Monday, April 5, 2010

Another opening day

I failed to mark the first anniversary of this blog last February but today provides me the opportunity to continue a yearly tradition of sorts, one I began exactly 364 days ago marking opening day for Chicago's baseball teams.

It is a special day especially for baseball fans in this town as it is the one day every year when in the morning at least, the Cubs and the White Sox are assured to be in first place. Hope indeed springs eternal as both teams are good enough this year to have a chance at least to make the playoffs in October, and perhaps beyond.

It is that hope that makes this day so special in a city whose professional sports teams, especially the ones that play baseball, have very little to show for their combined 256 years of existence.

That point was driven home as we watched two TV shows that aired consecutively last night, "What it Means to Be a White Sox" and "What it means to be a Cub". Both shows brought back fond memories for longtime Chicagoans such as myself, featuring memorable, if not great players from mostly second place teams.

The exceptional Chicago team of course is the 2005 White Sox who not only made it to the World Series but won it in impressive fashion by sweeping the Houston Astros in four games. Unfortunately it was the only World Series win of a Chicago team in the 51 years I've been on this planet, and only the second appearance in a World Series of a Chicago team in that time. It was also the only Chicago baseball championship in my mother's life although she lived through six Chicago World Series. I doubt if she remembers most of them however as three of them occurred before she was seven years old.

Making a point of the futility of being a Cub fan, long time radio broadcaster Pat Hughes speculated what it might be like someday to be the first Cub announcer to ever say over the air; "The Cubs have won the World Series". The last time the North Siders won the Fall Classic was in 1908, long before baseball games were broadcast on the radio.

But today is not a day to be negative, it's one hour or so before Mark Buehrle's first pitch on the South Side, and about three until Atlanta where the Cubs will open against the Braves, and all is definitely well in Chicago.

As I did last year, I am providing links to two of my favorite pieces of writing on the greatest game ever invented, two pieces that bespeak of the bittersweet essence of the game that perhaps today only a true Chicago Cub fan can understand fully. They are the late A. Bartlett Giamatti's lovely "The Green Fields of the Mind", and Ernest Thayer's famous poem "Casey at the Bat".

Here's to opening day and the two happiest words in the English language:

Play ball!

June, 19, 2009, the day my boy fell in love with baseball.

Post script: Mark Buehrle pitched seven brilliant shut out innings and added an incredible play of his own in the field to lead the White Sox to a 6-0 win over the Cleveland Indians.

Meanwhile the Cubs lost 16-5 against the Atlanta Braves marking their worst opening day performance since 1884.

But hey, it's a long season.

No comments: