“Parks and Recreation” executive producer Mike Schur was at a Wednesday night party celebrating NBC’s new fall shows, including his freshman comedy “The Good Place,” when the Chicago Cubs won the World Series.
Schur wasn’t the only one. NBC brought in several screens to show the game – which meant that even NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt found himself watching Fox (which telecast the game) at his own party. But Greenblatt is a native of nearby Rockford, Ill., so he was rooting for the Cubs – as were most of the attendees gathered at Neuehouse Hollywood.
For mega-baseball fan Schur, the Cubs’ win was extra sweet. That’s because years ago he had already predicted a 2016 World Series win for the team – via “Parks and Recreation” and its Season 7 episode “Ron and Jammy” (which aired Jan. 13, 2015).
That episode was actually written and produced in 2014, two years before the Cubs’ victory. In the episode, which takes place in the future (summer 2017), Andy (Chris Pratt) and Tom (Aziz Ansari) visit Tom’s ex-girlfriend Lucy (Natalie Morales) in Chicago, where she mentions that “obviously everyone’s in a really great mood now because of the Cubs winning the series.”
But Schur isn’t a wizard. The writer, who helped create the “Fire Joe Morgan” baseball blog and has written for sites like SBNation’s Baseball Nation, wasn’t making a “Back to the Future”-like goof – he knew what he was doing.
“Our prediction was me following the Cubs getting better and better and watching [Cubs president] Theo Epstein putting together a great team,” Schur told IndieWire, immediately after the Cubs clinched their victory. “And knowing the players in their system. And just saying, ‘Well, OK this takes place in the summer of 2017, let’s just go ahead and say that the Cubs won the World Series. Because I legitimately think it’s going to happen — and now it happened!”
Schur knows it seems insane, and indeed it’s pretty incredible that he got it right. But it’s also a reminder he knows his stuff.
“If you were a crazy baseball fan you knew what was happening in Chicago and it was not that hard to extrapolate and say, this is an incredibly good team and they have every chance to go on and win the World Series in two or three years,” he said. “Honestly it seems like a big magic trick that we predicted this, but it wasn’t really a magic trick, it was just being a big baseball fan and knowing what they were doing.”
Of course, Schur knows that it’s more fun to consider the “Parks and Rec” mention a case of wild luck (like if the Cubs had won in 2015, proving “Back to the Future” right). “Maybe I should say I’m a magical genie who can see into the future!” he mused.
Two years ago, in a season that took place in the summer of 2017: pic.twitter.com/p8jaYZNwcT
— Ken Tremendous (@KenTremendous) November 3, 2016
The common refrain at the NBC party, particularly as the Cleveland Indians tied it up and the game went into extra innings: “You can’t write this stuff.” As a professional writer, Schur agreed: “Sports at its best is good for is delivering things that can’t be scripted.”
That’s why Schur calls himself “a crazy sports fan, because it delivers drama in a way that you can’t script. And if you did it would seem hokey. And so every aspect of that series played out in the way it would have to play out for the Cubs to overcome 108 years of futility, which is to say, things looked extremely unlikely a number of times and then it all worked out.”
Schur is a Red Sox fan, and experienced the end of his team’s so-called curse after Boston finally won the World Series in 2004. Asked whether the Cubs have now lost a little bit of their identity as the “loveable losers,” Schur said there’s actually relief in being “just another team.”
“Speaking personally, I and every Red Sox fan I knew, that’s all we wanted,” he said. “We just wanted to be another team, a team that had some good seasons and some bad seasons,” he said. “It makes it so much more enjoyable to just watch the games when you don’t have to worry whether you’re going to exorcise 100 year old demons. My prediction is, Cubs fans have always been happy, they will only be happier. It’s only going to get better.”
Indeed, Schur predicted more good things for the Cubs in the coming seasons. “This team is a bunch of 23-year-old baseball geniuses,” he said. “This team is going to be so good for so many years. It’s all good. They’re not going to lose their identity at all. They’re going to be happy fans who are so psyched that their team is just another team that’s so good.”
Any other Season 7 predictions from “Parks and Rec” that might come true? Schur said the show purposely avoided naming who won the presidency. “We did not say who was president because we didn’t want to seem partisan and didn’t want to make a prediction,” he said. “I’m very glad we didn’t because the election is already insane enough without worrying whether one prediction or the other would come true. I think this is it. The Cubs winning the World Series was our called shot. It incredibly came true.”