PLAY BALL!

Hope springs eternal as a new leaf is turned over while waiting for the fresh new day as the dew on the grass is beginning to dry and we are waiting for those two beautiful and gorgeous words that are music to our ears … “PLAY BALL.”

That is a lot of sap to process, but who doesn’t get sentimental when speaking of Opening Day.

Children have Christmas, the Irish have St. Patrick’s Day, and we have Opening Day. It is a magical feeling to see the bunting adorn the brick walls at Wrigley as the rosters are announced. No matter how bad the predictions are or how awful the pundits think the team will be, on Opening Day, everyone is still in it and everyone has a chance.

Baseball fans have an extra hop in their step and their smiles are a little wider on this day. Ditching work never felt so good, or so right. 24 degrees is still really cold, but just not as cold as 24 degrees normally is. It is all just part of the aura of Opening Day.

If you thought Wrigleyville was crazy after a Saturday game in June, you should see it today. Chicago’s finest look the other way as the glint in their eye makes their jealousy so clear and obvious.

Anything can happen on Opening Day. This is true of the other 161 games as well, but for some reason, it is just different the first time around. Baseball is back. Things make sense again. The world is sunnier. Life is just better because of it. Baseball is awesome.

We sit here and discuss the Cubs on a daily basis. Whether anyone wants to admit it is his or her choice, but this team is a passion for us. Just about every Cubs fan knows this is going to be a long season when it comes to wins and losses, but for one magical day during three glorious hours that reality is lost in a magical production of pomp and circumstance, and, of course, baseball. We have a chance to dream, to think, to hope and to wonder. Children certainly have the best imaginations, but Cubs fans are a close second.

Walking through the gates at Wrigley is an experience, some classify it as holy or spiritual or moving. It is all of these things at once every time it happens, but again, on Opening Day it is even more than that.

Peter Pan never wanted to grow up. It’s too bad he wasn’t a Cubs fan because walking into Wrigley on that chilly day in April for that first game can make anyone a kid again.

Cheers to baseball, to the Cubs, to you, and to Opening Day!

Go Cubs!! Here is to proving everyone wrong come September!

As I said, we have wonderful imaginations.

Happy Opening Day, CCO!

And until next time …

Stay Classy Cubs Fans!!

Quote of the Day

"Love all, trust a few. Do wrong to none." - William Shakespeare
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  • xaxinho

    Thank God!!!!

    Is Opening Day!!!!!

    GO CUBS!!!

  • Cubs 31

    Besides the famous two words in baseball:  “Opening Day” and “Play Ball”  we have these two famous words:   “Go Cubs” and “Cubs Win”.

  • Bryan

    How disappointing that as we look forward to today’s Opening Day that we face the reality (highlighted thru the Trib’s articles today) regarding “patience”, and that “this isn’t likely the year”. 

    So I subscribed for the Comcast baseball package (as always) but look forward more to listening to Scully in the evening than the likely mess to occur on the north side this year.  As a major market franchise I find it disappointing that the fan base has to swallow another “rebuild” mentality from Cubs management.  Can you imagine sitting in NY and taking the media pressure if you haven’t won a darn thing in over a 100 years.  Don’t get me wrong, I like the Theo and Sveum moves (god knows any move was better than JH and Quade), but I don’t subscribe into this roster management mentality. Your goal (and obligation) to your team and fans is to put the best 9 players on the field, and to Win.  I personally don’t care about extra years of options or years to arbitration.  The Cubs spin is that they “have a plan” for Jackson and Rizzo (which I’m sure has a post-June calendar emphasis on it).  Let’s stop drinking the fan kool-aid.  Their only plan is saving money, knowing that 3 million fans will continue to show up, drink the Old Style, and sing the 7th inning stretch regardless of the crap on the field. 

    I love baseball, and grew up as a bleachers bum!  But I have little tolerance for an owner who (regardless of what he says) is all about “the bottomline financials”, for the sake of the product on the field. 

    So as Cub fans we enter 2012 with our usual optimism.  Likely, though, in the weakest division in all of baseball, we’ll probably be 10 back by Memorial Day.  Pass another “Old Style”. 

    • Djpetti

      Cheers to you, sir, for a good read.

    • cubs1967

      exactly!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      104 years and counting………there is NO grace period.

      • Scott

        When the games start, will you be complaining about the games on a daily basis, or will you simply be repeating the same things you have said since October?

    • RynoTiger

      Sorry Bryan, but you’re wrong.

      When have the Cubs ever done a “rebuild” and built a winning system?  Easy answer..they haven’t.  Thus 100+ years of futility.

