Cubs, fans share the love at opening night of convention

Updated 1/13/2017 11:18 PM
  • Former Cubs catcher David Ross holds the World Series trophy to the delight of the thousands of fans at the 32nd annual Cubs Convention in Chicago on Friday.

      Former Cubs catcher David Ross holds the World Series trophy to the delight of the thousands of fans at the 32nd annual Cubs Convention in Chicago on Friday. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

There will be plenty of time to discuss what the Cubs must do to repeat their World Series victory of 2016.

Friday was not the day for that.

No, Friday evening was one more chance for the Cubs and their fans to share a feel-good moment as the 32nd annual team convention kicked off at the Sheraton Grand Chicago.

A giddy team chairman Tom Ricketts promised "the best Cubs convention" ever, warning fans: "Spoiler alert. We won the World Series."

The opening ceremonies at the Cubs convention are always raucous. For the past three decades, though they've been all about hope and optimism.

This year, for the first time, the Cubs and their fans had the biggest reason of all to turn the Sheraton into the site of a love fest.

Ricketts made sure to thank the fans, all of whom were in the mood to return the appreciation. When manager Joe Maddon was introduced, the crowd in the packed ballroom broke out in chants of, "Thank you, Joe."

There was one other surprise. Cubs radio announcer Pat Hughes, as is his custom, introduced all of the former Cubs in attendance before getting to the current squad.

Well, almost all of them. Lurking backstage was catcher David Ross, who retired after the World Series.

After all the current players were introduced, out came Ross, and he was carrying the World Series trophy with him.

It's going to be that kind of weekend all the way through Sunday.

"Someone mentioned it last night at dinner that this team that won the World Series is forever going to be attached to the city," said third baseman Kris Bryant, the National League's Most Valuable Player. "Just thinking about that, it gives me chills. It hadn't been done in 108 years. Just to be a part of the group that did that, it means a lot to me, just knowing that we'll forever have an impact on the city and that we gave something to the fans that they deserved."

The Cubs won 97 games in 2015 on the way to the National League championship series. They won 103 during the regular season last year, overcoming a rough patch before the all-star break before rallying from a three-games-to-one deficit in the World Series to beat the Cleveland Indians in seven.

"Last year was a great year," said shortstop and postseason star Addison Russell. "I think we had a lot of ups and downs. This year I feel we can perfect those a little bit where there's more of a stable, consistent thing, whether you look at individiual-wise or team-wise. We're comfortable with each other. It's an open clubhouse. We love these guys that are in the clubhouse. We welcome new guys in the clubhouse."

One man whose job it is to worry about this year right now is team president Theo Epstein. He said he wasn't sure what to expect at the convention, but he expressed confidence his team would be ready to go in the new season.

"You gain inner confidence, a default belief that you and your teammates know how to win," he said. "Through hard times you have a faith in getting back to what got you there, knowing that you're not only good enough to compete, but win and win the whole thing. That kind of confidence is hard to create. That's why you see teams kind of do better and better and better the more times they're in the postseason.

"You have to work really hard, we all do, to avoid any kind of organizational arrogance, any sense of entitlement and to really understand, of all the great things that happened last year, the most special aspect was that we all got to be part of something bigger than ourselves."

• Follow Bruce's Cubs and baseball reports on Twitter @BruceMiles2112.

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