But the Cubs never made it to the 2003 World Series. In fact, they haven't won a postseason game since, dropping eight straight. The eighth loss was Thursday's 10-3 defeat to the Dodgers that put Chicago in a 0-2 hole in the National League Division Series.
The Cubs held a 3-1 lead in the NL Championship Series against the Marlins when the teams met for Game 5 at Dolphin Stadium on Oct. 12, 2003. Josh Beckett, then 23 and owner of a grand total of 17 career regular season wins, took the mound for Florida. The future World Series MVP and ace of the Red Sox pitching staff hurled a complete-game two-hitter, sending the series back to Chicago's Wrigley Field.
Cubs fans couldn't have been too upset about the loss. For one, it could be chalked up to an outstanding pitching performance by a talented young pitcher. And, besides, it meant that the Cubs would have a chance to win their first pennant since 1945 at home, at the Friendly Confines.
The Cubs have lost their past eight playoff games.
What happened next, though, has already become legend. Just say Steve Bartman. A 3-0 Cubs lead in the eighth inning was blown apart, the defining moment occurring in the top of the inning when Bartman, a fan sitting along the left-field line, made contact with a foul ball that Cubs left fielder Moises Alou may have had a chance to catch. An eight-run rally ensued and the Marlins won, 8-3, evening the series.
The Cubs dropped Game 7, 9-6, when the Marlins rallied from a 5-3 deficit against starter Kerry Wood and Chicago's middle-relief corps. The Cubs' dream was over and the Marlins went on to beat the Yankees in the World Series.
Since then, the Cubs were swept by the Diamondbacks in last year's Division Series, and have lost the first two of this year's series against the Dodgers. In those five games, Chicago has been outscored 33-11.
Indeed, the Cubs have held a lead in a game only once since the early innings of Game 7 in 2003: the 2-0 advantage they held from the second until the fifth inning in Wednesday's Game 1 against Los Angeles.
Bobbie Dittmeier is an editor/producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.