CHICAGO — After the Chicago Cubs selected him with the No. 2 pick in the 2013 draft, Kris Bryant was asked if he knew anything about the organization.
“I know they haven’t won a World Series in a while, so hopefully I can do all I can to help the Cubs win one,” he replied. “I know it’s a great baseball city, a great team and a lot of history to it. I’m excited.”
Bryant helped deliver the first Cubs championship in most of their fans’ lifetimes, turning in an MVP season in 2016 and making the final play of the epic Game 7 victory in the World Series. That year forever altered expectations on the North Side while contributing to the increased revenue streams that made the team a cash machine for the Ricketts family.
Bryant, Javier Báez and Anthony Rizzo on Friday began the final homestand before the July 30 trade deadline in a state of flux, waiting to learn whether they’ll be dealt to a contender so the Cubs can start rebuilding for their next window of opportunity.
It was fitting then, in the first inning of Friday’s 8-3 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks, that the Big 3 celebrated together at home plate after Báez’s three-run home run into the left-field bleachers at Wrigley Field.
The only thing missing was a selfie to mark the occasion.
It’s hard not to be nostalgic this week after Cubs President Jed Hoyer’s “eye on the future” declaration July 8 that fueled the rumor mill. Even if the Cubs wanted to pretend it was just another day at the ballpark, some fans would not let them.
On a sweltering afternoon with 34,059 in the park, a few dozen fans sitting in the same section as Chairman Tom Ricketts decided to let him know what they thought about the possibility of Bryant no longer wearing a Cubs uniform.
They all donned Bryant jerseys and gave him a standing ovation when he strolled to the plate in the first inning.
Cubs fan Kevin Thompson said he bought about 40 Bryant jerseys to hand out to people in the section to “send a message” to Ricketts to keep Bryant. It probably would’ve been cheaper to write it down, walk over to Ricketts and hand it to him, but money was no object.