Chicago Cubs: Infamous futility took hold in the second half of the 20th century
After winning a total of 10 pennants from 1900-1945, the Cubs failed to bring home even one in the rest of the 20th century. After 1945 it would be another 39 years before the Cubs even made it back to the postseason. They went three different decades: 1950s, 1960s and 1970s without making a single postseason appearance. They came so close in 1969 with Banks, Santo, Williams, Jenkins and company, but the “Miracle Mets” overcame the massive lead the Cubs had in September and spoiled their hopes.
All told, from 1946-2002, the Cubs made the postseason only three times (1984, 1989, 1998) and won none of those series. Keep in mind divisions came into play in 1969. The ’84 team was the only time the Cubs got within grasp of the Fall Classic over that 56-year span, being just one win away in the NLCS before bowing out to the Padres. They were beaten 4-1 in the 1989 NLCS while Sammy Sosa’s Chicago Cubs in 1998 were swept in the NLDS by the Braves. In total, the Cubs won a grand total of three postseason games over that era.
It is not like they had a ton of near-misses in terms of making the playoffs or not. Only 14 of the 57 seasons played over this span saw finishes above .500. Playing roughly half a century’s worth of baseball and only 25 percent of that time seeing winning ball is…not great. Their best run in terms of competitive seasons was from 1967-1972 when they posted six straight winning seasons.
Among the rest of those seasons during that span, 19 times they finished with 90 or more losses and 13 times they finished last. They did not break the century mark in wins, but they lost 100+ games twice. The 1950s were particularly poor as they did not have a single winning season that decade. Their 90th win in Game 163 in 1998, clinching a Wild Card berth, was only the fourth time they won 90+ games since 1946.
It really was amazing Banks won back-to-back MVP awards during two losing seasons in 1958 and 1959. Andre Dawson also won the NL MVP in 1987 when the Cubs finished last. That just goes to show how good those guys really were.