Cubs

CSN to air an unprecedented Chicago Cubs World Series documentary chronicling one of the greatest Game 7s in professional sports history

CSN to air an unprecedented Chicago Cubs World Series documentary chronicling one of the greatest Game 7s in professional sports history

"Reign Men: The Story behind Game 7 of the 2016 World Series," presented by Binny's Beverage Depot

Premieres Monday, March 27 at 9:30 PM CT -- Exclusively on CSN Chicago

Narrated by country music sensation/Illinois native & lifelong Cubs fan Brett Eldredge

Chicago, IL (March 14, 2017) – In what many have called the greatest Game 7 in professional sports history, CSN Chicago proudly announces its next landmark documentary, Reign Men: The Story behind Game 7 of the 2016 World Series, presented by Binny's Beverage Depot.  This one-hour CSN Original Production chronicles and unveils new tales of the unforgettable, stunning, and overwhelmingly-emotional journey that was Game 7 of the 2016 World Series…a game that saw the Chicago Cubs ending "the curse" and finally winning their first title in 108 years.  Narrated by Academy of Country Music "Male Vocalist of the Year" nominee/Illinois native & lifelong Cubs fan Brett Eldredge, Reign Men: The Story behind Game 7 of the 2016 World Series premieres Monday, March 27 at 9:30 PM CT exclusively on CSN. 

Produced, written and edited by CSN Chicago’s Emmy-award winning tandem of Executive Producer of Original Content - Sarah Lauch & Senior Producer of Original Content - Ryan McGuffey, creators of CSN Chicago’s Emmy-nominated documentary “5 Outs…” (2013) and "Believe: The Story of the 2005 Chicago White Sox" (2015), Reign Men focuses solely on Game 7, taking audiences inside every critical aspect of this historic game, which will unveil new stories that shine a brighter light on a championship that was 108 years in the making. 

With over 15 hours of exclusive interview footage, Reign Men captures some of the most revealing stories from numerous Cubs players/coaches/front office execs who discuss every high and low that this historic game produced from that glorious early November evening in Cleveland, OH.  In addition, viewers will also experience numerous, critical game moment highlights, along with exclusive, behind-the-scenes, celebratory footage that took place at Progressive Field and throughout the city of Chicago.

"Cubs fans will always remember exactly where they were when the Cubs won Game 7 of the World Series," said Kevin Cross, Senior Director of News and Original Content for CSN Chicago.  "What is truly special about our presentation of Reign Men is that it takes all of us into the minds of those in the Cubs organization who lived every high and low moment of one of the greatest games in baseball history.  I couldn’t be prouder of the amazing storytelling and high production values on display by Sarah, Ryan, and our entire production team."

Following 103 wins during the regular season, the National League Central first-place Cubs entered the 2016 MLB Postseason as the favorites to win it all, but it certainly wasn’t easy.  They defeated the NL Wild Card champion San Francisco Giants three games to one in the National League Division Series, and then faced the NL West champion Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Championship Series.  A determined Cubs team, down two games to one in the NLCS, stormed back with three-straight, hard-earned victories over the Dodgers, including a euphoric Game 6 series-clinching win at Wrigley Field, earning the team their first NL pennant in 71 years.  

On October 25th and, for the first time since 1945, the Cubs were back in the World Series facing a young and hungry American League Champion Cleveland Indians squad, a team that earned home field advantage thanks to the American League winning the All-Star Game earlier in the summer. 

Game 1 saw the Indians not only shock, but shutout the Cubs 6-0, but the Cubs were able to battle back and tie the series at a game a piece with a solid 5-1 performance in Game 2, leaving Cubs fans feeling confident with the next three games being held at "The Friendly Confines."  However, the good feelings about playing at Wrigley Field were short-lived as the Indians shutout the Cubs - again - this time 1-0 in Game 3.  To make matters worse, the Indians then went on to pound the Cubs in Game 4 the very next night by a score of 7-2.  Now down 3-1 in the series, the Cubs had to dig deep and find a way to prove to themselves and the entire sports universe that they were for real…and that any "curse" that may have existed over the course of time would soon be broken.

With season-ending elimination staring them in the face in Game 5, the Cubs scored all the runs they needed in the fourth inning, which was just enough for 3-2 victory giving the raucous fans at Wrigley a reason to celebrate, along with the ability to live another day with hope as the series shifted back to Cleveland for Game 6.

The hopes and prayers of Cubs fans were indeed answered as the winning vibe continued in Cleveland for Game 6 which saw the Cubs bust out three runs in first inning and four more in the third en route to a 9-3 blowout…setting up the moment of all moments in the history of both franchises -- Game 7 of the World Series.

