Today was the day millions of Chicago Cubs fans had eagerly been awaiting for months ... but it didn’t turn out quite like we had hoped.
Despite a 1-2 loss to the Washington Nationals, however, there were definitely some encouraging signs of better days ahead.
For one thing, the weather, while chilly, was nicer than most Opening Days in recent history. Last year, for example, was a cold, cloudy day with intermittent sleet and rain. This year, Wrigley Field was bathed in sunshine, not precipitation, and signs of spring were evident in the already greening ivy-covered brick walls of the historic ballpark.
Starting pitcher Ryan Dempster looked sharp, too, striking out 10 batters in 7 2/3 innings — a big improvement over his Opening Day start last year. Cubs fans clearly approved, giving him a standing ovation as he walked off the field.
Unfortunately for Dempster, though, the Cubs’ bats remained mostly quiet, and his 1-0 lead quickly vanished when relief pitcher Kerry Wood walked three in a row to force in the tying run in the eighth. Washington then took the lead off closer Carlos Marmol in the ninth.
Still, the Cubs did try to rally back in the bottom of the ninth with a risky move. The gamble didn’t pay off, but it did show that the aggressive baserunning strategy new manager Dale Sveum stressed during the spring will continue in the regular season. And like Cubs fans across the country who have long expressed frustration with the “playing it safe” school of thinking, for me that alone is cause for celebration.
Amy Gehrt may be reached at email@example.com.