Chicago 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. 

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Which Cub will make biggest impact down the stretch?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Which Cub will make biggest impact down the stretch?

Ben Finfer (ESPN 1000), Chris Hine (Chicago Tribune) and Jordan Bernfield join David Kaplan on the panel. Jon Lester, Addison Russell and Willson Contreras all work out with the Cubs before their game. Which player’s return with have the biggest impact down the stretch?

Plus, the guys discuss how many snaps Mitch Trubisky should take with the first team, debate who won the big Cavs/Celtics deal and Scott Paddock drops by with the latest NASCAR news.

Listen to the SportsTalk Live Podcast below. 

Mike Montgomery will gladly aid Cubs as spot starter, but could this be a mini audition for 2018 rotation?

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USA TODAY

Mike Montgomery will gladly aid Cubs as spot starter, but could this be a mini audition for 2018 rotation?

Jon Lester isn’t expected to be on the disabled list for long, which of course is great news for the Cubs.

But while he’s there, it’s once again time for Mike Montgomery to audition for a spot in the team’s 2018 starting rotation.

The Cubs are facing the possibility of losing two members of that starting staff this offseason, when both Jake Arrieta and John Lackey will be free agents. Montgomery seems like a logical replacement, but he’ll need to be better than he’s been as a starter this season. He’s put up a 5.13 ERA in eight starts.

He’ll get another opportunity to show his stuff over the next week or so, as he makes one or two spot starts with Lester on the shelf resting up his left lat tightness and general shoulder fatigue.

“I don’t want to see anybody get hurt, especially our ace. But it’s a challenge. I’m looking forward to going out there and helping the team win,” Montgomery said over the weekend. “I’m going to go out there and prepare and be ready to help this team get to the playoffs.”

Montgomery doesn’t have to worry about instilling confidence in his bosses. Joe Maddon and Theo Epstein both lauded Montgomery’s efforts since he was acquired about a year ago, in the middle of the 2016 team’s march to that curse-smashing World Series win. It was Montgomery who earned the save in Game 7.

And again this season Montgomery has given plenty of reason for those guys to have confidence in him. He’s turned in a strong 2.57 ERA in 27 relief appearances, one of the more reliable arms out of what is becoming an increasingly shaky bullpen. This past Thursday, he relieved the early-to-depart Lester, pitching 4.1 shutout innings and allowing just three hits and a walk against the Cincinnati Reds.

Throw in the versatility of being able to effectively switch between starting and relieving, and that’s a recipe for sticking on a big league roster.

“He’s good about bouncing back and forth,” Maddon said. “He’s been invaluable to us the last couple years. He’s still learning his craft. Every time I talk to him it’s kind of like the little lightbulb constantly goes off for him regarding his stuff and how to utilize it. That’s what I’ve been talking about with him the last couple years. This guy’s got all kinds of tools in the toolbox but he doesn’t really know how to utilize them all, and I think he’s finally understanding the cutter, the curve, the changeup to go with the fastball. He’s one of those guys that he should never get wild with his fastball because his pitches are so good and he can throw them for a strike.”

Montgomery’s reliability has been enough that Epstein said there’s no plan for the Cubs to add another starting pitcher before this month’s waiver trade deadline. Of course, the fact that Lester’s injury isn’t as bad as initially feared and the July acquisition of Jose Quintana factors into that, as well.

“We’ve expended a lot of prospect capital trying to make this team better. We think it’s just a start or two (that Lester will miss), and Mike Montgomery is more than capable of filling in,” Epstein said. “He’s thrown the ball really well, like what we saw from him (Thursday). So we’re going to fill that vacancy internally with Mike and go from there.”

While every start made by any pitcher this season seems important — the Cubs entered Monday’s day off with just a two-game lead on the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Central standings, with a playoff spot hardly guaranteed — Montgomery’s efforts could have just as great an effect on next season. If Arrieta and Lackey both end up departing via free agency, the Cubs will need some replacements. Montgomery figures to be among the first options, especially if this midseason audition goes well.

Of course, Montgomery is happy to do whatever he needs to to help his team. He’s not complaining about a bullpen role or one that has him shuttling between the relief corps and the rotation. But he admitted that starting is his goal, meaning the importance of this moment likely hasn't been lost on him.

“Yeah, absolutely, I wanted to start. But also I wanted to be a guy who could fill another role and hopes that makes our team better,” he said. “If me starting makes us better in their mind, then that’s what I want ideally. But I’ve realized I can’t always control that, I can go out there and pitch well. If I pitch well, they’re probably going to give me more opportunities, which is probably going to lead to starting.

“I think it’s because I spent five years in Triple-A from the time I was 21 and I had a bigger ego. And then you realize that you just want to be in the big leagues and that Triple-A kind of stinks. I think it’s just how I’ve gotten to this point. And coming here last year from a team that was trying to get in the playoffs to a team that was clearly going to win the division, you realize that your role isn’t to come here and start making demands, it’s to come here and just do your job.”

Right now, the Cubs need Montgomery to fill the void while Lester rests up. And if he can make his starts look a little more like his bullpen outings, he’ll do just that. And if that’s what happens, maybe they’ll call on him next season to do a whole lot more.