Bloomberg and a crew of city workers repaired the damage in short order. Ertugrul Osman returned to Turkey in 1992, and was granted Turkish citizenship.  He passed in 2009, on another visit to Istanbul.  The current heir to the throne is Bayezid Osman, who moved to the United States in 1941, joined the US Army, and later worked for forty-five years in the New York City Public Library system.  Mr. Osman, 92, currently resides in New York City.

Prospects for a restoration are grim.  Mr. Osman has no apparent interest in resuming the duties of the Sultan.  However, he has argued that the House of Osman should change its rules of succession to allow women to ascend to the head of the dynasty.


Chances for a restoration of the monarchy appear extremely grim,

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    it is said that Tamerlane used the Sultan as a footstool.

    Wasn’t that the plot of 50 Shades of Grey?

    • Sounds like something out of the movie Mandingo.

  • ploeg

    although the story is probably apocraphyl, it is said that Tamerlane used the Sultan as a footstool.

    Isn’t “apocraphyl” actually spelled “crapfull”?

  • heckblazer

    I happened to see Timur’s final resting place in Samarkand last month. The architecture his dynasty left behind is pretty spectacular.

    • efgoldman

      The architecture his dynasty left behind is pretty spectacular.

      In those dayz, the eebill gummint built shit to last.

      • heckblazer

        Since Timur reportedly managed to kill 5% of the world population in his conquests, “evil government” may actually be appropriate here.

    • Farley and Loomis should get together for blog posts about the graves of monarchs from deposed dynasties. Between the two of them combining their talents, they could really corner the market.

    • heckblazer

      I don’t have my photos uploaded, but for the curious here’s shots of the exterior and interior of the Gur-e-Emir mausoleum courtesy of Google image search. The black cenotaph is Timur’s.

      • sibusisodan

        That’s beautiful!

        • Avattoir

          ‘Jesus Christ … Ivanka, scootch over & let Melania have a look at this! Is that sweet, or what? Sweet! Samarkand, Samarkand … I like that sound. Whataya think the ask is on that building? Those stupid camel jockeys probably don’t have a clue about what a fucking goldmine they’re sitting on, am I right?’

          • rea

            . . .Could use some shag carpet and a bit more gilding . . .

            • Origami Isopod

              …and parrot statues. Don’t forget those.

          • los

            “The generals don’t know anything,” the Supreme Commander continued. “I have all the best wars.”

          • (((Hogan)))

            And we’d have the only golf course within a thousand miles.

  • Docrailgun

    If the Cubs can win, the Osmans can be restored to their throne.

    • Better the Osmans than the Osmonds.

    • rea

      Corey Kluber is the martyred hero Constantine XI Palaiologos reborn and seeking his ineluctable revenge

  • (((max)))

    In 1453, Sultan Mehmed II captured Constantinople, putting the Byzantine Empire (and, by extension, the ancient Roman Empire) to effective end. The last Byzantine Emperor was presumably killed in the fighting, as he was last seen throwing himself into hand-to-hand combat after the breaching of the city walls. Upon the fall of the city, Constantinople became the new capitol of the Ottoman Empire.

    But as conquerors of Constantinople, and with the title of Sultanate of Rum, the Ottomans understood themselves as a successor phase of the Roman Empire. Certainly they controlled most of the territories of the Byzantine Empire for a couple of centuries, so arguably the Roman Empire didn’t entirely give up the ghost until the last Sultan was kicked out. (Obvs, the Latin Empire of Cicero or Augustus had been gone for 15 centuries at that point.)

    One wonders if Erdogen is eventually going to retake the title of Sultan (padişahları!) and maybe reclaim the Caesar of Rum title as well. Probably not, but you never know!

    [‘Go Cubbies!’]

    • Tyro

      Mehmet II seems to be the only Sultan who took the Roman/Byzantine inheritance seriously. His successors were distinctly uninterested. Mehmet II’s last project was to invade Italy and capture Rome. When the Sultan died soon after capturing a few small southern Italian cities, his successor packed up the troops and brought them back home.

