There was a time not long ago when the idea of a Chicago Cubs team in the World Series was met with skepticism or outright disbelief. For years, the team had not given even the most die-hard fans reason to believe anything would change.
But that didn’t stop “Parks and Recreation” co-creator Michael Schur from making a bold prediction during his show’s final season, which wrapped in early 2015.
During a press stop in January of last year, Schur told the crowd that a reference the sitcom made to the Cubs winning the 2016 World Series was no joke. Before he could finish his sentence, he was interrupted with laughter. The Cubs were, after all, just a few months removed from an 89-loss season.
Fast forward to nearly two years later and the Cubs, as Schur predicted, are in the World Series. With the series against the Cleveland Indians tied at one game apiece, the scene shifts to Wrigley Field for Game 3 on Friday night.
“It’s one of those things where until it happens, it seems impossible,” Schur said Tuesday in a phone interview with The Post. “But that’s what makes [Cubs President of Baseball Operations] Theo Epstein amazing. He puts together these teams [the 2004 Boston Red Sox and these Cubs] and after it happens, you’re like, ‘Oh, it was inevitable. They were just the best team.’ “
In an episode during the show’s final season, some of the characters visit Chicago in the summer of 2017, and the city is still basking in the Cubs’ recent World Series victory. Schur, a lifelong baseball fan and avid Red Sox supporter, personally wrote the line in the episode “Ron and Jammy” that predicts the victory.
“As soon as we decided to throw the last season of ‘Parks and Rec’ into the future, into 2017, we sort of started calculating what the world might be like,” Schur said. “We talked about … aspects of America that we could sort of casually mention that we thought would be funny.
“I was the only person on the staff who cared about baseball enough to track the Cubs’ minor league system,” he added with a laugh.
Schur’s baseball insight has been featured on Grantland and NBC Sports, and the 40-year-old Connecticut native was one of the founders of the baseball blog Fire Joe Morgan.
The Cubs’ rapid improvement in the past few seasons reminded Schur of the 2004 World Series-winning Red Sox team, whose general manager at the time was Epstein. Because of that, Schur said he understands the emotional roller coaster that Cubs fans are experiencing during this year’s playoffs.
“It is trippy to see them go through the exact series of feelings that I went through 12 years ago,” Schur said. “They don’t really want to talk about it because they’re afraid somehow their luck will change.”
Schur predicted that the Cubs will win in five games – although he said “that’s mostly because of” the song “Cubs in Five” by the indie band The Mountain Goats – and said “it’s going to be awesome” for the fans, including “Parks and Recreation” actor and Cubs supporter Nick Offerman (also known as Ron Swanson).
Yet Schur is hesitant to take credit for his foresight.
“It’s not like I was only person who thought the Cubs were going to be good,” he said. “Every baseball writer in America knew the Cubs were going to be good. I can’t emphasize enough how little credit I feel like I should take for that prediction. It’s a little like, if we had predicted [in the show] that Hillary Clinton was the president in 2017, there would probably be people asking me about that now. Saying Hillary Clinton was running for president in 2014 or 2013 … that would’ve also been a pretty easy call to make based on the information that we had at the time. We’re not like wizards.”