RedEye developed a formula that considers 16 factors in the categories of regular-season and postseason victories, individual player performance, milestone games (a no-hitter, for example), season awards, and those ever-elusive qualities that make fans remember any given season as “magical” or “painful.”
This is a work in progress, but overall, we are happy with the results. We now present the past 15 years of the Chicago Baseball Happiness Scale. (Click here for a complete explanation of how these numbers were tabulated.)
The 1998 Cubs had everything short of a World Series title. Monster individual performances (66 home runs, 20 strikeouts), a pennant race and a one-game playoff victory at Wrigley Field that was the ultimate Cubs fan victory. With no expectations, getting swept in the playoffs hardly mattered.
Sox finish two games under .500 in Year One of Jerry Manuel. Great second half for Albert Belle.
Nothing fun here except for Sammy Sosa reprising his half of the home run chase. He finished with 63, while Kerry Wood missed the season with Tommy John surgery.
The lowest ranked White Sox season of the past 15 years turned out to be a prelude to a division title. Hey … the kids can play!
The final year for Mark Grace, who won a ring with the Arizona Diamondbacks the following season. Sad times at Wrigley.
This. Was. Rough. The Sox win an AL-best 95 games, then get swept by the Seattle Mariners. Frank Thomas goes 0-for-9 in the series.
Surprise! The Cubs make a spirited race for the playoffs, led by Sosa (his best all-around year) and Jon Lieber (a 20-game winner). Fred McGriff Fever briefly engulfs the North Side.
Forever known as "The David Wells Year."
The final year of Don Baylor is a disaster of 95 losses. Yuck.
Not much to write home about, other than Magglio Ordonez, who posts his best season in Chicago.
One of the trickier years to grade. The regular season was not quite as much fun as '98 or '08, while in the playoffs the team got closer to a World Series than any Cubs team since 1945. They got a +9 on the magic scale and a -9 on the pain scale.
Forever known as "The Esteban Loiaza Year." Kudos to Manuel for posting the best record of any Chicago manager since '98 in his final season.
The 2003 Cubs were like "Romeo and Juliet": tragedy tinged with nostalgia and love. The 2004 Cubs were like "Hamlet": tragedy tinged with recklessness and the blood of every major character.
Year One of the Ozzie Guillen Show! This is about to get gooooood …
With Sosa now in Baltimore, the Cubs first post-Sammy season revolves round Derrek Lee, who won a batting title and competed for the Triple Crown.
Easily the highest-rated team on the Happiness Scale, which makes sense since they, ya know, won the freakin' World Series. A true wire-to-wire club, the 2005 Sox won 99 games and then lost only once in the playoffs, sweeping the Houston Astros for Chicago's only World Series trophy since 1917. Don't Stop Believin'?! Damn straight.
The final year of Dusty Baker is a disaster of 96 losses.
Definitely a letdown season, but rated well because their third-place division finish belies their 90 wins, and because they, ya know, won the freakin' World Series the year before.
Alfonso Soriano! Lou Piniella! The playoffs! Oh my! A fun, "here come the Cubs!" season that ended with a surprising first-round sweep.
Dull, lifeless season if not for Mark Buehrle's no-hitter.
The best Cubs team since 1984 was also the biggest heartbreaker of the bunch, because it wasn't even fun. Nothing compares to the shock and damage of this 97-win juggernaut getting cooked at home and failing to win a playoff game. Compared to '08, Bartman was a joy.
A fantastic, under-the-radar season at the Cell, as the Sox win the last two games of the regular season plus a one-game playoff to win the division, then manage to do something their highly touted crosstown brethren couldn't do: win a playoff game.
Forever known as "The Milton Bradley Year."
Back under .500, but Buehrle's perfect game (and Dewayne Wise's catch) give Sox fans the city's best baseball moment of 2009.
The dream is dead. "It's gonna happen?" Maybe, but not with this ownership.
Back above .500, but not much else to say.
Year One! Things are on the up, right? Well, if "on the up" includes 91 losses, maybe.
The final year of Ozzie Guillen isn't quite the disaster of Baylor or Baker or Piniella. So that's good.
The lowest ranked season on the Chicago Baseball Happiness Scale. It can only get better, right?
Year One (of Robin Ventura)! Sox give their fans a thrill by winning a surprising 85 games.
FIRST HALF OF 2013
Cubs: 20 (on pace for 35.5)
Like the stadium where they play, the 2013 Cubs are under construction. Oh, and Carlos Marmol’s gone, meaning yet another Great Cub of the Future has become a Cub of the past.
Sox: 19.5 (on pace for 33.5)
After a surprising 2012, everything has gone wrong for the 2013 Sox. On pace for one of their worst all-time Happiness Scale score.
Jack M Silverstein is a RedEye special contributor. Say hey @readjack.
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