    • Linnaeus

      the Ottomans understood themselves as a successor phase of the Roman Empire.

      The Russians had a few opinions about that.

      • Murc

        As did various Germans.

    • efgoldman

      maybe reclaim the Caesar of Rum

      Was that Cesar Romero?
      There is, in fact, a Ministry of Rum

  • hickes01

    I was always partial to Sultan Donnie Osman.

    • Colin Day

      I prefer Sultana Marie Osman.

      • los

        groped from the vine at sweet juicy peak ripeness.

    • Aubergine

      At least he didn’t strangle his brothers.

      • rea

        . . . possibly a mistake . . .

      • ninja3000

        The audio evidence shows that he was strangling his brothers during the recording sessions.

  • EliHawk

    In 1908, the “Young Turks” seized the reins of policy.

    The result of this shift was that the Empire repeatedly accused itself of being insufficiently leftist, even as leaders of the ruling clique were products of the Federalist Society.

    • Bootsie

      And then Alex Jones got into a shouting match with Ataturk.

      • bobbo1

        Who had an entire menagerie called Abdon

        • los

          “Chemtrails darkened the sky, as…”

  • Ken

    I still don’t see what a Cubs win has to do with these ancient regimes, but if you’re worried about a comeback, isn’t smallpox a bigger concern?

    • (((Hogan)))

      It’s a chance to recycle Rob’s old deposed dynasty posts.

  • brewmn

    Terry Francona just lost the series. He pulled Tomlin, who was completely dominating the Cubs, in the 5th for a double switch. I hate the Cubs with a white-hot passion, but I am tempted to start rooting for them now due to this ridiculous bit of over-managing.

    • Ahenobarbus

      Yeah. And he put in the crappy, tall left hander.

      • efgoldman

        And he put in the crappy, tall left hander.

        Who was just taken out for a pinch hitter. So now, Cleveland has a 1-0 lead and Miller’s gone.

        • Ahenobarbus

          They got a good inning and change out of him. They led 1-0 *because* of the pinch hitter. By not pushing him another inning, he will be fresher tomorrow.

          Honestly. “Terry Francona just lost the series”?

          • brewmn

            I might have jumped the gun. But I’m worried they are going to over-rely on Miller and Allen, and the way Tomlin was pitching,I saw no reason to pull him.

            The Cubs are a great late-inning team. They will get to Miller if they see him enough. But the other relievers Cleveland brought in tonight were all beasts. They’ll need to keep that up for Cleveland to have a chance.

            • jeer9

              Oh, Cleveland has more than a chance.

            • Burning_River

              It’s almost like the guy who’s won two World Series as a manager might know what he’s doing. In a short series, you manage to win every game.

              • marduk

                Francona is polishing his HOF resume in the playoffs this year. Red Sox never should have let him go.

                • efgoldman

                  Red Sox never should have let him go.

                  Even the best wear out, or lose the team, in a high-pressure market like Boston. And 2011 for the Red Sox was about as much as a clusterfuck as can happen in baseball. Plus he got caught in the power struggle between Epstein and Lucchino (who, thank the shade of Kenesaw Mountain Landis, isn’t involved with the major league club any more. Now he’s trying to screw the city of Providence and the state of RI into building a new ballpark for the AAA PawSox.)
                  Epstein was the bigger loss.

  • Sultan sounds like a pretty good gig. Are they hiring?

    • N__B


      • efgoldman

        Scimitar not have a long life expectancy, though.

    • AMK

      Not a bad name for a hookah place.

  • You’ve got a vestigial paragraph hanging out of your post’s trousers. Plus “apocryphal” is apocalyptically misspelled. Otherwise, as someone who once preceded a meeting at work with a brief explanation of the Byzantines, I appreciate the history lesson.

    • LastUniversalCommonAncestor

      Interestingly, apocriphyll is actually a key molecule for the survival of mainstream media, allowing them, unique among all living things, to use gossip and hearsay as an energy source.

      • los

        Although DNA tests were definitive per Ms. Merriam-Webster, the mainstream media still hides the Poke-Phil bastard Gamer Child scandal.

