There’s something going on up North

No one wants to admit it just yet, but the Cubs might actually be pretty good.

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Cubs players celebrate after the team’s 10-1 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Monday.

The Cubs might be in position to do a lot of celebrating this season.

Godofredo A. Vásquez/AP

There’s something about being the first one to discover new cool.

I think back to college, standing in line at midnight at Tower Records to pick up Snoop Dogg’s debut album. We ran back to campus that night, put the CD on repeat and had an impromptu party. Luckily, no one squealed on us because we were breaking a ton of rules. Whether it’s music, fashion, a smart young politician filled with hope or being the first in your group of friends to realize drinking a Guinness warm is a different experience than drinking it cold, there’s pride in being the first to bring a new style to the collective.

I wonder if Cubs fans are starting to feel that way about this 2023 team. I imagine there are a bunch of group chats with that one friend who’s sounding the alarm on how fun the Cubs might be this season.

Last week, the Cubs were the architects of an impossible comeback. Down 7-1 to the Mariners, they scored eight runs in the third inning, including a dramatic grand slam by Nelson Velazquez. They would go on to win 14-9. It was the type of game that Wrigley Field memories are made of.

Years ago, then-Cubs broadcaster Len Kasper talked about Wrigley as an “emotional amplifier,” and I think he’s spot-on. That win over Seattle felt big, even for the 10th game of the season. You never want to put too much on one thing this early on the baseball calendar, but the Cubs followed it up with an impressive weekend series against the Dodgers and started off well in Oakland.

Coming into the season, Cubs fans were leaning toward grouchiness. The Joe Maddon era fizzled, and pretty much the entire 2016 squad has moved on. But the success inside the Maddon window made for a greedy group of Cubs supporters. Once you get a taste of championship champagne, you want more.

Before the Seattle comeback, I noticed Cubs fans were taking a much harsher tone when discussing manager David Ross’ moves. The honeymoon is over, and wins are being demanded. The roster doesn’t scream World Series contender, but even the folks at Addison and Clark are starting to see the building blocks of competition.

Last week, Leila Rahimi and I interviewed general manager Carter Hawkins on the radio show, and here’s what he told us about how the front office views this team:

“We’re looking to compete now. We understand that it takes incremental steps to do that, but bringing in [Ian] Happ, bringing in and keeping a guy like Nico [Hoerner] for an extra year, Seiya [Suzuki], Dansby [Swanson], [Jameson] Taillon, the other guys we have for a couple more years, that’s the building blocks for a team that should be a competitive playoff team here soon.”

Last year, Happ was wondering where he was going to be traded to. Now the All-Star left fielder is part of a group that should be here through the 2026 season. There is a defined window now. You can hold Hawkins, Cubs president Jed Hoyer and the team accountable if they aren’t moving toward championship goals.

All the usual baseball caveats apply. Yes, it’s very early in the season. There’s almost 90% of the season left. Yes, the Cubs haven’t had an avalanche of adversity to deal with as of yet. Baseball is a marathon and not a sprint. Yada, yada, yada!

I get all that, and you do, too, but you probably weren’t expecting a start this good, and now you’re nervous about being the friend that jumps out too early on a new trend. But you know you want to. It’s killing you to not fly your ‘‘W’’ flag with a full buy-in.

Considering how the last couple of seasons have gone on the North Side, go nuts! You deserve it, and, at first glance, it looks like the Cubs are on the right path.

Just do me a favor . . . if things go well, remember I was the first to tell you. If they go south . . . I never wrote this column.

You can hear Laurence Holmes talk Chicago sports Monday to Friday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on 670 The Score with Dan Bernstein.

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