Super Bowl Sunday, St. Patrick’s weekend, the annual bus trip to see Jimmy Buffett and my birthday rank up there with the best days of the year, but Opening Day at Wrigley may take the cake. Certain things in life are special and walking into Wrigley after a six month layoff is right up there. The experience is unforgettable even if the game is not, and it is one every Cubs fan should have at least once. This year was not much different than the others. Clark, Sheffield and Addison were full of Cubs fans waiting in line at local watering holes. The police presence was ramped up, cars were being towed and fans holding bleacher seats eagerly awaited the opening of the gates. I was perched on a balcony across from centerfield to watch the pre-game action as to avoid the line and not pay for my libations. It was a friend’s apartment, a great place to be any game day. The sweet sound of Steve Goodman rang through the place as we all chanted “Go Cubs Go.” Opening day represents a fresh start and the excitement of the fans always conveys this thought.
However, this year was different in a few ways. The fans expect something and need something. The Miller Lite billboard says it better than anything else….
“The 99th Time is a Charm.”
It was reminiscent of 2004 when Cubs fans expected lots of wins and a playoff berth. The payroll, the new players, the new manager and soon a new owner, so many thoughts were dancing around the heads of Cubs fans’ heads, just like visions of sugar plums. What could be and what might happen were on the forefront for most and as the 2007 Chicago Cubs took the field for the first time at Wrigley, a stadium erupted. The game started off badly, but when Soriano scored to tie the game on a play I have never seen made by an actual Chicago Cub before, we all knew this year was different. Scoring from second on an infield hit, the fans seemed like they had just opened a flat screen television on Christmas morning. Coming back from a deficit was a sight unseen for quite some time at 1060 W. Addison, but it was welcomed back with open arms.
Even though it was a disappointing outcome, fans were still rather upbeat at they dispersed to one of the many bars, pubs and restaurant in Wrigleyville. The team showed grit, spirit and desire. Aramis has become the model of hustle and Izturis actually makes contact now and again. Lilly turned in another quality start and Soriano is starting to come around, showing glimpses of the millions he was paid.
All of this contributed to another positive opening day experience, except the outcome and for me, it came close to ruining the day. I did not go to have fun, I went to see a winner. I am not down on this team, even though I expected more than a 3-5 start. I understand certain things take time and that the Pirates and the Reds will not win 100 games.
However, the most interesting part of Opening Day came after the game, later on into the evening and the following morning. If Opening Day is supposed to be a fresh start, a rebirth and a new beginning, I found it rather interesting that Dusty Baker was blamed for the loss.
Stay Classy Cubs Fans!!!