Not this year

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

"Back to the Future II" got it wrong, and so did I.

The 1989 Michael Fox film about a time-traveling teenager includes a scene dated Oct. 21, 2015. On that day, the character Marty McFly sees a hologram news feed that congratulates the Chicago Cubs on winning the World Series. The news is confirmed in the next day's edition of "USA Today."

What REALLY happened on Oct. 21, 2015? The New York Mets defeated the Cubs 8-3 at Wrigley Field to complete a four-game sweep of the National League Championship Series and end the dreams of Cubs fans like myself who actually were starting to believe in the "Back to the Future" dream.

It was sadly ironic, and for longtime Cubs fans not all that surprising in the larger sense. When you're a long-suffering Cubs fan, you learn to expect the worst: The Cubbies blow a 2-0 lead to the San Diego Padres in the best-of-5 NLCS in 1984; they self-destruct (with a little help from Steve Bartman) and allow the Florida Marlins to score eight runs in the eighth inning of NLCS Game 6 in 2003, then lose Game 7 the next day after leading the series 3-2; manager Lou Piniella pulls starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano after six innings in a 1-1 game in the opening game of a 2007 NL Division Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Cubs go on to lose the game and get swept in the series.

If it sounds like I'm intimately familiar with the details of these losses, it's because I am. As a Cubs fan, I have felt the sting of every one of them.

And even though I'm cynical by nature after 26 years as a professional journalist and 33 years as a Cubs fan, I actually was beginning to believe this might be the year -- especially after the Cubs eliminated the St. Louis Cardinals in four games in the NLDS. The Cardinals had the best regular-season record in baseball this year, and getting past them seemed to me the biggest hurdle the Cubs would face.

But I was wrong. The Cubs couldn't hit against the Mets' outstanding pitching in the NLCS and some guy named Daniel Murphy, who hit 14 home runs in 130 regular-season games, hit four in four games against the Cubs. If something can go wrong, it will. Murphy's Law, indeed.

Still, it was perhaps the best season the Cubs have had since I started watching them on cable TV as a bored teenager during the summer of 1982. And with a roster filled with young talent, there's plenty of reason to be optimistic about the future.

So, the World Series will start tonight. I'll be watching from home, and so will my beloved Cubs.

Have I mentioned that I've always sort of liked the Kansas City Royals?

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Scott Loftis is managing editor for Carroll County Newspapers. His email address is CarrollCountyNews@cox-internet.com.