IMG_0725 (3)There’s something about Opening Day in baseball that no other major sport can rival.

For Major League baseball fans all across the country, everybody’s favorite team is in first place on Opening Day. It’s a fresh start, a new beginning. It’s a time of expectation. Hope springs eternal for a successful season.

Opening Day is in fact a harbinger of Spring and the warmer weather of a summer yet to come after an often cold and gloomy winter. Sometimes it rains, but it doesn’t snow much after Opening Day. Fans flock to the ballpark for that very first game.

This year, the season opens on April 3, 2016 and under the current playoff format, for a few select teams, the season may last 180 games or more. It ends sometime in November with one team claiming the World Series title. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Near the end of the 1989 movie “Field of Dreams”, Terence Mann, played by the inimitable James Earl Jones launches into a soliloquy that perhaps best captures the essence of the attraction of baseball and Opening Day:

“The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time… this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and that could be again.”

Speaking of what could be good again, over on the north side of Chicago, there’s some optimism about the forthcoming Chicago Cubs season.

After an unexpected deep run in the 2015 play offs, many think this just may be “the year” for the Chicago Cubs. The year that ends the 71 year absence from the World Series and the 108 year drought without a Championship season.

Let those numbers sink in.

It’s the longest ANY professional sports franchise has gone ever without winning a title.

It’s no secret I’m a lifelong Cubs fan. Family and friends have struck up conversation with me recently asking what I thought of the forthcoming season.

My response is the same every time. I harbor no undue expectations for the seemingly unreachable goal of a World Series, the “Impossible Dream” if you will. My enthusiasm has been tempered over the years. My baseball heart has been broken too many times by the Cubs, (most recently last October) to enthusiastically reply without a shadow of doubt, “This is the year.”

Will I cheer for them? Yes.

Will I watch a few more games on TV than normal? Yes.

Will I go out to Wrigley Field to see a few more games? Likely not unless I get more donations to the “GoFundMe” account. The common fan has been priced out of the ballpark. Have you seen the price of tickets these days?

However, if you want to take ME out to the ballgame, by all means, give me a call.

(Meaningless sidebar. There’s a reason the song “Take Me Out To the Ball Game” says buy me some peanuts AND Cracker Jack. It’s because if you really want peanuts you need to buy them ala carte since your normal box of Cracker Jack contains 5, maybe 6 actual caramel coated peanuts. I remember eating Cracker Jack as a youth. Besides getting the “toy surprise” inside, actually getting one of those peanuts was quite a surprise too.)

So this weekend, I’m gonna root root root for the Cubs on Opening Day as the 2016 baseball season begins. And you can root root root for your team too. And if, on a chilly day in November, one of our teams hoists the trophy, we can say it all began in April.

FOOTNOTE: In a Wedwand post on April 3, 2014, I reflected on the Opening Day experience in seasons past. In case you missed it, here it is: