With the Cubs about to enter their first postseason since 2008, new attention has fallen on an auspicious scene from the 1989 movie Back to the Future Part II.
In it, time-traveling teenager Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) has been transported to 2015 and spots a news billboard congratulating the Cubs on their World Series win.
Marty: Cubs win World Series—against Miami?
Terry (Charles Fleischer): Yeah, it’s something, huh? Who would have thought? 100-1 shot! I wish I could go back to the beginning of the season, put some money on the Cubs.
Coincidence? Destiny? You may find out soon enough.
But before you get too excited, the scene deserves a little scrutiny.
- Yes, there is a baseball team in Miami, which wasn’t the case in 1989. But the Marlins are in the National League, so they would never meet the Cubs in the World Series, let alone this year, when they were a mediocre 71-91.
- In the movie’s timeline, the Cubs clinch on October 21, 2015. That may have been plausible back in 1989, but thanks to an extra round of playoffs and a wild-card game, the 2015 World Series won’t even start until October 27.
- According to the “October 22, 2015” edition of USA Today, Chicago sweeps Miami in five games, suggesting a best-of-nine series. Not so. The World Series remains best of seven.
- And here’s where it all falls apart. The character Terry says the Cubs were a 100-1 shot. In fact, the Cubs’s preseason odds in Las Vegas were as short as 6-1. (Cubs fans, after all, are not the most rational, and bookies adjust accordingly.) With those odds you might not even make enough to pay for the plutonium that runs your time machine. If you were to use a time machine to go back to the beginning of this season, a better bet might have been on the Houston Astros, who were 125-1 but play the Yankees tonight for the American League wild card.
But other than all that, the scene completely checks out.