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Opening Day!

Or, at least it said so by the calendar; it was a nice day for December, as the game-time temperature was reported as 29 degrees, which tied the lowest temperature reading ever at Wrigley Field.

Still, the Cubs' easy 6-1 win over the Expos was certainly enough to warm up all of us, at least a little. It was great to have everyone back out there; Carole, Howard and Jon you already know from my spring training reports; we were joined by Jeff (who's there every day with me) and his girlfriend Krista; John, Kathleen, Sue and Brian, who will show up here from time to time; Bob the Baker (he's not a bread baker any more, but I still call him that), who shows up only a few times a year now, and my buddy Mike, with whom I am now starting my 25th season on our little bleacher bench. Cheryl from RF, who had such a bad sunburn in spring training, says it's OK now; she's also now a blonde (she was a redhead before).

At one point Mike said -- "Isn't that a new white line painted on top of the message board?" Um, nope. That was snow. There was also snow on the ivy -- or the ivy branches, to be more specific, since there are no leaves yet. That's also a first. There's a new souvenir stand downstairs in the bleachers, replacing a rarely-used concession stand, a new "party area" (read: "more beer sales") underneath the scoreboard, and two small video-type boards underneath the upper deck, which show flags during the national anthems, out of town scores, and also a pitch-speed meter, which is kinda cool.

Speaking of the anthems, the Canadian anthem was booed. This is absolutely classless, folks. Maybe the Canadians are staying out of the current conflict, but they're our closest friends, they're much like us, and yes, I know this may be in response to the booing of the American anthem in Montreal at a hockey game a couple weeks ago, but still -- let's show them we have more class than they do.

Biggest pre-game applause for players was reserved, of course, for Sammy Sosa; but after that it was Prior, even more than Wood. And loudest applause among coaches, after Dusty Baker, was for Gary Matthews. Attendance was announced as 29,138, which means a lot of people already turned in their tickets; it looked like maybe about 20,000 showed up, which isn't bad considering the postponement and that the weather sucked.

And how on earth did they get Ryne Sandberg to agree to appear in uniform in Chicago on a day this cold?

About the game: The club played well and you can see immediately the impact of Dusty Baker. These guys look like they want to play; they do all the little things right, and the Expos aren't a slouch team either. Today was a real good sign of good things to come, I think. They hit in situations, had many, many good at-bats, and the pitchers got the outs when they needed them. Clement looked terrific, though he started walking too many guys and finally had to be yanked.

Funny drunk story of the day: a few of the drunks behind us started singing "Choi to the World" (to the tune of "Joy to the World") when Hee Seop was hitting. Creative.

Stupid sight seen: Corey Patterson wearing a stocking cap over his baseball cap. What does that do? Keep your cap warm?

More tomorrow, when the weather's at least supposed to be sunny. At least one forecast has a possible high by Monday of 70.