Chicago Cubs: The Cubs did suck in 2019
The similarities between 2004 and 2019 are striking. Like in 2004, the Cubs weren’t living up to high expectations by September but were still in the middle of the playoff chase.
After their fifth straight win on September 16, it looked like the Cubs might get hot at the right time as they held a National League Wild Card spot and still were in contention for an NL Central title. However, after winning the first game of a home series with the Reds, Cincinnati took the next two.
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Then came that infamous Cardinals series at Wrigley Field in which the Cubs lost all four games by one run, including blowing two ninth inning leads. That ended any hope of winning the division, while the Christian Yelich-less Brewers also just kept winning.
A sweep at the hands of the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates extended the Cubs’ losing streak to nine games and ended any faint hope of making the playoffs. Overall, during that losing streak, the Cubs lost five games by one run and two games in extra innings.
As difficult as that stretch was, what perhaps made it a little easier to swallow was the fact that we knew the Cubs weren’t playing at full strength. Javier Baez, Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, and Craig Kimbrel all missed at least part of that stretch due to injuries. Rizzo and Baez both made appearances, trying to play through the pain, but were shut down once the Cubs were out of contention. Also making it a little easier to deal with than 2004 was the fact that there wasn’t as much off-the-field drama, with the announcers or otherwise.
In 2004, the Cubs still had not won a World Series in 96 years. At least in 2019, we still have the 2016 World Series Championship fresh in our memories, perhaps making it a little easier to deal with the collapse. At the same time, it’s sad knowing that a potential Cubs dynasty, with all the talent they have, is slipping away. What’s also sad is that there’s a good chance that this late-season collapse will cost Joe Maddon, the man who brought us our long-awaited championship, his place in the Cubs’ dugout.
As we can see, both 2004 and 2019 featured frustrating late-season collapses. I’m not sure which one was “worse,” and maybe we don’t have to decide. What we do know is that both seasons are now part of the (mostly) painful history of the Chicago Cubs. And what we can hope for in 2020, unlike in 2005, is that the Cubs can bounce back and return to the playoffs.