3 biggest chokes in Chicago Cubs postseason history

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Almost everything is going well for the Chicago Cubs in 2016. They have excellent starting pitching nearly wire to wire and brutalized opposing teams with a balanced offense. By season's end, management addressed the bullpen — the team's only weakness up until then. After vanquishing the Dodgers in six games, the Cubs made the franchise's first World Series appearance since 1945. The club has a chance to erase a championship drought that started in 1908 and continued into the current century for the first time in 70 years.

If history teaches us anything, it hasn't been easy for Chicago. Cubs fans have seen some epic collapses in the postseason — ones you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy. Not counting the disasters of 1929 and 1945, we've seen botched plays in the field, fan interference, and hot bats instantly gone cold. Here are the three biggest chokes in Chicago Cubs postseason history.

San Diego Padres v Chicago CubsGetty

1. NLCS vs. San Diego (1984)

The year was 1984, and the Cubbies had the Padres right where they wanted them in the NLCS. After taking the first two games by a combined score of 17-2, Chicago needed only one more win to claim its first NL pennant in four decades. However, that win never came. Ugliness followed ugliness as the Chicago Cubs managed to drop all three games in San Diego.

In Game 3, Dennis Eckersley was the goat. The right-hander gave up nine hits and five runs as the Friars waltzed to a 7-1 win. Game 4 had the Cubs and Padres tied 5-5 in the ninth before Lee Smith allowed a single to Tony Gwynn and a walk-off home run to Steve Garvey.

Game 5 was close until the late innings. With ace Rick Sutcliffe on the mound and a 3-0 lead in the sixth, things unraveled in a hurry. Sutcliffe gave up two hits, a walk, and two sac flies to make it a 3-2 game. Then, in the bottom of the seventh, first baseman Leon Durham botched an easy grounder that allowed the tying run to score. One Gwynn double and Garvey single later, San Diego had a 5-3 lead — and that's how it ended.

Bartman's Seat BaseballAP

2. NLCS vs. Florida (2003)

As far as some Chicago Cubs fans are concerned, the above photo is akin to evidence of a hideous crime. While everyone is entitled to an opinion, the ground ball Alex Gonzalez booted minutes later is what made Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS an epic choke. At that point, Chicago was up 3-1. Florida had runners on first and second with the slow-running Miguel Cabrera at the plate. If Gonzalez fields the grounder cleanly and the Cubs turn a doubleplay, they head to the ninth up by a minimum two runs.

Awful pitching by the Cubs bullpen — on clear display in the eighth-inning meltdown — may still have blown the game. But Cubs fans liked their chances up by two handing the ball to their closer. A win meant a trip to the World Series. Instead, the Marlins plated eight runs, the game was lost, and the series went seven. In the clincher, Cubs fans saw the dream die in frightening fashion. Florida won 9-6.

Chicago Cubs v Los Angeles Dodgers, Game 3Getty

3. NLCS vs. Los Angeles (2008)

If there is a Chicago Cubs team that should have reached the World Series, the 2008 club was it. Winners of 97 games with the NL's best offense and a top-three pitching staff, Chicago took on the 84-win Dodgers in the NLDS. As lopsided a matchup as it was, LA swept the Cubs in three by a combined score of 20-6. Every Cubs player besides Derrek Lee and Mark DeRosa went down in flames. One especially brutal stat: Chicago committed six errors in the three games, leading to five unearned runs.

Ryan Dempster bombed in Game 1; Carlos Zambrano blew up in Game 2; and the vaunted offense went AWOL against Derek Lowe and Chad Billingsley. After hitting 79 home runs during the regular season, the trio of Aramis Ramirez (.182, 0 RBI), Alfonso Soriano (.071, 0 RBI), and Geovany Soto (.182, 0 RBI) simply choked. LA benefitted from a blistering performance by Manny Ramirez (.500, 2 HR, 3 RBI), but the Cubs controlled their own destiny and failed.

14 PHOTOS
Photos from the 1945 World Series
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Photos from the 1945 World Series
FILE - In this Oct. 4, 1945, file photo, Detroit Tigers leftfielder Hank Greenberg, left, and Chicago Cubs first baseman Phil Cavaretta, right, talk before Game 2 of baseball's World Series in Detroit. (AP Photo/File)
Oct 01, 1945 - Chicago, IL, USA - (File Photo) 1945 Chicago Cubs, National League Champions, team photo. (Photo by Sporting News/Sporting News via Getty Images)
Oct 01, 1945 - Detroit, MI, USA - (File Photo) 1945 Detroit Tigers team photo. (Photo by Sporting News/Sporting News via Getty Images)
Star Players of the Chicago Cubs join hands in happy celebration in their dressing room following their 9 to 0 victory over the Detroit Tigers in the opening game of the World Series at Briggs stadium today. Left to right: Phil Cavaretta, first baseman; Hank Borowy, pitcher; Andy Pafko (rear) centerfielder; and Bill Nicholson, right fielder.
General view of action in the sixth inning of the fifth World Series game, when the Tigers cinched the game. Tigers ended up winning the game, 8-4.
Oct 03, 1945 - Detroit, MI, USA - (File Photo) In third inning of Game 1, Cubs PHIL CAVARETTA flips to pitcher HANK BOROWY to retire SKEETER WEBB after Cavaretta made sparkling play on ground ball. 1945 World Series between the Detroit Tigers and Chicago Cubs. The Tigers won the Series, four games to three. (Photo by Sporting News/Sporting News via Getty Images)
Hank Borowy, right-handed ace of the Chicago Cubs chalks up the Cubs 9-0 victory score in his dressing room at Briggs Stadium after his team had defeated the Tigers in the opening game of the 1945 World Series here today.
Oct 04, 1945 - Detroit, MI, USA - (File Photo) Tigers HANK GREENBERG greeted by teammates after hitting 3-runhome run in fifth inning of Game 2. 1945 World Series between the Detroit Tigers and Chicago Cubs. The Tigers won the Series, four games to three. (Photo by Sporting News/Sporting News via Getty Images)
Oct 06, 1945 - Chicago, IL, USA - (File Photo) Cubs PHIL CAVARETTA, HANK BOROWY, ANDY PAFKO, and BILL NICHOLSON. 1945 World Series between the Detroit Tigers and Chicago Cubs. The Tigers won the Series, four games to three. (Photo by Sporting News/Sporting News via Getty Images)
Oct 04, 1945 - Detroit, MI, USA - (File Photo) Cubs STAN HACK beats out infield hit in third inning of Game 2. First baseman is RUDY YORK, pitcher is VIRGIL TRUCKS. 1945 World Series between the Detroit Tigers and Chicago Cubs. The Tigers won the Series, four games to three. (Photo by Sporting News/Sporting News via Getty Images)
These Chicago Cubs--Hank Borowy, Andy Pafko, and Bill Nicholson (left to right)--look a little worried as they reach out from their dugout to see how hard it is raining just before the start of the third World Series tilt at Briggs Stadium, Detroit. They needn't have worried, for their team worked just as well on a muddy 'track,' and came out the 3-0 victors, to make the series 2-1 in their favor
(Original Caption) 10/10/1945-Chicago, Illinois-Crowds of sports fans mill around the Wrigley Field Box Office where reserved seats for the final Tigers-Cubs World Series meet went on sale at 8 am, October 9th. Lines started forming at around 6 pm on the preceding day.
(Original Caption) 10/3/1945-Detroit, MI: General view of the bleacher section of Briggs Stadium jammed with happy fans awaiting the start of the opening game of the World Series between the Detroit Tigers and the Chicago Cubs.
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