        • los

          Although Poke-Phil’s DNA tests were definitive per Ms. Merriam-Webster’s standards, the mainstream media still hides the bastard Gamer Child scandal.

  • pretendous

    Disappointed we have to wait until game 4+ for Hapsburg tribute. They were, of course, the most successful of houses (except Baratheon) during that period.

    • Just a Rube

      I’m torn between wanting the Qing (still technically ruling for a few more years at the time) or the House of Solomon (who lasted into the ’70s, aside from the brief Italian intermezzo).

      Why should Europe get all the outdated monarchic “fun?”

      • rea

        The Bourbons are still in power, nominally (or at least the Borbons)

        • Just a Rube

          But the conceit of the post series seems to be monarchies that ruled in 1908 and don’t anymore; the Bourbons still reign in Spain today (after their most recent restoration).

        • los

          We’re GOPe. Don’t you remember us, MSM?

          We warned you about the excise tax. Now you must take the blame for flyover frogs intoxicated in moonshine.

    • Miksa

      I’m eagerly looking forward to the Hapsburgs as well. We can thank WWI and the resulting collapse of the Hapsburgs and the Ottomans for most of the problems west of India during the last century

  • Avattoir

    Bet Osman ran his department at the Public Library with an iron fist.

    • Halloween Jack

      I’d love to know where he worked during his time at NYPL. It’s a big institution, and I worked at Brooklyn Public Library, which is its own system, but I was there in the early nineties, and if he worked until he was seventy, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that our paths crossed at a tri-system event (Queens has its own system, as well).

  • Johnny sycophant

    King Zog had an estate near where I live.

  • koolhand21

    Osman’s family decline began with the failure to take Malta from the ex-Crusader Hospitallers which is why it’s impossible to get a malted goat’s milk shake in Istanbul to this day.
    He also had the Lepantos beat off him a few years later.

  • cpinva

    OT here, since: the Ottoman Empire collapsed 100 years ago, so who cares? and I have no dog in Clevelend v Chicago:

    I guess going up against unarmed people is a lot less scary. I expect the Gov. will next be asked to send in the State National Guard, complete with machine guns, tanks, blackhawks and maybe an F-15 or two:


    there is something very, very wrong, when the Bundy’s, guilty as hell of an armed takeover of Federal property are found not guilty, by reason of stupidity, and these people, with a Federal Treaty in their pocket, and not threatening to shoot anyone, are shot instead.

    tell me how things have changed since the 20’s & 30’s?

  • Origami Isopod

    In 1453, Sultan Mehmed II captured Constantinople

    So would you say that … Constantinople got the works?

  • Ethel2Tilly

    I’d like to say that the long-ruling King of Thailand (née Siam) was around when the Cubs last won a Series, but, alas it only seems that way. He has been King since April 1946 (we scoff at you, Elizabeth II), and thus narrowly missed being King during the Cubs heretofore last Series appearance just the previous Autumn.

    And I’d better shut-up before I end up in jail for insulting the King. OMG! He just died 2 weeks ago after 70 years on the throne. How did I miss that? My deepest sympathies to the Thai people – He was deeply loved.


    Since I’m here and already have a bit of your attention may I share that today is an auspicious date in my family – my Grandfather was born on this date 104 years ago. He spent most of his life in NYC where he was a motorman in the NYC subways for almost 40 years. He got to “drive” the A Train.

    But what makes the date notable is that 4 years ago. Oct 29, 2012, he became the only motorman in history to have the entire NYC subway system close down on what would have been his 100th birthday.

    Incredible, no?

    Purists and nit-pickers may argue that it actually closed down for Hurricane Sandy, but my family knows better. He was quite a guy.

    • Richard Gadsden

      Perhaps the curse on the Cubs was the King of Thailand ?

    • efgoldman

      he was a motorman in the NYC subways for almost 40 years. He got to “drive” the A Train.

      When I was a kid, I didn’t want to be a cop or firefighter, I wanted to be a subway/el or trolley driver (in Boston).

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