CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Cubs have their glittering rings to go with that historic championship.
The team was given its crowning jewels before Wednesday night’s game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, with fans at Wrigley Field roaring as the ceremony unfolded. That put the final punctuation on a celebration 108 years in the making, one that started when the Cubs beat Cleveland in Game 7 last November for their first World Series title since 1908.
They raised the championship banner on Monday night in Chicago and got their sparkling rewards Wednesday.
Each 14-karat white gold ring has a total of 214 diamonds, three karats of red rubies and 2.5 karats of sapphires. The top of the ring features 33 red rubies forming the team’s bull’s-eye logo surrounded by 72 round white diamonds, all in a circular perimeter. The bezel features 108 round white diamonds — one for each year of the drought.
No wonder the rings arrived at Wrigley Field in an armored truck on Tuesday.
One side also features the player’s name above a W flag surrounded by a silhouette of Wrigley’s bricks and ivy, with the player’s number below it. The other side features the year 2016 above the ballpark’s facade and marquee, with a silhouette of the trophy flanked by two diamonds symbolizing the club’s previous two titles and a large, round, white diamond in the center.
On the palm at the bottom of the outer band is the date and time of the Cubs’ victory — “11-3-16, 12:47 a.m.” — along with the Series scores and the logos of the three teams Chicago beat in the postseason. There’s also an image of a goat, a nod to the supposed franchise curse.
“It’s heavy, man,” pitcher John Lackey said. “It’s really nice. Seriously, I’ve been fortunate to have a couple more, but this is kind of next level for sure.”
Young slugger Kyle Schwarber said: “That’s how you want your ring to look.”
A highlight video kicked off the festivities Wednesday. Commissioner Rob Manfred then presented rings to members of the Ricketts family that owns the team, starting with chairman Tom Ricketts and his wife.
Team executives came next, with fans chanting President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein’s name as he accepted his ring from Ricketts. Cubs Hall of Famers Fergie Jenkins, Ryne Sandberg and Billy Williams got theirs. So did manager Joe Maddon and his coaches.
For the players, the Cubs added a different twist. In a nod to the support they received through more than a century of heartbreak and frustration, the team had 20 contest-winning fans serve as ring bearers for the guys in gloves and cleats.
“Based on 108 years of difficulties, I think it’s the perfect method to do this,” Maddon said.
Ranging from 13 to 90 years old, the fans were selected from a pool of more than 1,500 video submissions on Twitter. They were nominated by friends, family and co-workers.
They included Jimmy Thurman, a 90-year-old World War II veteran from Kewanee, Illinois. In his submission, a mock “Tonight Show” video, he recalled becoming a Cubs fan in the late 1930s because his mom was. He passed that love down through his family, and he got to hand 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta his ring.
Was the night all he hoped it would be?
“It was more,” Thurman said. “My greatest one was 65 years ago when I married my wife (Wilma). That was number one, but this is right behind it.”
Joanne Harrer of suburban Naperville was nominated by her granddaughter, Amanda.
In the video, Amanda recalled watching countless games on TV and trips to Milwaukee and Washington with her grandma. Joanne Harrer also showed off an impressive collection of Cubs shirts. The two were flying to Arizona for spring training when they got an email saying they were among the winners.
“This is one of the best moments of my life,” said Joanne Harrer, who presented pitcher Mike Montgomery with his ring. “It’s just been wonderful. I still can’t believe all this is happening.”
Amy Liss of Downers Grove, a motivational speaker born with cerebral palsy, got wheeled out by her twin sister, Kelly Moreland, to hand Kris Bryant his ring.
“I was shocked and it’s still pretty surreal,” she said. “This definitely will be a lifelong memory. I don’t think the excitement in my heart will ever be over.”
EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Oregon junior forward Dillon Brooks says he is entering the NBA draft.
Brooks announced his decision, which was widely anticipated, in a video posted Wednesday on www.positionless.com.
The Canadian star praised Oregon’s coaches in the video, saying, “I was not highly recruited and they believed in me from the jump.”
“I just feel like now I’m going to take my talents to the next level and enter in the draft,” he said.
The Pac-12 Player of the Year has hired an agent, which ends his eligibility with the Ducks.
Later Wednesday, Ducks reserve guard Casey Benson announced that he planned to graduate this spring from Oregon and transfer for his final year of eligibility.
Brooks averaged 16.1 points this season for Oregon, which went to the Final Four. Known as a clutch performer, he scored winners against Tennessee, UCLA and Cal.
