Doom: no team attracts it like the Chicago Cubs, baseball’s lovable losers, who haven’t won a World Series since 1908 or even played in one since the end of World War II, when they lost their seventh straight. Much of the team’s modern history has been a horrifying comedy of fifth-place finishes, stupidity, and bad luck. They turned down Joe DiMaggio in 1936. They traded Lou Brock to St. Louis in 1964. They let Greg Maddux go to Atlanta in 1992. Their hottest property in years, fireballing pitcher Kerry Wood, who was the National League’s top rookie in 1998, blew out his elbow last spring and missed his entire sophomore year. The Cubs’ only redeeming player lately has been big gun Sammy Sosa. But even as he bangs homers—165 in the past three seasons—the team loses; two of those three years they’ve wound up in the Central Division cellar. And yet while losing is what the Cubs do, Wrigley Field in Chicago is always packed with people wearing shirts with slogans like “If It Takes Forever” and “Maybe This Millennium.” Losing for so long is like dancing with death: It’s noble and, well, fun. The Cubbies and their fans are in love with it.
Their new manager isn’t. “I’m not lovable, and I’m not a loser,” says Don Baylor, who at fifty is tall and