Being a Cubs fan is a non-fatal, incurable disease!
October 14, 2003—Top of the eighth inning, Game Six of the NLCS. The city of Chicago has been struck with Cubs fever. In the surrounding Wrigleyville neighborhood, bars and restaurants are exceeding capacity. Wavelend Avenue, which runs along the left field wall, is overflowing with fans armed with rally sticks and chanting "Let's go Cubbies!" The Chicago Cubs are five outs away from going to the World Series, for the first time since 1945. Cubs' wunderkind Mark Prior is masterful on the hill, pitching a shut out, with one out and a three-run lead. Pierre smacks a double. A walk to Castillo. A single by Rodriguez scores the run. 3-1 Cubs. No problem. And then it happens. Cubs shortstop Alex Gonzalez botches a routine double play ball, igniting a Florida Marlins rally that would cost the Cubs the game and the season. From Section 202, Row 31, Seat 8, 35 years of Cubs' heartbreak comes flooding back to me. I sit stunned. Amidst 40,000 fans, the only thing I hear is the breaking of a million hearts. I find myself unable to leave. Standing against the fence overlooking Waveland, watching the masses disperse, I listen to the chatter of a crowd convinced the team will get the job done in Game Seven. For as much as I want to believe, I know deep down it's over. "Next Year" is not here. Looking back at the now empty field, I pause a moment to grieve. The entire season was one incredible ride. Such is the life of a Cubs fan.
My father was born and raised in the shadow of Wrigley Field, and there are few spots more tranquil and pristine than the friendly confines. More than 100 years of history preserved for eternity in this enigmatic ballpark, nestled in the quaint Lakeview neighborhood. For Cubs fans, spending time at Wrigley is often more cherished than the game being played. We bring our family, friends, colleagues, and lovers. We dine on kosher hot dogs, Old Style beer, Cracker Jacks, and frosty malts. We revel in the smell of fresh cut grass, a breeze off the lake, the sound of the passing Red Line trains, a good game of mound ball, and the unpredictability of Chicago's weather. For three hours, the rest of the world disappears. It's true—our emotions are undeniably and symbiotically tied to the success and/or failure of the team. However, in the end, it's the chance to spend even the briefest of moments in this Eden-esque oasis that keeps us coming back for more.
MPI has done a marvelous job re-packaging two PBS specials and a brief glimpse at the euphoria of 2003, all of which celebrate the Chicago Cubs, the fans, and this classic ballpark.
Inside Wrigley Field (27 minutes, 2001)
The Cubs Fan (53 minutes, 1999)
Fandemonium 2003 (9 minutes, 2003)
Presented in 1.33:1 full screen format, the transfer is your standard television presentation, with loads of documentary-style footage from countless archives and personal collections. Utilizing a Dolby 2.0 Stereo track, the sound is suitably appropriate for the material at hand. If you're looking for something exceptional in terms of picture quality or sound, look somewhere else. Nothing in the way of bonus features, but that's not really what this release was geared towards.
If you are a Cubs fan or have one in your life, first of all, I'm sorry. I feel your pain and share your unending optimism each year as Spring Training rolls around. As we prepare for the new season, I cannot think of a better gift than MPI Home Video's Forever Loyal. This disc should be required viewing every March, when "Next Year" finally arrives. Follow it up with a playing of Steve Goodman's "A Dying Cubs Fan's Last Request," and you're all set for opening day. Let's play two! This court is adjourned.
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