Brooks is the second Oregon player to say he will leave school for the NBA this week after sophomore Tyler Dorsey declared Monday. There has also been speculation about 6-foot-9 forward Jordan Bell, who averaged 10.9 points and 8.8 rebounds this season.
Dorsey, a 6-foot-4 two-year starter, averaged 14.6 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game this season. His play picked up as the season went on and he averaged 23.5 points over the Ducks’ five tournament games.
Benson averaged 4.9 points and 1.9 assists this season for the Ducks, playing backup to freshman starter Payton Pritchard.
Brooks and Dorsey also declared for the draft last season and went through the evaluation process but never hired agents.
Brooks, Dorsey and Bell were key to the Ducks’ first appearance in the Final Four since Oregon won the first NCAA Tournament in 1939.
Oregon finished 33-6 this season, setting a program record for wins, and made its fifth straight trip to the NCAA Tournament. The Ducks fell 77-76 to North Carolina in the national semifinals.
More AP college basketball: www.collegebasketball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP—Top25
DENVER (AP) — It was one of the most exclusive tickets in town: Only 800 were made available, and those lucky enough to score one had to show photo ID at the gate, where they were issued a wristband and a number. No signs bigger than a sheet of notebook paper were allowed, so as not to obscure anyone’s view.
The rules weren’t for a rock concert but for a town hall meeting Wednesday evening between Republican Rep. Mike Coffman and his suburban Denver constituents.
Town halls have become a risky proposition for GOP members of Congress since President Donald Trump’s election. Liberal groups and constituents angry about the Trump agenda have flooded public meetings, asking their representatives tough questions, chanting, heckling them and even shouting them down in skirmishes that have made for embarrassing online video.
On Monday, for example, South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson, who became infamous for yelling “You lie!” at President Barack Obama during a speech to Congress in 2009, was himself confronted at a town hall by constituents chanting, “You lie!”
As a result, some Republicans aren’t holding town halls. And some of those who are going ahead with such events are taking steps to keep things from getting out of control.
In Texas, Rep. John Culberson barred signs and noisemakers from a March 24 town hall, required those attending to prove they were constituents by showing utility bills or other documents, and insisted that questions be submitted in advance. He was still shouted down repeatedly by a crowd angry about the GOP push to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
In Arkansas, Rep. French Hill will hold his first town hall of the year on Monday — but in the middle of the afternoon, and with the state’s Republican junior senator, Tom Cotton, at his side. Nevada’s Dean Heller, one of the more vulnerable GOP senators in 2018, will also hold his first town hall of 2017 on Monday, in the morning. And he, too, is apparently seeking safety in numbers by including Republican Rep. Mark Amodei.
Democrats, for their part, have felt the heat from anti-Trump constituents at town halls and are also taking precautions. Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris of California, for example, is banning signs at her town hall in Los Angeles next week.
Coffman is a politician perennially in the hot seat. His swing district has slightly more Democrats than Republicans, and he is always a top target in elections. For years, he has avoided town halls, instead holding private, one-on-one meetings with constituents during “office hours” at libraries in his district.
In January, one of those events was flooded by hundreds of constituents and activists who filled the library lobby, sang, chanted and demanded Coffman emerge from his private conversations to address them. The congressman ended up slipping out the back.
One of the rules for his Wednesday town hall was no standing in the aisles or blocking entrances and exits.
The contentious town hall was moderated by a local radio host Steffan Tubbs who voted for Coffman and urged hecklers to “respect the guidelines.” Coffman earned some cheers when he spoke of his support for rights for gays and immigrants.
But he also got a fair amount of scorn from those who contended he was not standing up enough to Trump.
“When I disagree with the president, I will speak out,” Coffman said in response to a pointed question about his support for Trump-backed legislation. “But I’m not going to do it every day…. Those of you on the extreme left will never be satisfied until Trump” leaves office.
Smadar Belkind Gerson, an activist in Coffman’s district who was helping to organize protests outside the town hall, said that she was glad Coffman moved to a more open format but that he has a long way to go. The event, she noted, was scheduled to last only an hour — though Coffman stayed for nearly a second hour — and Coffman’s staff planned to draw numbers to determine which constituent could ask questions.
“Yes, people are upset,” Gerson said. “But the more you do this and the more you restrict people, the more they will be upset.”
She noted that a Democratic state lawmaker who may challenge Coffman in 2018 planned to hold a town hall on the same campus Wednesday evening with no restrictions on attendance or questions.
