As a journalist and wordsmith, I use words carefully, resisting the common urge to label things the best or the greatest, or to call anything unstoppable or unforgettable.
But with the 2016 World Series, “unforgettable” is fitting, since it had to be among the most dramatic, emotional and meaningful Fall Classics ever, given its two teams’ and their generations of fans’ 176 years of combined frustration, and the remarkable storybook seven-game Series, which no Hollywood script could have topped.
Major League Baseball’s official film The 2016 World Series captures all that with its release from Shout! Factory Tuesday as a DVD and as a Blu-ray/DVD combo, both also with digital copies.
Each also includes these bonus features on the winning Chicago Cubs: Regular Season Highlights (5 minutes); Clinching Moments (3 minutes); World Series Highlights (9 minutes); Parade (2 minutes); and Cubs on David Ross (90 seconds).
Also due Dec. 13 on DVD and Blu-ray is an eight-disc 2016 World Series Collector’s Edition featuring every play of every game.
As for Tuesday’s release, its centerpiece is a feature-length 97-minute chronicle of the Series, which deservedly can be called stirring, enthralling and — yes — unforgettable.
Superbly photographed, edited, scored and written, the film is narrated with gravity and rare understatement by Chicago-raised actor Vince Vaughn. It is, as he says, “the story of two cities in the middle of America that have been talking about time for a long time.”
The Cleveland Indians hadn’t won a World Series since 1948. The Chicago Cubs had won it since 1908. Someone’s drought would end.
With lengthy chapters for each game — including a 20-minute look at Game 7 — the film does justice to an incredible story which would be hard to botch. But I give MLB full credit, as I know first-hand how professional and skilled its production staff can be, having been embedded with MLB’s crew as a journalist for Game 3 of the Astros-White Sox World Series in 2005.
Throughout this story, we get up close and personal looks and sounds from the players and fans as the drama unfolds, intercut with interview clips of players in calm repose after the fact.
Cubs fans, who are used to a long wait, will have one here, too, since the film shows game-by-game how the Indians built a 3-1 Series lead. But that should make it all the more gratifying to relive the Cubs’ inspired comeback.
One highlight, however, is missing: MLB apparently did not have access to the Cub players’ meeting (reportedly their first of the season) in their weight room during a 17-minute rain delay before the top of the 10th inning of Game 7. There, outfielder and slumping slugger Jason Heyward rallied the team that had just coughed up a three-run lead in the eighth inning, reminding them that the ultimate triumph was still out there — and theirs for the taking — so just do it.
The Cubs did it, rallying for two runs and then holding off the impressively resilient Indians (who narrowed the gap by one run, which MLB oddly ignores) to spark bear-hugging celebrations of joy — and relief — on the field and among their fans everywhere.
Heyward’s speech was the turning point which revived the Cubs and helped them make history. Yet we don’t see it or hear it — just hear about it.
But Cubs fans shouldn’t care. The bulk of the glory is all here to be relived and savored, and as an Astros fan who’s waited half as long — a mere 55 years — I’m certainly envious.
But I’m also a baseball fan, and as such, I applaud and celebrate the Cubs, while tipping my cap to the Indians (whose resilience I saw in person at a 16-inning game in Houston last season).
So thank you, to both teams. And special thanks to the Cubs, who showed that droughts can be broken — even the longest ones — to make all of the waiting worthwhile.
— Bruce Westbrook