Guest Column: Why I hate Wrigley Field
by Will Carroll
There's something about the ivy at Wrigley Field, green in summer and in magical seasons, a deep red against the red brick walls. The late summer sunlight is surreal there and it seems to thrive under the lights, perhaps more than anything associated with the Cubs actually should. It's a magic field, alternately heavenly and cursed, full of hope and disappointment, shoehorned into a surrounding neighborhood like a found penny.
I get the benefit of going to most games for free, press pass hanging around my neck. Still, I've come to nearly dread walking in the park. I can't stop thinking about Steve Bartman, reaching out dumbly and perpetuating the worst hints of curse. I can't stop thinking about the look on Kerry Wood's face as he slowly walked off the field in Game Seven the next evening, tossing his glove into the crowd. I learned Doug Pappas died last season while sitting in the stands and only Wrigley's magic kept me together. I owe the field one for that.
Mostly, I hate the people. It's not baseball fans that bother me. I find them occasionally, keeping score and pointing out great plays. It's the ones that are there for the party that bother me. They - do they have names, some title? - took over the bleachers years ago, looking to suck up some magic from the bricks and ivy. Lee Elia knew them and called them by name, unemployed and drunk.
One young man last season sat next to me and literally drank a beer every inning, two in some frames, if something special happened, like a hit. By the seventh, he was as moist as a rainout and just as useful. He stumbled off into the evening, no better for the experience and probably making up stories about the game he saw.
I'd rather go to a game with a group of guys that care. That's not the press box, where I've seen more people do crosswords and chat on the 'net than I've seen deep insight. Sure, that's not everyone, but I hate the mere idea of a place in the field where I can't cheer, where I'm supposed to be "working."
There is still magic for me on the field, watching batting practice from the grass. Trying to find the seam in the bricks where they installed new seats in 2004 was something of a hobby. Listening to the crack of the bat and trying to figure out who was hitting by just the sound. Looking up from the dugout and seeing Dusty Baker or better, Darin.
I'll probably go to thirty games this year, trekking the four hours, trying to find parking, calling for passes, avoiding traffic, wondering why I do this, and falling in love all over again. If there was a patch that could cure my Cubs addiction, I'd wear it.
I hate going to Wrigley Field, but only because I hate myself for loving the place in spite of all its faults. I want to see that red ivy once more. I want to see the look in the eyes of the fans who won't know what to do when they win. I want to see Wrigley thrown up in the air like a champion. I want to see a dream come true.
Is this the year?