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The make-over in Wrigleyville continues, expanding the feeling of the Friendly Confines to the entire neighborhood. Come Opening Day a whole new look will greet the faithful fans along with new believers, while skeptics roll their eyes and click their tongues.
The skeptics cannot be blamed for being so. Years, decades, a century and then some have taught them well to mistrust the marketing hype of a new season. For them, hope springs disaster. It is, they have learned, truly the last evil in Pandora’s Box, the so-called virtue that enables them to wallow in frustration, to accept Fate’s offerings and inevitable sufferings.
Still, for the rest of us, this could be THE YEAR! The Cubs are coming off a season of growth and promise. Hungry players, strong arms, alert gloves and quick bats are currently honing their skills in Mesa, Arizona. The players have a manager who is a maestro at eliciting a winning attitude and who has found, it seems, a bonding spirit. The team has youth, experience and depth – and the most suffering, loyal fans in baseball. 2016 just might be their year.
The Cubs have improved in most areas. Pitching has a solid starter rotation but a bullpen full of question marks. Find a few exclamation points, especially a closer, and all should be fine. With a proven leader at first base the infield should sparkle while the outfield continues to serve up adventure and excitements. The catcher behind the plate, a crucial keystone, needs to shine, keeping baserunners out of scoring position.
As for hitting, the Cubs made some good noise last season. No one player dominating the stats, a good number carrying their share of the load. A nice sense of balance and “team.” Speed on the base paths? Like any contender the Cubs can always use more.
Oops. That word “contender.” Well, they should be. They were last year, for a spell. Some sharp off-season deals have provided the team its own make-over. There is a tangible energy in Wrigleyville these days, a not unfamiliar feeling this time of year. But there’s a difference in 2016. If the Cubs can believe in themselves, stay healthy and focus on winning, this just may be…
All the pieces are in place. “It might be, it could be…Hey! Hey!” But why all of a sudden the sobering image of Charlie Brown getting ready to kick that football?