In a script too unbelievable for Hollywood, Game 7 was more than epic; the game simply had it all.  In a back-and-forth battle between two clubs who had not won a title in a combined 176 years, the Cubs built up a solid 6-3 lead by the eighth inning, but it was short-lived as a demoralizing, two-run homer from Indians outfielder Rajai Davis eventually tied it up at 6-6.  However, Game 7's most defining moment came during a brief, 17-minute rain delay that took place after nine completed innings…a moment that Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo called "the most important thing to happen to the Chicago Cubs in 100 years."

That historically-significant 17-minute rain delay -- the source of the Reign Men title -- allowed Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward to call a “players only” meeting that not only lit a fire under every player, but refocused the team to get out there in the 10th inning and do what they, and the entire sports world for that matter, expected them to accomplish in a season that was destined for glory.

Reign Men: The Story behind Game 7 of the 2016 World Series not only captures the exhilarating moments and overwhelming emotions shared by those who were directly involved in what many have called the greatest moment in Chicago sports history, but one of the great monumental achievements history of athletic competition.

In addition to the documentary narration by Eldredge, among the numerous players/coaches/front office exec interviews in this documentary include candid and honest Game 7 recollections from the following individuals:

  • Tom Ricketts (Cubs Chairman)
  • Theo Epstein (Cubs President, Baseball Operations)
  • Jed Hoyer (Cubs EVP, General Manager)
  • Joe Maddon (Cubs manager)
  • Anthony Rizzo (Cubs first baseman)
  • Kris Bryant (Cubs third baseman)
  • Kyle Schwarber (Cubs outfielder)
  • Jon Lester (Cubs pitcher)
  • Jason Heyward (Cubs outfielder)
  • Kyle Hendricks (Cubs pitcher)
  • Ben Zobrist (Cubs second baseman/outfielder)
  • David Ross (Cubs catcher)
  • Miguel Montero (Cubs catcher)
  • Rajai Davis (Indians outfielder)

Note the following quotes from the CSN Original Production of Reign Men: The Story behind Game 7 of the 2016 World Series, debuting Monday, March 27 at 9:30 PM CT:

TOM RICKETTS on the thought of losing Game 7: "The thought that we would get all the way to that game and then have it go against us…it was just unthinkable.  I mean, to have to go back to Chicago and say "okay, we got this close, but next year we’re going to pull it over the line."  You spent all this time leading up to the game and during the game, thinking about just how hard it is to get to that moment…you don’t want to see that moment get away from you."

ANTHONY RIZZO on how he felt leading up to Game 7: "You close your eyes and you just start thinking of the parade.  You just start thinking of 'What if you mess up?'…and you start thinking 'What if you're the reason?'  You start thinking of the good things...okay, you (might) hit the game-winning home run, the game-winning hit, you got all these thoughts, and you close your eyes, and they start coming (hand gesture) 'boom, boom, boom' and it's like ‘whoa, okay..."

KYLE SCHWARBER on being called a Cubs ‘legend’ after his improbable return to the World Series line-up & going 3-5 in Game 7: "I don't read into the headlines.  I just know I'm me and I love playing baseball.  If I keep doing my job and I keep having fun with the game, I feel like everyone's going to respond well to me.  My teammates, my manager, my coaching staff, the front office, the fans, I think they all have respect for the way I play the game.  The legend thing?...I got a long way to go for that (laughs), I really do.  I don't want people to get too hyped up on it, but you know, it's definitely an honor.  It's an honor to be called that because these Cubs fans have seen a lot of history.  For that to be said, it's super cool."

JON LESTER on his reaction to warming up in the bullpen before entering the game with two outs in the bottom of the 5th inning: "The scenario changed three times that inning.  It was first, I'm facing (Carlos) Santana no matter what.  They wanted him to hit from the right side, not the left side…actually that was before the inning even started, I was going to face Santana.  We scored four runs, five, whatever it was at that point, then it's 'You get the sixth.'  Then, (Maddon) goes back out and it goes back to 'You get Santana no matter what.'  Then, as soon as the phone hung up, they called back down, 'You have (Jason) Kipnis no matter what.'  So, that's when you start switching, and the phone didn't ring again.  Now, (Hendricks) gets two quick outs.  I'm kind of like, 'Okay, I'm not getting in this inning.'  All of a sudden…ball 1…ball 2…I think he ended up going full count and ended up walking him.  Now you're like 'Oh man, I'm actually getting in this game.'  Now you try to chuck a few more and then now it's more of 'Okay?...is he going to make the move?’  And then Joe (Maddon) finally comes out."

