It was a 30-second scene, an in-joke that producers probably thought would be good for a chuckle before it was forgotten, but Back to the Future Part II has remained relevant part of the pop-culture conversation, and so too has one of its predictions for the future.
When Marty McFly arrives in 2015, among the wacky, unexpected things he sees is a holographic message that reads “WAY TO GO CUBBIES!” and congratulates the team for sweeping Miami in the 2015 World Series. This was funny at the time for two reasons: When Back to the Future part II hit theaters back in 1989, Miami didn’t yet have a baseball franchise, and more importantly, it had been 81 years since the Chicago Cubs last won a World Series title and 45 years since they last appeared in one. It’s said that the franchise is cursed, and many fans honestly believe that it has run afoul of the baseball gods and shall therefore win no more. And what was the offense that engendered this cruel hex? Kicking a man and his goat out of a World Series game at Wrigley Field back in 1945.
Legend has it ballpark officials asked Billy Goat Tavern owner Billy Sianis to leave the game due to the fact that his pet goat Murphy was bothering other fans and he indignantly declared on his way out, “them Cubs, they ain’t gonna win no more.”
While it might seem perfectly reasonable to bar farm animals from the ballpark, Sianis’ prediction — at least as it pertains to the World Series — has held true. Almost 26 years after Back to the Future Part II’s theatrical release, 70 years after their last World Series appearance, and 107 years after their last World Series win, the Chicago Cubs are still looking to reverse the curse. They will play the New York Mets in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series tonight, but the Cubbies’ backs are planted firmly against the wall. Though they trail the best-of-seven series three games to none, they do have one very important thing going for them: Today is Back to the Future Day.
Fans will remember that when Marty and Doc land in the future, the date on the dash of their DeLorean reads Oct. 21, 2015. While only one team in the history of baseball has ever won a series in which it trailed three games to none, Cubs fans are holding fast to the predictive powers of the Back to the Future franchise and are hoping for the same sort of magic that made a beat up old sports car travel through time.
Baseball being a superstitious game, the movie has given the city a reason to believe. Already we’ve seen Back to the Future-themed tees, Delorean’s parked outside Wrigley, and fans sporting custom jersey’s emblazoned with “Doc Brown” and “McFly” and the numbers 20 and 15 on the back.
Back to the Future Part II screenwriter Bob Gale recently told the Chicago Tribune, “If the Cubs win, then I look really smart,” but if we’re being honest, it’s beginning to look less and less likely that it will actually happen. In fact, the reality is, it’s far likelier that the team will be sent packing on its own field, on Back to the Future Day, of all days.
That said, there’s certain energy running through the city that suggests its beloved Cubbies just might have a comeback up their sleeve. There is, after all, a giant clock atop the scoreboard that sits just over Wrigley’s ivy-plastered centerfield wall — keep an eye out for lightning tonight.