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The night they thought would never happen: The Cubs raise a World Series banner.
CHICAGO — Charlotte Regner is a long-suffering Chicago Cubs fan, of the type we heard so much about last fall. She has lived her entire life without knowing what it is like to see her beloved Cubbies win a World Series. She has never known the joy of witnessing a championship parade down Michigan Avenue. She came to Wrigley Field for the Cubs’ home opener Monday night, as Cubs fans have been doing for generations — bundled up against the April chill off Lake Michigan, and hoping this would be her year. Charlotte is 3 1 /2 months old, and she rode along Monday night in a wearable baby carrier to section 419. She was born to season-ticket-holders Lauren and John Regner some seven weeks after the Cubs prevailed over the Cleveland Indians in Game 7 of the World Series on Nov. 2, snapping the franchise’s storied 108-year championship drought. The closest she has gotten to seeing the Cubs in the World Series was attending Game 4 at Wrigley Field, in utero.
“She was there,” John Regner said, “but she had a very obstructed view.”
What took place at Wrigley Field on Monday night, then, would be lost on Charlotte, but to most of the rest of the 41,166 crammed into the Friendly Confines, it was the moment they had all been waiting for. The championship banner was raised in a ceremony before the home opener, the Cubs players walking en masse across the outfield, through an opening in the wall, under the bleachers and out to a raised flag court with four empty flagpoles.
There, Cubs Hall of Famers Ryne Sandberg, Ferguson Jenkins and Billy Williams raised banners representing the 1907 and 1908 World Series titles and the 2016 National League pennant, while the current Cubs joined forces to raise the 2016 World Series banner. When the players came back out into view, they were carrying the World Series trophy.
And across Wrigley’s ancient stands, the tear ducts that had been emptied last fall, and that took all winter and spring to replenish, were unleashed again.
The banner ceremony was delayed for more than a hour by rain in the area, but few seemed to mind. Highlights of the 2016 postseason played on the giant video screen in left field. And besides, the Cubs have a unique relationship with rain, and rain delays — their victory over the Indians in Game 7 coming soon after rain had interrupted the action after the ninth inning. By the time the game resumed, the temperatures had dropped into the low 40s.
More than 5 ½ hours after the scheduled first pitch, at 12:38 a.m., the Cubs ended a long night with a 3-2 walk-off victory, with Anthony Rizzo lining a single to right off Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. “Go, Cubs, Go” played over the stadium public address system, and the ‘W’ flag flew again.
It had been 162 days since the Cubs had last played at Wrigley Field, in Game 5 of the World Series. Down three games to one to the Indians, the Cubs held on to win Game 5, then went to Cleveland and won Games 6 and 7 to bring the championship home. Two days after the final out was secured, an estimated 5 million people lined the streets for the Cubs’ parade.
Ken Knox and Cara Brown of Lake Ozark, Mo., were among the fans who were on hand for Game 5 and again on Monday night. Knox said he spent 10 years on a waiting list for season tickets before he finally got them, and he sold off a few of his playoff tickets last fall, making enough money to buy Brown, his fiancee, a wedding ring. They will be married in September.
“Just because Cubs fans had to wait 108 years,” Knox said of his fiancee, “it doesn’t mean she had to.”
The Cubs’ players and staff have grown accustomed to a strange phenomenon. Everywhere they go, people come up to them with stories — of a late father, a grandfather, a mother, a grandmother, a brother or a sister who was the biggest Cubs fan of them all. The World Series title would have meant so much to them. Almost uniformly, the interaction ends with two words: thank you.
“It’s a lot of gratitude — that’s what I hear more than anything,” Manager Joe Maddon said. “It’s the same refrain from everybody. For the most part, they don’t want an autograph or a picture. They just want to shake your hand and say thank you.”
Rather than raise the championship banner and hand out World Series rings on the same night, as most teams have done, the Cubs’ management decided to save the ring ceremony for the second home game, on Wednesday night. For the players, the question of which was the greater prize, the banner or the ring, had an easy answer.