Coffman held two town halls via telephone before Wednesday’s in-person event. Those appearances are far more controlled, with questions submitted in advance and an operator cutting off the questioner so the politician can respond.
This story has been corrected to show that the Obama speech that was interrupted by Rep. Joe Wilson was not a State of the Union address and that Rep. Culberson’s first name is John.
DALLAS (AP) — With the federal government and a Senate committee looking into the dragging of a man off a United Express flight, airlines are beginning to speak up against any effort to bar them from overselling flights.
The CEO of Delta Air Lines called overbooking “a valid business process.”
“I don’t think we need to have additional legislation to try to control how the airlines run their businesses,” Ed Bastian said Wednesday. “The key is managing it before you get to the boarding process.”
Federal rules allow airlines to sell more tickets than they have seats, and airlines do it routinely because they assume some passengers won’t show up.
The practice lets airlines keep fares low while managing the rate of no-shows on any particular route, said Vaughn Jennings, spokesman for Airlines for America, which represents most of the big U.S. carriers. He said that plane seats are perishable commodities — once the door has been closed, seats on a flight can’t be sold and lose all value.
Bumping is rare — only about one in 16,000 passengers got bumped last year, the lowest rate since at least the mid-1990s. But it angers and frustrates customers who see their travel plans wrecked in an instant.
Bumping is not limited to flights that are oversold. It can happen if the plane is overweight or air marshals need a seat. Sometimes it happens because the airline needs room for employees who are commuting to work on another flight — that’s what happened Sunday on United Express.
Flight 3411 was sold out — passengers had boarded, and every seat was filled — when the airline discovered that it needed to find room for four crew members.
That eventually led to the video everybody has seen — a 69-year-old man being dragged off the plane by security officers after refusing to give up his seat.
In a series of three statements and an interview, United CEO Oscar Munoz became increasingly contrite. On Wednesday, he told ABC-TV that he would fix United’s policies and that United will no longer call on police to remove passengers from full flights.
Politicians have jumped on the public outrage.
On Wednesday, 21 Senate Democrats demanded a more-detailed account of the incident from Munoz. A day earlier, the top four members of the Senate Commerce Committee asked Munoz and Chicago airport officials for an explanation.
“The last thing a paying airline passenger should expect is a physical altercation with law enforcement personnel after boarding,” said the committee members, two Republicans and two Democrats. They asked Munoz about his airline’s policy for bumping passengers, and whether it makes a difference that passengers have already boarded the plane.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., asked the U.S. Department of Transportation to analyze “the problem of overbooking passengers throughout the industry.” He said was working on legislation to increase passengers’ rights.
The Transportation Department said it is investigating the incident to determine if United violated consumer-protection or civil-rights laws. It gave few details.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Tuesday that he asked the Trump administration to suspend airlines’ ability to overbook flights. Christie, a Republican, said bumping passengers off flights is “unconscionable.” United is the dominant carrier at New Jersey’s largest airport, which is in Newark.
Federal rules require that before airlines can bump passengers from a flight they must seek volunteers — the carriers generally offer travel vouchers. That usually works — of the 475,000 people who lost a seat last year, more than 90 percent did so voluntarily, according to government figures.
United said, however, that when it asked for volunteers Sunday night, there were no takers. United acknowledged that passengers may have been less willing to listen to offers once they were seated on the plane.
“Ideally those conversations happen in the gate area,” said United spokeswoman Megan McCarthy.
Airlines are supposed to have rules that determine who gets bumped if it comes to that. United’s rules, called a contract of carriage, say this may be decided by the passenger’s fare class — how much they paid — their itinerary, status in United’s frequent-flyer program, and check-in time. United has not said precisely how the four people asked to leave Flight 3411 were selected.
United bumps passengers less often than average among U.S. carriers. In 2016, it bumped 3,765 passengers, or one in every 23,000. Passengers were twice as likely to get bumped from Southwest Airlines. Hawaiian, Delta and Virgin America were the least likely to bump a passenger against his will.
Marcy Gordon in Washington contributed to this report.
David Koenig can be reached at http://twitter.com/airlinewriter
EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (AP) — A craving for a McDonald’s cheeseburger apparently prompted an 8-year-old Ohio boy to take his 4-year-old sister for a ride in his dad’s van, which he learned to drive on the internet.