JOE MADDON on his plan to go from Kyle Hendricks…to Jon Lester…to Aroldis Chapman: "Kyle (Hendricks) had a tough third, but then he settles down in the fourth and he's looking good in the fifth…but, by also having Jon Lester there, part of the game plan for me was to get to Jon probably in the sixth.  But, I chose to go to him only there because of Kipnis hitting.  But if you could go from Kyle, to Jon, to Aroldis (Chapman), that's exactly where I was at before the game...and that's pretty good.  If you have those three guys…you have two Cy Young candidates and arguably one of the best closers ever to put in the game that day…so, all of that was part of the game plan."

THEO EPSTEIN on the criticism of Cubs manager Joe Maddon: "I was second guessing some of the decisions myself in the stands…that's the nature of it.  I think the bottom line is if people knew Joe, they could understand that everything he does is for a reason.  It might not always be 100% right.  He might not always weigh the reasons or the variables the exact same way a computer would or the way the front office would or the advanced scouts would, but he's always doing it in his mind and he's hired to do that.  He's hired to use all his experience, his understanding of people, his understanding of what winning baseball is all about…to push the right buttons, to win enough games, to get us in the playoffs, and win 11 more games and win the World Series.  No one said you have to win the World Series and do it in a way where the fans agree or your bosses agree with every single move that you make along the way.  The mandate is, let's win a World Series together…and that's exactly what he did, so that's the end of the sentence."

DAVID ROSS on his reaction to the wild pitch that allowed two runs to score after entering the game in the 5th inning: "When I came in and I threw that ball in the crapper…and then that other ball kicked off my mask and I tripped over my own feet and two runs score, I’m thinking to myself ‘Are you kidding me?...I’ve been in the game for five minutes and I just let two runs in."

THEO EPSTEIN on his reaction to Rajai Davis’ game-tying HR in the bottom of the 8th inning: "I don't think I thought the curse was alive, but you're aware of the narrative.  You're like shoot...this...fits the frickin' narrative.  And now it's on us....now we have to come back and show it's not true.  But obviously it fits the narrative…you know, an all-time boner moment, you know in that situation, with four outs to go and putting it on a platter for them to tie the game up like that."

JASON HEYWARD on ‘The Speech’: "I didn't even do it to lead anything, I was just being myself.  I did it because I give a damn.  When I told them I love them…I meant it…because they saw that in me already.  To hear guys appreciate it and respect it and say those things, it's awesome.  It gives me chills every time somebody talks about it, but I just did what I did (for our team)."

BEN ZOBRIST on hitting the go-ahead double in the 10th inning: "The best I could do in the moment was to not hit a home run.  The best I could do in the moment was to hit a hard ground ball down the third base line.  And you know what?  We're not talking about this if the third baseman is standing one foot to his right…we're not talking about it.  But, I believe in a higher power, I believe that for some reason he was one foot to his left and it worked out for our club.  So call it what you want.  If we were cursed before, we were blessed in that moment, right?  I was blessed in that moment…the team was blessed in that moment…Cubs fans everywhere were blessed in that moment."

KRIS BRYANT on if he was smiling while fielding the final out:  "I don't know...I see it every day.  People are sending it to me, but I'm like 'is that a smile?'  I don't remember smiling...it looks like it, but it also looks like I'm trying to concentrate, but I don't know.  We'll go with it either way.  Regardless, it's a cool moment for me to see.  Something cool to be a part of to make the last out of a World Series and (Rizzo) obviously catching it, and just thinking 'this is the coolest story that I've ever been a part of'…and I’m glad it ended the way it did."

CSN will also re-air Reign Men: The Story behind Game 7 of the 2016 World Series on the following dates/times: March 30 at 7:00 PM, April 8 at 9:30 PM, April 13 at 5:00 PM, April 20 at 7:00 PM, and April 23 at 3:30 PM.  In addition, fans on Twitter are urged to follow @CSNOriginal  for the latest Reign Men updates and exclusive preview clips leading up to the March 27 premiere, plus -- fans can also get interactive prior to and during the premiere airing with their Game 7 thoughts, memories and comments by utilizing the Twitter hashtag #CSNReignMen.  Viewers are also urged to visit a special, dedicated CSNChicago.com Reign Men section at CSNChicago.com/Reign-Men, which will include video footage from the television version of Reign Men and “web-exclusive” video excerpts not shown on TV.  In addition, CSNChicago.com will provide the full documentary trailer, a photo gallery, a social media portal, special “Cubs Talk” podcasts, and original Reign Men commentary write-ups via CSNChicago.com’s Cubs “Insider” Patrick Mooney. 

State of the Cubs: Left field

State of the Cubs: Left field

As the Cubs maneuver through a pivotal offseason, we will break down the current state of the team by sectioning it off into position groups. Here is the eighth installment on left field.

Is this the year Kyle Schwarber *truly* breaks out and finally silences all of the haters?

That's the narrative surrounding the left-handed slugger, but in reality, 2018 probably should've been enough to silence Schwarber's haters.