“The ring, obviously,” Kyle Schwarber said.
“You work so hard for it,” Kris Bryant said, seconding Schwarber’s call, “and then you have to wait five months to get it. So I’m really excited for that.”
But Maddon called himself “a banner guy.”
“I’ve never been that much into jewelry myself,” he said. A ring belongs to you alone, but a banner represents “being part of something bigger than you” and will be glimpsed by future generations for as long as there is baseball played at Wrigley.
It is likely no existing stadium in baseball has changed as much over the past several years as has Wrigley Field, which is undergoing a multiyear renovation estimated to cost as much as $50 million. This year, the new twists include invisible bullpens — they were moved from the respective foul lines to an area beneath the bleachers, where they can’t be seen from the field — and a new plaza outside the stadium, with a gleaming Starbucks Reserve featuring $10 single-origin, small-batch cups of coffee.
The changes are at least partly a matter of economics. Moving the bullpens, for example, opened up room for additional rows of high-revenue seats down the foul lines. The Starbucks Reserve, near the corner of Sheffield and Addison, replaced a gritty bar that had held several different names over the years, including, for a while, Harry Caray’s Tavern.
Meantime, there is also a new season to play. After starting the season on the road, the Cubs entered Monday’s home opener with a 4-2 record with three games here this week against the Dodgers — a rematch of last fall’s NL Championship Series. They are still a ring ceremony away from being able to fully turn the page on 2016.
“You must enjoy the celebration. You should celebrate achievement, always,” Maddon said. “Our guys are pro enough to strike the balance. I do think the ring ceremony will be the conclusion of really turning the page. But in the meantime — c’mon, enjoy it.”
With the best young core of talent in the game, and revenue that continues to grow, the Cubs have all the ingredients for a dynasty. Perhaps Charlotte Regner, the long-suffering 3 1 /2-month-old who has never seen a Cubs world championship in her lifetime, won’t have to wait as long as her parents. Perhaps the Cubs will win so many, she will come to think of parades and banner ceremonies as normal proceedings, rather than once-a-century miracles.
“Like it’s her birthright,” her father said. “Like a Yankees fan.”
“Like, ‘Oh, this is what happens every year,’ ” her mother said, then pulled back the top of Charlotte’s knit hat to expose a pair of bright, glowing eyes. “But we’ll set her straight.”
Dave Sheinin has been covering baseball and writing features and enterprise stories for The Washington Post since 1999.
Rizzo, Cubs raise banner, beat Dodgers 3-2 in home opener
By JAY COHEN (AP Sports Writer)
CHICAGO (AP) — Anthony Rizzo sliced the ball into left field, and it was time to party – again.
Quite a night for the All-Star slugger.
Rizzo hit a game-winning single off closer Kenley Jansen in the ninth inning, and the Chicago Cubs beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2 on Monday after raising a World Series championship banner for the first time at Wrigley Field.
In a fitting bit of symmetry, Rizzo had the honors from start to finish. The respected first baseman was picked to begin hoisting the 2016 flag, and then he was the player who carried the World Series trophy onto the field.
”I’ll remember this day for as long as I play baseball,” Rizzo said.
Pinch-hitter Jon Jay started the decisive rally with a leadoff single against Sergio Romo (0-1). With two outs and Jay on third, Rizzo dumped a 1-1 pitch from Jansen into left field for his first RBI this season.
Wade Davis (1-0) tossed a scoreless inning for his first win with the Cubs, who blew a 2-0 lead before the dramatic finish to their rain-delayed home opener.
”It was a special night,” said Jon Lester, who pitched six solid innings. ”Definitely something that’ll go down in my book as something that I’ll remember for a long, long time.”
Wet weather pushed back the start of Chicago’s pregame festivities, but the sellout crowd of 41,166 didn’t seem to mind one bit.
Rizzo heard wild cheers when he started the 2016 flag toward the top of a pole in right-center before handing the reins over to his smiling teammates. Rizzo then emerged from under the bleachers with the championship trophy, drawing another big ovation.
