2019 Chicago Cubs
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2019 Chicago Cubs / Franchise: Chicago Cubs / BR Team Page
Managed by Joe Maddon
History, Comments, Contributions
The 2019 Chicago Cubs were facing a crossroads. Only three years removed from their historic World Series win in 2016, they were coming off four straight appearances in the postseason, but the last two had not gone very well, especially the last season when the Cubs had finished the year by losing a one-game playoff at home and then the Wild Card Game also at home, going from potentially holding the #1 seed in the National League to an early end to their season in the span of two days. Meanwhile, what had looked to everyone like a budding dynasty starting in 2015 was apparently running out of steam: the Cubs had failed to develop any reliable starting pitchers to add to their core, their bullpen was a complete question mark, and promising young players like Kyle Schwarber, Ian Happ and Albert Almora had failed to take the next step forward to become All-Stars as had been predicted. Meanwhile, others like Addison Russell had visibly regressed, and veterans such as Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist were possibly facing the end of their productive years. All of that meant that manager Joe Maddon, once considered a veritable God on the North Side of Chicago, was now in a precarious position: he had to return the Cubs to dominance or risk losing his job.
The season did not start well for Chicago, as after beating the Texas Rangers convincingly, 12-4, on Opening Day, March 28th, they proceeded to lose their next six games amid a streak of bullpen breakdowns. It was not long before Mike Montgomery, expected to be the closer, and Carl Edwards, his main understudy, were both gone, Montgomery felled by an injury and Edwards sent to the minors after a horrendous first few outings. The Cubs bottomed out at 3-8 on April 10th, then began a steady climb back up the standings, winning 7 of their next 9, and then putting together a seven-game winning streak starting on April 27th, capped by a three-game sweep at home of the St. Louis Cardinals. With a 13-5 win over the Cards on May 5th, they had improved to 19-12 and were now back in a familiar position in first place, a half-game ahead of St. Louis and 1 1/2 of the Milwaukee Brewers, the two teams expected to be their main rivals all season. However, their time in first place would be short-lived.
On September 14th, the Cubs, like many other teams that year, set a new team record for most homers in a season when they hit #237 in a 14-1 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates; the previous record had been 235, set in 2004, in the days of Sammy Sosa. The home run came during a three-game sweep of the Bucs during which the Cubs hit a team record 14 homers. They scored 47 runs, which was the most since 1894. However, the celebrations were marred when 1B Anthony Rizzo severely rolled his ankle during the 3rd inning of the final game on September 15th and had to leave, although x-rays came back negative. They were still in a good spot on September 19th, when they opened a four-game series at home against the Cardinals. However, they lost all four games, all by one run, to fall 7 games behind the first-place Cardinals and 4 behind the Brewers for the final wild card spot. Journalists started writing the team's obituary at that point. The Cubs were officially eliminated on September 26th, as their losing streak continued and reached 9 games the next day. They finished at 84-78, a full five games behind the Brewers, who claimed the final wild card spot, and after the season, team President Theo Epstein made it known that manager Maddon's contract would not be renewed.
Awards and Honors
- Nancy Armour: "Height of privilege? Criticizing the Chicago Cubs' decisions on fan, Addison Russell", USA Today, May 9, 2019. 
- Jordan Bastian: "Castellanos headlines Cubs' Deadline moves: Chicago gets OF from Detroit, utility man Kemp from Houston", mlb.com, August 1, 2019. 
- Bob Nightengale: "Cubs ask forgiveness for their sins, from racist emails to Addison Russell situation", USA Today, February 12, 2019. 
- Bob Nightengale: "Why didn't Cubs throw money at big free agents? 'We don't have any more'", USA Today, February 18, 2019. 
- Bob Nightengale: "Cubs' weekend meltdown officially signals the end of the Joe Maddon era", USA Today, September 23, 2019.