The thing that struck me about the Opening Ceremony for the 2017 Cubs Convention was how familiar it felt — very much like Opening Ceremonies for many past conventions.
Well, except for that World Series champion Chicago Cubs thing.
Someone in the front thanked Tom Ricketts just when the Cubs chairman started his introduction. He didn’t miss a beat and said, “You’re welcome!”
That’s the kind of love fest you’d expect for World Series champions. As usual, the Cubs from “yesteryear” were introduced by Pat Hughes, once again the emcee of the festivities. Hall of Famers Billy Williams and Fergie Jenkins, as usual, were saved for last, and I couldn’t help thinking what I thought when the Cubs won the World Series and during the parade — that I was happy those two, now well into their seventies, are still around to enjoy this World Series title. And how much I wish Ernie Banks and Ron Santo could have shared in what so many of the Cubs players who did win the World Series said they were doing for everyone who had come before.
Joe Maddon and the current players entered to rousing ovations and most of the players, who entered to their Wrigley Field walkup music, went down a short ramp into the crowd to exchange high (or maybe, given how they had to reach down, low) fives with kids.
Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo were saved for last, and got the biggest ovations of all, as well they should have, the league MVP and, as Hughes said, the “heart and soul” of the team. Those two, above all, are the players I hope spend their entire careers as Chicago Cubs (Rizzo, save the 49 games he played for the Padres in 2011).
Perhaps the loudest ovation was saved for David Ross, who entered last. Hughes announced to the crowd that Ross had been hired to be a baseball operations assistant, and Grandpa Rossy came out carrying the World Series trophy, a nice touch. He walked toward the crowd holding it high over his head, then placed it on a platform in front of the assembled players as a 2017 highlight video was shown.
Damned onions in the room while that video was playing. I suspect there will be more tears shed when the Cubs raise whatever championship flag they’ll hoist on Opening Night, and again a couple of nights later when the players receive their World Series rings.
Danny Rockett and Sara Sanchez will be providing coverage of the convention Saturday and Sunday. In the meantime feel free to use this post as a comment thread for convention events Saturday as you follow along via Twitter or CSN Chicago’s coverage.