Kasper: A lifetime of memories from a spectacular Cubs season
This was simply the most fun spring, summer and fall of baseball I have ever witnessed. The memories, moments and oddities are flooding my brain, in no particular order …
Embracing the target, the Mother's Day marathon, the Kris Bryant game, Jake Arrieta's no-hitter, the pennant-clincher by Kyle Hendricks, Kyle Schwarber's devastating injury and subsequent miraculous return.
Dexter Fowler's surprise re-signing, all-star season and Game 7 leadoff homer.
Addison Russell's dives and his Game 6 grand slam, Javier Baez's hands, lightning-quick tags and his MLB tattoo, Willson Contreras' energy, Travis Wood's catch in the ivy on national television and October home run.
David Ross' throws, sense of humor and Game 7 home run.
Anthony Rizzo's ledge catch. And his leadership. And his charitable heart.
Jason Heyward's professionalism. And his defense.
Rob Zastryzny's last name. And Matt Szczur's too.
Szczur's bat. And his underwear.
Police escorts to the ballparks and airports.
Ben Zobrist's walk-up music. And his MVP Series.
Ryan Kalish's inspirational, albeit brief, return, Munenori Kawasaki's spring training home run.
John Lackey's facial expressions, Jon Lester's scowls, and his work ethic.
Miguel Montero's tweets and his championship series grand slam.
Pat Hughes' iconic pennant-clinching and World Series-winning radio calls, Ron Coomer's laugh and Jim Deshaies' one-liners.
Kris Bryant's versatility. And his baserunning. And power. And his infectious smile. And his All-Star Game home run off Chris Sale.
Pedro Strop's crooked cap. And his quick pitch, Carl Edwards Jr.'s skinny frame, and ridiculous stuff.
Chris Bosio's no-nonsense interviews, bullpen coach Lester Strode's class and positivity, and strength coach Tim Buss' inspirational pre-team stretch speeches.
Billy Williams' batting cage observations, and Ryne Sandberg in the stands wearing his Cubs hat.
Aroldis Chapman's fastball, Hector Rondon's slider, and Mike Montgomery's World Series-clinching save.
Bob Newhart's tweets, Jason Hammel's beard, and Beanie Maddon's police escort to Game 3.
Jake Arrieta's beard, his flat-brimmed cap, and his flawless posture.
A jam-packed Clark Street before, during and after the NLCS clincher.
Tom Ricketts' commitment and Cubs fans' undying loyalty.
Theo Epstein's contract extension, and his fake mustache.
The immortal spirit and legacy of Ron Santo and Ernie Banks.
Wrigley Field under the lights with a packed house going bonkers. And in the quiet mornings before the gates open.
Joe's Maddonisms. Respect 90. Try not to suck. Never permit the pressure to exceed the pleasure. Do simple better.
Kyle Hendricks' major-league leading earned run average. And his steely demeanor.
Eddie Vedder cheering from the front row, Jeff Garlin and Bill Murray singing the stretch, and Eddie's duet with Harry.
Hendricks' devastating changeup. Lester's cutter and competitiveness, Arrieta's slider and home run power.
John's Vincent singing our national anthem, Julianna Zobrist's "God Bless America," and Wayne Messmer's voice.
All the crazy themed road trips.
John Mallee's work ethic and Mike Borzello's game plans. Gary Jones' toothpick, and his gutsy sends.
Brandon Hyde playing catch with his son Colton in the outfield.
Javier Baez's homer vs. the Giants, Addison Russell's blast in Los Angeles and their pennant-clinching double play.
Albert Almora Jr.'s defensive instincts.
Postgame celebrations. Post-series celebrations.
October, color-changing ivy.
25-6, 47-20, 103-58.
22-6 in August.
656 walks and 808 runs.
Plus-252 run differential.
A 3.15 team ERA.
Eliminating the Giants in their own ballpark.
Beating Clayton Kershaw for a trip to the World Series.
Cubs baseball in November.
Game 7. All of it in its wacky, heart-wrenching glory.
National League Central Champions, National League pennant winners for the first time in 71 years, World Series Champions for the first time in 108 years.
• Len Kasper is in his 12th season as the television play-by-play voice for the Chicago Cubs. Follow him on Twitter@LenKasper.