Is this finally the year for the Cubs?

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By the time you read this, the Chicago Cubs are already 0-1 after losing 5-1 to the Cincinnati Reds in their 2007 season opener Monday, April 2. Their second game is at 6:10 p.m. tonight, Wednesday, April 4, against the Reds.

The Cubs are coming off another disappointing season. They finished last year with the worst record in the National League. Despite the continuing years of disappointment, hope once again springs eternal for the beloved boys in blue from the North Side. This year, that hope may actually be justified as they start yet another attempt at winning a pennant and, possibly, a World Series.

During the offseason, they hired Lou Piniella as their manager and added key free-agent outfielder Alfonso Soriano. The off-the-field leadership and winning experience Piniella adds to the team, combined with the on-the-field talent Soriano is expected to show, may be just what the doctor ordered for this team.

Based on their offensive output during the exhibition season, it looks as if the Cubs will not have any problems producing runs this year. Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez and Matt Murton are all expected to be big RBI guys.

The question is, will their pitching staff be healthy enough to last an entire season? Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly, Jason Marquis, Rich Hill and Wade Miller are expected to be the five-man starting rotation. If they all can stay healthy, things look promising.

Former starter Mark Prior will begin the season in AAA ball, trying to strengthen his throwing arm. Another former starter and now supposed bullpen ace, Kerry Wood, will begin this season on the disabled list.

Could this finally be the year Cubs fans everywhere have been waiting for? We’ll know for sure in 161 more games.

Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at

from the April 4-10, 2007, issue

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