These are indeed the times that try men's souls... if you are a Cubs fan.
These last few years have been karmically cruel for the North Siders.
Let's start with 2003... what should have been one of the great magical seasons for the Cubs. In a tense 3 team battle (with no hope for the Wild Card) the Cubs are in third place in early September. They rattled off 6 straight wins, putting the St. Louis Cardinals in their rear view mirror but still trailed the Astros with 7 games to play. The Cubs rattle off 5 wins in 6 games, including a double header sweep on the second to last day of the season to win the division.
They then stun the Braves in the Division Series and ran up a 3-1 lead in the NLCS to the seemingly overmatched Marlins.
Now before you start muttering Steve Bartman's name... keep these NLCS facts in mind.
1. Steve Bartman didn't blow an early 4-0 lead in game 1.
2. Steve Bartman didn't get shutout on a 2 hitter in a game 5 that could have clinched the pennant.
3. Steve Bartman wasn't protecting a 3-0 8th inning lead in game 6 with 1 out and nobody on.
4. After the famous pop foul, Steve Bartman didn't then walk Luis Castillo... nor throw a wild pitch.
5. Steve Bartman didn't boot an easy double play ball that would have ended the inning and had the score 3-1 going to the bottom of the 8th.
6. After the error Steve Bartman didn't let up a game tying double, a tie breaking sacrifice fly, 2 walks, another 2 run double and an RBI single.
7. Steve Bartman didn't let up a 3 run homer in the first inning of game 7.
8. Steve Bartman didn't blow a 5-3 lead at home in game 7.
All Steve Bartman did was go for a foul ball that wasn't an easy play. The score was 3-0 before the pop up... it remained 3-0 after the pop up. Alex Gonzalez was the real goat of that series.
After 2003, everything unraveled faster than Sammy Sosa's popularity.
The Cubs and their fans could always take solace that they had company in their World Series futility.
That all changed in 2004 when the Red Sox won it all...
And then a year later when the White Sox won it all...
I'm sure seeing the other Chicago team winning and a parade in the city must have stung.
What happened the next year?
Their arch rivals, the Cardinals, win it all... with a subpar team no less!
So while the Cubs seemed poised to turn that around this year, epecially after Zambrano beat up Michael Barrett... look who is lurking in the wings.
Those Cardinals, despite dealing with death, DUIs, injuries, a pitcher in the outfield and a losing season in late August are only 2 back in the loss column.
Even Cub fans can't get drunk enough to not see it coming.
Call it the Billy Goat or call it Common Sense... this could be the most trying few years in Cubs history.
And for a team that has been waiting 99 years for a title... that's saying something