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. 

Kyle Schwarber has rocky start to Triple-A stint

Kyle Schwarber has rocky start to Triple-A stint

The Cubs gave Kyle Schwarber time to sort things out by sending him down to Triple-A Iowa, and Schwarber's first game back in the minors shows he may need some time.

Schwarber's first game with the Iowa Cubs was a forgettable one. He struck out in his first three plate appearances before singling in his last at-bat. He struck out looking in the first inning before striking out swinging his next two times up.

Schwarber batted third in the lineup and played left field. Iowa won 1-0 against the New Orleans Baby Cakes.

He last played for Iowa in 2015, but only spent 17 games there. He hit .333 with three homers and a 1.036 OPS in that short stint. Before getting sent down Schwarber was hitting .171 with the Cubs with 12 home runs, but also 75 strikeouts in 64 games.

Cubs show why they are defending champs while Nationals still have something to prove

Cubs show why they are defending champs while Nationals still have something to prove

WASHINGTON – The Cubs already visited the White House. The Washington Nationals are still the team with so much more to prove.

Dusty Baker needs this October to cement his spot in Cooperstown, the way Joe Maddon put the final bullet point on his Hall of Fame resume. Bryce Harper and Kris Bryant took different routes out of Las Vegas, but only one has the World Series ring to go with the Rookie of the Year/MVP hardware. While the clock is ticking on Max Scherzer and that championship parade down Pennsylvania Avenue, the Jon Lester megadeal essentially paid for itself.

Cubs vs. Nationals is supposed to be a circle-your-calendar event. Except the Cubs rolled out a Cactus League lineup on Monday night and Nationals Park featured rows and rows of empty seats amid a crowd of 29,651 where the celebrity vibe became more George Will than A-Rod and J-Lo.

The Cubs still hung on for a 5-4 victory that might have been their best under-the-circumstances win in a season that will hit the halfway point this weekend, showing why they’re the defending champs.

“It is exciting – don’t get me wrong,” Maddon said. “It’s just that we’re attending with a different group than we thought we would be attending this party with.

“And that’s OK, because these guys now are getting the kind of experience that is going to be very beneficial to us in August and September.”

A rash of injuries forced the Cubs to start Jeimer Candelario at third base and Mark Zagunis in right field and Javier Baez kept making highlight-reel plays while Addison Russell rested his sore right shoulder, leaping to grab to a Harper line drive and racing across the left-field line and sliding into the wall to make another spectacular catch in foul territory.

“Games like this is what we need right now – competition,” said Baez, who struck out in his first three at-bats and finished at 2-for-5. “Playing tight games like this will make us make adjustments better and be more in the game.”

With Kyle Schwarber more than 1,000 miles away in Des Moines and hitting the reset button at Triple-A Iowa, Willson Contreras became the leadoff hitter of the day and launched Gio Gonzalez’s fifth pitch of the game into the left-field seats.

The young Cubs manufactured their next run in the eighth inning when Baez stole third base and scored on Albert Almora Jr.’s perfectly placed bunt into the no man’s land between the pitcher’s mound and the first-base line. The bullpen is Washington’s Achilles’ heel and showed with a three-run meltdown in the ninth inning.

Eddie Butler – who began the season in the Iowa rotation – neutralized a powerful Washington lineup while getting just one strikeout in five innings. Maddon pushed a lot of bullpen buttons, not going to Wade Davis for a four-out save and then summoning the All-Star closer when Hector Rondon couldn’t work with a five-run cushion.

In a dramatic finish, Davis survived giving up three hits, a walk and a wild pitch, striking out Ryan Zimmerman with a curveball to end a game that lasted 3 hours and 54 minutes.

“To play so well and not win that game would have really been awful,” Maddon said.

The Cubs needed this with Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg looming the next two nights. But for all of their talent and regular-season dominance – three division titles since 2012 and close to a 100-win pace this year – the Nationals still haven’t won a playoff series in a city where the Senators once won it all in 1924.

This could be an epic matchup in October, bursting with stars and pumping with bad blood. Just listen to Baker during his pregame media briefing, responding to a question about a power hitter like Anthony Rizzo batting leadoff: “I ain’t worried about the Cubs. They can do their thing.”

Or Baker dismissing Maddon’s mind games and the possibility of intentionally walking Harper when Ryan Zimmerman is a Triple Crown contender: “It’s a new time and a new day.”

The last word from Maddon, who keeps insisting the 39-37 Cubs have a hot streak in them and that he digs the youth movement: “If this was a spring training lineup, we might get a call.”