As the Cubs’ 2017 Spring Training gears up in Mesa, stop and think about this: Prior to its World Series victory, Chicago hadn’t won a championship since before Arizona was a state.
In the 108 years since Billy Goat Tavern owner William Sianis and his pet goat, Murphy, were booted from Wrigley Field and he proclaimed, “The Cubs ain’t gonna win no more,” the whole world changed. In the greatest baseball folklore story, The Curse of The Billy Goat would pause the Cubs from championship success for the entirety of some fans’ lives. In the time it took for the Cubs to bring the title back to Wrigley Field, America fought in two World Wars. The world invented new ways to watch baseball, through the creation of FM radio and television. Brewed coffee didn’t exist until 1910 and sliced bread is actually younger than the drought. NASA even figured out how put a man on the moon before the Cubs found their way to another title.
The Cubs’ last World Series appearance was two years before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier. When Dexter Fowler stepped into the box as the lead-off hitter of the 2016 World Series, he did so as the first black player in Cubs history to play in a World Series.
A lot has changed in 108 years, obviously.
Sure, there were times when things looked hopeful. The Cubs won the pennant seven times since 1908. They won their division five times prior to 2016. Sammy Sosa lit the world on fire during the 1998 home run race. The team looked destined to head to the World Series in 2003, when a fan named Steve Bartman interfered with a catch, leaving the Cubs little chance of winning. Each time, something in the universe stopped the Cubs from their destiny.
Yet still, to go 108 years without clinching a title is rather unthinkable. So unthinkable in fact that the likelihood of a team repeating this feat is virtually zero.
So how long is 108 years? Well, if the Cubs were to go through the same drought, starting from opening day 2017, the team wouldn’t be able to repeat as World Champions until 2125.
In that time, there will be 27 presidential elections. There will be 27 Summer and Winter Olympics. Nine full classes of kindergartners will graduate as seniors, having never shared a school with the previous set. Space travel might be as easy as going to the airport is today. Global warming might have caused all the ice caps to melt and the Miami Marlins may be an underwater memory. America and technology may look nothing like it does today, considering the advances that were made during the Cubs’ last World Series run.
One hundred and eight years is a long time. But exactly how long is it? In baseball years, how likely is it that a streak of this magnitude could happen again?
Let’s start by examining the eight teams who have never won a World Series. The Tampa Bay Rays, Colorado Rockies, Seattle Mariners, Washington Nationals, San Diego Padres, Milwaukee Brewers, Houston Astros and Texas Rangers are all without a championship. Of those teams, the Texas Rangers are the oldest, forming in 1961. Their championship drought is sitting at 56 years.
Therefore, they would still need to continue without a banner for 52 more years to match the Chicago Cubs. That’s half a decade of incompetent baseball. That still seems like an extremely long time to fail, doesn’t it?
Thankfully, the longest current winless streak in baseball is held by last year’s World Series loser, the Cleveland Indians.
The Tribe last won a World Championship 69 years ago in 1948. Therefore, to match the Cubs’ miserable 108-year drought, Cleveland would need to endure another 39 years of championshipless years. Considering the Kansas City Royals just recovered from a 30-year drought of their own, this is obviously possible. However, while that length of time is not nearly as drastic, it is still half of a lifetime for the average person. Realistically speaking, the players who would take the field in the 2056 World Series aren’t even alive yet. So, we’re literally talking about a whole different generation.
To me, this proves—or at least, “strongly suggests” because anything is possible—that the odds of duplicating such an enormous losing streak, is nearly statistically impossible. It also pinpoints just how important and significant the 2016 season was to Chicago, to the Cubs and to baseball.
We literally watched history take place.
– Joshua Hammond