Theo Epstein started trending on Twitter on Monday, and not because he announced he’s stepping down from the final year of his contract, at least he hasn’t yet.
Rather, one baseball pundit labeled Epstein’s tenure on the North Side as a failure, alluding to the Cubs ‘only’ winning one championship under his leadership.
Epstein would be the first to tell you the Cubs have fallen short of their own expectations the last few seasons. The Cubs expected to win multiple rings after breaking their curse in 2016, and many labeled them as a dynasty in the making four years ago.
The Cubs haven’t been back to the Fall Classic since 2016 — the closest they came was 2017, when the Dodgers ousted them in five games in the NLCS. And in the last three years, they lost the NL Wild Card Game, missed the postseason altogether and were swept in the first round of MLB’s expanded 2020 playoff field.
Expectations were greater for this era of Cubs baseball, but by no means does that make it a failure.
From 1946-2014, a span of 69 seasons, the Cubs made the postseason six times. In the last six seasons, they’ve made it five times. Let’s take this a step further.
Since 2015, the Cubs have won three division titles, made three trips to the NLCS, and, of course, won a World Series. Even in the seasons they didn’t win the division, they won 97 games (2015) and 95 (2018). It took a Game 163 in 2018 to finish as a Wild Card team.
Despite missing the 2019 playoffs, the Cubs have finished above .500 in six straight seasons. The last time they accomplished that was 1967-72, albeit with no postseason appearances. Before then, you have to go back all the way to 1926-40, a streak of 15 winning seasons.
Yes, the Cubs dreamt of winning multiple titles during this run. That hasn’t happened, but many teams would love to replicate what they’ve done during this era.
The Dodgers have won eight straight division titles and are playing in their third World Series in four seasons this fall. But even the Cubs have won more World Series in the last 32 years than Los Angeles, who last won in 1988 — and even more in the last decade than the Yankees (2009).
When Epstein took over the Cubs nine years ago, he stated his goal was to build a “consistent winner” and a foundation of “sustained success,” leading to playing October baseball more often than not.