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Chicago Cubs

The Chicago Cubs are an American professional baseball team based in Chicago, Illinois. They are members and currently the two-time defending champions of the Central Division of Major League Baseball's National League. One of two Major League clubs based in Chicago (the other being the Chicago White Sox), the Cubs are also one of the two remaining charter members of N.L. (the other being the Atlanta Braves). The franchise is infamous for its 100-year title drought, which is longer than that of any other major North American professional sports team.[1][2]

The Cubs are often referred as "The North Siders" because Wrigley Field, where they have played their home games since 1916, is located in Chicago's north side Lakeview community. They are also often called "The Boys in Blue" noting the team's primary uniform color, (which itself is often referred to as "Cubbie Blue") or simply as "The Cubbies."[3]

Chicago's manager is Lou Piniella and their general manager is Jim Hendry. In December 2007, Sam Zell completed his purchase of the club's parent organization, Tribune Company, and announced his intention to sell the team.[4] On January 23, 2009, it was announced that the Cubs would be sold to Tom Ricketts for $900 million.[5]

1870-1875: Chicago Base Ball Club
The success and fame of the Cincinnati Red Stockings (c. 1869), baseball's first openly all-professional team, led to a minor explosion of other openly professional teams, each with the singular goal of defeating the Red Stockings. On April 29, 1870, the Chicago Base Ball Club played their first game, an exhibition, against the Saint Louis Unions, defeating them 47-1.[6] The White Stockings, who played home games on Chicago's west side at the Union Base-Ball Grounds, joined the nation's principle amateur league National Association of Base Ball Players, when the league began to allow professional teams. The NABBP was previously dominated by the Brooklyn Atlantics, who had won three straight titles and were the sport's first "dynasty", but Chicago won the N.A. championship in the league's final year of operation.

The now all professional Chicago White Stockings, financed by businessman William Hulbert, became a charter member of the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players, the nation's first all professional league, in 1871. The White Stockings were close contenders all season, despite the fact that the Great Chicago Fire had destroyed the team's home field and most of their equipment. The White Stockings finished the season in second place, but ultimately were forced to drop out of the league during the city's recovery period, finally returning to National Association play in 1874. Over the next couple seasons, The Boston Red Stockings dominated the league and hoarded many of the game's best players, even those who were under contract with other teams. After Davy Force signed with Chicago, and then breached his contract to play in Boston, Hulbert became discouraged by the "contract jumping" as well as the overall disorganization of the N.A., and thus spearheaded the movement to form a stronger organization. The end result of his efforts was the formation a much more "ethical" league, which became known as the National Base Ball League, and thus the Chicago National League Ball Club was born.


[edit] 1876–1902: White Stockings/Colts/Orphans
 
The 1876 White Stockings won the N.L. ChampionshipHulbert, retaining his position as Chicago's club president, signed multiple star players, such as pitcher Albert Spalding, and infielders Ross Barnes, Deacon White and Adrian Anson to join the team prior to the N.L.'s inaugural season of 1876. The Chicago franchise, playing its home games at West Side Grounds, quickly established themselves as one of the new league's top teams. Spalding won 47 games and Barnes led the league in hitting at .429 as Chicago won the first ever National League pennant, which at the time was the game's top prize.

After back to back pennants in 1880 and '81, Hulbert died, and Al Spalding, who had retired to start Spalding sporting goods, assumed ownership of the club. The White Stockings, with Anson acting as player/manager, captured their third consecutive pennant in 1882, and "Cap" Anson established himself as the game's first true superstar. In 1885 and '86, after winning N.L. pennants, The White Stockings met the short-lived American Association champion in that era's version of a World Series. Both seasons resulted in matchups with the St. Louis Brown Stockings, with the clubs tying in '85 and with St. Louis winning in '86. This was the genesis of what would eventually become one of the greatest rivalries in sports. In all, the Anson-led Chicago Base Ball Club won six National League pennants between 1876 and 1886. As a result, Chicago's club nickname transitioned, and by 1890 they had become known as the Chicago Colts,[7] or sometimes "Anson's Colts," referring to Cap's influence within the club. Anson was the first player in history to collect 3,000 hits, and when he left the team in 1898, the loss of his leadership resulted in the team becoming known as the Chicago Orphans (or Remnants) and a few forgettable seasons. After the 1900 season, the American Base-Ball League formed as a rival professional league, and incidentally the club's old White Stockings nickname would be adopted by a new A.L. neighbor to the south.[8]


