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A Cubs Night At The Opera

BCB’s Danny Rockett went to the Civic Opera House to see the premiere of the 2016 Cubs World Series video.

Crane Kenney, Tom Ricketts and Len Kasper with the World Series trophy

The last time the Cubs won the World Series before 2016, the art of filmmaking was in its infancy and motion pictures didn’t have sound. What a difference 108 years make!

A crowd of Cubs fans and dignitaries packed into Chicago’s beautifully ornate Civic Opera House to see the premiere of FS1’s “The 2016 World Series” on Tuesday, to relive and celebrate the first World Series Championship on the North Side of Chicago ever. (1907 and 1908 were won while the team played on the West Side and the games were won in Detroit, and technically I suppose 2016 was won in Cleveland.) A grand opera house proved a perfectly grand venue for the grand occasion.

(Spoiler Alert!) Although we all already knew the happy ending when the Cubs win the 2016 World Series, the film documentary highlighting every thrill and spill that was first Cubs Championship since D.W. Griffith’s silent film “A Calamitous Elopement” was a much needed opportunity to process the magnitude of what just happened to Die-Hard Cubs fans a few short weeks ago. Call it Cubs Fan Group Therapy.

We relived every tense moment together, simultaneously groaning when Joe Maddon brought in Aroldis Chapman with a huge lead in Game 6, with the audience’s displeasure pierced by a rowdy theatre patron yelling “No Chapman Game 6!” Everything that happened in the series that made you jump for joy and/or throw a shoe at the TV screen was alternately joyously and painfully highlighted in high definition slow motion. Every drip of sweat from a pitcher’s brow! Every crying, nervous, cheering, painted, laughing, dancing, shoulder-sitting Cubs or Indians fan from each long-suffering city was milked for every drop of tension in our racing hearts. And every bad thing that happened in this series that ended up all right for us in the end, seemed a healing moment to watch for a fan base that was once used to everything not turning out all right.

Let’s put it this way. Even though there are many interviews with “Worst Cubs Fan Ever” Jason Kipnis, I doubt this film sells well in Cleveland unless they bill it as a horror movie. However, the documentary does a great job of balancing the interviews of players, coaches and fans from both sides, providing a window into the many perspectives and thought processes that make up such an epic event. The film is a well-rounded and thorough dive into what will surely be known as one of the greatest World Series of all time.

The film was hosted by red-carpet dignitaries Len Kasper and Tom Ricketts and attended by Crane Kenney, Scott Sanderson, Randy Hundley, Wayne & Kathleen Messmer, Cubs first-base coach Brandon Hyde, and Clark the Cub. The World Series trophy was also in attendance. It was the second time I’d seen it with my own eyes, and this time it seemed so tiny viewed on the scale of the opera house’s vast proscenium. I guess that’s why you have to win the World Series a few times to fill up such a large stage.

As host, Len Kasper was excellent as always and had the best lines of the night. When asked what his favorite moment of the 2016 season was, he replied “David Ross’s smile.” Len also passed on a great line we can use for next year’s campaign. You think the Cubs were good in 2016? “Wait Until Next Year!”

“The 2016 World Series” will be aired Friday, December 2 on FS1 at 6 p.m. Central Time and can be pre-ordered here.

My advice would be to get together with as many other Cubs fans as you can to watch this retelling of our crowning moment in baseball’s annals of history. This film is highly recommended and worthy of a “Watch Party.” Lasting just over an hour, it’s the perfect distraction from family togetherness during the holiday season. I also might recommend trolling your White Sox and Cardinals fan friends and relatives by silently slipping it in their DVD players at the Christmas party.

My only criticism of the film is the gratuitous use of slow motion. I love watching a pitcher pitch, a runner slide, and a bat hitting a ball in slow motion, but I don’t need to see players walking from the bus in slow motion in a reused clip to provide fake drama. The 2016 World Series was dramatic enough. For me, it didn’t need padding.

Vince Vaughn does a nice job with the voiceover with intense subtlety, and the editing of the film allows the players, coaches, executives and fans to tell the story of what they were personally feeling in those particular moments during the World Series in their own words. The film is a well rounded perspective into every aspect of the roller coaster ride that we all just experienced a few weeks ago.

So curl up with a bowl of popcorn and a heart defibrillator and relive “The 2016 World Series.” I think you’ll like the ending.

(Photos by Crawly and Danny Rockett)