As I write this, Billy Wagner is applying the Verne Gagne sleeper hold to the Cardinals, thereby securing a 6-1 Mets victory in the opener of the 2007 season. The Cubs' magic number over the Cards will be down to 162.
I used to like it when the MLB opener always took place in Cincinnati. It's not that I have any particular fondness for Cincinnati--I think of it as a less glamorous Milwaukee--it's just that I enjoyed the quaint tradition. Baseball doesn't have enough of those anymore.
The Cubs have won their last four openers, including two at Cincinnati, by an average score of 14-5. The Carlos Zambrano/Aaron Harang match-up on Monday is a repeat of last year's opener, when the Cubs blitzed the Reds with five first-inning runs en route to a 16-7 victory.
Lou Piniella's first-ever Cub lineup card:
Soriano (instead of '06 Opening Day starter, Juan Pierre), cf
Aramis Ramirez, 3b
DeRosa (instead of Todd Walker), 2b
Izturis (instead of Ronny Cedeno), ss
A potentially wicked lineup, 1 through 6, maybe even through the 7th spot if DeRosa imagines he's still hitting in The Ballpark At Arlington this season.
I'm thinking 85-77, three games better than the Cards.