Chicago Cubs winning the World Series
Ian Johnson/Associated Press

The Cubs’ curse is over, but there’s an 80% chance another team will have the same bad luck

Last night, the Chicago Cubs of Illinois won the World Series, defeating the Cleveland Indians of Ohio in the series’s seventh game and securing their first championship of Major League Baseball (MLB) since 1908. The Cubs’ streak of 107 seasons without a championship was unparalleled in the four major North American sports: baseball, football, basketball, and ice hockey. But as sports leagues continue to expand, the probability that some team or another team will suffer an equally long championship drought is growing right along with them. For example, MLB now has 30 teams, and if one assumes that in any year each team has an equal probability—3.3%—of winning the championship, then simple binomial statistics predict that the probability that a particular team—say, the San Diego Padres in California—will fail to win a championship for 107 years in a row is 2.67%. But with 30 teams in the league, the probability that some team or another will fail to win the championship for 107 seasons in a row is a whopping 79.7%. In fact, the Cleveland Indians have a decent chance of matching the Cubs’ feat. Cleveland hasn’t won in the 68 seasons since 1948. Assuming all teams have equal chances of winning, then the probability that the Indians will continue to not win for another 39 years is 26.7%. Dare to dream, Cleveland.