(Chicago Tribune photo)

(Chicago Tribune photo)

By Samantha Helffrich, Walter Payton
and Colleen Kaveney, Cary-Grove

Spring is here, the sun is out and we all know what that means: baseball season. It’s that time of year when baseball fans around the city come out of hibernation, don their jerseys and head to Wrigley Field for some much-needed fun. In Chicago, 2016 is more than just your average season. For Cubs fans, the smell of spring is bringing the smell of victory—maybe even victory as big as the World Series.

The entire city is pulsing with excitement, and even Chicagoans who have never quite had a passion for baseball are getting in the swing of things. While this could create some major conflict between long-time fans and those just “jumping on the bandwagon,” everyone seems to want to be involved.

Walter Payton sophomore Ethan Shifrin said he loves the new crowd.

“I am definitely pumped about the hype,” Shifrin said. “(The new fans) are going to make the season even better and more fun.”

But what is this hype really all about? It’s been over a hundred years since the Cubs claimed the coveted title of World Series champions, and the city is thirsting for victory. In just the first few weeks of the season, the team has gone hard after wins, the most stellar of which was Jake Arrieta’s 16-0 no hitter against the Cincinnati Reds on April 21.

“This team is definitely World Series caliber,” Cary-Grove senior Jeremy Masukevich said.

Other fans aren’t necessarily looking for a championship but are simply excited for the chance to see the team actually go far this season. Walter Payton sophomore Kyrna Majeski just wants to be part of something fun.

“I’m excited about watching baseball. I don’t really care if they win or lose,” Majeski said. “I want them to win, of course, but if they don’t I’ll still be happy.”

For Cubs fans to watch the games on TV without tearing their hair out in frustration is something the city hasn’t experienced in a long time. Others take a more pragmatic approach. Shifrin looks forward to seeing the team refine themselves.

“I think Joe Maddon does a good job of controlling the hype and keeping the team focused. I’m hoping the team gets better from last year and the young guys get some experience,” Shifrin said.

While it seems the majority of fans have nothing but high expectations, others have reservations. Masukevich seems to be a bit more hesitant than others.

“My main thoughts on the year are that living up to the hype may be hard,” he said. “I think people have put so much pressure on all these young players that it might be too much.”
Masukevich raises an interesting question—will the young team be able to stand firm under all the crazy hype or will it get to them?

“Gelling as a team is very crucial for these young ball players,” he added.

Some fans have been let down too many times to ever be able to fully accept the possibility of a championship.

“I don’t want to believe the hype because they always let us down,” Cary-Grove junior Ben Levicki said.

Unfortunately, the team has broken hearts too many times for fans to really allow themselves to get their hopes up. Knowing that, however, does bring an element of excitement to the table. The fact that the Cubs have even the slightest chance of doing well is enough to keep spirits up, regardless of how they actually do. Levicki said he has high hopes alongside his hesitations.

“I’m excited to go out and watch a game outside where (the Cubs) actually have a chance at winning,” he said.

Whether fans are nothing but excited or bogged down with worry, this season promises to be one of the most engaging and action-packed yet.

“I’m expecting to see some good homers, plenty of blue Ws and lots of fans in the stands,” Walter Payton sophomore Grant Hauskins said.

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The Mash is the Chicago Tribune's newspaper and website written for teens, by teens. The paper is distributed for free every other Thursday at Chicago-area high schools and is written largely by high school students.

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