The 2000’s were a roller coaster of a decade for Cubs fans. From the excitement of the 2003 playoffs and the 97 win season in 2008, to the disappointment of the Bartman-led collapse and the futile effort against the Dodgers, there were many ups and downs.
While my distinguished colleague Tab Bamford anoints the decade as the worst one ever for Cubs fans, I say that while it was definately gut wrenching and heart breaking, it was certainly notable.
And hey, my friend, it's the Cubs, did you really expect them to win anything of significance?
Overall, the Cubs had a losing decade.
Their record during the past decade was 727 - 741. They had three division championships: 2003, 2007 and 2008.
The decade saw Ryne Sandberg being enshrined in baseball’s Hall of Fame, and the new one may begin with another ex-Cub, Andre Dawson, achieving immortality.
Four managers led the ballclub this decade: the stone-faced Don Baylor (2000-2002), the indistinguishable Bruce Kimm (2002), the fraud himself, Dusty Baker (2002-2006), and a burned out Lou Piniella (2007-Present).
The decade has seen new owners emerge, with the Ricketts family taking over from the hapless Tribune Corp, who retain a 5% share in the team for tax purposes.
Let's give the Ricketts some time, but so far it seems like "meet the new boss, same as the old boss", more concerned with putting money into Wrigley Field than trying to win a title.
Andy MacPhail took over as the club's GM in 2000 following the resignation of the inefective Ed Lynch. Lynch, however, remained on the Cubs payroll as a "scout" until recently. MacPhail promoted Jim Hendry to GM on July 5, 2002.
Many of you know that I've been tough on Mr. Hendry. Look, 83-78 is a poor record for the third-highest payroll in baseball. Since taking over as GM, the team has been around the .500 mark.
As for individual awards, the Cubs won three in 2008. Lou Piniella was voted Manager of the Year, Geo Soto was Rookie of the Year, and Aramis Ramirez won the Hank Aaron Award.
What a year 2008 was. On September 14, Carlos Zambrano pitched the 13th no-hitter in team history, and became just the ninth Cubs pitcher to hold this distinction.
There were other notable events this decade.
The Cubs opened the 2000 season against the New York Mets with a two game series in Tokyo, Japan
Sammy Sosa hit his 500th career home run in 2003, only to bring embarrassment to himself and his team when he was caught using a corked bat in a June game that same season.
I briefly mentioned the collapse against the Marlins that same year. It was the closest the Cubs had come to a World Series appearance since 1984. Unfortunately, following the Bartman incident, Mark Prior had a meltdown, there were key defensive mistakes, and Dusty Baker and Larry Rothschild sat on their hands as it all slipped away.
Dusty Baker would go on to lose the team in his final season as Cubs manager, with a ridiculous feud with broadcaster Steve Stone capping his final year. Nothing was ever Dusty's fault.
"In Dusty we trusty" became "In Dusty we distrust ye."
2003 also saw immortal Cubs third baseman Ron Santo have his number 10 retired by the team, becoming just the fourth player (third Cub) to have his number retired by the team.
The Cubs would go on to retire the jersey numbers of Ryno (2005), Greg Maddux and Fergie Jenkins (2009) later this decade.
2005 opened without Sammy Sosa, who had been traded. Derrek Lee had a break out year, and it was also the last year of the Nomar Garciaparra experiment, as the results of alleged steroid usage began to tear down his body.
The Cubs did have three consecutive winning seasons from 2007 through 2009 for the first time since 1972. Attendance also continued to be strong as the club crossed the three million mark in tickets sold for the first time in 2004 and haven’t sold less than that ever since.
When will Cubs fans realize they have to stop coming to games to send a message to ownership?
But while I long for the old Lou, I am forced to live with the mellow Lou. And life goes on. Unfortunately, so does the losing.
I don't have to remind you, but I will anyway: 2009 marked the 101st season without a championship.
So, no World Series, but a notable decade in Cubs history nevertheless. Here’s to a better one starting Friday, come to think of it.