[edit] 1902–1920: A Cub dynasty
 
The 1906 Cubs won a record 116 of 154 games. They then won back to back World Series titles in 1907-08In 1902, Spalding, who by this time had revamped the roster to boast what would soon be one of the best teams of the early century, sold the club to John Hart, and the franchise ultimately became known as the Chicago Cubs.[9] During this period, which has become known as baseball's dead ball era, three Cub infielders; Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers, and Frank Chance were made famous as a double-play combination by Franklin P. Adams' poem Baseball's Sad Lexicon. The poem first appeared in the July 18, 1910 edition of the New York Evening Mail. Mordecai "Three-Finger" Brown, Jack Taylor, Ed Reulbach, Jack Pfiester and Orval Overall were several key pitchers for the Cubs during this time period. With Chance acting as player-manager from 1903 to 1912 the Cubs won four pennants and two World Series titles over a five-year span. Although they fell to the White Sox in the 1906 World Series, The Cubs recorded a record 116 victories and the best winning percentage (.763) of the modern era. With mostly the same roster, Chicago won back to back World Series championships in 1907 and 1908. Their appearance in 3 consecutive World Series made the Cubs the first Major League Club to play 3 times in the Fall Classic. Likewise, their back-to-back World Series victories in 1907 and 1908 made them the first modern club to win 2 World Series.

The next season, veteran catcher Johnny Kling left the team to become a professional pocket billiards player. Some historians think Kling's absence was significant enough to prevent the Cubs from also winning a third straight title in 1909, as they finished 6 games out of first place.[10] When Kling returned the next year, the Cubs won the pennant again, but lost to the Philadelphia Athletics in the 1910 World Series.

In 1914, advertising executive Albert Lasker obtained a large block of shares and before the 1916 season had assumed majority ownership of the franchise. Lasker quickly acquired the services of astute baseball man William Veeck, Sr. to run his new team, and brought in a wealthy partner, Charles Weeghman. Weeghman was the proprietor of a popular chain of lunch counters who had previously owned the Chicago Whales of the short-lived Federal League. As principal owners, the pair moved the club from the West Side Grounds to the much newer Weeghman Park, which had been constructed for the Whales two years earlier. The club responded by winning a pennant in the war-shortened season of 1918, where they played a part in another team's curse. The Boston Red Sox defeated Grover Cleveland Alexander's Cubs four games to two in the 1918 World Series. Afterward, Boston sold its star pitcher, Babe Ruth, to the New York Yankees, starting a tale of futility which would last 86 years, known as Curse of the Bambino.


[edit] The Wrigley years (1921–1981)

[edit] Double-Bills take over
 
Cub logo in the '20s & '30sDuring what is often called baseball's "golden age," one of Cubs's minority owners, William Wrigley Jr., who also happened to be the owner of Wrigley Company, a Chicago-based maker of chewing gum, would begin to increase his share of ownership. In 1921 Wrigley bought Weeghman's shares and in 1925 had acquired most of Lakser's shares as well. The home park name was changed to its current name, Wrigley Field during this time. Additionally, the area around the ballpark came to be known as "Wrigleyville". With his vast monetary resources and Veeck's front-office savvy, the "double-Bills" soon had the Cubs back in business in the National League, building a team that would put numerous future Hall of Famers in Cub uniforms. Some of the most notable of these players were Hack Wilson, Gabby Hartnett, and Rogers Hornsby. Chicago remained strong contenders for the next decade.


[edit] 1929–1938: Every Three Years
During the end of the first decade of the double-Bills' guidance, the Cubs won the NL pennant in 1929 and then achieved the unusual feat of winning a pennant every three years, following up the 1929 flag with league titles in 1932, 1935, and 1938. Unfortunately, their success did not extend to the Fall Classic, as they fell to their AL rivals each time. The '32 series against the Yankees featured Babe Ruth's "called shot" at Wrigley Field. There were some historic moments for the Cubs as well; they claimed the '35 pennant in thrilling fashion, winning a record 21 games in a row in September. The '38 club saw Dizzy Dean lead the team's pitching staff and provided a historic moment when they won a crucial late-season game at Wrigley Field over the Pittsburgh Pirates with a walk-off home run by Gabby Hartnett, which became known in baseball lore as "The Homer in the Gloamin'".[11] By 1939, the "double-Bills" (Wrigley and Veeck) had both died, and the front office, now under P.K. Wrigley, found itself unable to rekindle the kind of success that P.K.'s father had created, and so the team slipped into a few years of mediocrity.


