Even though their postseason history is, well, to put it mildly, atrocious, I really thought this was the year the Cubs at least made it to the World Series.
They seemed to have all the pieces in place, paced to the top record in the NL with strong pitching and timely hitting. I know that the playoffs are a whole different monster and I did have some worries, but deep down inside I felt the Cubs were the best team in the NL playoffs and would finally prove it.
I was actually concerned about the Phillies the most. The Cubbies owned the Brewers during the regular season and while Los Angeles was much improved once they landed Manny Ramirez, it seemed to me they were mostly feasting on the dregs of the league.
Never did I imagine the collosal failure of Lou Pinella's club in the NLDS.
Name a facet of baseball (pitching, fielding, hitting) and the Cubs managed to screw it up. The power failure at the plate, however, was the most disheartening.
The series was basically one long, twisting knife motion in the gut. Out of 27 innings, Cubs fans had four innings of happiness, that being the 2-0 lead Mark DeRosa staked the Cubs to in Game 1 before James Loney's fifth-inning grand slam.
After that the remainder of the series was pure torture, with the Cubs never seeing a game lead again.
For the longest time I believed Steve Bartman was the root of all evil because, while Alex Gonzalez did contribute an error in that infamous eight-run eighth in Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS, it was the Bartman play that started the unfortunate series of events.
But it's time to face facts, even if Alou makes that catch, the Cubs still find a way to lose that game and the series. It's what they do best. Nobody can choke in the playoffs like the Cubs.