Sunday, July 22, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Cubs fans unleash generations of pent-up emotions as World Series returns to Wrigley

CHICAGO — If only the ivy could tell.

None of the current Cubs, no matter how smart and thoughtful and aware they are, can properly grasp what tonight will look and sound and feel like, and what it will mean for their fans — the kids and parents and grandparents and even great-grandparents who haven't seen it in their lives — when the first World Series game in 71 years is played at Wrigley Field.

"Not lost on me whatsoever," manager Joe Maddon said Thursday. "I know that people that have been waiting for this for a long time are going to savor it."

In part, because it has been so long, since 1945, when the Cubs played in a World Series. And in part, because of how torturous the wait has been.

"Those moments are really special and impossible to replicate, and part of the reason they're special is it represents so many generations waiting for this to happen at Wrigley Field," baseball operations president Theo Epstein said.

"For our fans, it's all the losing, all the waiting, all the patience, all the support, all the emotions that they've given us, this is their chance to be rewarded. So you feel all that when you see 'World Series' (painted) on the field."

Overwhelmed by the incredible celebration of and emotional reaction to Saturday's pennant clinching, Cubs players talked on the flight back from Cleveland after Wednesday's Series-evening win about what tonight could be like.

"The moments we've been able to experience all year, we understand they've continued to grow and just when you think it can't get any more exciting or there can be any more energy in the ballpark, they do," catcher David Ross said.

"We're all excited about coming to work (today) and coming out of the tunnel and having our names called out. … I don't know how to put it into words. I don't think I could do it justice if I tried."

•••

There was plenty of activity Thursday on streets that surround the old ballyard — Addison, Clark, Sheffield and Waveland.

Shops and stands were selling merchandise with Cubs and World Series adjacent. Bars — after some, sacrilegiously, ran out of beer on Saturday — were stocking up. Fans took selfies in front of the famous marquee and photos of their sleeping babies to show them years later.

One group of fans sang the victory song, Go, Cubs, Go. Another sat in chairs lined up across the street, the first arriving moments after Wednesday night's game ended, waiting for the box office to open at 8 this morning for a day-of-game sale. "I've got the first 20 spots," said George Muzquiz, a 22-year-old entrepreneur. "I'll go to the game, but I'll sell some of them. Made seven grand last weekend."

•••

Barely half a mile up Clark Street from Wrigley, the scene is appropriately more serene, on the grounds of the Graceland Cemetery, founded in 1860, and now home to perhaps the most famous Cub of all, Ernie Banks

Since word spread recently that Banks, who died in January 2015 at age 83, was buried there, a steady stream of visitors, many in Cubs gear, have walked or driven through in homage, or to make a connection with the man who played more games (2,528) than anyone without appearing in the playoffs.

The handful who came through midday Thursday saw a relatively simple headstone, a temporary marker with a baseball diamond and Banks' No. 14 that the Cubs reportedly arranged for as a battle over his will plays out. Roses rested on one side, a towel with the W that flies after each Cubs win on the other.

The Hall of Famer is one of several personalities from the Cubs past who will be missing tonight, along with Ron Santo, Harry Caray, Don Zimmer and many others.

•••

Don't expect Steve Bartman to be anywhere near Wrigley Field tonight.

Since his infamous moment of reaching from the leftfield stands for a foul ball during the 2003 NLCS, theoretically keeping the Cubs from ending their pennant drought 13 years earlier, Bartman has been a recluse, declining several approaches from the team.

There has been chatter of absolution by having him throw out a first pitch, an idea furthered by a kid who grew up on the same suburban street and went to the same school, who happened to grow up and now plays second base for the Indians, Jason Kipnis.

"He didn't deserve all of that," Kipnis said. "If he threw out a first pitch, I think everyone would go nuts."

•••

The Cubs' return to the Series has focused attention on that 1945 experience, a seven-game loss to the Tigers. And it has produced a further slight of their crosstown rivals.

There has been considerable talk — and several reports, even by ESPN — that this is the first time in 71 years a Series game will be played in Chicago, which omits two games the White Sox played in 2005 in a sweep of the Astros to end their 88-year drought.

