Every year on Opening Day, I like to think I’m going to put together a long, mellifluous post about the upcoming season, weaving it with deep thoughts on what it means to be a Chicago Cubs fan. And every year I post a picture of some dude making a “let’s rock” symbol with his hand, and convince myself I’ll do it next year.
The truth is, the excitement is either too much or too little. Because I’m equal parts amped (“How can I sit down and pound out 1,000 words on the upcoming season when I’m too excited about the Cubs’ chances to sit down!?”) and somber (“How can I sit down and force out 1,000 words on the upcoming season when I’m too depressed about the Cubs’ chances to get up?”), the writing simply doesn’t happen.
And yes, I’ve just set up my excuse for another year.
Nevertheless, I’d like to offer you a little something. It starts with the bad news. Whatever predictive service you use this year, you’re going to find that the Cubs come up lacking in the win department. Sports Illustrated sees the Cubs finishing at .500, Baseball Prospectus lands at 79-83, and the AccuScore simulation gives the Cubs just 74 wins.
Wherever you see a disinterested third party pontificating about the Cubs, you read about struggles, at worst, and mediocrity, at best.
Still, I can’t help but think the predictions are overly pessimistic. The Cubs’ rotation is, from one to five, one of the best in the NL. The bullpen is solid, if not great. Yes, the lineup is below average, but allow yourself to imagine Starlin Castro developing power, Aramis Ramirez returning to form, Alfonso Soriano finding some mid-30s magic, Carlos Pena bouncing back, Kosuke Fukudome getting on base consistently, and Geovany Soto doing what he did last year, but in more games. If you can imagine all of that, then you can imagine a Chicago Cubs team that can win the NL Central. Will it all happen? Nah. And some of the pitchers will struggle, too. But, from where I sit right now on April 1, I believe it’s possible.
Of course, it’s always easier to believe in April. There are Pirate fans, right now, gathered together around a steel plant water cooler, talking about how Pedro Alvarez and Jose Tabata are really going to break out this year. And I say good for them. If you can’t believe in your team today, when can you?
So, even if it’s just for today, I choose to believe that the Chicago Cubs can win the Central this year. I choose to believe the Chicago Cubs can make it to the World Series this year. I choose to believe the Chicago Cubs will go all the way.
In other words, I choose to be an April Fool.
Feel free to join me.