By Shawn Muller-

(CBS) With the first pitch of the 2012 edition of Chicago Cubs baseball season officially taking place on Thursday afternoon at Wrigley Field, hope for the future seemed to be the underlying theme swirling around the ballpark.

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Now, I’m not implying that this “hope” Cubs fans seemed to be feeling included an expectant a run to that elusive World Series title that has avoided the North Side like the plague over the past one hundred years.  In fact, I would say that the majority of Cubs fans I have talked to in the days and months leading up to the start of the regular season have been rather calm when discussing the teams’ chances this season.

Is this new found “calmness” a result of Cubs fans all of a sudden finding a moment of Zen and a new grasp on reality?

No.  It is not.

But I do think that Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have brought an aura of confidence and swagger with them from Boston that seems to be emanating down through the ranks of “Cub Dom”.  From the suits in the private suites all the way down to the beer-bellied creatures that make the left field stands of the “Friendly Confines” their home 81 times a year, people are actually buying what the front office is selling.

It seems that—finally–we aren’t hearing “Wait ‘til next year”.  The borderline insane fringe of the fan base—you know who you are– that try their hardest to convince the rest of Cubs Nation that anything less than a division title is a failure year after year are suddenly deafening us with silence.

And that feels good.

There is a plan for this franchise and the best thing that all of us can do is just sit back and enjoy the ride.

2012 could surprise us.

You just never know.

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But curbing expectations and enjoying the game of baseball for what it is—the original “America’s Pastime”—is what we should all concentrate on doing this spring and summer.  And yesterday was proof of that.  It stung when the bullpen blew what was a gem of an outing by Ryan Dempster, but I don’t think it will be the last time we see the relievers give away should-be wins moving forward.

So, instead of fretting about what happened in game one, just make the rest of the season fun to watch.

Besides, it’s not like there aren’t plenty of intriguing storylines to watch with this team, regardless of what the win/loss columns are showing us:

How will Starlin Castro fare in his second full season with the parent club?  Will he continue down the path of a future star, or will he succumb to the pressure of playing in Chicago?

Will Bryan Lahair and Ian Stewart be able to fill the offensive voids left by Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena?

When will the pride of the farm system—Brett Jackson—be called up to join the big league team?

What can we expect from new manager Dale Sveum?

We will find out the answers to these questions and many more as the season progresses, but until then; sit back, have a cold one and a brat, and just enjoy the game of baseball for nothing more that the fun of it all.

Shawn Muller

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Shawn Muller has lived in the great city of Chicago for 7 years. He is a 2002 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and, in October of 2010, Shawn received his certificate in radio broadcasting. In his free time, Shawn enjoys spending time with his wife Melissa and 3 year old daughter Ava, catching any live sporting event, and traveling. Check out his radio show, Grab Some Bench with Muller and Bangser” every Thursday night at 8:30 P.M., at Read more of his blogs here.