•••

The one constant at Wrigley is the ivy, featuring some rarely seen late October tints of red, which has been on the outfield walls since 1937, maintained by a grounds crew that include Dan Kiermaier, whose younger brother Kevin does some tidying work of his own for the Rays.

"We work 81 games a year and however many postseason games, this is going to be new to everyone," Kiermaier said. "Is there a living a person that has been to a Cubs World Series game? (Actually yes, some of whom will be here tonight). It's kind of unchartered territory."

If only the ivy could talk.

"That," Kiermaier said, "might be the only way."

Comments
Rays journal: New faces, same old loss

Rays journal: New faces, same old loss

ST. PETERSBURG — To get a sense of how things are going for the Rays right now, consider that opening day starter Chris Archer was wearing a promotional DJ Kitty head in the dugout and veteran OF Carlos Gomez was playing second base during Satu...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Kevin Kiermaier frustrated as injuries continue

Kevin Kiermaier frustrated as injuries continue

ST. PETERSBURG — This season has been quite a pain for Rays centerfielder and centerpiece Kevin Kiermaier.A cold bat, a nagging illness, a searing foul ball we'll come back to shortly and a torn thumb ligament that required surgery, all in the ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Saturday’s Rays-Marlins game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Saturday’s Rays-Marlins game

Joey Wendle continues to impress, playing anywhere asked and hitting everywhere. Friday he joined the play-of-the-year race with an amazing glove flip to first. Saturday he was the first Ray with a decent swing off Pablo Lopez, homering in the fourth...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Rays Tales: Sure is a lot to talk about

Rays Tales: Sure is a lot to talk about

WASHINGTON — There was a lot of talk specific to the Rays at the All-Star Game last week, from commissioner Rob Manfred's strong endorsement of the Ybor stadium plan to Wilson Ramos' rousing ovation from the Washington fans to Blake Snell's imp...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Another bad look for Rays in 3-2 loss

Another bad look for Rays in 3-2 loss

ST. PETERSBURG – To get a sense of how shorthanded the Rays were by the final innings of Saturday night's game, all you had to do was look at the field and see Carlos Gomez playing second base.It was that kind of night for the Rays, who lost an...
Updated: 8 hours ago
For starters: Rays vs. Marlins, with Justin Williams called up

For starters: Rays vs. Marlins, with Justin Williams called up

UPDATE, 3:52: 3B Matt Duffy (back) is feeling better but Cash said they would stay away from using him except in an emergency. That's not that unlikely, however, as the Rays wull have a short bench, with only C Adam Moore and Williams, assuming he ge...
Published: 07/21/18
Rays journal: Replacement catcher Adam Moore ready to play

Rays journal: Replacement catcher Adam Moore ready to play

ST. PETERSBURG — The newest Rays player is also nearly the oldest.With All-Star C Wilson Ramos on the disabled list with a hamstring injury, Tampa Bay turned to veteran Adam Moore, 34, as the new backup catcher behind Jesus Sucre. Only reliever...
Published: 07/20/18
Updated: 07/21/18
Martin Fennelly: Rays and Marlins at different stages of same mission

Martin Fennelly: Rays and Marlins at different stages of same mission

ST. PETERSBURG — New York Yankees god and former Tampa resident Derek Jeter, who was once going to save the Rays (or so we thought), was at Tropicana Field on Friday night. The Captain had the gall to show up as Miami Marlins chief executive of...
Published: 07/20/18
Late rally falls short as Rays lose to Marlins, 6-5

Late rally falls short as Rays lose to Marlins, 6-5

ST. PETERSBURG –The Rays rallied for four runs in the bottom of the ninth Friday night, but their rally came up short as the Marlins held on for a 6-5 win at Tropicana Field.Tampa Bay's bullpen gave up five runs in the seventh, and that was too...
Published: 07/20/18
Kiermaier has ‘severe bone bruise’ in foot, dates back to April injury

Kiermaier has ‘severe bone bruise’ in foot, dates back to April injury

Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier left Friday's game in the fifth inning when an injury to his right foot that has bothered him since April flared up with the worst pain he's encountered this season.Kiermaier called the injury a "severe bone bruise" an...
Published: 07/20/18