Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

MLB Notes: It's a Banner Day in Chicago

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

MLB Notes: It's a Banner Day in Chicago

Article excerpt

A banner day in Chicago

Finally, a banner moment at Wrigley Field. The Chicago Cubs raised their 2016 World Series championship flag on Monday night, delighting a raucous crowd that waited through a rain delay of more than an hour for a moment more than a century in the making.

Hall of Famers Ryne Sandberg, Fergie Jenkins and Billy Williams raised banners for the franchise's two previous championships and last year's NL pennant before Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo had the honors for the drought-busting title flag. Rizzo then brought the championship trophy out when he returned to the field from under the bleachers. That drew more cheers before Chicago's home opener, against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

It was a moment generations of fans never got to witness. Even more wondered if they would ever get the chance. But that all changed when the Cubs beat the Indians in a thrilling Game 7 in Cleveland last fall for their first championship since 1908. On Monday, across Wrigley's ancient stands, the tear ducts that had been emptied last fall, and that took all winter and spring to replenish, were unleashed again.

Rather than raise the championship banner and hand out World Series rings on the same night, as most teams have done, Cubs management decided to save the ring ceremony for the second home game, on Wednesday. For the players, the question of which was the greater prize, the banner or the ring, had an easy answer.

"The ring, obviously," outfielder Kyle Schwarber said.

"You work so hard for it," third baseman Kris Bryant said, seconding Schwarber's call, "and then you have to wait five months to get it. So I'm really excited for that."

But manager Joe Maddon called himself "a banner guy."

Royals remember Ventura * Kelvin Herrera hitched up his pants and tucked in his crisp, white jersey in the Kansas City clubhouse, the space beside him empty but for a framed jersey and memories to last a lifetime. The simple wooden locker is where his good friend, Yordano Ventura, once dressed for games.

"It's hard," the Royals' closer said sadly.

On a sun-splashed opening day in Kansas City, erstwhile feelings of joy and excitement were met by a profound sense of melancholy. Ventura's death in an offseason car crash in his native Dominican Republic left a gaping hole in the tightly knit organization, and the wounds that began to heal in spring training were raw once again as the Royals honored Ventura before playing their home opener, against Oakland.

"We have to take a positive out of a negative," Herrera said. "He's going to be an inspiration for us, but we have to move forward."

That's hard to do with reminders of the exuberant pitcher everywhere you turn. Across the clubhouse from his locker, which bore the placard "ACE 30" above it, there is a black and white photo of Ventura in action. …

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