Cubs History: Two franchises that took the same route to glory and back

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
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Chicago Cubs: Reaching the pinnacle from1984-1986, 2015-2016

We’re all familiar with the rise to the top for both franchises—a division title for the Bears in1984 and a playoff win against Washington before losing to San Francisco.  For the Cubs in 2015, a Wildcard spot and romp through the postseason until the Mets pitching shut down the bats, and Daniel Murphy went full-on Reggie Jackson.

It all came together for the 1985 Bears and 2016 Cubs.  The Bears 15-1 record was the best since 1963, and the best except for 1942 if you go by winning percentage.  The Cubs 103-win season was a franchise record.  The Bears postseason was almost a foregone conclusion, especially when Miami lost to New England in the AFC Championship game.

For the Cubs, it was more exciting, and the World Series was a dog fight, right up until the last out.  These were heady days for Chicago sports fans and especially for Bears and Cubs fans.  We all saw dynasties lasting years before us.

The championship plateaus that never happened

The final seasons at the top came up short for both the Bears and Cubs, though the Bears’ descent was certainly more gradual.  The Bears would win the NFC Central four of the next five years but fail to reach the Super Bowl.  In 1991 they lost the Wild Card game, and in 1992 they went 5-11. Mike Ditka was fired.

With the team at 1060 W. Addison, the descent has been precipitous. A division win and playoff appearance in 2017 was cut short in the NLCS against the Dodgers.  In 2018 they managed only a Wild Card spot because of a Game163 loss to the Brewers, then lost the Wild Card game to the Rockies.  In 2019 they failed to make the playoffs altogether.  Joe Maddon and the team parted ways.  In 2020, after a 13-3 start, they stumbled to a 21-23 rest of the season and an early exit from the postseason, scoring one run and being swept by the Marlins.