· 2016 Cubs, Joe Sez ·


I’m a really superstitious guy. I don’t walk under ladders, if I see a black cat I turn and go the other way, and I never ever change my underwear in the middle of a winning streak. (Already been a little crispy a few times this year.) Because of this, I normally wouldn’t want to tempt the curse of the goat by talkin’ about the start the Cubs have pounded out this season. But I’ve sat back in the Barcalounger as long as I can, pal, so — Schwarberless and all — I gotta point out the obvious fact that the Cubs are the friggin’ class of the sport of baseball this year. (Which is the real Sport of Kings, not horse racing, like most people think.)

And although we got a taste of our own medicine yesterday by lettin’ Cincinnati lay a little of the old Red Machine on us, today we hung another 9-spot on ’em, taking the last game of the series, makin’ it 6 outta 7 against them so far. That means our 14-5 record is the best of any team in baseball. Thee best. The top. The Mona Lisa, baby. It’s also one of the best starts in the long, agonizing and painful history of the Cubs. Anyway, it got me wondering what other kinda great starts there have been — ones that are worthy of being on the list with the 2016 Chicago Cubs. Alright, here’s what I got:

Best start to a book:

My first instinct is to go with, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.” If you’re not familiar with that one, you must be a White Sox fan.

Up for consideration would also be, “Call me Ishmael.” When Melville wrote Moby-Dick baseball hadn’t been invented yet, but that 3-word opening is both quick and memorable; exactly like any game Arrieta throws. Spooky.

Then there’s Dickens. A Tale of Two Cities opens with, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” If that isn’t the most accurate distillation of what it’s like to be a Cubs fan, I don’t know what is. my friend.

Best start to a movie:

“A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away …” I don’t think you can top that for a non-baseball movie.

But really, what’s better than Annie Savoy’s monologue in Bull Durham? “I believe in the church of baseball. I’ve tried all the major religions and most of the minor ones. I’ve worshipped Buddha, Allah, Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, trees, mushrooms, and Isadora Duncan. I know things. For instance, there’s one hundred and eight beads in a Catholic rosary and there’s one hundred and eight stitches in a baseball. When I learned that, I gave Jesus a chance.” Seriously … it’s spiritual and it’s about baseball. Perfect.

I gotta throw in “Casino Royale”, too. Not the bozo one from 1967; the one with Daniel Craig and that human loli-pop, Eva Green. That opening … where we see how Bond gets his license to kill, is awesome. But they easily coulda just shot 5 minutes of Eva Green sittin’ in a gunny sack and it woulda been hands down the best opening of any movie. Ever. Period. Woulda melted a lot of projectors, though.

Best start to a song:

This is a tough one because there are so many songs with killer openings. My count is 24, but I trimmed the roster to my best 5 starters for this. As much as I worship at the altar of Eddy Van Halen, I gotta put AC/DC on top of the sheet music with Back in Black. That’s the musical version of DiMaggio’s 56 game hitting streak; ain’t nobody gonna top it.

After that I put Eruption, then Beautiful Girls, both by Van Halen. I consider them 1 song, with the former being the long intro into the latter.

Guns ‘n’ Roses’ live version of Welcome to the Jungle is totally electrifying, and it would contend with Back in Black if my rules allowed the music video as part of the deal. But, in my mind, that would be like havin’ a Designated Hitter, and you know how I feel about that. So … 3rd place.

Led Zeppelin had 4 songs in my top 24. I’d guess most people would go straight to Stairway to Heaven as Zeppelin’s No. 1 but, to me, the killer opening belongs to Good Times Bad Times. It gets added votes, too, because of the fact that the title is the perfect description of what it’s been like to be a Cubs fan. Can’t say that about Stairway to Heaven, but I expect I’ll be able to after the World Series this year.

You gotta put School by Supertramp in there somewhere. A classic, at number 5. And, again, the title reminds me of exactly where we’ve been taken the rest of baseball this year.

I’m leaving off The Doors, Buddy Guy, The Stones, Cream, Elton John, Pink Floyd, The Pretenders, Stevie Ray Vaughan, The Who, Steely Dan, The Romantics, ZZ Top and Rare Earth. But everybody’s gotta trim the roster eventually.

Best start to a chess match:

I know as much about chess as the Atlanta Braves know about baseball, but experts will tell you that the Ruy Lopez, or Yugoslav Attack, or Sicilian defense (whatever any of those are) are some of the best. Me? I gotta go with the Stonewall Attack. Of course I picked it cuz I like the way it sounds, which is kinda like pickin’ a ball club cuz the shortstop is cute (a girl thing). But, like I said, I don’t know jack about chess.

Anyway, that’s what I got; a bunch of amazing starts that are worthy of being mentioned along with the 2016 Cubs. And for any of you who think I just jinxed us, you can bite me.