By Charles Wilkinson

It has been a long winter. Spring is finally in the air, and basketballs are morphing into baseballs. Wrigley Field and Cellular Park are already astir and both the Cubbies and the Sox are hyping Opening Day.

My heart is astir as well, though it has to be wondering about the bubble wrap around it after last season’s breakage. I can still taste the salt of my October tears, and the words I wrote about the Cubs in these pages last year are still clogging up my plumbing.

But what is baseball about, anyway, if not next season? And next season is now. True, there are a hundred past seasons haunting the Friendly Confines, but this is the one that counts. Last year’s finish has little to do with what awaits. Put 18 guys on a diamond field, let them go at it and anything can happen. God knows, with the Cubbies, it usually does.

The impending new ownership gives the Second Century a different feel. Also, the team itself is different enough to guarantee continued excitement for the sellout crowds. Like the smell of a new baseball mitt, the season ahead prompts dreams of heroics: sweeps and streaks and going all the way. I am hoping I have learned from every battered and bruised Cubs fan of the last century to shape my dreams on a day-to-day, game-by-game basis. Still, the Cubbies have me

Talkin’ To Myself

Don’t jump to conclusions; there’s no need for crying.

There are games to be played and flags to be flying.

It’s too early to tell how the Cubbies will fare.

So quiet your heart and enjoy the spring air.

By now you must know there’s no telling the way.

The team will develop and show up to play.

There’s only that feeling of more of the same.

That a century has taught true Cub fans to name.

Still, the lessons of baseball are all about living;

Love isn’t love when there’s no forgiving.

But don’t get me wrong, I’m nobody’s fool,

Forgiving ain’t easy and love can be cruel.

Still, baseball is baseball; the race is at hand.

Is there any among us who can’t understand?

The “loveable losers” thing is way out of date;

A century of waiting can make love taste like hate.

But never at Wrigley; it’s just not like that.

“Forgiving” and “Cubs fan” wear the same hat.

The game is what matters, that’s it and that’s all.

Where’s the ump? Batter up! It’s time to “Play Ball!”

“Never at Wrigley,” some of you say?

Of course you are right, at least for today.