[edit] 1945: The Curse
Main articles: Curse of the Billy Goat and Chicago Cubs futility theories
The Cubs enjoyed one more pennant at the close of World War II, finishing 98-56. Due to the wartime travel restrictions, the first three games of the 1945 World Series were played in Detroit, where the Cubs won two games, including a one-hitter by Claude Passeau, and the final four were played at Wrigley. In Game 4 of the Series, the Curse of the Billy Goat was allegedly laid upon the Cubs when P.K. Wrigley ejected Billy Sianis, who had come to Game 4 with two box seat tickets, one for him and one for his goat. They paraded around for a few innings, but Wrigley demanded the goat leave the park due to its unpleasant odor. Upon his ejection, Mr. Sianis uttered, "the Cubs, they ain't gonna win no more." The Cubs lost Game 4, lost the Series, and have not been back since. It has also been said by many that Sianis put a "curse" on the Cubs, apparently preventing the team from playing in the World Series. After losing the 1945 World Series, the Cubs finished with winning seasons the next two years, but those teams did not enter post-season play.

In the following two decades after Sianis' ill will, the Cubs played mostly forgettable baseball, finishing among the worst teams in the National League on an almost annual basis. Longtime infielder/manager Phil Cavarretta, who had been a key player during the '45 season, was fired during spring training in 1954 after admitting the team was unlikely to finish above fifth place. Although shortstop Ernie Banks would become one of the star players in the league during the next decade, finding help for him proved a difficult task, as quality players such as Hank Sauer were few and far between. This, combined with poor ownership decisions (such as the College of Coaches), hampered on-field performance.


[edit] 1969: The fall of '69
Main article: 1969 Chicago Cubs season
The mid-1960s brought hope of a renaissance, with third baseman Ron Santo, pitcher Ferguson Jenkins, and outfielder Billy Williams joining Banks. The Cubs brought home consecutive winning records in '67 and '68, marking the first time a Cub team had accomplished that feat in over two decades.

In 1969 the Cubs, managed by Leo Durocher, had built a substantial lead in the newly created National League Eastern Division by mid-August. Ken Holtzman pitched a no-hitter on August 19, and the division lead grew to 8½ games over the St. Louis Cardinals and by 9½ games over the New York Mets. Ultimately, however, the Cubs wilted under pressure. Although they had their best season in decades at 92-70, they lost key games against the Mets and finished the season a disappointing eight games out of first place while the Mets exploded past them by winning thirty-nine of their last fifty games. Many superstitious fans attribute this collapse to an incident at Shea Stadium when a fan released a black cat onto the field, further cursing the club, although the "Amazin' Mets" ended the season at a torrid pace, finishing with a remarkable 100 wins.


[edit] 1977–1979: The June Swoon
Main article: 1977 Chicago Cubs season
Following the '69 season, the club posted winning records for the next few seasons, but no playoff action. After the core players of those teams started to move on, the 70's got worse for the team, and they became known as "The Loveable Losers." In 1977, the team found some life, but ultimately experienced one of its biggest collapses. The Cubs hit a high-water mark on June 28 at 47-22, boasting an 8 1/2 game NL East lead, as they were led by Bobby Murcer (27 Hr/89 RBI), and Rick Reuschel (20-10). However, the Philadelphia Phillies cut the lead to two by the All-star break, as the Cubs sat 19 games over .500, but they swooned late in the season, going 20-40 after July 31. The Northsiders finished in 4th place at 81-81, while Philadelphia surged, finishing with 103 wins. Ironically, the following two seasons also saw the Cubs get off to a fast start, as the team rallied to over 10 games above .500 well into both seasons, only to again wear down and play poorly later on, and ultimately settling back to mediocrity. This trait became known as the "June Swoon." Again, the Northsiders' unusually high number of day games is often pointed to as one reason for the team's inconsistent late season play.


[edit] 1981–2008: The Tribune Era

[edit] 1984: Heartbreak
Main article: 1984 Chicago Cubs season
After over a dozen more subpar seasons, GM Dallas Green made a midseason deal to acquire ace pitcher Rick Sutcliffe from Cleveland, who joined Scott Sanderson, Dennis Eckersley, Ron Cey and NL MVP Ryne Sandberg on a squad that ultimately tallied an NL-best 96 victories, winning the NL East. In the NLCS, skipper Jim Frey's Cubs won the first two games at Wrigley Field against the San Diego Padres. The Cubs needed to win only one game of the next three in San Diego to make it back to the World Series. After being beaten in Game 3, the Cubs lost Game 4 when dependable closer Lee Smith allowed a game-winning home run to Steve Garvey in the bottom of the ninth inning. In Game 5 the Cubs took a 3–0 lead to the 6th inning, and a 3–2 lead into the seventh with Sutcliffe (who won the Cy Young Award that year) still on the mound. Then, Leon Durham watched a routine grounder go through his legs. This critical error helped the Padres win the game and keep Chicago out of the 1984 World Series.

