Opening Day 2005: the Cubs score sixteen runs and beat the Diamondbacks and everyone cheers wildly! And the Cubs go on to ... have a mediocre season.
Opening Day 2006: the Cubs score sixteen runs and beat the Reds and everyone cheers wildly! And the Cubs go on to ... have an even worse season than they did when they scored 16 runs on Opening Day the previous year.
And so, I don't think we should be too concerned that the Cubs lost to the Reds 5-1 today to begin a new season, because it's only one game, and even though they seemed to fall into the bad old habits of last year (too many walks, hacking away, mediocre defense), this team isn't last year's team.
They may have been a bit distracted by the news of the team's impending sale at the end of the season, and the news that the Carlos Zambrano contract talks MAY be revisited, rather than be almost wrapped up (further discussion of that in this diary), but this team played too well, and hit too well, in Arizona, to play like this for too long.
It was suggested in the game thread that "Zambrano's not an ace", and that's just silly. It IS possible that he's just not a good pitcher to throw out there on Opening Day. Given the fact -- which we all know -- that Z wears his emotions openly, maybe he gets too "up" for a game like this; something like that could result in overthrowing the ball, which could result in too many walks (five in five innings is too many), too many pitches (92 in five innings, only 45 strikes is way too many), and too many home runs -- Adam Dunn took him deep twice, and that, essentially, was the game.
So maybe Z isn't the guy to have out there for the season's first game -- that seems contradictory if he's your #1 starter, but that's food for thought next year, especially considering that makes three years in a row he hasn't made it past the fifth inning (and the second year in a row he's issued five walks in that amount of time) on Opening Day.
Good today: after Z was lifted, the bullpen (Neal Cotts, Michael Wuertz and Will Ohman) shut the Reds down the rest of the way, throwing three innings, allowing two hits and a walk, and striking out three.
I've about run out of things to say this afternoon. This team will be all right. Stop hyperventilating and know there are still 161 games left, and that winning on Opening Day didn't help this team the last two years. Not that losing is necessarily a positive indicator, but look at it this way: we're still not behind the Cardinals.