East Palestine police Officer Jacob Koehler tells WJW-TV (http://bit.ly/2nFFHMY ) in Cleveland the father went to bed Sunday and the mother fell asleep on the couch with the kids.
Koehler says witnesses saw the boy driving and called police in the city, about 90 miles (145 kilometers) southeast of Cleveland. He says the boy drove about a mile to the restaurant, through intersections and over railroad tracks, without mishap.
Witnesses say the boy appeared to obey traffic laws.
Koehler says the boy told him he learned to drive by watching YouTube videos.
No charges have been filed.
Information from: WJW-TV, http://www.fox8.com
CHICAGO (AP) — Airport police officers called to remove a passenger who refused to leave a United Express flight essentially walked into what law enforcement experts say was a no-win situation: enforcing a business decision by a private company.
But if the passenger posed no threat and was not being disruptive, officers almost certainly could have tried an approach other than dragging him out of his seat and down the aisle, including simply telling the airline to resolve the situation itself, experts said.
Cellphone video of the bloodied passenger, 69-year-old David Dao of Elizabethtown, Kentucky, has become a public-relations nightmare for United and led to the suspension of three police officers who worked for the Chicago Department of Aviation.
The video also underscores a growing dilemma: From airlines to schools, police are called to deal with situations that in the past might have been handled without them, sometimes leading officers to respond with force far beyond the provocation.
“Police have an innate bias for action, but there are times that it’s not in their best interest or that of their agency to get involved in an issue that requires you to use a high level of force,” said Jim Bueermann, president of the Police Foundation, a Washington D.C.-based research group, and former police chief in Redlands, California. “You have to ask whether … you really needed to use force when doing the airline’s bidding.”
In an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America” aired Wednesday, the chief executive of United Airlines said the carrier will no longer ask police to remove passengers from full flights.
After passengers were already seated on the full flight, United announced that four people needed to get off to make room for employees of a partner airline. When nobody accepted the airline’s offer of $800 to relinquish a seat, the airline chose four passengers at random. All but Dao agreed to leave.
It’s unclear what police were told by the airline about the situation. Screaming can be heard on the videos as Dao is dragged from his window seat and across the armrest, but he is not seen fighting with the officers. He appears relatively passive while being dragged. Later he’s seen standing in the aisle saying quietly, “I want to go home, I want to go home.”
But once police were aboard the plane, it would have been difficult to walk away, especially if they did not know why the passenger was asked to leave, said Kevin Murphy, executive director of the Airport Law Enforcement Agencies Network.
“Once you’re there, it becomes tough to disengage. You have an obligation,” Murphy said. “If someone is saying they’re staying no matter what the property owner says, you have to wonder why they want to try so hard,” to stay … “Is there something else going on?”
But police officers should try to find out what they are going into and to defuse the situation, if possible, experts said.
Officers with the Los Angeles Airport Police do not get involved in civil matters such as business disputes between airlines and passengers. They have sometimes refused airlines’ requests to board planes, said spokesman and police officer Rob Pedregon.
“We don’t just fly into action when someone calls us,” he said. Officers will “basically find out the whole situation, why we’re here, get the background and then decide if it’s within our legal authority. We wouldn’t get (someone) off just because the airline wants them off. If a law is broken, then we will take action.”
The Chicago Department of Aviation swiftly put the officer who removed Dao on leave, saying he had violated standard procedures and that the agency would not “tolerate that kind of action.” Two more officers were suspended Wednesday. Officials have refused to say what procedures should have been followed.
The agency also said that its officers, who are not part of the Chicago Police Department, have “limited authority to make an arrest.”
Officers could have asked themselves whether the airline had an option to reconsider its actions, said Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, a group that has called for greater restraint from police officers. But the bottom line, he said, is that the airline put the police officers in a difficult situation by expecting them “to solve an issue that they had created.”
“It was within their decision-making power to try someone else,” Wexler said. “The real question is, at what point did the airline think this is no longer their problem and turns this over to the police? He could not solve this issue the way the airline could.”
At the same time, police frequently overreact when someone defies an order, Bueermann said.
“They take the bait … and you dig yourself in a deeper hole,” Bueermann said, comparing the United situation to that of a South Carolina police officer seen on cellphone video in 2015 flipping a high school student backward in her desk-chair then dragging her across the classroom after she refused to leave.
“Everybody reaches a limit … but police officers are paid in part to use their common sense to resolve a situation.”
Associated Press writer Don Babwin contributed to this story.
Follow Tammy Webber at https://twitter.com/twebber02 .