COMMENTARY | When you haven't won a World Series in over a century, it's a safe bet to assume you start looking in unusual places for ways to end such a drought.
Chicago Cubs fans have been doing this better than anyone -- especially in the last decade. There always seems to be a player who, upon his arrival, is going to be the one who ultimately puts the Cubs over the top to capture the elusive World Series title.
Hee-Seop Choi (2002-2003)
First base was one of the few positions the Cubs were actually used to being semi-spoiled at. After Mark Grace's departure after the 2000 season, the Cubs used an end-of-career version of Fred McGriff to help bridge the gap. Once McGriff left, Hee-Seop Choi was set to fill in.
The Cubs had enjoyed a decent showing in 2001 (88-74) before regressing the following year (67-95). As the 2003 season began, Choi was supposed to solidify the right side of the infield and be the Cubs' long-term answer at first base. He ended up only playing in 80 games for the Cubs and carried a .218 batting average.
He was traded to Florida the following year in the deal that saw the Cubs get their actual long-term answer at first base -- Derrek Lee.
Felix Pie (2005-2008)
All top prospects garner attention, but you would have sworn Felix Pie was going to be the best baseball player of all time based on the rhetoric overzealous fans were throwing around. Even though Pie didn't make it to the majors until 2007, there were rumors of this five-tool superstar in the minors who was going to come save the day for all the weary Cubs fans.
His career with the Cubs: .223 AVG, 3 HRs, 30 RBIs in 130 games over two seasons. He eventually went to the Baltimore Orioles for Hank Williamson and Garrett Olson.
Juan Pierre (2006)
The number of times I heard "Next year with Pierre" was ludicrous. The strange thing about this opinion was that the Cubs were a lackluster 79-83 the year before his arrival. For whatever number of reasons, many fans had convinced themselves that the Cubs were a leadoff man away from being a true contender. I can't exclude myself from the rest of Cubs Nation here, but it looks pretty ridiculous in hindsight.
Pierre actually had a stellar season in 2006 -- 204 hits, 58 stolen bases, .292 AVG -- but the Cubs plummeted to 66-96 -- good for last in the National League Central.
Alfonso Soriano (2007)
It's easy to forget sometimes that when Soriano first arrived in Chicago, he was expected to be the Cubs' dynamic leadoff man. And why not? He had just come off a superb season in Washington -- .277 AVG, 46 HRs, 95 RBIs, 41 SB -- doing exactly that. Cubs fans had once again convinced themselves that the missing piece was the leadoff position, because everything else would fall into place with the proper table setter.
Unlike Pierre, Soriano could actually be seen as a viable game-changer -- especially when you consider his signing was part of the Cubs' infamous spending spree during the 2006 offseason. And while it led to back-to-back division titles in '07 and '08, it didn't get them to World Series glory.
Kosuke Fukudome (2008)
When the Cubs won the bidding for Fukudome, you could have been forgiven for thinking they had actually just won the World Series. It was a huge deal.
And with the Cubs coming off a division title (and an exposed need of left-handed power hitting), Fukudome was to be the final piece. After a stellar career in Japan, Fukudome never found his footing in the majors -- closing his five-year career with a .258 AVG before returning to Japan.
The Cubs very nearly did do something special in 2008 (97-65), but a first-round sweep at the hands of the Los Angeles Dodgers was the end of that dream. And even so, the Cubs' overall success that season had little to do with Fukudome (.257 AVG, 10 HRs, 58 RBIs).
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Brian is a lifelong Chicago Cubs follower. Living in Illinois his entire life has given him a chance to closely follow and report Chicago sports as a freelance writer through Yahoo! Contributor Network and Yahoo! Sports. He is also a senior in college majoring in English and Creative Writing.
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