Monday night fete ball: Cubs have ’em dancing in the aisles
At 7 p.m. the sky above Wrigley Field looked like one of those black horror clouds from which an alien spaceship usually descends, signifying the end of the world and/or the entrance of Will Smith.
The home opener against the Dodgers was scheduled to start in five minutes, the big World Series banner festivities should have already begun and ended, but no movie action hero was there to save folks from disaster.
The big silver tarp, sponsored appropriately enough by Reynolds Wrap — ‘‘Trusted Since 1947’’ (just like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Iggy Pop and David Letterman!) — covered the infield, and fans scattered for the protection of the concourse and rooftop overhangs as rain fell.
It got so cold that for a while you feared it might snow.
Sadly, there are things that even resident super-genius Theo Epstein can’t control.
The Cubs’ big celebratory night was partly sabotaged by the weather, reminding this veteran scribe of that glorious, hugely anticipated first night game in 1988, which was rained out in the third inning.
The only truly offensive part of the evening, a controllable one at that, was forcing the crowd to watch David ‘‘Grandpa’’ Ross perform live on the big left-field screen on ABC’s ‘‘Dancing with the Stars’’ during the delay.
How this show became cool I’ll never know. But when the former catcher was done with his delicate ballroom routine, pleading silently in the background, ‘‘Please vote!,’’ the screen blessedly went blank. Then came the huge message: ‘‘Call 1-800-863-3404 to vote for him and partner Lindsay Arnold!’’
Can I dial 1-800-ARMAGEDDON instead?
But the meaning of it all wasn’t lost in the storm because this was a simple night celebrating a simple message: ‘‘We Won!”
The first World Series title in 108 years is in the Cubs’ barn, secured last November in Cleveland.
The Cubs finally came out in their white pants and jerseys with the gold numerals and names. It was all to a heroes’ welcome, wonderful and deserved. Oh, and by the way, you can purchase similar jerseys in the Cubs store inside Wrigley for about $210, with tax.
Did I mention Wrigley Field is being slowly renovated and structures are changing all around it, including prices for everything from box seats to parking to that $6.50 hotdog I scarfed before the rain?
Yes, winning a World Series for a championship-starved populace like the Cubs Nation means you can just about set your price for Cubs-related goods and services in the future. It’s new territory, for sure.
Those who would like to cling to the old days had best take their nubby pencils and scorecards elsewhere, because big-stakes economics have arrived in Cubdom, and with it has come the pressure to deliver more and better stuff.
The new bullpens are here. So is the new office building, and the subterranean locker room. Cubs-owned boutique Hotel Zachary has girders up to the fifth floor just across Clark Street, with only three more floors to go. The grass plaza is here, with its shops and big-screen video board.
Such is the march of history. Those who lament it, move to the side. Those who wish the McDonalds on the corner of Addison and Clark and the greasy Yum-Yum Donuts shop next to the park were back where they were, for instance — well, some people wish we still lived in sod huts.
That Wrigley Field and the Cubs’ experience might now belong more to the wealthy than ever is a fact.
As Donald Trump has made us aware, the world is run by the rich. Live it.
But this was a night for joy, outside factors be damned.
Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg raised the 1907 World Series banner in center field. Fellow Hall member Fergie Jenkins raised the 1908 banner. And lastly, first baseman Anthony Rizzo and his teammates hoisted the title flag from 2016. Then there were fireworks.
Who cared that the game had been delayed almost two hours and that it was now 41 degrees with a wind chill of 36?
‘‘There’s something different about this place,’’ manager Joe Maddon had said reverently of Wrigley Field before the game. ‘‘It’s always electric.’’
This was news to him when he first arrived in 2015 — the passion, the lore, the yearning.
‘‘I didn’t know,’’ he said. ‘‘I did not know.’’
And what do fans say when they see him on the street now?
‘‘They say, ‘Thank you.’ Always respectful. They don’t want anything — just to say, ‘Thank you.’ ’’
It’s blowing in the wind.
Follow me on Twitter @ricktelander.