Cubs sentimentality is about to reach critical mass.
You thought winning the World Series for the first time in 108 years was a mushy Broadway production? No, that was a spontaneous moment. There was zero time to plan for it and no way to know how most long-suffering fans would respond to something that had never been done in their lifetimes. As it turned out, they responded primarily with booze. But enough about compromised liver function.
Wrigley Field will be the stage for two events commemorating the team’s historic title, and there’s a decent chance the city will collapse from sugar shock.
On Monday night, the Cubs will raise their championship banner, with anyone remotely associated with last year’s feat expected to be on hand, escorted by the spirits, if not the video-board likenesses, of Harry, Ronnie, Ernie and the other go-to heart-tuggers.
On Wednesday night, players from last season’s team will be given championship rings that figure to be as big as doorknobs.
Understatement is not the Cubs’ thing, but maybe just this once we should cut them a few inches of slack for it.
I picture the two days looking like a Cecil B. DeMille spectacle, with Cubs business honcho Crane Kenney casting himself as Moses. He’ll raise his staff near second base and ticket prices will go up again. He’ll drop his tired arms and parking rates will increase.
The Ricketts family will throw out the ceremonial first pitch Monday. Three righties and a lefty. Quite a rotation.
Jon Lester will be the starting pitcher Monday for the home opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The stoic veteran is the perfect guy for the job. He won’t be fazed by the pomp and circumstance. He’ll probably think the pageantry is over the top — he’d think a quilting bee is over the top — but he’ll go along with it. John Lackey . . . now, that would be another story. He’d probably growl at the kid given the honorary duty of handing him the game ball, leading to a lifetime of therapy.
Some things in life are beyond explanation, and of course I speak here of David Ross. I waved the white flag on the Ross phenomenon during the playoffs last season, but I have to say I’m even more bewildered by it now than I was when he was actually playing. He was hugely popular in the two seasons he spent with the Cubs, even though he was a part-time catcher who hit .203. Now that he’s retired, he’s even more popular. He’ll throw out the first pitch Wednesday, sing during the seventh-inning stretch and float away on a blue river of love.
In retirement, he has appeared on “Dancing With the Stars,’’ and his upcoming book about the 2016 season might be developed into a movie. He’s also a special assistant in the Cubs’ baseball operations department, and he’ll be a Major League Baseball analyst for ESPN. It’s a good thing he hung up his spikes to have more personal time.
Is there any reason to think he won’t be running for president in 2020? Actually, yes, there is: He’ll be too busy hosting “The Voice.’’ On the other hand, that could only enhance his chances of getting elected.
The Cubs aren’t missing any opportunity to squeeze as much as they can from their championship. And if there’s anyone who can squeeze one more teardrop from fans, it’s Ross. No one will get a louder standing ovation than he will Wednesday. Trust me on this one.
He’s only a part of a bigger marvel. The Cubs aren’t a baseball team anymore. They’re a cultural tornado that happens to play baseball. They have gone from losing lovably to winning regally, with no end in sight. Everything they do on and off the field is now noted, analyzed and almost always lauded. They can do no wrong. What an amazing metamorphosis.
They are being monetized to the official, Cubs-licensed hilt. If you were unsure of that, just know that there are bottles of Cubs World Series Champions wine available for $59.95. Finally, White Sox fans’ long-held characterization of Cubs fans as merlot-sipping dandies has come true.
I hope the upcoming ceremonies fit the team’s joyous achievement, but I suspect they’ll go too above and too beyond. Don’t be surprised by a tent revival at Wrigley on those two days, with healings and baptisms available (for a small fee). Drowning in bathos isn’t a bad way to go, I guess.
After it’s all done, there will be only one question left: What does a guy like Lackey do with his bling? Stare it down, most likely.
Follow me on Twitter @MorrisseyCST.