Photos from the Cubs’ home opener on Monday, April 10, 2017, at Wrigley Field.
After winning the World Series in 1907 and ’08, the Cubs didn’t exactly rush to commemorate the ’08 season, waiting until June 18, 1909, to raise their championship banner.
After a brass band led the Cubs and Dodgers around the field at the old West Side Grounds, the banner-raising began and then abruptly ended. The rope pulley broke before the pennant reached the top of the flagpole, and the banner then blew away behind the center-field bleachers.
Coincidentally, the Cubs did not have another such ceremony for nearly 108 years.
But the 2016 banner raising at Wrigley Field on Monday night, with the same two opponents on hand, went quite a bit smoother.
Despite the rain delay it was a memorable night celebrating a remarkable season, with a Hollywood ending thanks to Anthony Rizzo’s walk-off RBI single in the ninth inning. A few hours earlier, it was Rizzo raising the banner.
Now comes what might be, what could be, and what is the last hurrah for 2016 — the ring ceremony before Wednesday night’s game. Sure, they could have done both in one night, but as the old saying goes, "That’s Cub."
With a reported 108 diamonds on them, the rings figure to be a little gaudy, albeit in a good kind of way.
"I’m sure it will be," Ben Zobrist said. "That’s kind of the point of wearing a World Series ring. It’s obvious it’s going to be something special."
Too bad the Cubs marketing department already used "the party of the century" theme in 2014 for the 100th anniversary of Wrigley Field because this may be the real deal.
Since winning the World Series last year, the Cubs have been on one nonstop joyride, and it doesn’t seem close to ending. An interactive exhibit in the concourse lets fans stand in front of a giant front page of the Tribune from the day the Cubs won, putting themselves into the iconic photo of celebrating players.
Stretching out the party comes with the territory for world champions from any sport, but the chorus just seems to keep getting louder and louder from fans the further the Cubs get from Nov. 2, 2016.
"They say thank you a lot, which is like, ‘Really, c’mon, I mean, you’re welcome, but …’" manager Joe Maddon said. "It’s a lot of gratitude more than anything. And it’s pretty much the same refrain from everyone we meet.
"It doesn’t really vary from that, whether in the apartment, on the elevator (Sunday) night coming in, (when) a couple of people on the elevator are like ‘Thank you, great (job).’ Leaving today in the parking garage … ‘Congratulations.’ That’s what you hear.
"And the refrain is pretty consistent from the entire group. And they’re always respectful. Nobody wants anything, which I love. Everybody just wants to say thank you. They don’t even want a picture and an autograph. They just want to say thank you, shake your hand, well done, which we all really appreciate."
Cubs fans have been saying thank you so much the players are in jeopardy of going on the disabled list with thank you fatigue. Example A may be Zobrist, who told a story of a cop hugging him last week before the season opener in St. Louis.
Cubs players and staff members attend a variety of off-day events around Chicago on Tuesday, April 11, 2017.
"I saw him at Happy’s Smokehouse, and he just bear-hugged me, basically started crying on my shoulder," Zobrist said. "And I just said ‘Wow.’ Then he said "I’m sorry, I’m sorry,’ and then he just apologized. It was an emotional experience."
Maybe it will start to calm down after the ring ceremony. Or maybe not. Most people don’t get a chance to have face-to-face meetings with any of the Cubs personnel out in public, so when they do, they try to make the most of it.
No one can complain about being constantly thanked for doing their jobs, but forgive the Cubs if they sheepishly reply "You’re welcome" and try to move on.
It’s a strange time for a nation of Cubs fans unaccustomed to this feeling of pure euphoria. Putting on his psychiatrist’s jacket, Dr. Maddon senses an inner calmness that puts this season, and sports in general, into proper perspective.
"Of course they want to win, but even if we don’t win, it’s not the worst thing in the world, if you read the front pages of the newspapers," Maddon said. "And I think our fans kind of get that.
"I would hope that they’ll continue to yearn for the second championship in 109 years, but in the meantime, still be who we are. And that is some people who really get it."
Everyone is on bonus points now, so act accordingly.