The former Chicago Cubs backup catcher is retired from the game, but he’s not slowing down anytime soon.
USA TODAY Sports
CHICAGO — The Chicago Cubs’ World Series rings were unveiled for all of the world to see, presented to every player, who stood alongside the World Series trophy, with the World Series flag flapping in the stiff wind in the background.
But at 10:34 local time Wednesday evening, the World Series parties, celebrations, the night-show visits and the ceremonies finally ended.
Hello normalcy, it’s the Cubs again.
“The celebration is over,’’ Cubs starter John Lackey said. “Now it’s time to start working on another one. We’ve had so many weird things going on, all of the ceremonies, now guys are ready to settle in and get back into our routine.’’
Certainly, that was the common refrain in the Cubs’ clubhouse after their 2-0 loss against the Los Angeles Dodgers in front of a frenzied sellout crowd of 40,844 at Wrigley Field, hoping that after this night, they can now focus on baseball and not on the sentiments of receiving the first World Series rings in Cubs’ history.
“It was great to celebrate what we did, but this was the last hoorah,’’ Cubs left fielder Kyle Schwarber said. “It’s something that will stay with you forever. Now, it’s time to focus on getting back there and doing it all over again.’’
The ring ceremony might be commonplace in sports, but you have to understand the Cubs have never had a ring. The Cubs were a power back in 1906-1908, when they reached the World Series three consecutive years, winning two championships. But in those days, they didn’t hand out championship rings.
“I felt like 12 years old driving to the park today,’’ said retired catcher David Ross, who also sang during the seventh-inning stretch. “I couldn’t wait to get here. Being with the guys and getting this ring, I felt like I sprinted down the stairs into the locker room to give all these guys a hug.
“These guys changed my life forever. I cannot imagine not being a Cub for life.’’
Certainly, the Cubs made up for the last 108 years with the largest rings in baseball history. The rings are too big to possibly wear every day, but, oh, are they magnificent.
“They’re tasty, besides being grande,’’ Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “I don’t know how you wear that every day. I can’t even steer my car with that thing.’’
It has 214 diamonds at 5.5 carats, 3 karats of red rubies and 2.5 karats of sapphires. The top featured the traditional Cubs logo, and the bezel was surrounded by 108 white diamonds to signify the end of the team’s 108-year title drought.
Each player’s name was on one side of the ring, set atop the “W” flag, with silhouette images of Wrigley Field’s bricks and ivy surrounding the flag. The other side showed the year above the Wrigley Field façade and its famous marquee with the message, “CUBS WIN,’’ with a silhouette of the World Series trophy.
And, considering the Cubs came back from a 3-1 deficit in the World Series to knock off the Cleveland Indians, it was only natural for the Cubs to include the inscription: “We never quit.’’
“That was my favorite part,’’ Cubs shortstop Addison Russell said. “We worked hard for it. It’s something I’ll cherish for the rest of my life, and hopefully pass down to my kids.’’
The Cubs plan to give out a total of 1,908 rings, representing the last time they won the World Series. They were scheduled to have a late-night celebration at a rooftop after the game to hand out more rings to their front office staff and employees. They also are giving out two posthumous rings to the late Hall of Famers Ernie Banks and Ron Santo, which will be stored in their Wrigley Field store.
“I’m probably going to wear it every day for the first two weeks,’’ Cubs catcher Miguel Montero said. “It’s like buying a Ferrari and putting it in the garage. You want to drive, you want to show it off.
“It’s something you earned, and you want to be able to enjoy it.’’
Maddon says he won’t wear the ring, saying he’s just not into jewelry, while others like Carl Edwards Jr. plans to put his in a safety deposit box and never take it out.
And then there’s reliever Pedro Strop. He plans to wear it every single day.
“He’ll wear it to sleep, he’ll wear it in the shower,’’ Maddon says, “he’ll wear it everywhere, man.’’
Yet, now that the rings have been delivered and proudly displayed, with the entire team gathering for a photo op on the mound with their rings in the air, it’s time for business.
“Mission accomplished, I got my ring,’’ Montero says. “So let’s try to get another one this year.’’
The Cubs celebrated their World Series championship on Monday night by raising their banner in front of a capacity crowd.
USA TODAY Sports
One of the teams potentially standing in their way of a repeat was the team they played Wednesday, the Dodgers, who the Cubs knocked off in the NLCS a year ago.
The Cubs cruelly reminded the Dodgers of their triumph by playing Game 6 of the NLCS on their video board during Monday’s rain delay, showing each and every pitch, and the Dodgers, of course, had no choice but to painfully watch the Cubs’ ceremonies this week.
“It is what it is,’’ says Dodgers president Andrew Friedman. “They won it. They should celebrate it.’’
Considering it was Friedman’s departure from the Tampa Bay Rays to the Dodgers after the 2014 season that triggered an out clause in Maddon’s contract, Friedman actually played a role in the Cubs’ championship.
Yet, despite the close friendship between Friedman and Maddon, and the respect they have toward one another, pardon Friedman for not sharing in the euphoria.
“I don’t think I’d be happy if my brother beat me in the NLCS,’’ Friedman says. “It’s not in our DNA.
“But Joe does a tremendous job of putting his players in the best position to succeed, and really takes the time from a personal standpoint to really know the guys. He has a really good feel when a guy needs a pat in the back and how to get them to play with more confidence.’’
And now that they finally won a title, and have the hardware to prove it, Maddon’s job may become easier. Confidence will never be an issue again, he says, and nor will their desire to return to the World Series.
“I have a lot of faith in our guys and how they are,’’ Maddon says. “I won’t even talk to them about that because then I’m kind of insulting them if I do.’’
Now that the Cubs, 5-3, have their Opening Day of normalcy Thursday afternoon when they face the Dodgers in the series finale, they’re convinced that getting back into a routine will make them only stronger.
“We’ve been looking forward to that since Day 1 of spring training,’’ Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward says, “just playing baseball and putting everything else behind us.’’
Says Russell: “Hopefully there’s no more World Series talk, until it’s time.’’
Follow Bob Nightengale on Twitter and on Facebook.
PHOTOS: Cubs celebrate World Series win at Wrigley