Opening day is just a few days away after (technically) the shortest offseason in Cubs history. It may feel a lot longer as Cub fans everywhere celebrated the first World Series title in 108 years, but the fact of the matter is there were only two full months of zero baseball playing activity.
The Cubs will wrap up spring training this week and (after an exhibition set vs Houston at Minute Maid Park) will head to St. Louis to open the 2017 regular season against the rival Cardinals. The feeling of this opening day will be something fans have not felt before.
“The DEFENDING WORLD CHAMPION CHICAGO CUBS…take on the St. Louis Cardinals on opening day.” How many years have the Cubs had to open up the season against the Cardinals who were either champions or postseason contenders while the Cubs were not? A lot. Now the shoe is on the other foot. While the Cardinals are certainly contenders for a playoff spot, the defending champion Cubs are heavily favored to win the NL Central again and possibly win another title.
Feels great doesn’t it? I certainly think so.
Saying our Chicago Cubs begin their quest to defend their title will be cherished not only on day one but throughout the season. It will also feel weird for Cardinals fans as they open up against their rival team which they never believed would actually win a World Series. The last time the Cubs and Cardinals started the season against each other was in 2015 when the Cubs were coming off a 73-89 season and the Cardinals were the reigning division champs and made it to the NLCS. While the optimism opening the ’15 season for the Cubs was good, the Cardinals were still the cream-of-the-crop and looked down on the Cubs.
What makes the expectations interesting this year is that it is both high and relaxed. It’s high because the team is really good and people expect them to be (as they should) World Series contenders. It is also is relaxed because “Is this THE year?!” was last year and the elusive title was won.
Opening Day feels like a holiday to many baseball fans, heck even when the Cubs were really bad a few years ago everyone looked forward to opening day. Cub fans, who travel really well, will likely have a big presence at Bush Stadium Sunday night so that’s another fun element we can enjoy when the season starts.
This year, it will be better than ever. Enjoy it.