Record: 88-74, Finished 1st in NL Central Division (2003 NL)
Managed by Dusty Baker
Ballpark: Wrigley Field
The 2003 Chicago Cubs were led by a veteran lineup and young all-star pitching. Slugging outfielders Sammy Sosa and Moises Alou anchored the offense combining for 62 homeruns and 194 RBIs. While All-Stars Mark Prior (2nd in Strikeouts, 3rd in ERA, and T-2nd in Wins) and Kerry Wood (1st in Strikeouts, 4 complete games, and 2 shutouts) led a pitching staff with the 3rd best ERA in the league. The Cubs battled for an division lead at the end of April. They remained in first place until early June and trailed by 1 game at the end of the month. But in July the Cubs started to fade falling to 3rd place and 5.5 back by July 23rd. But it was on that date that the club traded for centerfielder and leadoff man Kenny Lofton and third baseman Aramis Ramirez. The new addition helped to jump start the struggling Cubs' offense reducing the division deficit to 2.5 games by the end of August. But in September the Cubs went on a tear winning 19 of 27 games and clinching their first division title in 19 years. But it was postseason miseries that would define the season.
The Cubs battled to a 3 games to 2 win over the Atlanta Braves in the NLDS earning the organization's first playoff series victory since 1908. The Cubs lost the NLCS to the Florida Marlins 4 games to 3 after taking a 3 games to 1 lead. After being shutout in game 5, the Cubs held significant leads in both games 6 and 7, only to blow both. Games 6 and 7 saw defeats of Prior and Wood in consecutive games for just the second time, at that point, in 32 such instances. In was in 8th inning of game 6 at Wrigley Field, Cubs leading 3-0, that the infamous 'Bartman' incident occured changing the course of the game and the series. It was with 1 out and a man on 2nd when spectator Steve Bartman deflected a Luis Castillo foul ball in the stands which left fielder Moises Alou had a chance to catch and get the 2nd out. The Marlins would go on to score 8 runs in the inning, win the game 8-3, the pennant, and the World Series.
 Further Reading
- Buzz Bissinger: Three Nights in August: Strategy, Heartbreak and Joy Inside the Mind of a Manager, Houghton Mifflin, Boston, MA, 2005.