Cubs are ring-goat stars: Diamond-studded bling celebrates title
Nothing says it like a ring.
Ask Frodo or Gollum. Or Beyoncé and Jay-Z.
Try to imagine bike tires, steering wheels, toilet gaskets, even doughnuts without the genius of the ring.
And now the Cubs have their own rings, glitzy ones of honor and success, not servitude or betrothal or mechanical assistance.
Their 2016 World Series championship rings were passed out in a ceremony Wednesday night at Wrigley Field before the game against the Dodgers, and what rings they are.
You figured that since it had been 108 years since the Cubs last won the title, they’d have 108 diamonds on them (they do, surrounding the bezel alone, whatever that is) and weigh half a ton (well, they sure looked heavy as the players tried them on).
Anyone who has ever gotten a school ring from the hosting Jostens company — and that includes this scribe, who, many years ago, had a Peoria Richwoods Community High School ring for all of five days before losing it — knows that these honorary rings are very cool but kind of crazy to wear.
And the rings are so loaded with jewels and arcana that they should be studied under microscopes far more than used as bling.
Of course, they say ‘‘CUBS’’ and ‘‘World Champions.’’ And they say 2016 and display a miniature Wrigley Field with a tiny front marquee that reads in dinky little letters, ‘‘Cubs Win!”
There are also tiny ‘‘W’’ flags flying in the outfield and mini-ivy leaves crawling up the opposite side of the ring, below each player’s name and around another, larger ‘‘W” flag.
We get it. The Cubs won. The title can’t be taken away, folks!
Then there’s the slogan ‘‘Never Give Up’’ and a bunch of playoff dates and scores engraved on the inside of the ring.
I did mention that the thing is filthy with jewels, didn’t I? Is it a coincidence that the Cubs’ colors of red, blue and white can be nicely duplicated, bling-wise, by sapphires, rubies and, oh, yeah, diamonds? Probably not.
Fans have been waiting for this for so long that it was absolutely appropriate that 20 die-hard fans were selected in a contest to hand each ring to each individual Cub. (May I ask why now-retired catcher David Ross — lifetime batting average: .229; career home runs: 106 — got maybe the biggest cheer from the crowd? OK, I’ll answer myself. Ballroom dancing is our new ‘‘Duck Dynasty.’’)
Cubs manager Joe Maddon said Monday that he has ‘‘never been that much into jewelry, but I do like banners.’’ So the ring didn’t mean as much to him as the blue ‘‘2016 World Series Champions’’ pennant blowing in the chill breeze.
Yet these ceremonies have been meaningful and symbolic and necessary. Two rings were even made for deceased Hall of Famers Ron Santo and Ernie Banks.
Hall of Famer Billy Williams, who also got a ring, said earlier that he always thinks of those two Cubs and the way they loved the team.
‘‘When [Anthony] Rizzo caught that throw from [Kris] Bryant in Game 7,’’ Williams said, ‘‘I thought of Ronnie and Ernie, how much they would’ve loved that. That’s all I could think of.’’
Old Dodgers icon Tommy Lasorda, 89 and still dressed in Dodger blue, reflected on what the event meant for the Cubs:
‘‘I said last fall that for the next 10 years this team will be good, all this talent. They’ve got a great general manager [actually, team president]in Theo Epstein. He’s the one who spins the wheel.’’
Lasorda thought for a moment. ‘‘I’ve been with the Dodgers 67 years,’’ he said. ‘‘But I always said, if I didn’t manage the Dodgers, I’d want to manage here. It’s a great place for an Italian manager.”
He was joking about his good pal Maddon, whose original family name was Maddonini.
Dodgers president Stan Kasten had his own view of the ceremony.
‘‘It’s frustrating, but it’s inspirational,’’ he said. ‘‘Success like this is what we think about every day of our lives.’’
And the Cubs have it. And they have their rings. And the part of the ring that might be the best of all? That little black goat head engraved on the inside gold.
Slain for at least a century or so.
Follow me on Twitter @ricktelander.