      Caring about option years and years of arbitration is a fact of roster management in today’s game that can’t be blindly ignored simply because you don’t like it. 

      The Cubs have tried the approach of “making it rain with money” in the FA market to get the 9 best players on the field, and while it brought the team closer to winning it all, ultimately it fizzeled out and left the organization with a financial mess that allowed for very little flexibility to actually make additional moves to help the team have sustained success. 

      Sustained success…the Cubs haven’t had it and that’s what it really is all about.  I want the Cubs to be consistenly playing baseball in October and 100+ years of the previous management style didn’t even come close to getting it done.

      What’s the definition of “insanity”?  Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.  The Cubs have had over 100 years of insanity with very little to show in the results category. 

      So if you need patience I’ll send you some. 

      I support Team Theo and the changes they’re working to make to create sustained success for this organization.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Happy Opening Day!

  • Henry

    For the 10th consecutive year I am making my way out to opening day!  We are starting at Bernies and will make our way in around 12:30.  It is good to get this thing going!  

    Neil, thanks for an entertaining offseason!  Let the games begin!

  • Ripsnorter1

    Can’t wait! Even for this team! : )

    Can’t wait to hear the final roster moves, either.

    Jed’s roster management isn’t so good…maybe he forgot he’s got to get the team down to 25…..

  • Dorasaga

    A New Spring For Chicago (Opening Day At Cubs Home):

    Ol’Demp twists his pitching wrist,
    Throws one ball and two strikes foul,
    Kissed one ass ‘long rows of topless men,
    Affront baby bombs out of hands,
    Tossed full Old Style atop her hair,
    Spilled cracks ‘n jacks over sweet ivy,
    Served sea gulls snacks at four-thirty.
    All fronts now clear towards Michigan,
    Ashore never-ending rise of W, t’is a Cubbie home,
    Where Harry goggled through joyful glasses,
    Wind ringing blue-stripes from o’eight ‘n forty-five,
    Hence forgotten whilst all roses last,
    For now is Opening Day at good Wrigley,
    Where grandfathers passed down a legacy.

    *I just wrote this poem while counting how many bottles of beer I got here. Six-hours to First Pitch @Wrigley Field!! These are my arsenals stacked up for that marvel of moment, cry Cubs Win!

  • jw

    I feel good, I’ll just get in the buggy with my picnic basket and watch the men in Blue go down to Bull Rull and take care of those pesky rebels.

  • Tony_Hall

    Any chance Dewitt is not on the 25 man roster?

    On Cubs.com the 25 man roster has 25 men.  Including Mather, L Castillo, Camp, Valbuena, Campana etc

    The 40 man roster has 40 men.  Including Mather, L Castillo, etc.  AND it shows Mateo on the 60 day DL, opening up one of the roster spots needed for the non-roster invitees.

    Dewitt isn’t listed.  Valbuena might have filled the middle infield utility role, while Dewitt was being looked at as a super-sub, playing all over the field, and Mather and Baker are both better suited for that role.

    • Ripsnorter1

      Interesting….

      • Ripsnorter1

        It shows TONY CAMPANA on the team!

    • Ripsnorter1

      You are right about Mateo….60 day DL….

      • Tony_Hall

        When am I ever wrong :)

        • Ripsnorter1

          Every single time you support Team Theo.

          • Tony_Hall

            I teed it up for you…

            My question though, is IF (and that is a big IF), the team plays fundamentally sound, and plays decent, hovering just below (or above) 500 most of the year, and finishes with mid-70′s wins…how will you ever enjoy the season or future seasons having hated on this regime before 1 game has even been played?

          • cubtex

            How did you enjoy the past seasons when you hated on JH before a pitch was ever thrown? And they had some very good teams under JH

          • Tony_Hall

            I only hated on them the last few years, when it was obvious JH needed to go.  By the way, I didn’t enjoy the seasons.

          • cubtex

            Well those teams were better than this so good luck on that. I enjoy watching good baseball. Last year was awful and this years team is worse. The only thing to look forward to is bringing up BJax, Rizzo, and seeing if Shark can be a solid mlb starter. O, I and I always enjoy watching Garza compete….but I think you already knew that!

          • RynoTiger

            yes JH had some good teams…but he didn’t have a good organization.  and unless each specific team won it all, he had to retool and find more money to throw at the previous years problem that didn’t quite put the team in the promiseland.  why? because he didn’t have a good organization that could address those problems. and what did it get JH?  a more expensive team each year that fell farther from competition for the WS until it go to the point that he could spend no more and didn’t have the tools necessary from an internal perspective to help out…he lost big on the bankrupt

          • cubtex

            see the Boston Red Sox of 2012 :)

          • Ripsnorter1

            After enduring several decades of losing, I can no longer drink the Cubbie Kool-Aid and expect 100 wins and a pennant out of a 65 win team. 