Before November’s epic Game 7 win in Cleveland, the Cubs had not won the World Series since 1908. They moved into Wrigley eight years later, making Monday’s celebration the first of its kind at the cozy neighborhood ballpark.
”That pregame ceremony, I wasn’t expecting to get hit with that many emotions,” Rizzo said. ”It was amazing.”
Los Angeles, which lost to Chicago in the NL Championship Series last year, committed two costly errors and left eight runners on base. Alex Wood, subbing for injured left-hander Rich Hill, lasted just 3 2/3 innings in his first start of the season.
Dodgers outfielder Franklin Gutierrez and third baseman Justin Turner also left with injuries. Gutierrez hurt his left hamstring and Turner exited with a quadriceps injury after his hard slide into second in the eighth led to a run-scoring throwing error by shortstop Addison Russell, tying it at 2.
”I think (Turner) said it was on a dive, so I don’t think it’s a strain or anything like that,” manager Dave Roberts said. ”It might have been a charley horse or something like that.”
NL MVP Kris Bryant hit an RBI double in the third and Lester drove in a run with a fielder’s choice in the fourth. Los Angeles got one back on Corey Seager’s double in the sixth.
The Dodgers loaded the bases with no outs in the seventh, but Justin Grimm got Joc Pederson to fly out to right and Andrew Toles bounced into an inning-ending double play.
”We take a lot of pride in coming back and making a push and staying in it,” Seager said. ”To lose like that hurts, for sure.”
FEEL LIKE DANCING
The Cubs showed David Ross on ”Dancing With The Stars” on the videoboard in left during the rain delay. Ross retired after helping the Cubs win the championship last season, and his old teammates cheered the former catcher’s performance to ”Forever Young,” his old walk-up song.
IN THE MINORS
Dodgers prospect Julio Urias made his first start of the season with Triple-A Oklahoma City, allowing two runs and two hits in 3 2/3 innings against the Iowa Cubs. The 20-year-old lefty went 5-2 with a 3.39 ERA in 18 games for Los Angeles last year, and the Dodgers want to limit his innings again this season.
”He’s close. I think to pick our spots and use him accordingly, and when we do need him, he’ll be ready,” Roberts said. ”But we’re not ready to say when that day will be. Sometime the end of the month makes sense.”
Also on Monday, the Dodgers acquired minor league right-hander Joe Gunkel from the Baltimore Orioles for a player to be named or cash. Gunkel was designated for assignment Friday.
Dodgers: Gutierrez was thrown out trying to steal in the second and replaced by Scott Van Slyke. … Hill (blister) is scheduled for a bullpen session Thursday. He could return to the rotation Sunday against Arizona.
Following an off day, the Cubs get their World Series rings before Wednesday night’s game against the Dodgers. Right-hander Brandon McCarthy (1-0, 3.00 ERA) pitches for Los Angeles, and right-hander John Lackey (1-0, 4.50) goes for Chicago.
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap
Anthony Rizzo provides perfect ending to Cubs’ amazing night
By Bradford Doolittle ESPN Staff Writer
CHICAGO — It took a while, more than most denizens of Wrigley Field were willing to wait, but Anthony Rizzo made sure the ending of the Chicago Cubs‘ banner night was as memorable as the beginning. Amazing, in fact.
For a while, Monday felt like Cubs fantasyland, with the sun out, the temperature warm for early April and hordes of blue-clad fans descending on Wrigleyville to raise a banner 108 years in the making. Then, about two hours before the game, the sky opened up, and fans checking out the brand-new Park at Wrigley adjacent to the stadium had to scurry for cover. The rain eventually stopped, and the party resumed.
Then about an hour before game time, just as Cubs architect Theo Epstein was talking to the media in front of the dugout, the wind changed direction and, in an instant, early arrivals in the stands began reaching for their jackets. The cold air was followed by a storm, delaying the ceremonies for nearly two hours and threatening to put a damper on the much-anticipated evening. From the looks of the stands, virtually no one gave up hope, because when introductions finally began, Wrigley Field was filled to capacity.
