Goatriders of the Apocalypse

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?

Will Carroll's other writings can be seen at Baseball Prospectus and The Juice Blog of Baseball Toaster. He's a long-time Cubs fan, and a hell of a writer

Scott G. F.

Will Carroll is always a good read. "Those fans" do detract from the game, but there everywhere, even down here at a Tampa Bay Devil Ray Game. It doesn't matter to me though it's all about the game, the pitching match-ups and ultimatly a win for "your" team. Thanks for the clip.

Bob

Do "they" have a title?

The Mike Murphy show used to have a feature called "Bleacher Dudes, Bleacher Babes" where one of their people would go out into the bleachers and interview three lucky contestants. They were asked three questions, like "what is the centerfielder's name?", "who are the Cubs playing?", "how many innings does a game have?" and other such brain busters.

Callers into the show had to guess whether or not the "Dude" or "Babe" would answer correctly or not. Comedy of the highest order would ensue.

Just steer clear of the bleachers, Will. The upper decks are also full of bus tours from Iowa. The lower terrace is where you find the best fans, I have found.

Kovac

As a drunk from Iowa, I intensely resent any implication that I am not a respectful, knowledgeable, and passionate Cubs fan.

confocal

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