            Now the only way I can continue to be a Cubs’ fan is to live in reality. I get enjoyment from the Cubs now, not by hoping for a miracle every year, but by soberly assessing what they really have for talent and for prospects of success, and then watching the Cubs to see if they meet my expectations. Last year I predicted a 70 win season, and the Cubs won 71. The previous year I predicted 74 wins, and they won 75. So yes, I am too negative. But that’s how I enjoy the Cubs. 

          • Tony_Hall

            I get why, but with the new regime, it was a perfect opportunity to start fresh.

            I did that for me. To be able to enjoy the Cubs games and be a fan of the team again.  I hated not liking what was going on at Clark and Addison.

            I will enjoy this season, as I don’t expect the playoffs. 

            I don’t expect above 500.  

            I expect to see a team that is fundamentally sound.  That does something when a player doesn’t give 110%.  That has and will have more young players who will be fun to watch as they grow into major league players.  

            I am excited about the future of this team and since there isn’t much in the past to be excited about, I would rather look to what lies  ahead.

        • Ripsnorter1

          So the thread doesn’t get too thin, I’ll reply here….

          I’m glad you are getting a fresh start. I am getting a fresh start simply because it is opening day of another year of baseball. I love this game. I expect to enjoy this year, even if the Cubs win 65 games…or less. 

          • cubtex

            Best game in the world!

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Tony, thank you for posting this earlier.

  • Tony_Hall

    Today is a magical day.  

    Today we start 6 months (hopefully 7 months) stretch of baseball games.

    Today starts the next step in the journey and its magical. No matter what age you are, when baseball starts, you feel like a kid again.

    Today we get to turn on the radio and hear a pre-game show. Then as the game approaches we get to hear the magic – “The Chicago Cubs are…” I don’t even have to finish typing the words, every true blue Cubs fan finished that line without the words and could here Pat’s voice.

    That’s the Magic!

    Today it doesn’t matter, what moves were made or not made. Which young guy is going to be given a fair chance, which veteran is getting his last day in the sun, which player is on his last chance to stay on the team, none of that matters.

    Baseball is here!!

    We will continue to debate through the rest of the year, the roster choices, the rotation, the starting lineup, the batting order, free agency, revenue sharing, on and on, but today, today should be a day to just say thanks for this great game, it truly is a great game.

    The game doesn’t stink, Mr. Wheeler. It’s a great game.

    For Love of the Game

    Play Ball!

  • cubtex

    John Lannan has requested a trade from the Nationals. Why hasn’t a Marlon Byrd for Lannan trade happened yet? They both make about the same amount of money. The Nats need a CF for a year. Lannan is 27 and would have more trade value if he performs will than Byrd. Lannan is better than Volstad so put him in Volstad’s spot and let Volstad start in AAA or long relief.

    • Ripsnorter1

      If Volstad pitches in Chicago like he did in FL, expect lots of broken windows on both Waveland and Sheffield Avenues.

      • cubtex

        John Lannan- age 27

        10-13   3.70 ERA    184 IP 194 Hits(not great)

        Chris Volstad-  Age 25

        5-13   4.89 ERA    165 IP 187 Hits(not good at all)

        Who would you rather have? Lannan is not a stud by all means….but he could have some trade value if he pitches well.

        • Ripsnorter1

          Lannan.

          I do not see Volstad keeping his ERA under 5.00. As I said, lots of broken windows across the street from all the bombs hit from his hanging sliders.

          • wrigleylover

            Volstad
             2 years younger and has pitched very well lately. His ERA could be below 4.00

          • cubtex

            Under 4? Have you seen this guy pitch? I will take some of that action.

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      What if the Nationals are not interested in Marlon Byrd?

      • RynoTiger

        Neil, such an excellent point!  Sometimes we as fans need to step away from our video game and fantasy league managed teams to realize that it takes two willing partners to make a trade and that it’s not as easy as just saying “hey you other GM, take my player and I want that other player on your team.done!”

      • cubtex

        True….but everything that I have heard is that they are looking for a 1 year stopgap until Bryce Harper is ready. They even have moved Harper to CF to start the year in the minors. The Nats are having a hard time finding a team to pay the 5 mil for Lannan. This makes too much sense for not to have anything there.

        • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

          Again, those rumors you have heard are just that. There is no way to know for sure that the Nationals have shown interest in him. The way you phrased it was it was the Cubs’ fault for not making the deal happen. For as much as we think we know, we don’t.

