By Anthony Rhoads
The Chicago Cubs have long been tabbed as the ?Lovable Losers' in Major League Baseball.
The Cubs have struggled year after year and this season made just their third post-season appearance since 1984. This year the ?Lovable Losers' took care of the ?Perennial Chokers' AKA the Atlanta Braves in the first round of the playoffs. Now, the Cubs are four victories away from returning to the World Series for the first time since 1945 when they lost to Detroit in seven games.
The Cubs' glory years were in the early 1900s when they were one of the most dominant teams in baseball.
The 1906 Cubs team is generally regarded as one of the best teams of all time. The Cubs won 116 games and posted a .763 winning percentage on their way to capturing their first pennant in franchise history.
The 1906 World Series was an all-Chicago affair with the Cubs playing the White Sox. The White Sox eventually defeated their rivals in a six-game series to win the championship.
The Cubs returned to the World Series in 1907, winning the National League by 17 games. They met the Detroit Tigers and the legendary hitter Ty Cobb in the Series. This time, the Cubs wouldn't be denied as they beat the Tigers in six games.
The Cubs repeated as World Series champions in 1908, beating the Tigers again in five games.
Mordecai ?Three Finger' Brown had a phenomenal series for the Cubs. He won two games and posted a perfect 0.00 ERA to help lead the Cubs to the world championship. During the regular season, he won a team record 29 games.
In his career, Brown won 239 games, racked up 1,375 strikeouts and his career ERA was 2.06. He was inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1949.
Brown gained his nickname through an injury that could have prevented him from even playing baseball. When he was 7, he stuck his hand under a corn chopper, which tore off half of his index finger and permanently damaged his thumb and middle finger. But he turned what could have been a disability into an asset. His unnatural grip caused his pitches to move in ways to baffled batters.
Other important players in the Cubs' run in the early part of the 20th century shortstop Joe Tinker, second baseman Johnny Evers and player-manager-first baseman Frank Chance.
They made up what is considered one of the greatest infields of all time and they were all inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1946.
Chance's managerial skills were second-to-none during the Cubs' run. He was nicknamed ?The Peerless Leader' and guided the Cubs to four pennants and two world titles in five years.
The 1908 season marked the high tide for the Chicago Cubs. Never again would they win a World Series title and in the 95 years since, they have rarely even been in contention.
But who knows, 2003 might just be the year the ?Lovable Losers' finally become winners.
Anthony Rhoads is a sports writer for The Daily and his column appears on Wednesday. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.