A sure sign of spring – baseball is back! The national pastime has returned with (and I never thought I’d get to say this so I’m going to savor it) the defending World Series Champions Chicago Cubs (yeah, the thrill of saying that is never going to fade!), an early favorite to repeat.
Like any sports team that wins a championship, a new crop of books about the team soon pop up as publishers rush to take advantage of the excitement and interest. Most of the time – for 108 years actually – Cubs fans haven’t had a reason to look for books to relive a great season. All of that has changed now and books about the 2016 team and their epic World Series run are arriving. Here is a sampling:
Three titles that came out shortly after the World Series highlight the season. Won for the Ages by the Chicago Tribune only goes through the National League Championship Series; both 2016 World Series Champions from Major League Baseball and Believe It by the Chicago Sun Times include the World Series. All are packed with photos and stats and the ups and downs of 2016.
A Season for the Ages by Al Yello is more in-depth and looks at how the Cubs built a team that could break the drought. Just arrived is The Cubs Way by Tom Verducci which also looks at the winning Cub formula, concentrating especially on Theo Epstien (president of baseball operations) and Joe Maddon (manager) and the strategies they followed to create a team.
Coming soon is The Plan by David Kaplan, also about Epstein and Maddon’s baseball strategies (it’s safe to say that baseball managers everywhere are studying these ideas very carefully!), My Cubs: a Love Story by NPR’s Scott Simon and Teammate: My Life in Baseball, a biography by David Ross, one of the key Cub players, now retired (and on Dancing with the Stars!) It’s safe to say there’s plenty to read during rain delays and travel days!
The Cubs home opener is tonight; they’re going to raise the World Series banner (I still get chills saying that) and there’s sure to be lots of pomp and circumstance and happy tears (and maybe Bill Murray in the stands?) Someday has come and we went all the way – let’s do it again!
This year was a big year for fans of the Back to the Future movie trilogy as we finally catch up with the future timeline in the films. Buzz has been all over the internet with folks comparing the movie’s predictions of life in 2015 with what has really happened. For the full list of movie comparisons versus reality, click here.
What seemed to get the most attention was predictions the movie made about the 2015 baseball season. According to Back to the Future II, the Chicago Cubs win the World Series in a sweep over Miami on October 21, 2015. Fast forward to the real 2015. With the start of the baseball pre-season, fans of both the movie and team began posting on Facebook that the Cubs were going to win the World Series this year. Considering the Cubs have not played in the World Series since 1945, let alone won since 1908, this seemed like more than a long shot. But…what if? As the season went forward and the Cubs were looking better and better, more and more started to believe. When they beat the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS, even I started to believe (just for a tiny second). In the end, they couldn’t quite do it, but there was definitely some kind of magic in the city of Chicago during the 2015 season.
The Back to the Future franchise was ready for what they knew would be a great year to revive the 80’s trilogy. A Back to the Future Anniversary Trilogy DVD set was released earlier this year and the entire Back to the Future cartoon series. Let me just say, I loved that show! Also out is a Back to the Future PS4 video game.
Hollywood has followed up on this hype by releasing a brand new documentary about the making of the movie trilogy. Cast, crew and fans are featured in this 30th anniversary tribute. Back in Time stars Steven Spielberg, Micheal J. Fox, and Lea Thompson. For those of you that love the franchise, this is a must see. Back in Time along with the other anniversary items are available at the library.
In A Nice Little Place on the North Side, columnist George Will returns to baseball with a deeply personal look at his hapless Chicago Cubs and their often beatified home, Wrigley Field, as it turns one hundred years old.
Baseball, Will argues, is full of metaphors for life, religion, and happiness, and Wrigley is considered one of its sacred spaces. But what is its true, hyperbole-free history? Winding beautifully like Wrigley’s iconic ivy, Will’s meditation on “The Friendly Confines” examines both the unforgettable stories that forged the field’s legend and the larger-than-life characters – from Wrigley and Ruth to Veeck, Durocher, and Banks – who brought it glory, heartbreak, and scandal. Drawing upon his trademark knowledge and inimitable sense of humor, Will also explores his childhood connections to the team, the Cubs’ future, and what keeps long-suffering fans rooting for the home team after so many years of futility.
In the end, A Nice Little Place on the North Side is more than just the history of a ballpark. It is the story of Chicago, of baseball, and of America itself. (description from publisher)
Chicago in the Roaring Twenties was a city of immigrants, mobsters, and flappers with one shared passion: the Chicago Cubs. It all began with the decision of the chewing-gum tycoon William Wrigley to build the world’s greatest ball club in the nation’s Second City. In this Jazz Age center, the maverick Wrigley exploited the revolutionary technology of broadcasting and attracted eager throngs of women to his renovated ballpark.
Mr. Wrigley’s Ball Club transports us to this heady era of baseball history and introduces the team at its crazy heart – an amalgam of rakes, pranksters, schemers, and choirboys who take centre stage in memorable successes and disasters. Readers take front-row seats to meet one Hall of Famer after another – Grover Cleveland Alexander, Rogers Hornsby, Joe McCarthy, Lewis “Hack” Wilson, Gabby Hartnett. The cast of characters also includes their colorful if less-sung teammates and the Cubs’ nemesis, Babe Ruth, who terminates the ambitions of Mr. Wrigley’s ball club with one emphatic swing. (description from publisher)
It’s Opening Day for Major League Baseball! We’ve got one more day before the Cubs start breaking our hearts (they open tomorrow at Wrigley Field against the Washington Nationals); here’s a reminder that the Cubs weren’t always the lovable losers.
Before the Curse: The Chicago Cubs’ Glory Years, 1870-1945 brings to life the early history of the much beloved and often heartbreaking Chicago Cubs. Originally called the Chicago White Stockings, the team immediately established itself as a powerhouse, winning the newly formed National Base Ball League’s inaugural pennant in 1876, repeating the feat in 1880 and 1881, and commanding the league in the decades to come.
The legendary days of the Cubs are recaptured here in more than two dozen vintage newspaper accounts and historical essays on the teams and the fans who loved them. The great games, pennant races, and series are all here, including the 1906 World Series between the Cubs and Chicago White Sox. Of course, Before the Curse remembers the hall-of-fame players -Grover Cleveland Alexander, Gabby Hartnett, Roger Hornsby, Dizzy Dean – who delighted Cubs fans with their play on the field and their antics elsewhere. Through stimulating introductions to each article, Randy Roberts and Carson Cunningham demonstrate how changes in ownership affected the success of the team, who the teams’ major players were both on and off the field, and how regular fans, owners, players, journalists, and Chicagoans of the past talked and wrote about baseball. (description from the publisher)