          • John_CC

             Thank you Neil, for pointing out the obvious and trying to quell the tide of hyperbole.  I’ve given up. But you will not be rebutted and/or asked to stop reading!

          • cubtex

            you have some serious issues dude! and I mean serious!

          • cubtex

            I didn’t mean for it to imply the Cubs have this offer and they are not jumping on it. It was rhetorical. The Nats need a CF and they have a disgruntled player who wants out. Just stating the obvious. In fact….it was more of a jab at the Nats for not taking Byrd for Lannan than the other way around. They need Byrd more than Lannan…imo

          • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

            Thanks for clearing that up … and hey, you never know Byrd might leave Chicago with the Nationals.

          • cubtex

            hopefully. they need bullpen help badly and maybe if not Lannan….I would even take Gorzo :)

  • Tom U

    Happy opening day to everyone at the CCO!

    To provide a coda to the off-season, I’ll fall back on my previous experience as a teacher.

    B-

    I know this will provoke some discussion, and I’ll be limited in how I can respond (today is one of the days in the week where my access to the internet is severely limited). So, I’ll outline some of my reasons.

    1. The Cubs’ Way – Most fans aren’t able to truly grasp the significance of having a manual that details how the organization expects their players to play, but the lack of having one demonstrates a glaring weakness. Without one, it gave both front office and field management a convenient excuse for not playing or promoting internal talent. That is no longer the case.

    2. The installation of video cameras at all minor league home venues. The concept of front office management having the opportunity to see prospects in “real time” is a significant leap from the past. Stone age-type communication will no longer muddy the waters.

    3. Fundamentals – The Cubs’ four previous managers paid lip service to this area in the past. However, this spring was the first time in recent memory that observers could see it actually put into practice.

    4. Naming Bryan LaHair the starting first baseman – This was a development of seismic proportions for the Cubs organization. Think for a second, when was the last time the Cubs named a rookie to a starting position in the off-season that wasn’t considered one of their top prospects? I had to go all the way back to 1985 when a defiant Jim Frey named Brian Dayett a starter in left field over the aging and defensively challenged Gary Matthews. This move sent a clear message to minor league players that their successes are valued.

    5. Upper-level talent – While it is not uncommon for teams to place a lot of marginal major-leaguers at the Triple-A level, those teams are serious contenders who use the minors as a de-facto “reserve squad”. The Cubs management has stockpiled major league-type pitchers at Iowa, but the position players are all prospects.

    6. Room to grow – Previous upper management for the Cubs seemed to “land-lock” their talent, giving precious few the opportunity to rise and develop in the system. This year’s rosters look “lean and mean”, and will give players opportunities to move up (or down) in the system. There also appears to be a realistic evaluation process, which will allow for the “spring cleaning” that most good organization do in late May/early June in anticipation of the draft.

    While there were moves that I didn’t agree with that ended up pulling the grade down, on opening day, I’d like to accent the positive. 

    Once again, welcome to the start of a brand new season. I’ll try to post the opening day starting pitchers for the minors prior to noon.

    • cubtex

      Tom. I agree with some of your points. I disagree with your grade as you would have probably guessed.

      The one point you made about giving Bryan LaHair the starting position in the offseason. Seriously…..how many teams would EVER give the starting position to a non-propsect in the offseason???? The only way this happens is for a team re-building. This is the only time that an owner of the Cubs is giving a GM the power to do this. IF, they did not have Rizzo in the wings……this would have never happened. Barney won the job in the spring……and that is how it should always be for mid level propsects.

      • Tom U

        Exactly, cubtex! This was the first time in a long while that I haven’t seen Cubs’ management “marry” themselves to a player.

        Bryan LaHair didn’t necessary “win” the position, but it is his to “lose”. It keeps him hungry, and the players behind him hungry. It also sends a message (along with some of the other moves) to all the players on the major league squad: Stay on your toes, or you can be next!

        When was then last time you could say that about a Cubs team?

    • John_CC

      Damn straight, Tom! 

      It’s Opening Day.  It’s a frickin American Holiday for all of us here and millions and millions more!  Can all the naysayers and persistent whining know-it-all-better than you stuff just cease for one stinking day?  For Opening Day 2012?! 

      In all the past years that I was firmly rooted in the pessimism of certain futility for the coming Cubs season – last year being one of the worst – I was still excited and happy and even a bit a bit optimistic on Opening Day. 

      Come on Cubs fans!  That’s ALL of you; nemesis, friend and foe alike.  We are here because we are Cubs fans and today is a great day.

      Please?

  • Wranglergirl1963

    I’m in tears with delight reading this. Baseball is back and so are my Cubs! Today I’m a happy girl.