The spring clover is blooming and so is baseball. As kismet would have it, the new season blossoms Sunday night with a game featuring the Chicago Cubs, on a major holiday that's heavy with themes of bloodshed and resurrection.
I mean, who writes this stuff?
Some say this is finally the Cubbies' year, and that's probably true. After all, the late Ernie Banks is up there pulling levers and smiling sunbeams down upon the delusional Chicago fan base. You gotta believe, right? Maybe.
At the very least, perhaps Ernie can thaw them out a bit. It was 23 degrees in the Windy City the other day, which can only mean that opening day is near. Never mind that the franchise is racing to finish Wrigley renovations in time to play the opener. A lousy omen that.
Look, if baseball fans were realists, most of the ballparks would be empty and you could just mail them their hot dogs. No, baseball fans thrive on mythology and misperception. Half of them still believe in the Easter Bunny. The other half thinks the Cubs are a lock to win the National League Central.
The Cubs will enter this season on the inertia of 100-plus disappointing seasons. They will slip-slide into second base the way Kramer used to stumble into Jerry's apartment. It's only through such near-death experiences — and blind faith — that we get a glimpse of heaven. And so it is with being a Cubs fan.
To me, the worst and best things that could ever simultaneously happen would be for the Chicago Cubs to win a World Series. It would be the answer to so many dreams, yet destroy one of the sport's most iconic brands.
Then where would we go for examples of perseverance in the face of endless blunder? Great Britain? Chris Brown? NBC?
No, dear fan: the Los Angeles Clippers.
I stumbled out to a Clippers game the other night, Doc Rivers being the only physician my PPO will accept.
In the same vein as the Cubs, these Clippers are also a team with a lot of baggage and past dysfunctional ownership. Their new emperor, the zany Steve Ballmer, seems to be a welcome ray of hope. At games, he gyrates and sweats so much, you don't know whether to cheer or put a dollar in his G-string.
Anyway, the Clips remind me a bit of the Cubs right now, a historically awful franchise that seems to have finally found its footing. Then it loses its footing. Then it finds it again.
That kind of Kramerian cycle terrifies fans, but creates so much kinetic energy and psychic turmoil that you have to sort of sit back, light a cigar and wallow in the heavy smoke.
You'd catch me at Coachella before you'd see me at a Lakers game, but I've always been suspect of the high-end brands. I prefer beer-pong to baccarat, sunrises to sunsets and the Clips to the Lakers. As background, when other kids lusted for Ginger or Mary Ann, I coveted the more beguiling Mrs. Thurston Howell III.
Look, all I know for sure is that these Clippers can bring us a lot of fun — or sorrow — the next month or two. They perform with copious amounts of grit and heart, two qualities that assure you of nothing in this life.
Yet, without them, what do you have? Kentucky basketball. The New York Yankees. The Roman Army.
Give me Lovey Howell any time.
At Staples on Tuesday, the feel was that of a major prize fight. At one point, the Warriors' heaviest machinery, Marreese Speights, grinds Chris Paul into coffee. Another time, Glen Davis, 6-foot-9 and some 1,700 pounds, forechecks Stephen Curry into last week. Amid it all, Blake Griffin flies in for an abracadabra reverse layup that would be the envy of most point guards.
And how do most Clippers fans' respond? They sit — as if for Easter dinner.
I mean, what does it take for Clippers fans to stand up? A free T-shirt? A fire?
At certain times, Warriors fans outshout the Clipper faithful in their own arena. It isn't until they're exhorted to rise by a public address announcer that L.A. fans finally find their footing, with two minutes to play.
Even Griffin took notice, musing after the game that his team never really seems to benefit from home-court advantage the way others do.
It's not the opera, after all. And if Clippers fans want a glimpse of heaven, they'd better start rattling the rafters.
Either that, or sit back and wallow in the heavy smoke.