Today is opening day for baseball, and to kick things off baseball elected to show the world the Houston Astros hosting the Texas Rangers. While this may not be the Chicago Cubs, I will be watching this as we have not been able to see real baseball for about five months; or Cubs baseball in six.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed watching the Spring Training games, but I have a hard time getting emotionally involved with a game that is rather meaningless. But tonight the baseball season begins, and even though this game is meaningless as far as the Cubs go, I will still enjoy watching the game because this is the first real baseball game we have been able to see in a long time.
I have missed having baseball to watch during the days. Sure, I have been able to enjoy a Chicago Bears season that fell apart at the end, the Chicago Bulls have been keeping their head above water without their best player and the Chicago Blackhawks have helped the winter go by quickly with their exciting play, but nothing compares to baseball in my eyes. I love baseball over all over sports and I love the Cubs more than any other team. Yes, even though they have not won a championship since 1908 and the Bears, Blackhawks and Bulls have provided us with multiple championships since then, none come even close to the Cubs.
Nothing can compare to the crack of the bat, the ball hitting the leather, the sights and smells of baseball. When summer is in full effect, nothing can compare to walking into Wrigley Field, seeing the ivy covered walls in all their glory. Wrigley is special, and I honestly do hope that the Cubs never leave the ball park. That means the city is actually going to have to let the Cubs do what they want to do with their own property. However, if they do ever move out of Wrigley (which I do not ever see happening) I am okay with that, because I love the Cubs more than I love Wrigley.
With that, tomorrow is the real opening day. Tomorrow the 2013 season for the Cubs begins as they take on the Pittsburgh Pirates, and once again the immediate future is not looking too bright. This will once again be a very long season, very likely filled with more losses than wins. I know that this will be a hard pill to swallow, but that is a good thing. While the immediate present is going to suck, the future will benefit vastly more by these less than good seasons than they would if the Cubs had a little success without winning a championship.
When the off season began, and the Cubs began signing various players, I will admit that I had some optimism that this team could actually be halfway decent. While they would not compete for a playoff spot, even with the second Wild Card in play, I thought that there was a chance (however slim) that this team could have a chance to reach the .500 mark. They built up their pitching staff by adding Edwin Jackson, Scott Feldman and Scott Baker; they also bolstered their bullpen by adding Kyuji Fujikawa and Carlos Villanueva. They vastly improved their bench by adding Scott Hairston, Brent Lillibridge (yes, he actually is an upgrade as sad as that may be) and Nate Schierholtz. This team had potential to be mediocre instead of complete crap. Then Spring Training started and the problems quickly followed.
Injuries hit the ball club, and hit them hard. The Starting rotation lost Matt Garza for at least a month, Baker was shut down and Ian Stewart could not manage to get healthy long enough to earn a spot on the roster. Whether you love him or hate him, this is a big loss because even though Lillibridge is a huge upgrade on the bench, Stewart is the best third baseman that is major league ready in the Cubs system, and that is pretty sad.
News from yesterday made thing worse, Darwin Barney injured his knee and required five stitches to close him up. He will miss opening day, and could possibly be placed on the disabled list, meaning he will be out the first two weeks of the season. Taking his place on the roster if that happens will be Alberto Gonzalez who made the trip to Pittsburgh just in case he is needed. His following the team is not good news for the Cubs or Barney. That is only going to make the season all the worse, and get the Cubs off to an even slower start.
When all is said and done, I do not see this club being much better than they were last year. Even though they have improved, I still see this team as at least a 90 loss ball club. If I had to guess (and that is what this blog is about) I would say that the team will finish with a record of 71-91. That is good for 10 games better than last year’s mark which is an improvement. While that may not be not as much as an improvement as most fans may want, but a step in the right direction.