Chicago Cubs 2016 World Series Collector's Edition (Blu-ray Review)23 Jan, 2017 By: Mike Clark
$59.99 DVD, $79.97 Blu-ray
2016 World Series Champions: The Chicago Cubs
$26.99 DVD, $34.99 Blu-ray
Narrated by Vince Vaughn.
Owning a Blu-ray simply because its spine will look imposing on your shelf doesn’t exactly promote financial solvency, but still: We’re talking the historically transcendent Cubs-Indians here. Or, if you and your geographic prejudices prefer, go with Indians-Cubs. But given the Cubbies’ even longer wait to attain World Series glory atop the final tally when all was recorded, we’ll repeat: Cubs-Indians. Seven games, two of them classics or near-classics — and one of those was game 7 stretching into extra innings after a rain delay. So there you go.
Because I’m from Ohio, Indians’ frustration has always been a part of my life, though let it be said in terms of full disclosure that I still sleep on pinstriped bed sheets. As for post-1948 Tribe despair (the year of the Berlin Airlift saw the team’s last Series win), it embraces both pitching ace Herb Score’s tragic injury on the mound plus the Curse of Rocky Colavito — and before them, Willie Mays’s legendary catch off the bat of the Indians’ Vic Wertz in the permanently back-breaking Game 1 of the ’54 Series. How serious was the last in terms of Lake Erie psyche? Well, Willie’s grab so traumatized and forever warped my best friend that he subsequently managed to grow up in the 1950s without developing an appreciation for either Perry Como or Ricky Nelson. Meanwhile, my poor uncle followed Rocky on the radio from team-to-team after his unthinkable Indians-to-Tigers trade in 1960 eventually spurred other “deals” that found a guy who could still be elected mayor of Cleveland playing in a multitude of cities. Can you imagine staying up late each night following Rocky’s career by listening to the Kansas City Athletics in 1964 (when they were 57-105)? My uncle did. And this was decades before audibly pristine Internet MLB broadcasts when the in-and-out signals sounded like shaky crystal set reportage about the Titanic’s sinking.
As for the Cubs, I have less first-hand knowledge, but the hunger wasn’t exactly a secret. You see it when you watch the sweet Ron Santo documentary (This Old Cub), in the great Alex Gibney Catching Hell documentary about unjustly reviled Cubs fan Steve Bartman (one of the best “30 for 30” entries ever), in the statue of Cubs announcer Harry Caray and in that adoring look Bill Murray still gets in his eyes. I even got some sense of the emotion when, as a kid when I bowed to amazement that Cubs shortstop Ernie Banks could win the National League MVP two years running when his teams finished fifth. Of course, this isn’t even getting into Babe Ruth’s “called” home run against the Cubs in the 1932 Series or the distraction of Joe Pepitone’s hair dryers during his twilight Cubs tenure (Joe has said that he also used to hide his weed in the Wrigley Field ivy). Before 2016, the Cubs’ last Cubs Series win was 1908, when my maternal grandmother was 10. For movie fans to grasp the magnitude of this, here was a woman who confessed to having only one actor crush in her life – and it was Clive Brook.
Per usual, MLB and Shout Factory have released two 2016 Series sets: a big massive dude with all seven games complete along with a bonus disc with the Cubs’ NLCS finale against the Dodgers — and a more modest overview documentary about the entire two-city phenomenon, which naturally includes footage of fans older than I am finally trying to attain their life’s dream along with far younger counterparts who are shown cheering in bars and gambling with becoming unexpected parents in about nine months if their team wins. (There’s also a dad holding a 6-week-old baby and saying, “He’s waited all his life to see this.”) The documentary — 2016 World Series Champions: The Chicago Cubs — has a lot of backstories, most involving the Cubs. Among them: former Cy Young winners (the Indians’ Corey Kulber and the Cubs’ Jake Arrieta) respectively starting games 1 and 2 to set the table; the Cubs’ Kyle Schwarber making an a totally unpredictable comeback after a brutal April injury in an outfield collision and hitting .412 as a designated hitter in the Series after missing the rest of the regular season; and Cubs catcher David Ross, about to retire, becoming the oldest player ever to hit a home run in game 7. (There’s some funny Methuselah-type humor at Ross’s expenses from his teammates.) For Yankees fans, there’s also the odd sight of former Bronx relievers Aroldis Chapman (who’s now returning to New York) and a bearded Andrew Sullivan in Cubs uniforms; it’s always bizarre when you see former Yankees, given the team’s archaic dress code, playing for new teams and suddenly looking like Grizzly Adams (call it the reverse Johnny Damon effect). The documentary would be better if someone more energetic than supposed Cubs worshipper Vince Vaughn were narrating. As bad luck had it, I listened to his deadly voiceover directly after doing the same with Courtney Love’s famously comatose one for the Clara Bow documentary included on Flicker Alley’s new Blu-ray of Children of Divorce. Please, people, bring in Eddie Muller off the film noir commentary beat if that’s what it takes to get some verbal gusto (even if it turns out that he doesn’t like baseball or Bow, though I’d guess that he likes her).
The more-expensive full box shows how far MLB has come in the high-def era for making past games look splendid; there’s a close-up of the Wrigley ivy here that, no lie, made me utter a “wow” when no on else was in the room. Game 3 was and is one for the ages, a 1-0 Indians win that was a sweat-er all the way until the end and a contest to show why the “game of inches” description of baseball remains true in so many instances. Game 7 saw the Indians come from behind in the eighth inning — until the biggest Cleveland example of nature’s wrath since those crazy insects attacked Yankees’ reliever Joba Chamberlain on the mound during the 2007 ALDS opposite the Indians. This time, it was a rain delay just as both teams were going into extra innings after some more back-and-forth scoring in the ninth. The Cubs successfully regrouped during the time out and probably ended up even making the statue of Harry Caray cry. But the Series was good (and also so close) that even the bad-break weather isn’t that likely to make the list of Curse transgressions and insults.