Diamonds are a Cub's best friend

CHICAGO -- You'll excuse the Chicago Cubs if they were a little distracted by some bright, shiny objects on their fingers Wednesday night. After receiving their World Series rings in a pregame ceremony, they didn't exactly play the best game of baseball, losing 2-0 to the Los Angeles Dodgers. But at 5-3 this season -- and with a world championship banner hanging from last season -- the bling was the thing on the players' minds in the clubhouse after the game.

One loss wasn't going to damper their spirits.

"It's heavy," losing pitcher John Lackey said of the ring. "It's really nice. I'm fortunate to have a couple more, but this is next level."

Lackey should be an expert in World Series rings. His teammate, Jason Heyward, pointed out the symmetry of the pitcher's three rings.

"Lackey has an A ring for Angels [2002], B ring for Boston [2013] and C ring [for Cubs]," Heyward said with a smile. "It's cool for him."

It's cool for everyone associated with the Cubs, who gave out a total of 1,908 rings and pins to their players, staff, front office and even ballpark personnel. The early sentiment from the players echoed what Lackey said: This was next-level stuff.

"It's pretty sweet," shortstop Addison Russell said. "Never seen anything like it. It's almost indescribable.

"I like the 'Never Quit,'" he added, referring to an inscription on the ring. "That's my favorite part."

The Cubs packed so much into the ring that it was tough for players to choose what they liked best. Along with the "Never Quit" inscription were the scores of all three playoff rounds, plus the time of the final out.

Perhaps most surprising was a picture of a goat on the ring. After trying for so many years to wave off the idea of a curse, the team embraced it after the fact. It's a reference to Game 4 of the 1945 World Series, when a local tavern owner was kicked out with his billy goat. He allegedly cursed the team, which didn't return to the World Series again until last year.

"It's pretty funny," Kyle Schwarber said. "I guess the curse is gone now. It's a good little compliment to the ring."

Joe Maddon added: "I didn't know there was a billy goat. That's awesome."

It wasn't Russell's favorite thing, but no one could deny that having a goat on the ring was kind of amusing.

"There's a goat," Russell said, smiling. "That's pretty cool."

The other thing that stood out was simply the size of the ring; those 214 diamonds need to reside somewhere.

Maddon said he loved the ring but wouldn't be wearing it, because he's not a jewelry guy and it's too big -- not that he was complaining.

"Tasty," he said. "Despite being grande, [it's] tasty. ... I can't even steer my car with that thing."

Maddon was most happy sharing the moment with some former Cubs, such as Fergie Jenkins, Ryne Sandberg and Billy Williams, who received their rings on the field before the current players were given theirs.

"Even in the dugout they were beaming," Maddon said. "It's so neat they are involved in this whole thing. I love it."

The accolades continued as the Cubs marveled at their new hand jewelry and what it represents. Wednesday was the final official reminder of what they accomplished in 2016. As such, Russell declared no more World Series talk until later this fall. And while Lackey was in a great mood despite the loss, he said it's time to turn the page. The Cubs have the talent to do it again.

"The celebration is over," Lackey said. "Now it's time to start working on another one."

The page might be turning, but the memories will last a lifetime. The Cubs just have to look down at their ring finger to remember what they accomplished.

"Kudos to the people that came up with the design," Schwarber said. "That's something that's going to stay with you forever."