Kris Bryant wipes away tears during Cubs tribute in return to Wrigley Field

The tributes made for emotional reactions, as you would expect on Kris Bryant’s return to Wrigley Field. I was glad that Bryant got this moment in the 2021 season, even as it was a reminder of everything that has happened, everything that didn’t happen, and everything that’s coming next.

The whole thing definitely had a “farewell” vibe to it, which is obviously sad, but should not be catching anyone off-guard at this point (Brett says, reminding himself through gritted teeth and blurry eyes). The Cubs re-signing Bryant in free agency was a long-shot, to put it mildly, and I do not expect serious offseason negotiations. You can feel about that however you want – hurt, angry, confused, etc. – but it became clear long ago that it was going to take a top-of-the-market deal to get something done, and it was likewise clear that the Cubs simply weren’t going to do that.

In other words, when an extension never came together, a separation after 2021 was an inevitability. It just came a few months earlier than expected. That does still make me sad, even if I can understand the Trade Deadline decisions. Endings are hard.

For his part, Bryant is still being the good dude he always was, saying and doing the right things.

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Shortly after the tribute played, the Cubs handed Bryant the No. 17 from their old-fashioned scoreboard and a banner reading “2016,” in commemoration of the World Series that the Cubs won that season, which ended their 108-year championship drought.

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