Cubs

Cubs go big with World Series rings and remember the goat, Ernie Banks and Ron Santo

Cubs go big with World Series rings and remember the goat, Ernie Banks and Ron Santo

Jon Lester thought of the championship bling before Theo Epstein could even start his bender, yelling out a suggestion during the World Series trophy presentation inside Progressive Field's visiting clubhouse. After 108 years, Lester told Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts, "It better be big!"

"Something along those lines," Lester said with a smile before Wednesday night's ring ceremony at Wrigley Field. "There may have been a few other words thrown in there."

This team doesn't do subtle. More than five months after that epic Game 7 victory over the Cleveland Indians, the Cubs unveiled a Jostens creation made from 14-karat white gold. The traditional Cubs logo on the top features 33 red rubies surrounded by 72 round white diamonds, all within a circular perimeter framed by 46 blue sapphires.

The design includes 108 symbolic round white diamonds and "an image of the infamous goat representing a supposed franchise curse" on the inner band, according to the team press release.

"I'm definitely going to wear it sometimes," veteran catcher Miguel Montero said. "It's like buying a Ferrari and putting it in the garage, right? You want to drive it. You want to show it off. It's something that you earned and you want to be able to enjoy it."

Cubs broadcaster Len Kasper became the pregame emcee, introducing the Ricketts family, baseball executives Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod, manager Joe Maddon and his coaching staff, and Hall of Famers Fergie Jenkins, Ryne Sandberg and Billy Williams. Twenty contest-winning fans became the ring bearers for the players.

In total, the Cubs plan to distribute 1,908 rings and pins to everyone from front-office associates, ballpark staff, sponsors and Cooperstown alumni, including posthumous rings for Ernie Banks and Ron Santo that will be saved in the Wrigley Field archives.

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"I'll wear it just occasionally, when I got a suit on, if I want to rub it in some people's face," said Jake Arrieta, who transformed the team when he blossomed into a Cy Young Award winner. "I'm not a big ring guy, but who knows? I'll put that thing on and I might change my mind."

One side of the ring displays the player's name atop the W flag with silhouette images of the bricks and ivy around the player's number. The other side shows the year 2016 above the Wrigley Field marquee — "CUBS WIN!" — and a silhouette of the World Series trophy.

The Los Angeles Dodgers aren't just The Other Team during this week's festivities. The design elements also include the opposing logos and series scores from last year's three playoff rounds and the local date and time the World Series ended: "11-3-16, 12:47 a.m."

"I'll be curious to see which guys wear it, which guys don't, which guys put it on a necklace," pitcher Kyle Hendricks said. "The guys are all unique, so they're going to do their own thing with it."

Maddon predicted stylish, high-energy reliever Pedro Strop would be the Cubs player who rocks his ring the most: "He'll wear it in his sleep. He'll wear it in the shower. He'll wear it everywhere, man."

After breaking one curse, Epstein gave his 2004 World Series ring to his father, Leslie, and he doesn't wear his other ring from the 2007 Boston Red Sox. Maddon also doesn't show off the 2002 championship ring he earned as an Anaheim Angels bench coach.

"Never have," Maddon said. "I gave it to my mom right afterwards, and Beanie still has it somewhere. I'm not a jewelry guy in regards to wearing it. I really absolutely love the concept or thought of having it. But I've not worn it one time."

What about this one?

"No, I just don't wear jewelry," Maddon said. "I will put it in a special spot. I'll give it to Jaye, and then whenever (my wife) wants to move it along, she will."

After raising a once-in-a-lifetime banner — and getting the most exotic jewelry in professional sports — it's time for the Cubs to move it along and focus on defending their World Series title.

"The best part about last year was we all got to be a part of something bigger than ourselves," Epstein said, "and feel connected to each other and the fans and the organization and the city. They say all glory is fleeting — and it is — but the flag will fly forever and that feeling of being part of something bigger than ourselves will last forever, too."

Cubs Talk Podcast: Covering the MLB All-Star Game from the media’s perspective

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Covering the MLB All-Star Game from the media’s perspective

NBC Sports Chicago’s own Kelly Crull and videographer Scott Changnon recalled what All-Star week in the nations capitol was like from their point of view.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

 

Cubs, Bears, Bulls among the top 25 wealthiest sports teams in the world

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USA TODAY

Cubs, Bears, Bulls among the top 25 wealthiest sports teams in the world

What Chicago sports team is worth the most money in 2018?

As reported by Kurt Badenhausen in a Forbes article about the 50 richest teams around the globe, the Cubs are the most valuable organization in the Windy City.

Chicago’s North Side baseball team ranks as the 16th wealthiest team in the world, valued at $2.9 billion, an 8 percent increase from 2017. The Cubs are the third-most affluent franchise in Major League Baseball, behind the New York Yankees ($4 billion) and the Los Angeles Dodgers ($3 billion).

This year, the baseball club owned by the Ricketts family surpassed the wealth of the Boston Red Sox ($2.8 billion), who the Cubs were ranked behind last season at $2.68 billion. In the span of a year, the North Siders gained two spots in the top 50 from 18 to 16 on the list.

What could be the reason for this increase?

Could it be that the Cubs are in first place in the NL Central? Or could it be the incredible performances from players like Jon Lester and Javy Baez?

Whatever the reason is for the Cubs’ prosperity, the team is doing something right.

The club also surpassed the Bears on the list this year. In 2017 the Bears (worth $2.7 billion last year) were tied with the Red Sox as the 16th most valuable sports team on Earth. The McCaskey-owned football team has fallen to a tie at 17 with the San Francisco Giants, both valued at $2.85 billion in 2018. The Bears even increased by 6 percent in the last year, making the Cubs’ jump seem greater.

The Bulls, owned by Jerry Reinsdorf, are the last team from Chicago to make the cut. They stand at 23 in the top 50, tied with the Denver Broncos. Both franchises are worth $2.6 billion. Chicago’s NBA team even fell a spot from 2017, but they still increased their value by 4 percent (worth $2.5 billion last year).

The Bears are the seventh richest team in the NFL, while the Bulls are fourth wealthiest in the NBA.