Another year has come and gone, and the Cubs are not World Series Champions. I know, I know – we all thought this was the year. We had Super Stars Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Zambrano, Derek Lee and Aramis Ramirez. We had wiley, veterans like Mark DeRosa, Ted Lilly, Jason Marquis and Bob Howry. We had up-and-coming youngsters like Carlos Marmol, Ryan Theriot, Geovany Soto, Mike Fontenot, Sean Marshall and Ronny Cedeno. We had 2 long-time Cubs take on new roles in order to bolster our great Cubs lineup – Ryan Dempster moved from being a closer to a starting pitcher, while Kerry Wood assumed Dempster’s close role. We were all consumed with Fukodome-mania – the 1st ever Japanese-born player to don a Cubs jersey. We even added 2 spark plugs after the season started – Center Fielders Reed Johnson and Jim Edmonds – who provided much needed grit and spunk and helped fill a large void in the center of the outfield. With veteran Manager Lou Pinella at the helm, we had a fearless leader who expected each player to be accountable for his actions on and off the field; we had a fearless leader who ensured that his players would truly embrace the idea of “team first” and not just be a collection of super stars unwilling to sacrifice for the greater good of the team; we had a fearless leader who had won a World Series before in Cincinnati and who had also managed other winning teams with the New York Yankees and Seattle Mariners.
Under Pinella, the Cubs won 97 games during the 2008 MLB season and won a 2nd consecutive National League Central Division title. The 97 wins was most in the NL and tied for 2nd in all of Major League Baseball (only the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim had more wins with 100, while the Tampa Bay Rays also had 97 wins). The Cubs had clinched a 2nd consecutive playoff berth with more than a week remaining in the regular season. All seemed to be right – the Cubs could rest certain players who were a little banged up. Pinella and his coaching staff could control pitch counts the last week of the season and set up the pitching rotation exactly how they wanted it for the National League Division Series. The Cubs would have home field advantage until they reached the World Series. The Cubs’ 55 home wins was 3rd best in baseball and tops in the National League. Cubs fans were counting down the days to the first pitch of World Series Game 1 on that cool fall night on Wednesday, October 22nd at the home field for the American League Pennant-winner. 2008 would be the year. And then… the Los Angeles Dodgers came to town.
In the blink of an eye, Cubs fans were once again saying – “There’s always next year.” For the 2nd consecutive year, the Cubs did not win a post-season game. The Cubs pitching failed them, their bats fell silent once again, and their fielding provided their opponent with too many good chances to put the series away in only 3 games. For the 2nd consecutive year, the Cubs were swept out of the playoffs by a better team from the National League’s West Division. For the 2nd consecutive year, Cubs’ executives, coaches, players and fans were left speechless – wondering how such a promising post-season could turn south so quickly.
With only themselves to blame, Cubs management and players will look towards next year. This is a job to each of them – they won’t dwell on what could have been, for if they do, next year will pass them by too.
Cubs fans, on the other hand, will struggle and attempt to come to grips with why their beloved Cubs have not won a World Series in 101 years. Some will consider boycotting Cubs games at Wrigley Field next year. Some will even consider rooting for the arch-enemy – the South Side Chicago White Sox. Why not – at least they won a World Series recently in 2005. And some will continue to make excuses as to why the Cubs lost to the Dodgers in 3 painful games during the 2008 post-season.
Will 2009 bring a different ending? Will 2009 be the Cubs year? Come journey with us here at MyCubsToday and enjoy the ride. We’ll re-live some memorable highlights of the last 2 successful Cubs regular seasons and post-seasons, we’ll look to the upcoming flurry of off-season MLB activity, we’ll get ready for that spring day (winter day here in Chicago) when Cubs pitchers and catchers report to spring training in Arizona in February 2009, we’ll anticipate that 1st pitch in April to open the Cubs 2009 campaign, and we’ll write about that Cubs World Championship in October 2009. Hey – you just never know…