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.

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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