“It was a special night,” Cubs starter Jon Lester said. “Something that will go down in my book that I’ll remember for a long, long time.”
As a team, the Cubs headed into center field. One by one they disappeared through a door in the center-field wall to raise their flags, joined by franchise legends Ryne Sandberg, Billy Williams and Ferguson Jenkins. When they re-emerged, Rizzo led the way with the golden World Series trophy held aloft. Fireworks went off, David Ross’ appearance on “Dancing with the Stars” flashed on the video board, Wayne Messmer sang, AC/DC blared on the sound system and the 41,166 in attendance went nuts.
“That pregame ceremony, I wasn’t expecting to get hit with that many emotions,” Rizzo said. “It was amazing.”
Then, after all that, the Cubs had to play a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The weather change and rain delay made for a frigid evening on a windy night that foreshadowed what would be a low-scoring affair. Lester held the Dodgers to a single run over six innings before leaving with 100 pitches on the nose. He also drove in a run on a grounder, and Chicago led 2-1 when he departed.
If Lester had turned out to be the Cubs’ star of the night, it would have been fitting enough. It was his arrival as a lauded free agent before this Cubs group had actually won anything that hinted to the baseball world what was to come. Yet there was Rizzo, the first big acquisition of Epstein and Jed Hoyer when they landed in Chicago, the strapping, blonde-headed All-American guy whose anointed status as the team leader was exemplified by his carrying of the trophy.
“I’ll remember this day for as long as I play baseball,” Rizzo said. “That pregame ceremony, I really didn’t think — the Cubs did an amazing job. Videos, the tribute. It was amazing.”
The problem was that Rizzo not only hadn’t done much during Monday’s contest, but he had gotten off to a start this season so slow that maybe, just possibly, it could have been approaching a concern. He entered the game 4-for-25 without an RBI, then was 0-for-3 with a walk through eight innings on Monday.
The Dodgers had tied the game 2-2 in the eighth when Addison Russell‘s relay throw bounced past Rizzo, allowing Logan Forsythe to race home. And as the clock passed midnight in Chicago and the weather grew ever more bitter, more and more fans gave up, seeking the warmth of home and heeding the alarm clocks that would be ringing too soon in the morning.
But then one of the newest Cubs, Jon Jay, worked Sergio Romo for a single and got into scoring position on Tommy La Stella‘s roller. That sent Dodgers manager Dave Roberts to the mound to get Romo and summon the irrepressible Kenley Jansen from the newly hidden bullpen behind right field. This did not seem to be an ideal spot for Rizzo to break out of his funk.
“Their guy, Jansen, is ridiculously good,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.
Turns out, it was the ideal spot. Rizzo poked a Jansen fastball up the left field line to score Jay and clinch a 3-2 victory, setting off one more celebration at the end of a very long day.
“Choke up and put the bat on the ball,” was how Rizzo summed up his strategy against Jansen.
And who would have it any other way?
“That’s huge for Rizz,” Lester said. “Early in the season is so hard for those guys. What’s he batting, .170? It’s a weird time for those guys.”
In a way, it’s a weird time for Cubs fans, who will now filter into Wrigley Field and see a new championship banner flying in center field. It is literally something no current Cubs fan has ever seen. After Tuesday’s off day gives everybody a chance to catch their breath, the Cubs will receive their World Series rings in yet another ceremony before Wednesday’s game. Of course, Rizzo will have a hand in that too.
“I was fortunate to be part of the process,” Rizzo said. “I don’t know how you top tonight, but then you get the ring. I think it will be amazing.”
Rizzo and Cubs raise banner, beat Dodgers 3-2 in home opener
After a nearly two hour delay due to weather the Cubs beat the Dodgers 3-2 to win their home opener
Chicago Cubs opener raising the world championship banner ceremony
Chicago Cubs opener raising the world championship banner ceremony.
Cubs raise 2016 World Series banner | Apr 11, 2017
The Cubs kick off their home opener at Wrigley Field with a celebration, raising the World Series flag.
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