For the first time since 1971-72, the Chicago Cubs completed back-to-back winning seasons in 2004. But that proved to be little consolation for a club that was expected to make a return trip to the postseason but finished third in the NL Central.
The Chicago Cubs were ravaged by injuries, including Mark Prior, who did not make his season debut until June 4 because of an inflamed Achilles tendon, Kerry Wood, who missed two months with a sore triceps and Sammy Sosa, who missed nearly a month with back spasms. Nomar Garciaparra -- who was acquired on July 31 in a four-team trade -- was also hindered by injuries, battling nagging problems with his Achilles, wrist and groin, and was unable to provide the spark the Chicago Cubs were looking for.
The season was not without its excitement, however. Greg Maddux, in his return to the Chicago Cubs, became the 22nd Major League pitcher to win 300 games, Sosa passed Ernie Banks to become the club's all-time home run leader and the Chicago Cubs boasted four 30-home run hitters (Moises Alou, Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez and Sosa) for the first time in team history.