[Ed. - This is a guest post from BN'er Myles Phelps, a swell guy who writes about the Cubs from time to time (and you can find him on Twitter here). Myles did some heavy investigative work on Monday at the Cubs' home opener. The names have been changed to protect the hopeful.]
Well, do you have it? No, not Nickelodeon’s Global Guts (that show’s worth a Google if you have no idea what I’m talking about). I’m instead talking about hope.
Most years, Opening Day at Wrigley is filled with anticipation of things to come. It brings a new day, a new year, and a new opportunity. But what about this year? Does something feel different? I haven’t decided if I, myself, have hope or not. So I decided to seek advice and see what other were thinking.
For your entertainment, I took a recording device, a pen and paper, and a good attitude into Opening Day at Wrigley this year to find out just how Cubs Nation is feeling. What you see are knee-jerk reactions to how people feel (you can’t make this up. Well, you could. That one reporter did it at the Orioles game in HBO’s ‘The Wire.’ But I promise I didn’t).
I went to 3 random people and asked, “Do you have hope this year?”
First up, while sitting at Captain Morgan’s Club, I met Bea from Wheeling. She’s been a Cubs fan for over 58 years. Before I approached her, Bea was enjoying the live broadcast from WGN Radio and nearly lost it when Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins stepped to the mic for an interview. No, seriously. She went nuts. I immediately liked her.
Me: Do you have hope this year?
Bea: Of course I hope!
Bea: It’s Opening Day! Aren’t we always hopeful?
Me: Some would say that this year doesn’t deserve hope. What do you say to that?
Bea: There’s a lot of good athletes out there on that field. If you don’t get behind them, you’re fools.
Me: Bea, I like it. Who’s your favorite Cub of all time?
Bea: Ron Santo. He was the first ballplayer I recognized as a kid, and then as I matured and become a grandmother, I would make my kids listen to him. In fact, let’s raise our glasses today to Mr. Santo. He’d tell you to have hope no matter what.
We then toasted our beers and had a drink for ole’ Ronny. Bea was the best. She made me feel better about the current season. Why shouldn’t we be hopeful? What else do we have?
As the day wore on, my three friends and I consumed more and more alcohol. Opening Day isn’t just about baseball. It’s about having a good time with those who sport the same colors as you (this is just a fancy way to say that we get very intoxicated early in the morning).
As people started to pour into Captain Morgan’s, I came across another Cubs fan who I thought would be fun to talk to. My friends and I were a bloody mary and 4 or 5 beers deep at this point. This lady looked to having an equal amount of fun.
Katie is 30 years old and actually thought my friends and I were full of it – possibly trying to hit on her (we weren’t).
Me: Would you mind answering a couple questions on the Cubs for 2013? I’m doing an article on Cubs fan’s hope for 2013.
Katie: Uh…did you just make this up? [To be fair, she was standing at a table with four dudes. One holding a recording device. I could see why she was skeptical.]
Me: No, I promise I didn’t make this up. But to be honest I don’t have proof.
Me: So, do you have hope this year?
Katie: Do I have hope? I always have hope!
Me: Why do you have hope?
Katie: Do you have hope for the Bears?? [My friend was wearing a Bears hat. He just shrugged his shoulders as we tried to get her back on topic.]
Me: Well… what about the Cubs?
Katie: I feel very positive about the Cubs.
Katie: [pauses] Because I’m drunk right now.
We then all laughed with Katie and bought her a drink for providing the best possible answer imaginable.
I think it’s true that alcohol can induce your hope. Think about it: the bottom of the 9th inning with bases loaded and down by 3 (this actually ended up happening later that day oddly enough). Aren’t you more hopeful with a stomach full of booze?
I get it, Katie. I get it.
As we wrapped up our time in the bar, the sun started to come out and we headed into the Wrigley Field bleachers. I knew I needed to find someone else who possibly didn’t have hope this year. Isn’t anyone else skeptical?
That’s when I came across Bill from Oswego: a 40 year old, lifelong Cubs fan. Bill was decked out in Cubs gear which included a Cubs fishing hat, a Cubs sweatshirt, and Cubs gloves. I thought I may go 3/3 in the “hope” section this year. But then it happened:
Me: Typically on Opening Day, Cubs fans have a ton of hope. Do you, Bill, have hope this year?
Bill: [without any hesitation] Nah.
Me: Why’s that?
Bill: Because I’m a realist.
Me: So what are you expecting the Cubs to do this year?
Bill: Finish below average.
Me: Do you think they’ll finish last in the Central?
Bill: I think they’re going to finish second to last just in front of the Brewers.
The Brewers went on to win the home opener. But I don’t think Bill is alone in his thoughts for the Cubs this year. Like he said, he’s a realist.
I still don’t know where I fit in. I seem to have less hope when watching the Cubs on TV or listening to the Radio. But there’s something about being at Wrigley on that first day. It doesn’t matter what’s happened up to that day. The home opener feels different.
That being said, there were a hell of a lot of open seats in the upper sections that day. Maybe that alone will tell you how the masses feel.
It could be a long season.