Tuesday, October 16, 2007

This Just In

By Steve

Woman's Death Marks Extinction of "Cub" Species
Last person alive when Chicago won series, she's end of an era

(Chicago, IL, July 18, 2026) -- Ludmilla Sverovla never saw the Chicago Cubs win a World Series. In fact, she never saw a baseball game of any kind. But when the lifelong resident of Sumy in Northeastern Ukraine died Friday at the age of 117, a baseball milestone came to an end. Not only was she the world's oldest living human, but by virtue of having been born on September 28, 1908, she was also the last person on the planet who was alive when the Cubs last won the World Series in 1908.

The next oldest living human, Roger Sklyver of Switzerland, was born on October 21, 1908, just one week after the Cubs defeated the Detroit Tigers 2-0 to win their second - and, to this date, last - World Series championship.

To fully appreciate the magnitude of this event, one would have to go back to October 11 1907 - the day before the Cubs defeated the Tigers 2-1 to win their first of back-to-back World Series - to find a date in which not one person on planet Earth could be said to have lived to see the Cubs triumphant.

"This is truly staggering," said Trevor Sagacious of the Sagan Institute in California. "What we're witnessing here is the human equivalent of an extinct species. The idea that a professional sports team could be so inept that every single person on the planet would have died between championships is almost unfathomable."

Experts have scrambled to find some biological event to compare to the failure of the Cubs, but have so far come up short. "There are turtles still alive that were born shortly after the signing of the Declaration of Independence," said historian Bruce Brauer of the History Channel. "Even when we look at the Passenger Pigeon, probably the most famous extinct species, we fall short on comparisons to the extinct Cubs World Series survivor."

Brauer continued, shaking his head several times in apparent disbelief. "You'd expect that at some point in history the last Civil War veteran, the last World War I veteran, the last signer of the Declaration of Independence, would die. That makes sense. These were once-in-a-lifetime events, not to be repeated. The World Series is different. There a team has a chance to win each year. Granted, with the number of teams in baseball today, even if a different team won each year, you'd have a team that had gone at least 29 years without a title, then 28 and so forth. But to go 117 years without winning? To do so for so long, in fact, that there's not one person alive on the entire planet who was around the last time you won? To have an entire race of people die out without seeing the team take the Series? What are the odds?"

At least 15 to the eighth power against it happening, according to mathematician Skip Loover of the University of Chicago. "We had a hard time developing a program to calculate the odds, frankly," Loover said. "Every time we tried to do it the computer would come back with a statement that we were asking for a mathematical absurdity. It was like trying to calculate the final number of pi. Finally we had to develop a program that disabled the logic inhibitor, and that's how we arrived at the number. Even then, the computer included a comment at the end that said, 'Why Bother?' I guess that's how a lot of Cubs fans feel."

Sagacious said that government intervention was the only possibility of regenerating the rare species, and even that was a long shot. "Entire generations had come and gone without witnessing a Cubs victory, but this is ridiculous," Sagacious said. "Imagine, if you can, that babies could be born with the gift of speech and intellect. What you're really saying is that for the last hundred or so years, a baby who, emerging from the womb, said, 'Before I die, I just want one thing - to see a Cubs victory' - at the moment of birth, with that baby's entire life ahead of him or her, in essence you're telling that child, 'You're out of luck, kid.'

"A whole race of people have become extinct - those who were alive when the Cubs won. It's nothing short of a tragedy. The government has to do something - but, to be honest, I'm not sure what. Even if you tried to federally mandate a Cubs victory, they'd probably find some way to screw it up."

Those Cubs fans who hoped this 2026 season would be the year seem to be coming up short once again. This year's edition of the Cubs started the year with a ten-game losing streak, and already find themselves 17.5 games behind the three-time defending champion Pittsburgh Pirates in the National League's Central Division. But, as one Cubs fan told us on Rush Street today, there's always hope.

"Wait 'til next year," 87 year old Max Driver of Arlington Heights said. "There's still my unborn great-great grandson to think about. I just hope I live long enough to pass this great love of losing baseball down to him, to continue this time-honored tradition. Go Cubbies!"

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