|Waiting for the first smashed window of '17. Photograph by Gregory Tejeda|
For the Detroit Tigers are in town to play the Chicago White Sox, while other ball clubs also get their first games of the 2017 season in as they try to keep alive the illusion that they’re legitimate contenders for a championship this year.
WE’LL GET OUR introduction to the concept of “Guaranteed Rate Field” (which is really nothing more than a U.S. Cellular Field relabeled), while Chicago Cubs fans will have to wait a few more days before they’ll be capable of seeing their favorite ball club take to the playing field live.
Since that night in early November when we saw the sight of the World Series ending with an extra-inning infield groundout, some of us filled our need to see athletic activity by enduring the misery of the Chicago Bears or the mediocrity of the Chicago Bulls.
Personally, I took to following beisbol in the Latin American leagues, where Puerto Rico got to see some highlights.
A Boricuan ball club won the Caribbean Series, beating a team from Mexico in the championship game. While in the World Baseball Classic, a team from Puerto Rico had dreams of going through the tourney completely UNDEFEATED before, in its final game, it fell short to a United States nation team.
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ALL OF WHICH were moments to enjoy watching. But there is still something special about the return of American and National league activity. The ability to go out and watch a ballgame live – which is an experience unlike any other sporting activity.
There’s nothing quite like the battle between a pitcher and a hitter – each trying to outthink the other so they can come out ahead in a ballgame.
By comparison, watching a seven-footer stuff a basketball through a hoop mounted 10 feet in the air seems so cheap.
I’m anxious to see the series of activity that will take place over the course of the 162-game seasons that our city’s two major league ball clubs will play. I’ll probably even follow the activity of the minor league ball club in Geneva, or the independent leagues that have teams in places like Joliet, Schaumburg, Crestwood or Gary, Ind.
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There’s a reason why no National League team has won two straight World Series titles since 1975-76 – it’s tough! Particularly with all the rounds of playoffs we now require before teams even get to a World Series. Even the American League has only produced two teams (the New York Yankees of 1977-78 and 1998-2000 and Toronto Blue Jays of 1992-93) that succeeded.
Is Kris Bryant so wonderful ...
Besides, those Cincinnati Reds teams that were successful those two years had talent that cause some people to think they were amongst the best baseball teams EVER (although anyone who’s serious knows the Oakland Athletics of ’71-’75 topped them).
I don’t think anybody seriously thinks the modern-day incarnation of the Cubs is THAT great. Or that any of their individual ballplayers are at the top of the list of even the Cubs’ elite (unless we’re prepared to finally dump the image of Ron Santo as an all-time great just because we now have Kris Bryant).
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THEY MAY HAVE an interesting ball club. But there’s no guarantee of a World Series title, or even an appearance. Perhaps similar to the White Sox, who likely will show some signs of competence, but we’ll be waiting to see if there’s potential for long-term growth for the Sox.
Personally, the part of me following Chicago baseball is more interested in the potential for 2019 – which would be the centennial of that infamous World Series when the White Sox lost to the Reds and eight players ultimately were indicted on criminal charges they were offered money to lose!
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Maybe 2019 is the perfect timing for a White Sox team to grow into a championship team in its own right and play in a World Series against the Cubs.
A real-life “City Series” (the only in Chicago since 1906) that would help resolve many of the bar-room arguments about “Sox vs. Cubs” – and letting us see the inherent superiority of a certain Sout’ Side ball club.