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2004 was to 1985 as 2005 will be to?
The similarities between the 1985 Cubs and the 2004 team are a little scary. The 1984 team nearly went to the World Series and so did the 2003 team. With excellent finishes the year prior, both the '85 and '04 squads entered the seasons as favorites to win. However, both teams performed disappointingly after several key injuries. Both years featured several injured starting pitchers.
So now, with spring training upon us, we have to answer the above SAT style question. What follows are a few thoughts on each of the multiple choice answers:
A. 1993: Both seasons ('93 & '05) started with a middle infielder being injured by a pitch in the first game of the Spring. In the first spring training game of 1993, San Francisco's Mike Jackson threw an inside pitch which pinned Ryne Sandberg's left hand against his bat and broke his hand, causing him to miss all of spring training and the first month of the season. In yesterday's game, the first of the year, Nomar Garciappara got hit on the wrist by a pitched ball. However, Nomar's injury doesn't appear to be a broken hand as he is back the next day after being hit. Still a bad omen is a bad omen. Of note, the Cubs 1993 season was the beginning of the end for the Cubs. They wouldn't be respectable again until 1998, although a late season push by the '95 club (to two games above .500) could be considered respectable.
The 1993 team finished 84 - 78, 13.0 games behind the NL East champion Philadelphia Phillies, led by Lenny Dykstra.
B. 1986: The '86 and '05 version of the Cubs were both two years removed from a playoff berth. Fans entered each year optimistic that the previous year's squads ('85 and '04) had simply been unlucky. Both teams were expected to stay healthy and re-gain the glory of two years prior. However, the '86 Cubs proved to have too many old veterans who weren't able to perform up to playoff standards.
The 1986 Cubs finished 70-90, 37.0 games behind the NL East Champion New York Mets. Although he had taken his team to the playoffs in his first year as the manager, Jim Frey was fired mid-way through the season as the team underperformed.
C. 1907: After coming close in previous years, this Cubs team won the World Series. They finished the season 102-50, 17.0 games in front of the second place Pittsburgh Pirates. The 1907 offense was a somewhat weaker offense than the year before. The 1906 team had an OPS .040 points higher and hit significantly more home runs. Still, led by a starting staff which featured a future hall of famer, the Cubs starters notched 23, 20, 18, 17, and 14 wins. The 1907 Cubs led the major leagues in ERA.
D. 1969: This team was loaded with fan-favorites. It performed well throughout the season and was led by a controversial manager. Despite its nucleus of future Hall of Famers, the team was overtaken at the end of the season by the Miracle Mets.
The 1969 team finished 92-70, 8.0 games behind the hated Mets. 1969 was also the third straight season the Cubs finished over .500. They would do so three more times in 1970, '71, and '72. However, the team never made the World Series. When its nucleus was broken up, the Cubs went through more than a decade of losing before its next playoff season.
E. None of the Above: The comments are open.
The Cubs opened Cactus league play with a win yesterday over the Athletics. The final score was 2-1 and featured a two run shot from Aramis Ramirez, and two scoreless innings from Carlos 'Cy' Zambrano. LINK
Update 6:22 p.m.
The Cubs won the second game of the spring 8-3 over the Giants. It included a home run by Nomar and a win for Kerry Wood. LINK
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