Yesterday was the Ides of March. Happily, we got through that okay. But what may follow concerns me more. We are about two weeks from the Cubbies’ Opening Day, and my broken heart has yet to mend from last season’s letdown. A Cubs fan, I know I am not alone in my hesitancy to put my heart at risk “one more time” by thinking, “THIS is the year!” I feel like good ol’ Charlie Brown getting ready to kick that damn football, telling himself to “go for it.”
By now I am beginning to have a feel for the coming season. Unlike last March, when I thought the team had every piece in place to go all the way, I am at a loss to expect anything; there are just too many intangibles. I keep telling myself, “But that’s what makes baseball baseball!” Every game creates its own script: comedy, tragedy, thrillers and duds. And every year at this time, only dreams and possibilities define the season ahead.
Then there are the Cubbies.
Besides the intangibles, there are the predictables. I already know how their season will go; that is why I am looking for some bubble-wrap to protect my September heart. Here is how the season will play out:
As Wrigley’s grass grows green, well before the ivy, hope seduces. March’s Mesa messages sell more than tickets, and Wrigleyville spruces up and refreshes itself for what lies ahead. The name-tag bricks at Addison and Clark shed off-season grime as April introduces the Cubbies’ new look. The hype is so strong the team has no place to go but down.
May, of course, is the month of “Maybe,” when my heart picks up an extra beat. Call it spring fever or whatever, but hallucinations come with the virus that has me sneezing “Yes! Yes! Yes!” into the middle of June when I encounter my first “Oh, no!” Injuries? A blowup in the dugout? Something amiss in the clubhouse? An unkind cloud or scandal hovering over Wrigley? Here we go again.
June becomes July, and the team tries to pull it together. In early August, it looks as if they might do just that. A three-game winning streak has the media turn up the volume. Four in a row, then five. Fly the blue “W”! Post-season play is still within reach.
“But the days grow short when you reach September,” as does the Cubbies season. By now black cats and billy goats have done their thing. But, hey, they still can be the spoilers. Up come the minor leaguers; then the talk about rebuilding. The familiar brown blush on the ivy tells the fans the intangibles have become tangible – too, too tangible once again.
All that being said, come Opening Day, my still-unhealed heart will be pumping Cubbie blue, while I, like good ol’ Charlie Brown, will be telling myself and the Cubbies, “Go for it!”