Chicago Tribune, 9/14/06
The Cubs can only hope HBO does for them what it did for the Boston Red Sox.
In 2004, the network aired a documentary on Boston's numerous heartbreaks. When the Red Sox went on to win the World Series a few months later, HBO compiled an updated version on the delirious aftermath.
Now it is the Cubs' turn. "Wait 'til Next Year: The Saga of the Chicago Cubs" will appear on HBO at 9 p.m. Sept. 26.
Given the HBO effect on the Red Sox, put the Cubs down as World Series champs in 2007, right?
"We expect nothing less," John McDonough, the Cubs' vice president for marketing and broadcasting, said with tongue firmly in cheek.
HBO actually should have done the Cubs first because their futility topped Boston. Heck, at least the Red Sox appeared in five World Series in the last 60 years.
Summing up the Cubs' 98-year run without a title, actor and Chicago native Jeff Garlin said, "It is just a big bowl of wrong."
Producer Joe Lavine documents all those Cubs wrongs throughout the years. There's the Billy Goat curse; the 1969 flop; the grounder that got past Leon Durham in San Diego; and of course, the sad tale of Mr. Bartman.
HBO was able to unearth some great vintage Cubs footage. There's an interview with Phillip Wrigley when he unveiled his ridiculous "College of Coaches" scheme in 1961. He admitted he didn't know who would be first to call the shots. Little wonder that plan didn't work.
HBO found a clip of Lou Brock dropping a ball with the Cubs; hence, the trade. You will see Leo Durocher making sure everyone knows he's boss when he becomes Cubs manager. There's a ton of old Jack Brickhouse "Back, back, back, Hey-Hey!" calls that never seem to go out of style.
Former players such as Ron Santo, Billy Williams, Ferguson Jenkins and Ryne Sandberg give their perspectives. And there are celebrity fans, including Chicago native Dennis Farina, who serves as narrator.
The core of the piece, however, is the regular fan. Like the Red Sox version, HBO's strength is being able to capture the unwavering bond Cubs' followers have to the franchise, no matter how bad it gets.
It is their words that document the expectation and trauma of 1969, 1984 and 2003. Everyone knows what happened in Game 6 against Florida, but HBO tells it in a way that brings the pain even closer to home—through the fans.
Ultimately, "Wait 'til Next Year" is a compelling testament to the long-suffering Cubs fans. Enjoy it and then hope HBO has to do another updated version after the Cubs win it all in October 2007.
Don't count on it. It airs at 8 p.m. Thursday 9/26.
Article by Ed Sherman, Chicago Tribune, Sept. 14, 2006