TROUBLE CITY

DVD REVIEW: CHICAGO CUBS LEGENDS - CE

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STUDIO: A&E
MSRP: $84.98
RATED:
Unrated
RUNNING TIME: 1249 Minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES:

  • Eight complete games, each honoring a Cubs icon including Ryne Sandberg, Andre Dawson, Mark Grace (1989 playoffs), Rick Sutcliffe, Kerry Wood (20K game), Sammy Sosa (61st home run), and Greg Maddux (300th win)
  • Billy Williams Day speech to Wrigley Field fans
  • Hall of Fame speech highlights: Harry Caray, Ryne Sandberg
  • Ernie Banks: MLB All-Century Team member
  • Rare Ernie Banks postgame interview on 500th HR
  • Special game footage:
  • -Ernie Banks 500th HR
  • -Wrigley Field highlights: Billy Williams, Ron Santo
  • -Last two outs of Ken Holtzman's no-hitter
  • -Dunston, Sandberg, Dawson 1990 All-Star Game intros at Wrigley Field
  • -Aramis Ramirez hits three HR in a game twice in 2004
  • -Cubs clinch 1984 NL East title
  • -Cubs clinch 1989 NL East title
  • -Cubs clinch 2003 NL Central title

The Pitch

They may be lovable losers but the Chicago Cubs have a very robust and rabid fan base. Instead of waiting until 2103 A.D. when they win a title the fine folks at A&E have cobbled together eight discs of the best Cubs games from 1984-2005.

The Humans

Greg Maddux. Andre Dawson. Mark Grace. Sammy Sosa. Dusty Baker. Rick Sutcliffe. Ryne Sandberg. Harry Carey. Derrek Lee. Kerry Wood. Slumpbusters.


Always liked that guy.

The Nutshell

The Cubs won back to back World Series titles. You think the fans would find that fulfilling enough to shut their flaps, but since those titles were in 1907 and 1908 it appears they may be a little restless. It's been 99 years since they won the World Series. The Florida Marlins have won twice already and they've been around only a couple of decades. That's why baseball has such a nice tapestry to it. It's the mixture of superstition and odd statistics that make the sport so fun. Is there a "Billy Goat" curse on the Cubbies? Did Steve Bartman scuttle the chances for an entire season [which led to Marlins title #2]? Is Alfonso Soriano the latest in a long line of big moves that led to nothing?

The fun thing about the Cubs, a romanticism that affects zero other clubs... is that it's not only acceptable with the fans that they flounder, but it's a security blanket they finally have all to themselves after the Red Sox popped corks in 2004. This set isn't devoted to failure, but rather a snippet of shining moments in the recent past for the team. That said, the cynic in me wants to think that this set is a concession. There's joy in here but a lot of it is seriously tainted.


The Major League remake by Mike Figgis bore some of his trademark flourishes.

The Lowdown

Let's look at what these eight discs focus on and see if I'm right about the tainted nature of this collection:

  • Sammy Sosa's 2 HR performance that tied him with Mark McGwire for 62 apiece, sending Roger Maris to the showers once and for all. MODERN RESULT: Sammy Sosa is heavily suspected for being a steroid user, was caught with a corked bat, and was brilliantly eviscerated HERE. For all the fun moments Cubs fan had with the man, he's a tarnished hero at best.

  • Mark Grace's 1989 4 RBI NLCS performance. Grace was a lifelong Cub who spent the very tail end of his career with the Arizona Diamondbacks. His reward for leaving? A 2001 World Series ring in a different uniform. Of all the Cubs in my lifetime [1972 to ____] he's the one who I feel is the coolest and most entertaining and deserving of Cub immortality. More than Ryno. More than The Hawk. More than Derrek. More than Maddux. More than Jef Blauser [I cannot believe he played for them]. He's proof positive that you can pay your dues and still only get rewarded for leaving the Windy City.


Best poker face in baseball, as opposed to Ronald Lacy, who had the best poker hand in Nepal.

