The Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs were each one win away from the 2003 World Series, however, fate would keep them both from meeting in the Fall Classic.
This one may hurt a bit Red Sox Nation, so I’ll apologize now for re-opening an old wound. Just remember that things have been pretty damn good in Boston since the fall of 2003 and you’ll be alright! That’s right friends, we’re in the Wayback Machine once again and we’re heading back to October 2003.
Things were lining up for what could’ve been a historic World Series that would’ve seen two of the most tortured fanbases in all of sports meet up in the big dance. The Red Sox and Chicago Cubs had each forced their respective LCS’s to game sevens and were mere hours from the Fall Classic. In what would’ve been a matchup of two of the oldest franchises and two of the most beaten-down franchises, was on the horizon.
We all know the history of the Sox with the Curse of the Bambino and the year 1918 looming heavily over our heads, ut the Cubs are no stranger to disappointment and heartbreak. Having won back-to-back World Series in 1907 and 1908, things seemed pretty good in Chicago. They would go on to lose seven Series clashes through the early to mid-1900s, and wouldn’t return to the big dance until 2016, finally raising the Commissioner’s Trophy again.
Both teams have seen some massive highs and disappointing lows in their histories and even in recent seasons, but 2003 feels like something different. At the time the Red Sox had their title drought up to 85 years and the Cubs were in the hole even deeper at 95. Luckily for Boston, they would add a new banner to Fenway Park the following season while the Cubs needed to wait another 13 years.
So, here we are, it’s 2003 and both teams have the right components to get to the final mile of the race, then the cramps kicked in. There’s nothing more special in the sports world than a game seven, it’s the ultimate test of who has what it takes. It means that both sides have fought their hearts out and have the desire and will to win. So what went wrong?
If you ask any member of Red Sox Nation about the 2003 ALCS you’ll most likely hear one of two names, Grady Little or Aaron Boone. Little was the manager at the time and made the mistake of leaving Pedro Martinez in the game for far too long to the point that the Yankees were able to get to him in the later innings. And then we all know how things ended, Aaron freakin’ Boone with the walk-off in the 11th inning against Tim Wakefield.
Obviously, we can’t go back in time and change what happened, but with a 4-2 lead going into the eighth, there was no reason for Pedro to still be on the hill. Boston’s bullpen had the capabilities to go out there and finish off the final two innings, they’d go on to prove that in 2004.
Now, if you’re sitting with a Cubs fan and the 2003 NLCS comes up then I think it’s safe to say only one name will come out of their mouth, Steve Bartman. Oddly enough a man that wasn’t on either team is the one that carries the burden of the loss. Not a pitcher that gave up too many hits and runs. Not a fielder that botched a routine play causing an error. Nope, just a guy in the crowd listening to the radio call on his headphones.
More from Red Sox News
- Red Sox Nation deserves far more from Fenway Sports Group
- Bizarre trade deadline comes back to haunt Red Sox after Nathan Eovaldi departure
- Red Sox’ Moneyball-style offseason continues with Corey Kluber contract
- Rich Hill’s Red Sox departure puts him within striking distance of unique MLB record
- Red Sox offseason takes another nasty hit with Nathan Eovaldi departure
Bartman has been the villain of the failed 2003 season since that foul ball eluded Moises Alou in Game 6 of the NLCS. If you watch the footage, the poor guy is just standing there, reaching for a foul ball just like a handful of fans around him.
He wasn’t even the one that caused Alou to be unable to catch the ball! Bartman was merely the man that Alou saw when he looked up and who the jerks around him pointed out as the culprit. His life was forever changed thanks to a bunch of cowards.
Bartman became to Cubs lore what Bill Buckner was to the Red Sox. He had to carry the weight of a massive loss despite the team putting themselves in that situation. Oh, and don’t forget, both the 2003 Cubs and 1986 Red Sox had a game 7 to play, which they both lost. The two situations weren’t even in the final game of the series, there was more baseball to play!
Looking back at the pair of LCS from 2003 it’s an interesting contrast. The ALCS saw a back and forth heavyweight clash with neither team willing to budge an inch. Meanwhile, the Cubs HAD a 3-1 lead on the Marlins and then let Miami march to three straight victories and the World Series. Bartman may be the one that is blamed for the loss, but the team didn’t perform in the final game of the series and also let the opposition win three in a row, that’s on them.
Though their trips to the ever beautiful game seven were vastly different, both squads were at the finish line. The World Series was within reach and both tripped before crossing the end of the road. 2003 could’ve been an insane World Series pitting two of baseball’s oldest and most tortured franchises against one another. Sadly, fate would intervene and keep these two from having what could’ve been a fantastic Fall Classic.