I want to love Cubs Opening Day, I really do. I think I might have even really gotten into it at one point in time. But whether it's the endless march of interminable seasons or the fact that, well, it's March and the weather is proof that even God doesn't want baseball being played in the Midwest yet, I'm just not into it.
I can almost hear the internal catcalls and see the upturned noses at the mere thought of a Cubs fan, or any baseball fan for that matter, poo-pooing the advent of the MLB calender. "You're just a fair-weather fan," they say. "No true Cubs fan would feel like that."
And maybe they're right. Maybe when Spring Training 2016 ends, I'll be all kinds of amped up, bouncing off the walls with a rekindled exuberance fed by the same youth movement that's supposed to bring back talk of World Series contention. I prefer to look at it as realism, as a relaxed comfort with my team's place in the world and my place in that place.
But I didn't get all up in arms after recent reports indicated the Ricketts family's exploration into selling minority shares in the team (and lest you think this'll be some Green Bay Packers-esque scheme, don't worry; they're looking for a few high net worth individuals in order to minimize the number of investors). I didn't rant and rave about how Mark Cuban would have been a better owner, as if he would have glad-handed all the rooftop owners and would have been able to avoid the complicated "sale" of the team.
I didn't get my pretty little panties in a twist when the Cubs kept Javier Baez in the minors, which they had been saying all along they were going to do, regardless of his gaudy numbers. And I didn't take to Twitter to derogate or deride the collection of minor-league or Jr. High talent present on the roster.
So I don't think I'm ever going to get to the point where I'm really fired up for days like today. After all, as I stated in an earlier post:
Ah, the Cubs home opener. The ivy will be brown, a stark contrast to the verdant outfield. The stands will be full, a stark contrast to the vacant seats we’ll notice in the summer, or at The Cell for the second game of the season. A cool breeze will likely be swirling, the last vestiges of a tantrum from the polar vortex, bastard child of Tom Skilling and Mother Nature. How much did you get for your soul, Tom? I hope it was more than Marsellus Wallace received for his own and also that your cruel mistress stays out of the Midwest this spring and summer.
To me, baseball is sport meant to be played in the sun of summer. It's having to drink your Old Style quickly before it warms up enough to let you know that it's, well, Old Style. Okay, I'm sort of kidding there; I actually like Old Style, though much of that is from the added flavor of nostalgic association with the Cubs.
Baseball is riding my bike to practice and learning to position my feet as a second baseman so that the runner wouldn't spike me as he slid into the bag. It's hiking up the ramps and steps to the upper deck seats with my Little League team. So please excuse my lack of enthusiasm; I guess it rises with the mercury.
So I suppose that really does make me mercurial, or fair-weather, if you will. But don't mistake my lack of excitement for apathy or weakness, it's just that I'm not doing backflips over the Cubs Home Opener. It's not you, Epstoyer (or Ricketts or Castro), it's me.
And so for now, I'll follow the games as best I can. I'll stay up until 1am watching with bleary-eyed delirium, drinking ales as my team flails, then fails. But if anything, all the Cubs' home opener means to me is that warmer, brighter days are another small step closer.
So call me when the last cold front has blown through, when the blasts coming into the Friendly Confines off the lake don't force you to pay $50 for a fleece blanket that blocks cold air with roughly the same efficacy as a lace doily. When I can throw on a pair of shorts and show off the EAMUS CATULI tattoo on the back of my right calf, that's when I'll start getting excited about Cubs baseball.
Ironically, that's right about the time everyone else has stopped being excited about it. When the ticket brokers start sweating; not from the heat, but from over-supply and under-demand. While the face pricing might seem to indicated otherwise, the Cubs' price elasticity is increasing. The scalping business ain't what it once was, that's for sure.
But that means little to the families who just want to continue traditions and the tourists who want to take in a bit of baseball history. Then you've got the season ticket holders reluctant to walk the trail for fear that the bandwagon will fill back up once the team turns around. And while it's still a celebration, the fanfare has certainly waned over the past few seasons.
So even though the team is selling this 100th anniversary season of Wrigley Field as the "Party of the Century," it's one to which I'm showing up fashionably late.
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