It's Only One Game, But Cubs Outlook Is Good

Some encouraging signs from the Cubs' opening night festivities

We're not sure what's more annoying: people that draw too many conclusions from Opening Day, or people like us, who feel the need to constantly temper that enthusiasm with words like "sample size." It might be the latter ... but because we're sure there's someone out there that still hasn't gotten the message, we'll press on anyway.

Last night's Cubs win was exciting. It's always exciting when the Cubs win. But as with every small, one-game sample size, we must guard against extrapolating the win into something more than it really is. It doesn't mean the Cubs are going to win the World Series; Zambrano's strong pitching doesn't mean he's going to win a Cy Young; and Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez's hitting totals don't put them on pace for 162 home runs.

Still, the most encouraging part of the victory was Zambrano. One game, sure, but in that one game, Zambrano looked good. It's one of those times you can sort of ignore stats, or at least keep them in the back of your mind, while you actually watch the strength of a player either develop or wane. Zambrano's was commanding. He was strong throughout. His fastball was popping the glove, and his breaking pitches were swerving and diving all over the place. He looked like the Carlos Zambrano of old -- not the one who faded down the stretch last year. Who knows if a similar fade will happen in 2009? For now, Zambrano looks as good as he ever has, and that's an encouraging sign.

Other encouraging signs from the evening: Soriano and Ramirez's home run strokes; Mike Fonenot's strong swing, including a double to the opposite field; and Aaron Heilman's sharp relief appearance. One very excellent game down. Hopefully, plenty more to go.

Eamonn Brennan is a Chicago-based writer, editor and blogger who smells baseball in his nostrils now. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, Mouthpiece Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, Follow him on Twitter.


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