The following season hopes were high after the signing of Dennis Eckersley. The club started out well, going 35–19 through mid-June, but injuries to the pitching staff and a 13 game losing streak pushed the Cubs out of contention.


[edit] 1989: NL East champions
Main article: 1989 Chicago Cubs season
In 1989, the first full season with night baseball at Wrigley Field, Don Zimmer's Cubs were led by a core group of veterans in Ryne Sandberg, Rick Sutcliffe and Andre Dawson, who were boosted by a crop of youngsters such as Mark Grace, Shawon Dunston, Greg Maddux, Rookie of the Year Jerome Walton, and Rookie of the Year Runner-Up Dwight Smith. The Cubs won the NL East once again that season winning 93 games. This time the Northsiders met the San Francisco Giants in the NLCS. After splitting the first two games at home, the Cubs headed to the Bay Area, where despite holding a lead at some point in each of the next three games, bullpen meltdowns and managerial blunders ultimately led to three straight losses. The Giants lost to "The Bash Brothers" and the Oakland A's in the famous "Earthquake Series."


[edit] 1998: Wild card race & home run chase
Main article: 1998 Chicago Cubs season
The '98 season would begin on a somber note with the death of broadcaster Harry Caray, and after the retirement of Sandberg and the trading of Dunston, the Cubs needed to look elsewhere for help, signing Henry Rodriguez to bat cleanup and provide protection for Sammy Sosa in the lineup. Mark Grace turned in one of his best seasons. The club got a Rookie of the Year effort from pitcher Kerry Wood, which included a one-hit, 20 strikeout performance versus the Houston Astros. "H-Rod" payed immediate dividends by slugging 31 round-trippers, and Sosa earned the N.L.'s MVP award with a 66 home run season. The club won a down-to-the-wire Wild Card chase with the San Francisco Giants, culminating with the Cubs beating the Giants in a one game playoff at Wrigley in which Gary Gaetti hit the game winning homer and propelled the Cubs into the postseason once again, with a 90–73 tally. Unfortunately, the bats went cold in October, as manager Jim Riggleman's club batted .183 and scored only four runs en route to being swept by Atlanta. On a positive note, the home run chase between Sosa, Mark McGwire and Ken Griffey, Jr. generated a great deal of media coverage, and helped to bring in a new crop of fans as well as bringing back some fans who had been disillusioned by the 1994 strike.[12] The Cubs retained many players who experienced career years in '98, and after a fast start in 1999, they collapsed again (starting with being swept at the hands of the cross-town White Sox in mid-June) and finished in the bottom of the division for the next two seasons.


[edit] 2001: Playoff push
Despite losing fan favorite Grace to free agency, and the lack of production from newcomer Todd Hundley, skipper Don Baylor's Cubs put together good season in 2001. The season started with Mack Newton being brought in to preach "positive thinking." One of the biggest stories of the season transpired as the club made a midseason deal for Fred McGriff, which was drawn out for nearly a month as McGriff debated waiving his no-trade clause,[13] as the Northsiders led the wild card race by 2.5 games in early September. That run died when Preston Wilson hit a three run walk off homer off of closer Tom "Flash" Gordon, which halted the team's momentum. The team was unable to make another serious charge, and finished at 88-74, only five games behind both Houston and St. Louis, who tied for first. Sosa had perhaps his finest season and Jon Lieber led the staff with a 20 win season.[14]


[edit] 2003: 5 more outs
Main article: 2003 Chicago Cubs season
The Cubs had high expectations in 2002, but the squad played poorly, and the club responded by hiring Dusty Baker and by making some major moves in '03. Most notably, they traded with the Pittsburgh Pirates for Kenny Lofton and Aramis Ramirez (with the latter finally filling a gaping hole at third base), and rode dominant pitching as the Northsiders led the division down the stretch. Chicago halted St. Louis' run by taking 4 of 5 games from the Redbirds in early September and ultimately won their first division title in 14 years. In what was a dramatic five game series, their NLDS victory over the Atlanta Braves was the franchise's first postseason series win since they won the World Series in 1908. After dropping an extra-inning affair in Game 1, the Northsiders rallied and took a 3 games to 1 lead over the Wild Card Florida Marlins in the NLCS. Florida shut the Cubs out in Game 5, but young pitcher Mark Prior led the Cubs in Game 6 as they took a 3–0 lead into the 8th inning and it was at this point when a now-infamous incident took place. A fan, Steve Bartman, attempted to catch a foul ball off the bat of Luis Castillo, disrupting a potential catch for the second out by Moisιs Alou.[15] Alou has since recanted, saying he would not have been able to catch the ball.[15] Interference was not called on the play, as the ball was ruled to be on the spectator side of the wall. Neither Alou nor Bartman were able to make the catch. Two batters later, and to the horror of the packed stadium, Cubs shortstop Alex Gonzalez misplayed a potential inning ending double play, loading the bases and leading to eight Florida runs and a Marlin victory. Despite sending Kerry Wood to the mound and holding a lead twice, the Cubs ultimately dropped Game 7, and failed to reach the World Series.The "curse" of the goat was realized once more.


[edit] 2004–2006: Letdown
In 2004, despite the return of Greg Maddux and a midseason deal for Nomar Garciaparra, misfortune struck the Cubs again. They led the Wild Card by 1.5 games over San Francisco and Houston on September 25, and both of those teams lost that day, giving the Northsiders a chance at increasing the lead to a commanding 2.5 games with only eight games remaining in the season, but reliever LaTroy Hawkins blew a save to the Mets, and the Cubs lost the game in extra innings, a defeat that seemingly deflated the team, as they proceeded to drop 6 of their last 8 games as the Astros won the Wild Card. Despite the fact that the Cubs had won 89 games, this fallout was decidedly unlovable, as the Cubs traded superstar Sammy Sosa after he had left the season's final game early and then lied about it publicly. Already a controversial figure in the clubhouse after his corked-bat incident,[16] Sammy alienated much of his fan base, the few teammates still on good terms with him, and possibly tarnished his place in Cubs' lore for years to come.[17] The disappointing season also saw fans start to become frustrated with the constant injuries to ace pitchers Mark Prior and Kerry Wood. Additionally, the '04 season led to the departure of popular commentator Steve Stone, who had become increasingly critical of management during broadcasts and was verbally attacked by reliever Kent Mercker.[18] Things were no better in 2005, despite a career year from Derrek Lee and the emergence of closer Ryan Dempster. The club struggled and suffered more key injuries, only managing to win 79 games after being picked by many to be a serious contender for the N.L. pennant.


[edit] 2007–2008: Back to back
 
Leadoff hitter Alfonso Soriano signed with the club in 2007Main articles: 2007 Chicago Cubs season and 2008 Chicago Cubs season
After finishing last in the N.L. Central with 66 wins in 2006, the Northsiders re-tooled and went from "worst to first" in 2007. In the offseason they inked Alfonso Soriano to the richest contract in Cubs history,[19] and replaced unpopular skipper Dusty Baker with fiery veteran manager Lou Piniella.[20] After a rough start, which included a brawl between Michael Barrett and Carlos Zambrano,[21] the Cubs overcame the Milwaukee Brewers, who had led the division for most of the season, with winning streaks in June and July, coupled with a pair of dramatic, late-inning wins against the Reds, and ultimately clinched the NL Central with a record of 85-77. They met Arizona in the NLDS, but controversy followed as Piniella, in a move that has since come under scrutiny,[22] pulled Carlos Zambrano after the sixth inning of a pitchers duel with D-Backs ace Brandon Webb, to "....save Zambrano for (a potential) Game 4." The Cubs, however, were unable to come through, losing the first game and eventually stranding over 30 baserunners in a 3-game Arizona sweep.[23]

The Cubs successfully defended their National League Central title in 2008, going to the postseason in consecutive years for the first time since 1906-1908. The offseason was dominated by three months of unsuccessful trade talks with the Orioles involving 2B Brian Roberts, as well as the signing of Chunichi Dragons star Kosuke Fukudome.[24] The team recorded their 10,000th win in April, while establishing an early division lead. Reed Johnson and Jim Edmonds were added early on and Rich Harden was acquired from the Oakland Athletics in early July.[25] The Cubs headed into the All-Star break with the N.L.'s best record, and tied the league record with eight representatives to the All-Star game, including catcher Geovany Soto, who was named Rookie of the Year.[26] "The Boys in Blue" took control of the division by sweeping a four game series in Milwaukee. On September 14, in a game moved to Miller Park due to Hurricane Ike, Zambrano pitched a no-hitter against the Astros, and six days later the team clinched by beating St. Louis at Wrigley. The club ended the season with a 97-64 record[27] and met Los Angeles in the NLDS. The heavily favored Cubs took an early lead in Game 1, but James Loney's grand slam off Ryan Dempster changed the series' momentum. Chicago committed numerous critical errors and were outscored 20-6 in a Dodger sweep, which provided yet another sudden and stunning ending to what had once been looked at as a season of destiny.[28]

[Source: Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia as made available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.]

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