If the Chicago Cubs could play baseball the way they market hope, their history of ineptitude would quickly become a thing of the past. This last winter’s wheeling and dealing has done it once again, putting hope in the hearts of even the most cynical old-timers, via both traditional and cyber-headlines and the tweets and twitters of social media.
However, a new look at Wrigley itself, a new manager and some free agent name-players to stir the flow of ticket sales make this spring seem somehow different. Throw in some new rookie blood to mingle with a young but not too young starting line-up, together with a solidifying pitching rotation and once again “hope springs eternal,” which for Cubs fans means a hundred-plus years. “Who can resist?”
Now that baseballs are dancing in the sun in Florida and bouncing off cactus in Arizona, sportswriters in Chicago are humming sweet prose about the Cubs’ new manager and the likelihood of post-season play. Some of the players are talking up the feeling of “team” and “family.” Then, come April, there’s the new look at the Friendly Confines, minus the bleachers till mid-May. So, there’s more than enough going on to make a different season possible.
The portents of last season, especially in its waning weeks, are teasing as well. Both hitting and pitching improved, perhaps because of the September injection of some promising 2015 rookies. And now spring training is adding to the hype. With just over 35 days until Opening Day a lot more than spring is in the air in Wrigleyville where, along with the make-over, business goes on with a bit more anticipation than usual.
As for Cubs fans, despite the hope being marketed, many are wise enough by now to quiet their dreams with reality checks. The perennial virus of the “Lovable Losers” bug can still infect the atmosphere in the clubhouse. Anything can happen to cause fans to sigh, “Here We Go Again!” And, sadly, Ernie Banks will not be around to counter with his “Let’s play two.” But maybe he is finding a few new strings he can pull.
Still, Buyer Beware is a caution Cubs fans know too well. Though Buyer Believe is what hope is all about, it all comes down to what happens on the field. Therein lies the lure of baseball and every spring.