The Cubs, in theory, may have a balance to strike this week between celebrating their 2016 World Series title and beating a Los Angeles Dodgers bunch that looks to be among their stiffest National League competition in 2017.
But manager Joe Maddon relayed the message he's given his group of defending champions: Enjoy the moment and don't get caught up trying to strike an unnecessary balance during Monday's banner raising and Wednesday's ring ceremony.
"You want a strong memory of what it was like and what it felt like," Maddon said. "Don't let it go too quickly. Don't get caught up in the really false narrative regarding -- of course we want to win, of course we want to win again -- but please enjoy it, please slow it down, please take time. It's possibly a once in a lifetime opportunity, so don't miss out."
The Cubs' festivities were delayed due to a nasty cold front rolling through Chicago, but after the rain ended -- and after fans applauded David Ross' latest performance on Dancing With the Stars, which was shown on the left field video board -- the 2017 Cubs were introduced in front of a crowd that didn't lose its energy in the wet, chilly conditions.
Chants of 'M-V-P!' rang out for Kris Bryant as the theme from "Rocky" played over the stadium loudspeakers. Fans sung along with Wayne Messmer during his rendition of the Star Spangled Banner while fireworks shot off from left and right field.
Following player introductions, the Cubs filed under the right field bleachers and watched as Ryne Sandberg, Ferguson Jenkins and Billy Williams raised banners for the team's 1907 and 1908 World Series titles and the 2016 National League pennant. Anthony Rizzo then raised the 2016 World Series banner next to to Wrigley Field's iconic scoreboard, and a few moments later emerged from under the right field bleachers holding the World Series trophy. The Cubs strutted back to the field like rock stars.
Part of why Maddon feels comfortable telling his players to soak in all that adulation is that the third-year Cubs skipper said his team already has done well managing everything that comes with being a defending champion. Only two teams since 1980 have won consecutive World Series titles: The 1992-1993 Toronto Blue Jays and 1998-2000 New York Yankees.
"We've already showed it through the first six games of the season," Maddon said of the Cubs' start. "I thought we showed it during spring training. I really was impressed with our guys during camp. And I mentioned it a lot out there, you would not even have known we had won the World Series if you had walked in our locker room just based on the guys cavorted, went about their business."
But while the focus before the game was on celebrating their 2016 achievements, this is a group that certainly recognized they still had a task ahead of them in the immediate future. For all the pregame pageantry during a constant standing ovation, there was still a baseball game to be played after it.
"(The banner) is going to be here for a long time, for generations of people to look back and realize that we did what we did will be super cool," left fielder Kyle Schwarber said. "But as us baseball players, I think we'll appreciate that more when we're done with this. Because we're worried about trying to get back there again and do it all over again, and that's what our job is to do."