PASADENA, Calif. — The final season of “Parks and Recreation” unfolds in 2017 — a time jump that’s lending itself to lots of gags about what life is like two years from now.
Elton John owns Chick-fil-A. Listicles win Pulitzer Prizes. “The King of Queens” star Kevin James nails it as Jason Bourne.
And the Cubs have won the World Series.
That last one is no joke, according to the NBC comedy’s co-creator and executive producer Mike Schur.
“I wrote that line into the episode because I believe the Cubs are going to win the Series either in 2016 or …” Schur didn’t get the chance to finish his sentence. He was interrupted by guffaws from reporters at the recent TV critics’ press tour in Pasadena, California.
“It’s not a joke,” the Harvard grad persisted. “The Cubs are positioned to win the World Series right now. If you don’t believe me, Google ‘Cubs World Series.’ Read [NBC Sports columnist] Joe Posnanski’s article about it. They’re going to win the World Series.”
A recent article on SportingNews.com shares the showrunner’s optimistic sentiments.
So what does the guy behind the workplace comedies “Parks and Rec” and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” the guy who played Dwight Schrute’s mute cousin Mose on “The Office,” know about America’s favorite pastime?
Plenty. Baseball is to Schur like red meat is to Ron Swanson. He was one of the founders of the baseball-focused sports journalism blog Fire Joe Morgan. On the once popular, now defunct blog, whose slogan was “Where Bad Sports Journalism Comes to Die,” Schur could often be found dropping “Moneyball” knowledge under the pseudonym Ken Tremendous, his current Twitter handle.
When a TV critic asked if a niche comedy like “Parks and Rec,” which caps off its seventh and final season Feb. 24, could have survived on network TV if it were launched today, Schur used a baseball analogy to frame his response.
“I think it’s impossible to anticipate probably which shows would work in which eras,” Schur said. “If you’re a baseball fan, you say, ‘What would happen if Babe Ruth were playing today? Could he hit modern pitching?’ There’s no way to answer it really, unless you use advanced sabermetric stats, which I do, and I can give you the answer later.”
“Parks and Rec” isn’t the first work of fiction to crown the Cubbies World Series champs in its crystal ball.
“Back to the Future 2” says 2015 is the year the Cubs finally break the curse.
The original pilot for NBC’s futuristic, post-apocalyptic — and now canceled — drama “Revolution” included a shot of an abandoned Wrigley Field, where an old sign labeled it the home of the 2012 World Series champions. (That reference was cut in the on-air version of the series premiere.)
In the recent Chicago-set “Parks and Rec” episode, Tom (Aziz Ansari), Andy (Chris Pratt) and Lucy (Natalie Morales) take a stroll by Wrigley. Lucy tells her visiting Pawnee buddies that Chicagoans are in a great mood lately thanks to the Cubs clinching the Series.
Schur, a die-hard Boston Red Sox fan, is convinced that Cubs President Theo Epstein can work the same magic in Chicago that he did in long-suffering Bean Town. He’d even bet on it.
“If I win,” he said, “I’m going to go to Chicago and get some free beer.”
“Parks and Recreation” airs back-to-back episodes at 7 p.m. (Central) Tuesdays on NBC.