The world is a very different place than it used to be. That is, except on the baseball diamond. Sure, the rules have changed slightly and legends have come and gone, but inevitably baseball has remained exactly what it has always been since its inception. It’s a distraction. It’s a national pastime. It’s a game played by children and enjoyed by adults. It’s simply…baseball. The more Major League Baseball has attempted to change the game, the more they’ve failed.
The year is 2124, and to someone from the 21st century this world might be a very scary place. There’s no way around the fact that, from the frozen tundra of New York City to the Colorado coastline, change has become a reality in these 56 United States. Our government has been completely simplified to a computer program that spits yes-and-no answers, most phones are the size of a quarter, and 3D printers have made much of what lies outside your home obsolete. Ever since scientists invented magic, anything seems possible.
Sports as a whole, for better or worse, have evolved the same as our species. The game of football is now completely outlawed, while the addition of trampolines to basketball and gladiator-style battles to hockey leave those respective sports completely unrecognizable from just a few decades ago. Through it all, baseball remains one of the few constants in our lives.
For fans of the Chicago Cubs, baseball is equal parts joy and sorrow. The franchise hasn’t won a World Series championship since 2016, and it’s been a long 108 years.
Okay, it’s actually only been 103 baseball seasons when you factor in the complete shutdown of Major League Baseball for the five years during World War III. But strictly counting, the team that plays its games at Carl’s Junior Stadium has been championship-less for a full one-oh-eight. It’s kind of perplexing, given that things looked so promising following their most recent title—which broke their previous 108-year drought.
It was a primitive time in history that nobody alive is old enough to remember. Civilization had not yet collapsed, although many snarky, old Oklahoma City Cardinals fans will tell you that the final days began with that fateful Game 7 victory over the Cleveland Indians. The Cubs looked assured of a dynasty, but all they were able to achieve was a bunch of also-ran footnotes in the baseball history books.
Chicago won a few division titles, played in the NLCS on a regular basis, and even made some trips to the World Series before losing to those memorable Seattle Mariners and Minnesota Twins teams. They looked like they were ready to win again in the early ‘20s, but the war interrupted what would’ve been an extended window of contention for the Cubs. When Kris Bryant signed Major League Baseball’s first $500 million contract to play for the New York Yankees and Theo Epstein was elected president in 2024, things just fell apart.
As society reformed and was rebuilt, baseball made superficial changes. It all started with a runner on second base to start extra innings. Then came the DH in the National League. Then a runner on second base to start every inning. Then the multi-ball inning, the Seventh Inning Rap, and allowing home run balls that are thrown back to be in play. But as much as Commissioner Rob Manfred tried, he just couldn’t change baseball. It was and always will be the same game our parents, grandparents, and great-grand parents grew up watching on their 90 inch, paper-thin, high definition television wall clings.
And so here we are. The Cubs look like true World Series contenders for the first time in a couple of decades. Sure, they’ve made the postseason nearly every year, but with 32 teams making the playoffs and the first two rounds being single-game elimination it’s just really hard to build a reliable team that can truly contend, year-in and year-out. But everything is going to be different in 2124.
The Cubs have finally put together a lineup that scores enough runs, after averaging just 10.8 runs per game over the last five seasons. That may seem like a lot, but offense was bound to hit an apex when steroid injections became mandatory. Anyway, the Cubs finally have a team that can do it all. The pitching got a huge boost when the cloned arms and beard of Jake Arrieta were attached to a robot.
And that robot knows how to do just one thing: strike guys out.
The team is wrapping up their best season in team history, going 124-76 and sweeping four triple-headers throughout the course of the year—a franchise record. Cubs fans are getting understandably anxious as December approaches, with the nervousness that accompanies the unpredictability of the playoffs.
Predictably, the local media plays on those fears. The idea of the Arrieta-bot breaking down again is as terrifying as it is painful. The pessimists will argue, of course, that we must remember the 2112 team—as if their failures have any bearing on what might happen to this team. After looking like the best team in all of baseball, that ’12 Cubs team came up empty in a 19-16 loss to the Montreal Expos.
Could the Cubs actually win it all? How can you even imagine such a thing? Will the weight of the previous 108 years, the collapse of Wrigley Field following the unwise bleacher expansion of 2030, and the constant failures of recent seasons crush this young squadron of genetically altered clones?
None of those things matter to this team, of course, as every smart baseball fan will tell you. What matters is their heart, their determination, and their will to win. This Cubs team is finally going to win the World Series, for all those generations of fans that have come and gone without seeing it happen.
Or, maybe they won’t. But that’s just baseball. For every up, there is a down. For every winner, a loser. Baseball is the great unifier and the ultimate heartbreaker.
Some things just will never change.
Lead photo courtesy Mark J. Rebilas—USA Today Sports Images