The Chicago Cubs are the ultimate test of patience for any sports enthusiast who confesses loyalty toward a team. Since 1908, the Cubs haven't won a World Series. Their only playoff series win came against the Atlanta Braves in the 2003 National League Division Series (NLDS). They haven't won the National League Pennant since 1945.
What's the most-frustrating part about the last 104 years of ineptitude? There's the saying, "September to remember." For Cubs fans, it's "October to pass over." It's not that the Cubs aren't in the postseason; I'm usually aware of that by mid-June. Look at what has transpired during the past eight Octobers.
Let's revisit the 2005 National League Championship Series (NLCS). The Houston Astros beat the St. Louis Cardinals in six games. The Cardinals were two wins away from setting up the worst nightmare of any average Cubs fan: a World Series showdown between the Chicago White Sox and Cardinals. That's pure horror.
Despite Brad Lidge's worst efforts, the Astros made sure that never happened. Instead, the White Sox swept them in the 2005 World Series. The White Sox vs. Astros series was enough of a nightmare. A World Series meeting between the Cardinals and White Sox would've been more like sleep paralysis. Tony La Russa and Ozzie Guillen would play the role of demons. Happy Halloween.
The Cardinals won the 2006 World Series. The Cubs were swept in the 2007 NLDS. After having the National League's best regular-season record, the Cubs were swept in the 2008 NLDS. The New York Yankees won the 2009 World Series. The Cardinals won the 2011 World Series.
The Cardinals sneak into the playoffs as the final wild card. They get some help from Carlos Marmol. They win playoff series as they're down to their final strike. No Albert Pujols? It has no impact. Not enough starting pitching? Chris Carpenter to the rescue. The Cardinals currently have a 1-0 series lead over the San Francisco Giants in the 2012 NLCS. Cubs fans are thinking, "Here we go again."
Those are just the championship results from rivals (plus the Yankees). The Milwaukee Brewers and Cardinals played in the 2011 NLCS. Since 2010, former Cubs manager Dusty Baker has led the Cincinnati Reds to two playoff appearances. The Reds just extended Baker for two years.
What does this mean for Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer? With every championship that St. Louis wins, these executives will have additional pressure to field a winner. I'm interested to see how they respond to that pressure. Will they stick with their plan? Can fans wait a few years for something that isn't guaranteed to bring a Commissioner's Trophy to the North Side?
Joshua Huffman grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula as a Green Bay Packers and Chicago Cubs enthusiast. He immediately gained an admiration for Cubs fans after watching numerous games on WGN during the mid-90s. His favorite Cubs moment was Kerry Wood's(notes) 1-hitter, 20K extravaganza that was only denied of a no-hitter by Kevin Orie's defensive blunder. As a Packers and Cubs fan, he suffered through Steve Bartman and "4th & 26" in a span of three months. HERE is his Twitter.
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