By Richard Kagan
The Chicago Cubs open their season tonight and defend the World Series title they won last year.
Yes, Cubs fans, the fun begins tonight in St. Louis on Sunday Night Baseball. The Cubs play rival St. Louis, who they lapped last season on its way to clinching the Central Division title. The Cards would like to derail the Chicago Cubs Express, before it gets out of the gate. The Cubbies would like to pick up where they left off last year, winning.
It’s a 162 game season stretching over months. Baseball, in the scheme of things, is a marathon. You get to the playoffs and the suddenly, the game becomes a do or die sprint. But let us not get ahead of ourselves.
The Cubs will send lefty ace Jon Lester to the mound. Lester won 19 games last season and the hearts of millions of Cubs fans by pitching great throughout the season, especially in the post-season. Many thought he would win the Cy Young Award but he didn’t. Perhaps that is motivation for him this season. Another good year and he is going into the Hall of Fame, for sure.
Kyle Schwarber will open the season leading off and that is a pretty neat thing to see for Chi Cubs fans. Schwarber, who bats left-handed, is a natural hitter and Maddon will find plenty at-bats for him, provided he stays healthy. His knee is fine and he will probably play the outfield and see some spot catching.
The Cubs are a young crew and all this talk of being the defending champs and the possibility of repeating, may not affect them the way we think it should. This team just loves to play the game and compete. I think we will see this as the season starts up. This team has each other’s back, and it will get up when knocked down. Last year we see there was no quit in this team. I think we may see that again.
The pitching staff will be tested. The starters all had great seasons last year and it is hard to predict how the staff will do this season. Cubs fans are hopeful. One thing is pretty certain, one of these young players will emerge as a star, either Javy Baez, Addison Russell, or Willson Contreras.
As a long-time Cubs fans, I hope to hear Go Cubs Go! quite a lot this season. Let the games begin.