Friday was Christmas, Mardi Gras, New Years, Thanksgiving and St. Patty's Day all rolled into one for Cub fans. The home opener is always special. I have had the fortune of attending 15 of the last 16 home openers. Every year it seems like the hype and hoopla around the day grows.
This year fans were treated to a sunny day in the mid-fifties. That beat the snow that we had in 2003 or the coldest opener back in the late 90's. The weather was outstanding and the day was, until LaTroy blew up in the ninth.
By the time the ballgame ended in the 12th many fans had already left the Friendly Confines for the neighborhood taverns. Sitting through the entire game it was clear to me that those fans had probably made the right decision. I am sure they were alot warmer than I was sitting in the shade.
The carnival atmosphere that surrounds Opening Day begins early in the morning. By 5 am fans are already lined up for SRO tickets. By 6 am local and national radio stations are holding their "morning zoo" broadcasts at the local establishments. By 9 am many of the area restaurants are full serving breakfast all of the stores and souvenier shops are busy and the ticket scalpers are out and about. By 11 am all of the bars in the neighborhood are packed and the excitement in the air is thick.
Vehere and I enjoyed the morning and early afternoon before the first pitch barhopping through Wrigleyville. We met up with old friends and wished everyone "happy new year". The expecatations surrounding the 2005 team are nowhere near last year. Still optimism rules the day. Most of the fans that I talked with think that if everything goes alright the Cubs will be playing in October. Still many Cub fans are not concerned with October. Cub fans live very well in the moment, especially if that moment is on a gameday.
We will have the remainder of 2005 to bitch and moan about LaTroy Hawkins, Corey Patterson and the rest of the Cubs mistaken ballplayers. Friday was a day to enjoy being a Cub fan. LaTroy Hawkins tried to be the Grinch and steal Opening Day. My hangover tells me he failed.