Bernstein: Opening Day Feels Weird This Year

By Dan Bernstein-

(CBS) Hope and possibility are just a matter of time, at least for Chicago baseball.

One side of town is banking on instant alchemy — wishing bad into good, old into young, and potential into progress. The bet has been made that a new manager’s placid inexperience can actually become some kind of inscrutable wisdom. And it’s all supposed to begin immediately.

The other side is only beginning the beginning of its beginning, but still selling tickets to whatever it is. Imagine going into a movie theater, settling into your seat, waiting for the lights to dim, and then spending two hours watching the writers scribbling notes in the margins of the script’s first draft.

The White Sox have big names with big salaries, somehow trying to navigate their way back out of their self-created “All In” wilderness, and needing an unlikely run of best-case scenarios to do so. With no prospects in the wings – their minor leagues stripped bare by go-for-it deals and left dry after fruitless drafts – their team is here, and now.

The Cubs’ team does not really exist, yet. Ciphers fill uniforms, looking the part.

One major-leaguer matters, one key minor-leaguer matures in Des Moines, and a Cuban potential-signee-to-be remains in paperwork limbo, and the rest is just that. The cranes and trucks in and around Wrigley Field these days are an apt image, even as the bunting is hung and Bill Murray is trotted out.

While the quality of play in both places may be similar, the difference lies in the desperation.

The Sox are needy. They have to be better than everybody seems to believe, and they have to show that they are right away, lest a cranky fandom write them off. Cash at the gate is needed to offset expenditures, and it’s not coming if there’s anything but a robust start to the season. No quick fixes are available, as nobody is waiting for a turn. No Plan B for Ken Williams, who owns this uncertain production.

His counterparts, though, are afforded the comfort of a more distant horizon. Cubs fans will have to look carefully for green shoots of progress into more modern baseball, and they will be visible to the perceptive observer. Watch how the defense is positioned specifically for every next pitch, as intricate charts are consulted relentlessly. Notice how many more pitches hitters see, and how often they step out of the box. Check the increase in overall game times. Not the most exciting stuff, but that’s what this is.

Baseball is returning, yet the feeling is attenuated and odd.

The Sox have to be relevant and real, probably won’t, and are working without a net. This seems like a last chance of some kind for a regime to recapture any fading vestige of World Series magic that was forever ago – the continued presence of Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski now more sad reminder than warm, emotional connection.

And the Cubs don’t really have to do…anything.

A season opens: one team’s narrative entirely about what is just wasn’t, and what it now is. The other’s entirely about what it is yet to be.

bernstein 90x130 Bernstein: Opening Day Feels Weird This Year

Dan Bernstein

Dan Bernstein joined the station as a reporter/anchor in 1995, and has been the co-host of Boers and Bernstein since 1999. Read more of Bernstein’s columns, or follow him on Twitter: @dan_bernstein.

The Boers and Bernstein Show airs every weekday from 1PM to 6PM on The Score, 670AM (or you can listen online).
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  • Larry Horse's Arse

    Sveum said you win 60, you lose 60, it’s the other 42 that matter.
    Problem is that the Sox and Cubs each will go something like 12-30 in the other 42.

  • Burning bush

    Nice article

    • Cameltoe Rancher

      BY CRACKIE!!!!!!!!!


    I don’t know if it feels weird, given the fact the Mariners & A’s started the regular season in Japan when most people were waking up in this country anyway. It felt awkward that they played regular season games and the rest of MLB was still in Spring Training. To me, that didn’t make any sense.

    As far as the Cubs & White Sox are concerned, I think fans seem resigned to the fact neither did all much in the offseason and tried to trim payroll more than trying to lure a marquee free agent such as Albert Pujols & Prince Fielder. Quite frankly, there’s nothing for fans to really get all that excited about on either side of town. Starlin Castro? Darwin Barney? Gordon Beckham? Dayan Viciedo? Alejandro De Aza? Lots of questions and very few answers on either side of town. Besides, to me anyway, I’m a lot more interested to see if Derrick Rose can fully recover from his groin to get the Bulls to the top of the standings and regain momentum with the NBA Playoffs right around the corner. I’m also more interested to see if Corey Crawford can stop being bad at hockey, let alone if Jonathan Toews can fully recover from his concussion, and if the Blackhawks can gain momentum of their own with the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs fast approaching as well. By the time I’m interested in MLB, both teams might be out of the race. Then, it’ll be interesting to hear if Chris Rongey’s White Sox Radio postgame becomes fun bad after the losses mount.

  • epi

    The best thing about Opening Day is we’re a day closer to the end of baseball season. meh.

  • Dan Rakow

    I am a Fan of Major League Baseball beginning it’s Regular Season on Thursday and Friday.

  • Go Cubs

    I think the Cubbies will have around 90-95 wins. The sux will have around 60.

    • Cameltoe Rancher

      FIRE & PASSION!!!!

  • Spaulding!

    If Jethro is going to ask the people of Illinois for tax money, he forfeits all rights to ask us to “wait and see.”
    I’m not interested in lawyer ball, as only a select elite few get to participate. I had enough of it with certain players who tried in in blue pinstripes.
    Nor, do I want the wild swinging.
    Bottom line, I’m looking forward to Chicago teams going for the pennants, but I’m not interested in anyone’s self-imposed baseball drama, and, certainly, not if it comes at taxpayers’ expenses.

  • Lil' Bycracke

    …and in other news, YOUR GAY!

    Talk more hockey!

    • MIke


  • Still On The Road with Charles Kuralt

    The Cubs and Sox are TV shows I only need to see occasionally. They are.

  • MIke

    How is your gay, by the way?

  • David G.

    How pathetic , cub fans are(you), that after 100+ years of being losers you think they don’t have to preform this year. If any team in major league baseball has to preform it’s the Cubs.

    • Cameltoe Rancher

      Ralphie “Me fail English? That’s unpossible!”

  • Jobin

    go cubs go

  • Final Pre-Season Thoughts « The Cubs Aren't Rocket Science

    […] 670 the Score’s Dan Bernstein on why this season feels strange in Chicago […]

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