SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — This has been a winter of Cubs discontent.
The biggest free-agent additions to the club are infielder Daniel Descalso and reliever Brad Brach.
Who, it should be noted, are very fine gentlemen and good ballplayers and they will fill roles that the Cubs needed filled.
But they are not Bryce Harper nor Manny Machado, players some thought the Cubs should sign, though there was likely never any real chance of that happening. We’ve discussed this at length and it doesn’t need to be rehashed here. Neither player has a 2019 contract at this writing, with any team. That’s another baseball-wide issue we have discussed elsewhere.
Let’s just say the Cubs have had better offseasons.
But today, at least for a while, we can put all that aside and say, happily, that a new baseball season has arrived, with Cubs pitchers and catchers officially reporting to the Sloan Park complex in Mesa, Arizona. Many of the players have been working out there unofficially for a week or two, now, but today marks the first official date on the 2019 Cubs calendar.
Wednesday, pitchers and catchers will have their first official workout. I’ll be there to report and bring back photos and video. Next Monday, February 18, will be the first full-squad workout. I’m planning on being there as well, and possibly on some other workout dates before the Cactus League schedule begins Saturday, February 23 at Sloan Park, where the Cubs will take on the Brewers.
Could we call that “Game 164”?
Not really, of course. It’s a new year, everything starts fresh, and I’ll pull just a few key words out of the great Bart Giamatti essay I quote at every season’s end:
The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings...
And now, it is that spring, even if it’s cold and snowy where you are, the beginning of another season of hope, wins and losses, joy and despair, every emotion you feel when you think about this game that we all love so much. We’ll have more on individual players and their progress, and the outlook for the team, throughout spring training as we approach Opening Day.
But today is a day we celebrate. Happy baseball season, everyone. Happy spring training. Go Cubs!