One Long Century: A Review of the Chicago Cubs' Misfortune

John LewisSenior Writer IApril 21, 2008


It's 1908 and the Chicago Cubs have just repeated as World Series champs behind pitchers Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown, Ed Reulbach, Jack Pfiester and Orval Overall.  They defeated the Detroit Tigers four games-to-one in a rematch from the season before. 

Ironically, the year that the song "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" would debut would signify the last World Series title for the North Siders. 

The Cubbies would have their chances as they appeared in the World Series in 1910, 1918,1929, 1932 (which featured the famous called shot by Babe Ruth), 1935,1938 and 1945, losing the Series all seven times. 

The '45 series would, however, be the most costly World Series for any team in baseball history.

A Greek immigrant named Billy Sianis purchased two $7.20 box seats to watch his beloved Cubs with his beloved goat.  Well, it started to rain during the game and owner Phil Wrigley decided to kick out Sianis and his goat because of the awful odor.

Before Sianis left the field he said the Cubs would never win the title again and that game four rain has continued to pour down on the Cubs for 63 more years.

Then, in 1969, the Cubs were back on top of the newly-created National League East for most of the season, but during a game at Shea Stadium many superstitious fans attribute their collapse to an incident when a fan released a black cat onto the field, thereby further cursing the club. 

Of course, the "Miracle Mets" won the pennant and the World Series as the Cubbies watched on.

In 1984, the North Siders made a trade mid-way through the season to acquire Rick Sutcliffe, and he only went  16-1 to help the Cubs win the division.  With Scott Sanderson, Ron Cey, and Ryne Sandberg, they went up against the San Diego Padres and took the first two games of the series.  Needing only one more win, key errors and untimely hits allowed the Padres win the National League pennant.

1989 and 1998 were no different as the Cubs would make the playoffs and see leads slip away with bullpen meltdowns and managerial blunders. 

In 2001, the Cubs made a playoff push led by Sammy Sosa's 64 home runs and Jon Leiber's 20 wins, but their two-and-a-half game lead in the Wild Card race evaporated, and they finished five games out.

The Cubs hired Dusty Baker to manage the club in 2003, and also traded for Aramis Ramirez to play third base. 

These key moves, along with solid pitching, allowed the Cubs to win their first division title in 14 years. 

They won 88 games and beat the Atlanta Braves in the NLDS, their first playoff series win since 1908.  They took on the young Florida Marlins in the NLCS, had a 3-1 series lead, and were five outs away from the World Series.  

In the eighth inning of game six, fan Steve Bartman attempted to catch a foul ball but actually reached onto the field and interfered with outfielder Moises Alou. 

Of course, the Cubs would lose again and add to the legend of the curse.

The off season before the 2007 campaign would see the Cubs make a few changes in an attempt to regain their swagger. 

Dusty Baker was replaced by Lou Piniella, and free agent Alfonso Soriano was signed to the richest contract in team history. 

After a slow start, the Cubs gained momentum and won the division with only 85 wins.  They played the Arizona Diamondbacks in round one of the playoffs, and lost 3-0 while stranding over 30 base runners in the series.

Fast-forward 100 years from 1908, and the Cubs are still in search of their third World Series title.  As the North Siders have gone down to everything from a curse to a black cat to the arm of a fan, other players who once donned a Cubs uniform have enjoyed World Series success.

So as not to add insult to injury, here is a list of players that have gone on to win a World Series title with another team:

Andy Pafko, Gene Baker, Smoky Burgess, Don Hoak, Dale Long, Lou Brock, Lou Johnson, Jim Brewer, Moe Drabowsky, Don Cardwell, Ken Holtzman, Billy North, Bill Madlock, Manny Trillo, Rick Monday, Burt Hooton, Bruce Sutter, Willie Hernández, Joe Niekro, Dennis Eckersley, Joe Carter, Greg Maddux, Joe Girardi, Glenallen Hill, Luis Gonzalez, Mike Morgan, Mark Grace, Mark Bellhorn, and Bill Mueller.

Dontrelle Willis and Jon Garland were traded as minor leaguers.



The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.