By the end, the Cubs had the feel of a group of sixth-year college seniors. Their days of glory and their best parties were behind them, and it was time for everyone to graduate.
They will be back together for reunions in years to come, for the familiar highlight reel, of Ben Zobrist's tie-breaking double and celebration in the 10th inning of Game 7 of the 2016 World Series, Kris Bryant seemingly grinning as he whizzed that final throw to Anthony Rizzo, and the first baseman shoving the historic ball into his pocket before happily launching himself into teammates. The safe bet is that a lot of the ceremonial first pitches to come will involve Bryant and Rizzo, maybe from third base to first.
But it was time for the group to move on to their next pursuits, particularly because each of them experienced the frustration of failed contract negotiations and trade rumors.