For the second consecutive offseason, I intend to dive into a past Cubs season and look at it through the lens of Heroes and Goats. The 1984 edition last year was well received and so we’ll do it again. Of course when we look back into Cubs history, most of the seasons were an exercise in futility. The others usually ended with a disappointing post season loss. But I’m a big believer of you don’t just ignore the history just because you don’t like all of the story. The reality is, these four seasons that I’m suggesting were all seasons that brought a large amount of joy to Cubs Nation, even if they ultimately ended in disappointment.
I’ll list the four options and a brief reminder of what the regular season looked like for each of them below. I’d also love to hear some feedback for me to think about for future off-seasons. I realize readership changes from season to season, but your thoughts matter. My questions are, would you find this series interesting if I covered a non-playoff season? That would open the door for something like 1969. Would you find it interesting if I covered a non-Chicago team? I could look at some legendary teams like the 1927 Yankees (sadly, there are no box scores online from the 1906 Cubs). Or I could look at some of the legendary individual seasons from the past (one of Bonds’ freakish seasons). This is all just food for thought and, hopefully, discussion. If there is enough support for any of these types of ideas, I’ll include them in next year’s ballot.
With that, here are the options for this year’s series:
Not to put my thumb on the scale, but this would be my choice. I think it would be a fitting choice because of the similarity. This team finished 162 games at 89-73 but finished tied with the San Francisco Giants for the one wildcard position that was available that year. The two teams met in a one game playoff. This team was managed by Jim Riggleman, who did a capable job this year managing the Cincinnati Reds after taking over mid-season. Sammy Sosa slugged 66 home runs. The team also had Mark Grace and Henry Rodriguez. The Pitching staff had memorable Cubs Steve Trachsel, Kerry Wood, Terry Mullholand and Rod Beck.
This is obviously the most exciting and simultaneously disappointing season in the recent era. I loved going back and looking at this team. Largely that is because they have taken on mythical proportions in my memory. I’d have expected a 100 win juggernaut because of just how certain I was that they would win a World Series that year. Alas, they only won 88 games. This team was managed by Dusty Baker of course. Sammy Sosa was also on this team. This was the year of the in-season trades that brought Kenny Lofton, Aramis Ramirez and Randall Simon to town. And of course that breathtaking pitching staff with Kerry Wood, Mark Prior and Carlos Zambrano leading the way.
Lead by Lou Piniella, this team won only 85 games, but that was enough for a National League Central crown that year. The team was led by Ramirez, Derrek Lee and Alfonso Soriano offensively. The pitching staff was anchored by Zambrano, Ted Lilly and Rich Hill. Ryan Dempster was closing games that season.
Finally, the juggernaut. It is funny that the three seasons above represent win totals that I’m certain would be viewed as utter disaster with the current Cubs and yet each brought near-euphoria to Wrigley Field. It is amazing how fast and how far the bar has been raised here on the North Side. Not that this is bad thing. Lou Piniella was still at the helm for this 97-win team. Once again Ramirez, Soriano and Lee were the big stars offensively. This team goot a boost from the late season addition of Jim Edmonds and also had rookie of the year Geovany Soto (to the excitement of at least one loyal BCB poster). The pitching was lead by Dempster who moved to the rotation as well as Lilly and Zambrano. Kerry Wood emerged as a closer for the Cubs and Carlos Marmol had a dominant season as a set-up man.
So there you have it. Please vote for the season you’d like me to cover. Please comment below about your thoughts for future off-seasons. Then next week we’ll start in with the first part in this series. Of course, don’t miss my final look back at the 2018 season later this week either. We still have the top ten games by WPA to cover. I’m fairly certain we had a photo finish for the top two spots of the year.
Which season should Historical Heroes and Goats cover?
This poll is closed