  • Kerry Wood struck out 20 batters in a game back in 1998. After that, fans were already carving his name into a section of Cooperstown. Heck, people on Waveland Avenue were already balloting to rename the city Kerrystown. Fantasy Drafts in 1998 featured Wood in the top three and Chicago's future seemed brighter than Tattooine's twin suns. This DVD is a document of that failed promise as well. Kerry Wood has spent more time in doctor's offices than Quincy and Marcus Welby combined, a fragile example of how wear and tear and overpitching [Dusty Baker, way to go!] can ruin even the most talented prospects.

  • Derrek Lee's amazing 5-5, 4 RBI performance in 2005, his MVP runner-up season. Lee came to the Cubs from the Marlins [whom he won a World Series with, notice a trend?] and set the world on fire. The Cubs narrowly missed the World Series with Derrek in tow and 2006 looked like another great year. Lee got injured and spent most of the year off the roster cooling his jets. He's been on and off the disabled list this year as well. Lee has the potential to be the face of the franchise for some time, but currently he's put up incredible stats but has been unable to carry the team into history.
  • Rick Sutcliffe's memorable 1984 NLCS game where he gave up no earned runs and jacker a homer. Sutcliffe played for a few teams but he's a Cub in people's memories. Even he hasn't escaped scrutiny, as many younger fans now only know him as the guy who got drunk and melted down as a guest on a broadcast.

  • Ryne Sandberg's 7 RBI day in June of 1984. No controversy here. Ryno was a Cub of the highest order, a Hall of Famer, a two-time MVP, and seemingly... a Jew!



Ol' Landslide himself.

  • Andre Dawson's awesome 3 HR game back in 1987. The Hawk had a career of almosts. Almost a Hall of Famer. Almost won a World Series with a handful of teams. Almost had good knees. Not much to hate about the man or his time in a Cubs uniform.

  • Greg Maddux's 300th win from 2004, the year he returned to the team which spawned him. It's not a pretty win by any stretch but any doubts about his Hall of Fame credentials surely are silenced now, though he was a lock well before the coveted 300 mark. Maddux was a great Cub. He won his first of several consecutive Cy Young awards with them. Then, he left the city, went to Atlanta... and won a World Series! It's almost as if the Cubs are the farm team for World Champions. Still, though Maddux is in his second city in as many years since once again leaving the Cubs... he's almost got an argument to choose the blue pinstripes for his Hall of Fame induction.

These games are good ones, though for the most part they're not as dreamy as the ones in many of the sets which have already seen the light of day, aside from the somewhat spotty ones devoted to one year's World Series [the Chicago and St. Louis one scome to mind as well as the non-Yankees games in the Boston set]. Those box sets are about world titles, so a few bum games are part of the deal. When hammering out definitive and seminal Cubs games, it seems that there were a lot of better choices out there. I mean, I like the idea of them honoring individual Cubs. It makes sense, especially in that city where legends are made. I just think that perhaps the desire to appease Cubs fans became more important than delivering a box set that would appeal to people who just love the game.

The thing that sucks is that the Cubs are lovable losers. I'd have liked to have seen the Bartman game or the one where they found the cork in Sosa's bat. Or some other gem from the annals of history. Instead, I get to see some Cubs I love [Grace, Maddux], and one I truly despise [Sosa, don't get me started on that egotistical vacuum of intellect] in a setting that seems to be missing something.

Then again it may just be the trophy that's missing. With the Cubs though, the void is what makes them whole.


I hope Sammy Sosa gets hit by a tornado.

The Package

These are the best layouts in the entire world of DVD. One look, unmodified. Every square inch of space is used and there's no inserts, instead relying on the sleeves and transparent holders to convey all the pertinent info. It's glorious.

I don't like the lack of a "Bonus" disc here, because it makes it harder to find all the special features scattered around. That said, the quality of these packages is unmistakable.

My suggestions for the next set:

The Atlanta Braves Titles 1991-2005.

Duh.

7.5 out of 10