Blue Jays' 1993 Fall Classic win is most recent among remaining teams
By Andrew Simon
When "Back to the Future Part II" was released in 1989, the Cubs already were 81 years into their championship drought. Yet when Marty McFly travels ahead in time to 2015 in the film, he finds a world in which the Cubs have won the World Series.
When the Cubs beat the Cardinals on Tuesday night to become the first team to advance to the League Championship Series, they moved closer to making that prediction a reality. But even if the Cubs fall short of their first title since 1908, some team will win it all for the first time in more than two decades.
Although the Blue Jays broke Major League Baseball's longest active postseason dry spell this year, they actually hold the most recent championship (1993) of any of the five teams still alive going into Thursday night's NLDS Game 5 between the Mets and Dodgers. Here's how all of those droughts break down, from longest to shortest.
Last World Series title: 1908
When the Cubs beat the Tigers in five games to claim the 1908 World Series, Teddy Roosevelt was president, the Major Leagues consisted of 16 teams, and Joe Tinker led Chicago with six home runs in the regular season. It was, to say the least, a different time.
At that point, the Cubs had gone to three straight World Series and won the past two. They would return to the Fall Classic seven more times from 1910-45, losing each time, including a heartbreaking seven-game battle with the Tigers in '45 that ignited the so-called Curse of the Billygoat.
After that, the Cubs didn't return to the playoffs until 1984, and they still have not made it back to the World Series. In 2003, they held a three-run lead and were six outs away from defeating the Marlins in the National League Championship Series before suffering one of the most famous collapses in postseason history.
The franchise's drought now has stretched to more than a century, but after rolling past St. Louis in a four-game NL Division Series, the Cubs seem as close as ever to getting the rather large monkey off their backs.
"Our guys don't buy into the old narratives," Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said after the NLDS. "They're doing it for each other, the whole organization. The pressure, the history doesn't bother these guys. They're young. They're innocent in a great way. They were in instructional league last year. You think they're worried about history? They're worried about getting their laundry done in time for Saturday."
Kansas City Royals
Last World Series title: 1985
After joining the AL as an expansion team in 1969, the Royals qualified for the postseason seven times in 10 years from '76-85. In '85, their second trip to the World Series, they outlasted the Cardinals in seven games, after benefiting from first-base umpire Don Denkinger's controversial call in Game 6.
The Royals then entered a long decline that included 17 losing seasons in 18 years from 1995-2012. But behind a wave of young talent, they righted the ship. Last fall, the Royals broke a 30-year postseason drought, rallied past the A's in the American League Wild Card Game, then surged all the way to the World Series before falling to the Giants in seven games.
Now, Kansas City will face Toronto in the ALCS -- just like it did in '85.
New York Mets
Last World Series title: 1986
It was not a smooth ride early on for the Mets, who went 40-120 in their inaugural 1962 season and lost at least 100 games in five of their first six years. Then came the "Miracle Mets" of '69, who shocked the baseball world by winning 100 games and the World Series.
The next, and most recent, championship arrived in 1986. After 108 regular-season victories, New York rallied from series deficits of 2-0 and 3-2 against the Red Sox, winning Game 6 on Mookie Wilson's famous grounder through Bill Buckner's legs.
Since then, the Mets have returned to the NLCS four times and the World Series once, losing a five-game Subway Series against the Yankees in 2000. This year's NL East title brought the club back to the postseason for the first time since a dramatic seven-game defeat to the Cardinals in the '06 NLCS.
Toronto Blue Jays
Last World Series title: 1993
After arriving in 1977, the Blue Jays enjoyed a tremendous run of success from 1985-93, making the playoffs five times. The latter two years brought Canada its only World Series titles, as Toronto defeated Atlanta and Philadelphia in consecutive Fall Classics.
But after Joe Carter's walk-off homer vs. Mitch Williams won the '93 Series, the drought began.
In the years since, the Jays rarely were bad -- losing 90 games only once and winning at least 80 games 12 times in 20 years from 1995-2014. But they also never won 90 games, and only once did they finish better than third in the tough AL East. This year, the team soared to 93 wins and a division title.
Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.