Cubs fever was high in Chicago, where MVP Ryne Sandberg led them to the NL's best record and their first postseason appearance in 39 years. Even a shot at their first pennant since 1945 seemed possible, as the Cubs took the first two games at Wrigley Field. San Diego, one of the 1969 expansion clubs making its postseason debut in '84, knotted up the series as Steve Garvey recorded a two-run walk-off homer in the ninth off elite closer Lee Smith.
Even after all that, the Cubs still were in position for a breakthrough. Rick Sutcliffe had been the winning pitcher in Game 1, and he had not lost since June 20 -- seven days after his acquisition from Cleveland. Sutcliffe was nursing a 3-2 lead in the seventh inning of Game 5, with one out and a man at second, when first baseman Leon Durham let Tim Flannery's ground ball scoot through his legs, bringing in the tying run. The Padres scored four runs that inning, rallying for a 6-3 clinch victory and a date with the Tigers.
Path to the NLCS: San Diego (92-70) won the NL West by 12 games; Chicago (96-65) won the NL East by 6.5 games
Managers: Dick Williams, SD; Jim Frey, CHC
MVP: Steve Garvey