Nobody honors the 1986 Bears.
And Chicago only remembers the 2004 Cubs, Sports Illustrated's preseason prediction to win the World Series, because of the way that combustible team imploded in the final week to miss the playoffs.
Whither the 2017 Cubs?
How do you approach the year after what was universally considered a once-in-a-lifetime season?
All the confetti has yet to be cleaned up along Michigan Avenue and Cubs fans already wonder. They want more. Winning makes a fan base greedier. Forget exhaling; they want to hyperventilate again through taut playoff games. This was too much fun to stop at one trophy. Now that the Cubs have ended the longest drought in professional sports with a World Series title, expectations imply repeat and conversations involve making November baseball an annual thing on the North Side.
Both are appropriate.
Having shown resilience and having learned how to win during a historic playoff run, these Cubs look like baseball's next dynasty. Theo Epstein built this team to last. The Cubs now have a pedigree of champs, not chumps. The end of the baseball season at 11:47 p.m. Wednesday only presaged the start of something special.
In terms of successful professional sports reigns in the city, these Cubs resemble the 1990s Bulls and the current Blackhawks more than any of Chicago's aforementioned disappointments. Nobody's guaranteeing the Cubs can win three championships in a row — or even six in eight seasons — as the Bulls did. But the Cubs do have the Michael Jordan of baseball executives in Epstein, so winning three titles in a six-year span like the Hawks did from 2010-2015 looks like a lofty standard but hardly an unrealistic one.
Consider the Cubs started five players in Game 7 against the Indians who were 24 or younger. That didn't include 27-year-old graybeards Anthony Rizzo and Jason Heyward. They have a core of position players young and talented enough to believe they can become the 10th major-league team to win three World Series in a five-year span.
By the time 24-year-old Kris Bryant turns 30, the Cubs could draw comparisons to the Giants of 2010-2014, the Yankees of the late 1990s, who won three straight titles, and the A's of the early 1970s. They would prefer to avoid mimicking the Braves, who went to 14 straight playoffs from 1991-2005 but won only one World Series.
Challenges exist. Pennant contenders will improve and that target Cubs manager Joe Maddon urges his team to embrace just got bigger. The Giants team that won three Series titles from 2010-2014 will return a deep pitching staff and aggressively pursue hitters in the offseason to stop the Cubs from replacing them as the National League elite. The Dodgers will spend exorbitantly and search intelligently. The Nationals think they are close. The Cardinals are the Cardinals.
The Cubs face two immediate pressing questions as general manager meetings convene Monday in Arizona: center fielder Dexter Fowler and closer Aroldis Chapman enter free-agency Tuesday. What happens if "You Go, We Go" Fowler goes to the Cardinals or Giants? How aggressive will the Cubs be in trying to re-sign the players, both major factors in the Series? The Cubs have faith in outfielder Albert Almora Jr. and reliever Carl Edwards Jr. as potential replacements and confidence in Epstein remains high to find other alternatives if those don't work.
The other significant issue involves starting pitching. The entire rotation expects to return, provided the Cubs pick up 15-game winner Jason Hammel's $12 million option. And even if they do, left-hander Mike Montgomery looks like a solid candidate to supplant him as the fifth starter.
How Jake Arrieta handles the final year of his contract, amid ongoing speculation over possible long-term deal, looms as a possible distraction. John Lackey looked every bit of 38 in the playoffs.
Only Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks return without any nagging questions. But the Cubs bought enough pitching to win a World Series and, as long as Epstein is the one shopping, either can buy or acquire replacements capable of doing it again.
The unanswerable question involves chemistry. Success changes people. It's why the 1985 Bears never dominated more than one season. It's the one thing impossible to anticipate for the young Cubs celebrities whose lives changed forever Wednesday night. As well as Epstein understands nuance, nobody can account for everything that makes an atmosphere in a locker room or clubhouse conducive to winning. What will the mix be like in '17?
Nobody could have anticipated the importance of 39-year-old backup catcher David Ross to the Cubs. Nobody could have predicted underrated leader Miguel Montero, hardly a lock for the playoff roster because of a bad back and light bat, would come up with two of the biggest hits of the postseason — a pinch-hit grand slam against the Dodgers and the Game 7 game-winner. Nobody could have guessed Heyward, after failing to hit his weight this season, would be the one whose inspirational words during an impromptu meeting steeled the Cubs before Wednesday's 10th inning.
Those intangibles made the 2016 Cubs unique. Those things could be the hardest to replicate on a roster already considered big 2017 World Series favorites.
The last time the Cubs won the World Series, 108 years ago, it was the franchise's second title in a row. So, ironically, Maddon's team will report to Arizona in three months with same goal as last year: Do what the 1908 Cubs did. Repeat.
That 1908 championship preceded an unprecedented period of losing in Cubs history. Expect this title to set off an unparalleled stretch of winning.