2013: OPENING DAY – The Astros are gone, but we still have Pittsburgh

Attention Pittsburgh Pirates: time to come back down to Earth. It’s 2013 nearly Opening Day and it would be great if you could kick things off with a loss to the Cubs. And I don’t just mean a loss of Game One. I mean lose the entire series.

Nothing makes your 101 losses look good like a team that loses 107. Unfortunately, that team has up and left for the American League and while we’re working on being able to take care of making ourselves look good in the future, we aren’t there yet and could use some help. No Astros around to count on and you’ve been so reliable for so many years, naturally I come to you first.

A second set of hands in moving (to Rosemont?), a ride to the airport, an allowed opening series sweep to my beloved Chicago Cubs? I wouldn’t even think to ask those stingy Cardinals, those stubborn Brewers or those selfish Reds. The Cardinals are never going to help us do anything. The Brewers? Maybe Aramis, but that’s about it. And the Reds are so far up their own with all the hype and expectations people are throwing around for them this season there’s almost no talking to them as far as I can tell in 2013.

The Cardinals will try as they always do to ruin the party only this year it will be the Reds’ party they’ll look to wreck. The two of them will standout among us all in the Central and the Cubs will likely continue improving, yet in a stealth-in-the-standings, back in the shadows type of way. We’ll have a shortshop who will likely finish top 10 in the NL in hitting, an ‘ace’ of a starting pitcher in J-Sam (just a result of tired from typing fingers), a young bright future coming to fruition at first base and a number of older veterans who could be here today, gone tomorrow throughout all of 2013 and a stable of young talent billed as the future with little to no hope of breaking through and making the future come quicker than 2014/2015. Sometime early on in the year with the team atop the standings would be fantastic but very unlikely. We’ll do our thing and continue to look to build the franchise into a winner again through the ‘this-is-how-we-play-Cubs-baseball- minor league system and being wise when it comes to free agency.

Eventually, we’ll have quite a few dollars cleared up after Soriano is no longer in town although I look forward to having him on the team for as long as possible in 2013. I like Soriano. He could have been a special Cub in my opinion in the likes of Banks, Santo, Sandberg, Fergie, Maddox…only it would have taken a championship to do so because unfairly for him, he happened to be paid a ton more than they ever were or would be so the expectations were that much higher. If we hadn’t been swept in the playoffs for two seasons straight, and if the Cubs had been able to work the miracle we’re all waiting for, Soriano would have been a hero. Instead, he’s simply a talented player on the backside of his career who is somehow plugging along and contributing numbers that no one thought was possible. I’m going to continue watching him do what he can while he’s with us and enjoy the stories of how he is looking to help develop the young talent this ballclub has and give them any insight he can on what he’s seen that it takes to be great.

Sveum has his hands full once again this season with realistic-to-high expectations, although the expectations are more realistic and the hope is as always with Cubs fans, frustratingly high. No matter what we feel a realistic finish will be, as long as the games count, there is always that nagging hope that if the expectations are low, that we end up being wrong…in a good way.

Hardly a third baseman to be found and talent that is either too old or too green, we’re working our way to where we want to be. I believe in the process the front office is taking and I’m looking forward to 2013 being another solid rung in the ladder we’re climbing in getting to the top.

I am expecting frustration and our fair share of fun renditions of Take Me Out to the Ballgame and on a personal level, continuing to teach my son that you root root not for the home team, but the ‘Cubbies’ and to plan our trip to Wrigley next year for Wrigley’s 100th birthday. Man, my kid sure does love to sing happy birthday and I can’t think of a better inanimate object to sing it to. However, we are in the middle of building something great here. And not rebuilding mind you because to rebuild something, you had to have something to begin with. We haven’t had something in a long time and we are building the organization up to get there. Enough talk about what to do with Wrigley Field and how to get a deal done for stadium improvements and settling up with city officials and rooftop owners. We’ve had all off-season to talk about these things but right now, come Monday, it’s time again to focus on what is happening on the field and how its going to get us where we want to be. I’m look forward to seeing how Rizzo, Castro, Samardzija, Soriano, Castillo and Edwin JacksonĀ  do this year and I hope we figure out 3rd base as soon as possible. I’m not making plans to attend a parade in October, but I am looking forward to how 2013 fits into the big picture of potentially doing so one day for the Cubs.

We kick things off with Pittsburgh this Monday and it won’t be all uphill or downhill from there at all. It is going to be one heck of a bumpy ride.

I’ve been sitting in the car waiting to go since last Fall when the final game of 2012 wrapped up. My seat belt is on and I’m ready to go. Bumps and all. 2013, here we come. Beat those Pirates…..and Go Cubs Go!