The Cubs: 99 years of misery   

Updated: March 28, 2008, 5:37 PM ET

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1930
Record: 90-64
Finished 2nd in the National League, two games out
Wait, what happened? Hack Wilson sets the major league record with 191 RBIs.

FAILURE, FUTILITY & THE CUBS

Follow the Cubs on their 99-year reign of not winning the World Series:

1909-1919 | 1920-1929 | 1930-1939 | 1940-1949 | 1950-1959

1960-1969 | 1970-1979 | 1980-1989 | 1990-1999 | 2000-2007

In one of the wildest, craziest seasons in Cubs history, let's recap 1930 in five points: (1) Before the season, according to Glenn Stout in "The Cubs," manager Joe McCarthy predicts he'll be fired. (2) Rogers Hornsby suffers a bum heel and gets only 104 at-bats. (3) The Cubs still score 998 runs, as Wilson hits 56 home runs. (4) On Sept. 7, the Cubs are up four games on St. Louis. Leading the Pirates 7-6 in the eighth, the Cubs trot out Guy Bush in relief -- even though Bush will finish with a 6.20 ERA and an NL-record 155 earned runs allowed. The Pirates rally to win, the Cubs lose four in a row and lose the pennant. (5) McCarthy quits with four games to go when it is announced Hornsby will manage the team in 1931.

1931
Record: 84-70
Finished 3rd in the National League, 17 games out
A Cubbie is born: Ernie Banks

McCarthy goes on to win six World Series titles managing the Yankees. Wilson hits .261 with 13 home runs and 61 RBIs (showing up to the ballpark drunk doesn't help his hitting). Owner William Wrigley dies after the season. Not a good year. At least Charley Root's arm doesn't fall off.

1932
Record: 90-64
Finished 1st in the National League, lost World Series 4-0 to the New York Yankees
Ex-Cub Factor: McCarthy wins the first of his seven World Series titles with the Yankees.

Babe Ruth supposedly calls his shot in the fifth inning of Game 3 of the 1932 World Series. Maybe it happened, maybe it didn't, but one thing is for sure ... the Cubs are swept by the Yankees in four games behind six runs scored and six RBIs from the Bambino.

Dizzy Dean

AP Photo

Dizzy Dean, leaving the field during Game 2 of the 1938 World Series, couldn't get the Cubs past the Yankees that year.

1933
Record: 86-68
Finished 3rd in the National League, six games out
Wait, what happened? On March 11th, an earthquake rocks the Los Angeles area, stopping a spring training game between the Cubs and Giants.

If sabermetricians had existed in 1933, they would have pointed out that the Cubs' Pythagorean record projected to 90 wins, same as the pennant-winning Giants. They would also point out the Giants went 28-18 in one-run games while the Cubs went 18-24. And then there would be a big debate about whether the Cubs lacked chemistry and heart and toughness, and newspaper columnists would scream at each other in print about who had the right opinion.

1934
Record: 86-65
Finished 3rd in the National League, eight games out
A Cubbie is born: Dallas Green

Desperate to add life to a declining offense, the Cubs acquire All-Star slugger Chuck Klein from the Phillies in the offseason. Klein had hit .360, .356, .386, .337, .348 and .368 his six years with Philly. If sabermetricians existed in 1934, they would have pointed out that Klein's statistics received a boost due to Baker Bowl's 280-foot right-field wall. Actually, you didn't need sabermetricians to tell you that it would be harder to hit home runs at Wrigley Field. Klein hits .301 with 20 home runs and the Cubs fall to fifth in the league in runs scored.

1935
Record: 100-54
Finished 1st in the National League, lost World Series to the Detroit Tigers 4-2
Wait, what happened? Catcher Gabby Harnett wins the league MVP while Big Bill Lee is at or near the top of most pitching stats.

Thanks to a 21-game winning streak in September, the Cubs reach the World Series, where they trail the Tigers, three games to two. They appear poised to even things up after Stan Hack's leadoff triple in the ninth inning of Game 6 puts the go-ahead run 90 feet from home plate. Alas, three straight Cubs batters (including pitcher Larry French, who is allowed to hit) fail to bring Hack home. Goose Goslin puts Chicago fans out of their misery in the bottom of the ninth with a series-ending RBI single.

1936
Record: 87-67
Finished 2nd in the National League, five games out
Ex Cub Factor: Jumbo Brown wins a ring with the Yankees.

WORLD SERIES WINNERS

1930: Philadelphia A's 4, St. Louis Cardinals 0
1931: St. Louis Cardinals 4, Philadelphia A's 3
1932: New York Yankees 4, Chicago Cubs 0
1933: New York Giants 4, Washington Senators 1
1934: St. Louis Cardinals 4, Detroit Tigers 3
1935: Detroit Tigers 4, Chicago Cubs 2
1936: New York Yankees 4, New York Giants 2
1937: New York Yankees 4, New York Giants 1
1938: New York Yankees 4, Chicago Cubs 0
1939: New York Yankees 4, Cincinnati Reds 0

Baseball is a game of inches. We just made that up. The Cubs go 13-14 in September, including 3-7 in one-run games. If they had instead gone 7-3 in those one-run games, well ... they still would have fallen one game short of the pennant.

1937
Record: 93-61
Finished 2nd in the National League, three games out
A fine front office at work: Cubs sell minor league pitcher Harry Brecheen to the rival Cardinals; Brecheen helps Cards to two World Series titles in the '40s.

The big news comes when construction begins in July on new center-field bleachers and a new scoreboard, and ivy is planted on the outfield wall. On the field, the Cubs lead the league in runs and enter September leading the Giants by a game, but while the Cubs go 20-14 down the stretch, the Giants go 24-10. Sometimes you just lose to a better team.

1938
Record: 89-63
Finished 1st in the National League, lost World Series 4-0 to the New York Yankees
A Cubbie is born: Billy Williams

Stop the presses! The Cubs win the pennant! The Cubs win the pennant! With a miracle comeback, no less. The Cubs start September in fourth place, seven games behind Pittsburgh. They then go 22-7 down the stretch, beat the Pirates in the famous Homer in the Gloamin' game (Gabby Hartnett's bottom-of-the-ninth homer in the semidarkness moves the Cubs into first place) and advance to the World Series. Do we have to report that the Yankees sweep the series?

1939
Record: 84-70
Finished 4th in the National League, 13 games out
Wait, what happened? On August 14th, the lights are turned on in Comiskey Park for the first time. The lights won't come on at Wrigley for another 49 years.

Let's blame 1939 on the defense: The Cubs lead the NL with 186 errors, including 59 by shortstops Dick Bartell, Bobby Mattick and Steve Mesner. Mattick would later manage the Blue Jays in 1980 and 1981. Among the players he managed was George Bell. Bell signed with the Cubs as a free agent in 1990 and was later traded to the White Sox for Sammy Sosa. We're not sure what all this means, other than that baseball is cool.

Futility by the decades: 1909-1919 | 1920-1929 | 1930-1939 | 1940-1949 | 1950-1959 | 1960-1969 | 1970-1979 | 1980-1989 | 1990-1999 | 2000-2007

Research and text by Brett Edgerton, Mark Simon and Jeremy Lundblad of the ESPN Research Department. Additional contributions from Page 2 editors David Schoenfield and Michael Philbrick.


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