There is a theory that if the Cubs ever win the World Series, it would upset the delicate balance of the cosmos and bring the apocalypse. Following a fiery explosion, the thinking went, the world would be cast into everlasting darkness. Dogs would sleep with cats, Cubs fans would get along with White Sox fans-stuff like that.
Evidently the Chicago Cubs are determined to prevent such a calamity. Notwithstanding such off-season acquisitions as Derrek Lee, Todd Walker, Todd Hollandsworth, and Greg Maddux-clearly designed to position the 2004 Cubs for their first World Series appearance in nearly 60 years-the Cubs collapsed in not only predictable but almost poetic fashion. In late September the Cubs were poised to snatch a wild card spot in the playoffs, only to be suddenly reminded of who they were. When famed sportscaster Steve Stone's constructive criticism of the club drew more attention than the team's play on the field, the team's fate was sealed. All it took was a loss to Atlanta on October 1 to take them officially out of the running.
With great wit and insight, veteran sports writer and Chicago native Will Wagner chronicles the entire 2004 season from the melting snows of spring through the melting team chemistry of autumn, from soaring hopes to Sulkin' Sammy Sosa. Ever the hopeless Cubs fan himself, Wagner is still philosophical following The Year That Should Have Been: "Better times are ahead for the cubbies. That's what keeps us going. Next year is only four or five years away."
Will Wagner is editor-in-chief at Century Sports, publishers of Football Digest, Baseball Digest, and Hockey Digest. He lives in Chicago, Illinois.