As predicted by Bob Gale in his script for Back to the Future II, it was the destiny of the Chicago Cubs to be playing–in fact sweeping–last year’s World Series. As we sat in Kauffman Stadium last year and watched the Kansas City Royals beat the New York Mets we were disappointed the Cubs weren’t there. Science fiction never seems to get it right, but Gale–and the Cubs–were so close last year, much like the Royals were the prior year. Science fiction rarely even comes close, as you’ll discover especially if you read many classic sci-fi novels from the early and mid-twentieth century. Just look how far off course in date predictions forward thinkers were, like Arthur C. Clarke (we’re still waiting for much of his 2001), Philip K. Dick (the novel inspiring Blade Runner takes place in 1992), and Gene Roddenberry (Khan controlled much of Earth during the Eugenics Wars of the 1990s).
But history was made last night when the Cubs broke their 108 year gap between Series wins. Would 1908 Cubs stars Mordecai Brown, Frank Chance, Johnny Evers, or Joe Tinker have believed it if you told them their team would be on the outs so long? How about contemporary science fiction visionaries George Melies, Thomas Edison, Charles Urban, H.G. Wells, or Mark Twain?
Just how long ago is 108 years anyway? In 1908 Shackleton was heading to New Zealand, and explorers finally made it to the North Pole, Wilbur Wright was demonstrating this new flying vehicle called the airplane in Europe, and Henry Ford created his first Model T, Teddy Roosevelt declined to run for a third presidential term paving the way for the election of William Howard Taft (who would go on to become Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were killed in Bolivia, and Albert Einstein had just introduced his special theory of relativity. 1908 was a very different world and plenty of history has filled the gap, with countless millions of fans–an entire generation born, living and dying–watching the Cubs games without the big win, many from 1914 onward at the site of the baseball field that would carry chewing gum’s William Wrigley’s famous name. It is “just a game,” yet the game itself survived plenty just as its fans survived plenty.
Even last year, who would have predicted the second baseman who helped the Royals to win the Series in five games, would return to not only help the Chicago Cubs win this landmark Series in seven games (and a nailbiter of a 10th inning), but pick up the MVP trophy.
Last year Back to the Future II creator Bob Gale said that the 30-year-old prediction of the Cubs winning the 2015 Series was a bit of an in-joke, since he was a lifelong St. Louis Cardinals fan. Whatever prompted him, as a science fiction writer he fared better than many, and only missed it by that much.
Congratulations to Ben Zobrist, the Chicago Cubs, and their fans. We won’t be surprised to see the team that missed its win yesterday by that much, the Cleveland Indians, back in post-season play next year.