SCOTTSDALE, Arizona -- I've written these "reflections" articles before: when last year's postseason began, before the first Wrigley postseason game in 2015 and just before the 2015 NLCS.
Those events were much more meaningful than the first practice game far from Chicago in 2016, and I hope I can write those kinds of articles this October.
Regardless of the meaning of today's game -- it has little -- it's baseball, a real, live game, as Miguel Montero said:
#Cubs Montero ready to go. "There's nothing like playing a game. We're tired of practice. It's time to go play and compete."— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) March 3, 2016
I'm sure you're ready. I'm ready. The Cubs are ready.
For the first time in several years, there really aren't many positions on the Cubs' expected 25-man Opening Day roster up for grabs. Perhaps the last spot on the bench, perhaps the fifth spot in the rotation, but that's about it.
So Joe Maddon and his coaching staff won't be watching games for who's playing better than whom for a roster spot. Instead, they'll be managing players' playing time so they're prepared, but not weary, when the Cubs take the field in Anaheim 32 days from now to open the 2016 regular season. We're not likely to see any of the top four starters until next Wednesday, and then probably only for a couple of innings at a time, though they all say they'll be ready for at least 90 pitches per start by the time the calendar turns to April.
That'll mean watching these games will be much more for fun than they have been over the last few seasons. This is a supremely talented team that has a very good chance to win its division and make a deep playoff run.
So even though there's snow falling in Chicago this morning, temperatures might push 90 again in the Valley of the Sun as the Cubs take the field against the Brewers. I'm happy baseball games are back. I'm sure you are too. The first game preview of the spring will post at noon CT.