He finished with 3.2 WAR (FanGraphs), nearly reaching the mark (3.4 fWAR) he put up in his entire MLB career prior to 2018. A lot of that was due to increased defensive ratings across the board — the culmination of shedding a bunch of weight last winter and continuing to develop and learn the outfield position in the big leagues.

But Schwarber also took some major strides at the plate, even with some of the same questions about power that faced every Cubs hitter last year.

Consider this — the entire list of qualified MLB hitters who had a higher walk percentage (15.3 percent) AND isolated power (.229) than Schwarber in 2018:

Mike Trout
Bryce Harper

That's it. That's the complete list.

Of course, Schwarber is not without his warts as a player. His defense still isn't "good" even when you take into account the weapon his throwing arm has become. He struggles mightily against left-handed pitching, posting a .654 OPS and hitting only 1 of his 26 dingers off southpaws last year. 

Maybe more than anything, Schwarber has to find a way to produce runs when he's not hitting the ball out onto Sheffield Ave. Over the last two seasons, Schwarber has driven in just 120 runs in 996 plate appearances despite 56 homers. FanGraphs had an interesting article last September shining a light on Schwarber's historically poor performance in the clutch in 2018.

Schwarber and the Cubs are insistent the "clutch" performance last year was just randomness. After all, this is the guy who tied the overall franchise record for postseason homers in one October (2015) and returned in epic fashion for the 2016 World Series.

If the Cubs are going to get where they want to go in 2019 and fix an offense that "broke" down the stretch, they're going to need a big performance from their left fielder.

Depth chart

1. Kyle Schwarber
2. Ian Happ
3. Ben Zobrist
4. Kris Bryant
5. Daniel Descalso
6. David Bote
7. Mark Zagunis
8. Johnn Field

Left field is Schwarber's for the indefinite future. There's a reason the Cubs haven't traded him yet despite all the rumors surrounding America's Large Adult Son. Theo Epstein's front office clearly hasn't received a package of players or prospects they deem worth the price of getting rid of Schwarber, who they still feel has another level to attain on the field and serves as an important presence in the clubhouse with his work ethic and attitude.

However, the Cubs still may platoon Schwarber in left field, subbing him out against tough lefties (or maybe most lefties if he doesn't start hitting for more power off southpaws). He also dealt with a disc issue in his back that sapped much of the final month of the season, but that's not expected to continue into 2019.

When it's not Schwarber in left, the Cubs will probably turn to Happ first, as he's looking more and more like a full-time outfielder as time goes on. Zobrist and Bryant will also see some time out in left, especially if Bote is able to carry over the defensive skills he flashed in limited time last year.

Descalso has some experience in left, but made just three starts there last year for the Diamondbacks. Bote has played outfield in the minors and Zagunis and Field represent depth in Triple-A if disaster strikes the Cubs outfield.

What's next?

That depends on Schwarber. Assuming he can stay healthy, he needs to continue along the path he started last season making significant strides as a hitter and defender.

Even if he's never able to hit lefties well, Schwarber still needs to find a way to avoid the quiet stretches where he disappears for a couple series in a row. Other teams still fear him as a hitter, but not on an everyday basis.

As the Cubs lineup works to remake its image, a thriving Schwarber hitting 4th or 5th and cleaning up the likes of Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Javy Baez on base in front of him would be a huge step in the right direction.

The bottom line

The Cubs have enough depth if Schwarber takes a step backward or injury hits. Unless there's a surprise Bryce Harper signing, the Cubs feel very good about their outfield depth heading into spring training.

State of the Cubs: SP
State of the Cubs: RP
State of the Cubs: C
State of the Cubs: 1B
State of the Cubs: 2B
State of the Cubs: 3B
State of the Cubs: SS

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SportsTalk Live Podcast: MLB and NFL Commotion

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: MLB and NFL Commotion

Anthony Herron, Scott King and Jason Goch join Kap on Tuesday's SportsTalk Live panel.

0:00 - Mariano Rivera, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina and Roy Halladay get elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame while Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens remain out. Will they get in next year? Do they deserve to get in at all?

12:00 - Yadier Molina is still mad that Kris Bryant called St. Louis "boring." Why can't The Best Fans in Baseball let it go?

15:00 - Yu Darvish posts a throwing video on Instagram. Who's excited?

16:30 - Saints fans are suing the NFL. But will they have to settle for the league changing its instant replay guidelines or is that too much video review?

22:30 - Patrick Mahomes watches from the bench as Tom Brady drives down the field in overtime. Does the league need to adopt college style OT?

29:00 - The Bears get two more players in the Pro Bowl pushing their total to 8. Is making the Pro Bowl still a big deal?

Listen to the entire podcast here or in the embedded player below.

Sports Talk Live Podcast

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