It’s been exactly one week since hell froze over and the Cubs capped their magical, miracle 2015 season with a stunning World Series championship. When Cy Young and Comeback Player of the Year candidate Edwin Jackson bested Masahiro Tanaka and the Yankees 1-0 in a nail-biting game seven, Wrigley Field, the surrounding neighborhood, most of Chicago, and for that matter, much of the free world, erupted in a massive celebration.
It continues this afternoon with five million people expected to brave the chilly fall temperatures for the Clark Street ticker-tape parade. Clark, the Cubs mascot, whose personal appearance fee just went from $50 to $5,000, will lead the festivities along with Mr. Cub (at least he was until Clark surpassed his popularity) Ernie Banks.
For those who want to avoid the massive crowds, the event will be televised by the four major broadcast networks, plus ESPN and CNN International. WGN-TV and Radio will also offer coverage featuring commentary by the Waveland and Sheffield rooftop owners, who finally settled their long-standing dispute with the Cubs earlier this year when they agreed to sell their buildings to the Ricketts family. The enormous new Wrigleyville parking garage that replaced the buildings was filled to capacity all summer.
Governor Quinn has ordered all state offices and public schools closed today. Most colleges have cancelled classes, and many retail stores and businesses are setting up big-screen TVs for employees and the public. Late word from Washington D.C. is that the Secret Service, concerned about being able to provide adequate security for White Sox fan Barack Obama, has advised the President to view the parade on TV inside Harry Caray’s Kinzie Street restaurant, where Grant DePorter will be welcoming Steve Bartman and Billy Williams for the invitation-only “Forget 1969 and 2003” party. Taking a page from the Blackhawks’ playbook, Bartman will accompany the World Series trophy as it travels around the country for the next month.
After the parade, Albert Almora, whose electrifying, game-winning 9th-inning walk-off home run in game seven is now permanently etched into Chicago sports history, flies to LA to be Jay Leno’s first guest since Leno reclaimed “The Tonight Show” after Jimmy Fallon’s nearly two-year ratings disaster. Everyone’s choices for Rookie of the Year, shortstop Javier Baez (.334, 46 hrs, 108 rbis) and converted right fielder Starlin Castro, are set to emcee one of tonight’s two free fan appreciation concerts at the United Center. This one features Pearl Jam, Jimmy Buffett and Theo Epstein.
Tonight’s other free show, billed as “Cubs Comedy Night,” will be going on simultaneously at the Allstate Arena, hosted by Jim Belushi. Special guests include Ronnie “Woo Woo” Wickers and the Billy Goat’s Sam Sianis.
On last night’s edition of “CBS 60 Minutes,” manager of the year Rick Renteria told correspondent Morley Safer that he owed a lot to the four million fans who jammed Wrigley Field this season, “cheering, inspiring, and virtually willing this team to do the impossible all year.”
This morning, Cubs President Crane Kenney announced that requests for season tickets, now numbering more than 17 million, would be handled through a lottery. Details are now being worked out by a special committee of aldermen appointed by Mayor Tom Tunney.
Kenney also confirmed that the Theo Epstein statue will be completed over the winter and dedicated on opening day of 2016. The statue will be built on top of the left-field video scoreboard.
The public is reminded to take public transportation to today’s parade. Hundreds of thousands are also expected downtown to view the Chicago River, which was dyed Cubbie blue earlier today. Following the parade, the entire team is expected to gather for a private, celebratory dinner at Kris Bryant’s Place For Beef, currently the city’s most popular steakhouse.
Wrigley Field food is also entering a new era. The Cubs have announced that starting next season, all Wrigley concession stands will serve “Cubs Curse-Killing pure grass-fed goat burgers,” raised and distributed by the Ricketts family ranch in Wyoming.
It’s no longer, “Wait ‘til next year,” it’s, “Can’t wait for next year!”