The tradition begins with a morning phone to my brother where we outline the games we want, the games we wish we could attend and exactly how many games we can actually afford. We do all of this, mind you, after lamenting the fact that we'll probably spend the duration of our lives on the season ticket waiting list.
Buying single-game tickets isn't necessarily about the tickets themselves or the actual games. I'm quite confident that, at the right price, I could find a way into Wrigley for any game I want to attend.
Rather, this odd February tradition is about the need to reward to reward oneself for enduring yet another painful Chicago winter.
And that's exactly why, after opening multiple virtual Cubs waiting rooms in various Web browsers on my computers (yes...computers) promptly at 9:30 a.m., I spend the next few hours monitoring them like a spooked ingenue in a horror film.
If the waiting room screen flinches, I flinch. I'm ready to pounce, spring into action and sieze what's rightfully mine.
I gained entry to purchase tickets earlier this year than I've ever been able to -- at exactly 10:19 a.m. I snagged my first batch of tickets -- Cubs/Cards seats a few rows away from Milton Bradleyville -- and went back to waiting with crossed fingers.
To my happy surprise, lightning struck twice. I was granted entrance to purchase more tickets. I wondered -- could Opening Day seats still be available? And better yet -- is it possible that Opening Day bleacher seats could still be available?
Indeed they were. And purchase them I did.
But then I did what any good Chicagoan would do. I began to question my good fortune. Like many of my Windy City brethren, I tend to become immediately skeptical when good things happen -- especially when those things involve a certain baseball team that calls Wrigley Field home.
I began to think, could this be a sign of these tough economic times we've been hearing so much about lately? Are Cubs fans -- perhaps scorned by two straight years of playoff ineptitude and plagued by the need to pinch pennies -- keeping their wallets closed and buying fewer tickets this year?
As of 11: 30 a.m. Friday morning, a message in the Cubs Virtual Waiting Room read, "All games are currently available."
In past years when I've logged on to purchase tickets, by the time I've been able to actually purchase tickets, it's long after all the Cubs/Sox, Cubs/Cardinals and Opening Day tickets are sold out.
It wasn't until about 11:40 a.m. that the first group of sold-out tickets were listed in the waiting room:
Colorado Rockies -- April 13
Chicago White Sox -- June 16, 18
St. Louis Cardinals -- July 11
By 12:30, a more sizable list was posted:
Calls to the Cubs' director of ticket operations for comment were unanswered.
So for now, today's ticket mystery is left to anecdotal speculation. But it's possible that when future generations ask us how bad things got with the economy, we can tell them that things were so bad that I only had to wait 19 minutes in the virtual waiting room before buying tickets.