CHICAGO -- The buzz at the Cubs Convention on Friday seemed louder and livelier than in years past, as fans were eager to celebrate the World Series championship, the first for the franchise in 108 years.
"Anyone who knows Cubs history knows that when they win a World Series, they always win the next year," Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts said to a packed ballroom at the Sheraton Grand Chicago for the opening ceremonies.
He's right. The Cubs did win back-to-back championships in 1907 and '08, and the players all said they were eager to do it again.
"Everyone knows how difficult it is to repeat with the short offseason and everything going on, and everything that comes along with a championship," Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta said. "For me, it makes me a little hungrier to do it again. We've been there. We accomplished what we did and I want to do it again, and I know the mindset is probably similar for the guys on the team.
"Once you get a taste of that, you don't want to lose at all," he said. "You want to play the last game of the season. Joe [Maddon] talks about that a lot, and we did it last year and we'd love to do it again."
Maddon was greeted by a standing ovation and chants of "Thank you, Joe" when he was introduced during the ceremonies. The players were then introduced in sync with their walkup music at Wrigley Field and recently retired catcher David Ross carried the trophy on stage. It was a lively start to the three-day fan fest, which will extend into Monday when the players and staff visit President Obama at the White House.
"It's an honor to get an invite from the president, or the guy that's leaving the White House, especially a high-profile guy like Obama, who's consistently in the community, has charities and does all these wonderful things for the USA," shortstop Addison Russell said. "We're excited. I know there's probably about three people I would get starstruck by and he's probably one of them."
Players such as Dexter Fowler, who signed with the Cardinals this offseason, are expected to attend the White House event, as well as Hall of Famer Billy Williams. Arrieta will not go because of family matters -- his son was scheduled for surgery to take care of a dental problem Monday. He was headed home early from the convention.
"People have opinions of me, but it's nothing about who is our president and who is not," Arrieta said. "It's just we have things to take care of ... We have a lot going on. So I won't be going to that [visit]."
Outfielder Jason Heyward was looking forward to the trip to Washington, D.C.
"This is obviously the ultimate time to go to the White House as an athlete, to meet the president after winning a ring," Heyward said. "It's pretty cool and I think it's kind of a unique situation where we have the opportunity to maybe see two presidents in the same year if it works out that way. For Obama to be the one we get to see, obviously him being from Chicago, I feel like it's a unique opportunity."
For now, the players will celebrate the championship with their fans at the three-day lovefest, which will include a seminar on Saturday to update the renovations at Wrigley Field, autograph sessions and a chance to pose with the World Series trophy.
When Ricketts took the stage on Friday, he was greeted by chants of "Thank you, Tom," but he made a point of thanking the fans.
"This will be the best convention of all time," Ricketts said of the event, now in its 32nd year. "The reason I know this will be the best Cubs Convention of all time? Spoiler alert -- we won the World Series."
The Cubs players wouldn't mind having another shortened offseason in 2017.
"Last year, we came into Spring Training picked to win the World Series," Heyward said. "I don't know any other expectation you can have that's going to beat that one. Expect to win and we go win it, come back from [being down 3-1 in the Series], those are all unbelievable things and tough things to do. It's kind of a similar situation again -- you're the world champs until someone beats you.
"We don't really have to change our mindset," Heyward said. "There's been expectations, there's been a lot of fun, there's been a lot of challenges, and we just kind of embrace that and have fun with it."
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.