Dan's Dugout: Cubs Know How to Ring in The New Year • Latino Sports

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Dan’s Dugout: Cubs Know How to Ring in The New Year

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It’s official: the Chicago Cubs finally received their World Series rings Wednesday.

The rings are enormous – big enough to accommodate the 108 diamonds that symbolize the 108 years between the team’s last world championship, in 1908, and the current one, in 1916.

These were the rings the Cubs received Wednesday

These were the rings the Cubs got Wednesday

Presented by ardent fans, the rings contain a Cubs logo, the familiar “W” flag that flies over Wrigley Field after each Cubs win, the marquee sign that makes the ballpark exterior resemble a movie theater, and even the “We Never Quit” saying inspired by manager Joe Maddon.

The scores of each postseason game are included too, along with the name and number of each recipient.

The best part, but the least publicized, is the goat inscribed in the in the interior of each ring. It’s there as a tribute to “the Goat Curse of Wrigley Field,” created by a local tavern owner who placed a hex on the club when his pet goat was barred from the 1945 World Series. The goat, which had its own ticket, had been admitted all season but was suddenly banned after soldiers returned from service in World War 2.

Until last year, the Cubs had the longest world championship drought of any of the original 16 clubs.

Now that dubious distinction belongs to the Cleveland Indians, who haven’t won a world title since 1948 despite winning four pennants since: in 1954, 1995, 1997, and 2016.

In Chicago, however, the Goat Curse has gone the way of the buffalo nickle and Sunday doubleheader.

Tom Ricketts, whose family purchased the team in 2009, built the ballclub slowly but surely. His master stroke was hiring Theo Epstein, now team president, away from the Boston Red Sox, where he ended an 86-year world title drought in 2004.

Thanks to frequent finishes around the bottom of the Central Division, the Cubs was given high priority in the annual amateur draft. They also traded veterans for prospects and signed several key free agents.

The result was a 103-win season, its best since 1910, capped by come-from-behind wins in the Division Series against the Giants, Championship Series against the Dodgers, and World Series against the Indians. Led by Kris Bryant, the National League’s Most Valuable Player, and Jake Arrieta, a Cy Young Award contender, the Cubs outdistanced the second-place St. Louis Cardinals by 17 games in the NL Central.

Cubs celebrate first world championship since 1908 Photo Credit: Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

Cubs celebrate first world championship since 1908
Photo Credit: Bill Menzel

Proving versatility the key to the club’s success, journeyman Ben Zobrist was named Most Valuable Player of the World Series.

The victory margin might be less this season but experts agree the Cubs are the best team in the league again. Chicago got off to a solid start, winning five of its first seven.

In last year’s playoffs, Chicago came thisclose to elimination: they needed a ninth-inning rally in NLDS Game 4 to overcome a three-run deficit and set the stage for victory over San Francisco; had to beat Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw in Game 6 of the NLCS; and needed 10 innings and a full seven games to scalp the Indians in the Fall Classic.

The final score of the final game was 8-7. It was the first time since 1991 that Game 7 required extra innings.

The Cubs and Indians battled a full seven games in the 2016 Series Photo Credit: Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

The Cubs and Indians battled a full seven games in the 2016 Series
Credit: Bill Menzel

The diamond rings Cubs players received at Wrigley Wednesday were actually previewed by  the presenters the night before. The fans were picked by team executives after submitting videos documenting their loyalty to the club. One was a special ed teacher with Cubs paraphernalia plastered around his classroom, while another was the proud owner of a framed newpaper clip of the first game played by “Mr. Cub,” Ernie Banks. Naturally, it was autographed.

All ring bearers, who ranged in age from 13 to 90, received commemorative jerseys, overnight accommodations, and a pair of tickets to the Wednesday night game.

Elsewhere in baseball:

For the first time this year, each All-Star Game jersey will feature a special patch indicating how many times the wearer has made it to the Midsummer Classic . . .

The 76-degree temperature at the Yankees opener was the highest for the first game in the Bronx since the mercury hit 78 in 1960 . . .

White Sox catcher Geovany Soto, a backup who hasn’t played 100 games in a season since 2011, slugged three homers in his first 10 at-bats this season . . .

David Ross, just retired after a 15-year career in a similar role, has become a media star with ESPN (as analyst) and Dancing With the Stars (as performer) . . .

Wrigley Field marquee announces World Series Game 4 Credit: Bill Menzel

Wrigley Field marquee announces World Series Game 4
Credit: Bill Menzel

Proving some things never change, the Dodgers still have trouble with lefthanders . . .

Congratulations to USA TODAY Sports Weekly for picking up the fallen baton of The Sporting News and deciding to print all major-league boxscores.

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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