Recently TCR had the chance to review a DVD set commemorating great Cubs games since 1984. It seemed like something worth writing about on an off day. We’ve been looking for new fodder anyway—it gets SO monotonous covering a team that always wins.
I remember the first time I came across ESPN Classic. I was clicking through the channels in a hotel room when I discovered it, and the thought that a whole cable channel could devote itself to showing historically significant games much as they were originally broadcast seemed too good to be true.
After a few minutes, however, the novelty of seeing Willie Stargell and Steve Blass in a 1971 World Series
game called by Curt Gowdy was outweighed by the tedium of waiting to see the game’s signature moment. In short order, I was back to grazing the cablescape in search of a Shannon Tweed movie
So it is with a handsomely packaged set of DVDs awkwardly entitled, “Chicago Cubs Legends Great Games Collector’s Edition”
(CCLGGCE for short). The eight-disc collection was produced by A&E Home Video and Major League Baseball, and each disc presents one Cubs game from the past 23 years in its commercial-free entirety, some games more truly significant than others.
The honored list includes:
--6/23/84, Cubs vs. Cardinals, the “Sandberg Game”
--10/2/84, Cubs vs. Padres, NLCS Game 1
--8/1/87, Cubs vs. Phillies, Dawson hits 3 HRs
--10/5/89, Cubs vs. Giants, NLCS Game 2
--5/6/98, Cubs vs. Astros, Kerry Wood’s 20 Ks
--9/3/98, Cubs vs. Brewers, Sosa hits #61 and #62
--8/7/04, Cubs vs. Giants, Maddux wins 300
--6/1/05, Cubs vs. Dodgers, Lee goes 5-for-5
With four of the games—the Sandberg Game, Wood’s 20 Ks, Sosa hits 62, and Maddux wins 300—the historical significance is obvious; the other four must have made it into the collection because the producers happened to access decent quality copies of the original telecasts.
The thing is, even when considering the most historic games of the bunch, 95% of the action is utterly mundane. Think about it: when we talk about any “great game” we treasure having seen, e.g., Monday’s unlikely win over the Rockies
, we’re usually talking about a memorable inning or two; maybe a half-inning; in some cases, just a single, dramatic at-bat.
The ’84 Sandberg Game is a good example. What makes it special is Sandberg having hit two game-tying home runs against Bruce Sutter. But that was an 11-inning game lasting nearly four hours. Sandberg’s two historic ABs and the excitement that ensued probably take up four minutes of the total play time.
Is it worth plunking down $39.98 for the collection so you can scan each disc for the goosebump-raising, time-capsule moment(s) in each game? I would have to say no.
That is not to suggest the collection is worthless. It's fun and in many cases downright moving to step back into the Cubbie past. Sandberg’s heroics against Sutter really were magnificent, as was Wood’s nearly flawless game against the Astros. And as much as I have come to revile Sammy Sosa, I found it impossible to view that ’98 game and not be fully reminded what an awesome force he was at home plate and how he could electrify 40,000 Cub fans like no one before him or since.
Besides the eight featured games, the collection offers extras like video snippets from the careers of Ernie Banks, Ron Santo and Billy Williams, and grainy telecast footage of the last two outs of Kenny Holtzman’s no-hitter against the Braves. I thought each of those was entertaining. So, too, was hearing Jack Brickhouse and Harry Caray doing play-by-play in the older games.
My bottom line:
Though the idea of presenting historic Cub games in their entirety sounds worthwhile, it makes for a lot of boring viewing and lots of leaning on the scan button. Even at $39.98—half of what A&E was selling the collection for originally—it’s just not worth the cost.
Of course, if A&E could bundle this with a Shannon Tweed film retrospective, they might have something.
1 1/2 pairs of oversized Harry Caray glasses out of 4.
Rob G’s rating:
3 pairs of oversized Harry Caray glasses out of 4.
Cubnut - You ignorant slut. This is good stuff (Just kidding, please don't quit). I only watched a couple of DVD's, but watching Will Clark dismantle us in the 1989 series, Kerry Wood making major league hitters look like 5 year olds on their very first little league team....Don Zimmer; you just can't beat that kind of nostalgia. Each DVD cover has a boxscore of the game plus some trivial tidbits and full play-by-play of the game which I thought were nice little touches. About the only thing I was really hoping to find,
but didn't was Ryne Sandberg's Hall Of Fame induction speech (CORRECTION)
looks like at least highlights of Ryno's HOF speech are somewhere on those eight discs according to the product page.
The good folks though at A&E sent me a few copies as promotional items and we'll be using them as giveaways including part of the prize for our preseason contest
. But while it's up to you guys if you thinks it's worth buying, it's certainly a good gift to get a diehard Cubs fan you may know or something you might request as birthday, Father's Day or Christmas gift.