Goatriders of the Apocalypse

It is time to embrace the night

One of the things I am most proud of is that I seek balance in my life.  The pride comes from the notion that, being from a small rural place where there isn't much diversity of thought, there wasn't much talk about seeking balance.  There isn't a single thing wrong with this world that wouldn't be solved if all involved parties would just agree to seek the balance point where things are right for everyone.  I don't always achieve it - no surprise to anyone here - but I do strive for it as much as possible.

Balance also pertains to the activities in and surrounding the area in Chicago bordered by Clark St., Addison St., Waveland Ave. and Sheffield Ave.  I have heard how Wrigley Field can be construed as a detriment to competitive baseball.  I call BS!!  We MUST be fortunate to have a ballpark in the middle of a congested urban area - because nearly every other team in the league has taken the initative to build themselves new, retro, smaller ballparks nestled in the middle of urban areas.  Since we already have one, must be the right thing to have, you know? 

In fact, every last one of these organizations points to OUR Friendly Confines as part of an ideal which they wish to emulate.  But all is not well here at the Original. There has been an over 20 year fight for "balance" in what was first the Lake View neighborhood, and is now most commonly known as Wrigleyville.  The residents, primarily a well-off lot, complain bitterly to the mayor and their alderman that the Big Bad Cubs and the Tribune has blighted their fair neighborhood. 

First, it was the notion of night games in general.  Then, it was the number of night games, the start times, the traffic, parking, and human footprint of having fans run their streets.  That was followed by complaints concerning sightlines for residents (and their "guests") sitting on rooftops across the street.  Lately the complaint from the neighborhood points to nighttime music concerts being held in Wrigley this summer - and once again, the notion of the number of night games is being dragged back into the forefront.  If there are multiple nighttime concerts, sayeth the neighborhood, then the Cubs should have to "give back" some of their night games.

This has become a local tug-of-war, with parties on both sides trying to wage their battle in the court of public opinion.  The City of Chicago, as powerful as they think they are, have pretty much bent over to these neighborhood busybodies, for various reasons.  Da Mare (the Mayor in Chicago-speak) and his administration pretty much has had contempt for The Tribune (the more conservative and thus critical of the two papers) as well as the Cubs (Da Mare is South Side Irish).  They also don't have much stomach for what they consider "effete North Side issues", so they have pretty much washed their hands of the whole Wrigleyville Mess up until now.  The tail is wagging the dog in Wrigleyville, and has done so the last 21 years.

What brought THIS up today, still a few weeks away from opening day?  In today's Bright One, Dan McNeil, a local sportstalk guy, somewhat inarticulately tries to make the point I have been trying to make, with a similar lack of execution, for a couple of years now on here.  Maybe this doesn't seem like it has anything to do with YOU, kind Goat reader, sitting at your computer in South Africa or Taiwan or Toronto or St. Charles, MO or some other foreign place.  But I think it does, and here's why:

We don't play enough night games.  If you are a Cub fan because you Luv Day Baseball, then stop reading.  If you are a resident of the neighborhood who was and is attracted to the remarkable economy of the district - hopping clubs, bustling restaurants, kitschy shoppes and important galleries - and you've conveniently forgotten who deserves the credit for said economy, then stop reading.  I am not going to say a single thing you are going to agree with.

For prior to 1984, the Lakeview area was a slum, plain and simple.  After that, as if like magic, it blossomed into one of the most vibrant urban neighborhoods in the world.  Was it because, all of a sudden, people started liking art?  Or suddenly liked going out to clubs?  Or suddenly liked buying secondhand clothes or suddenly liked living in three-flats?

No.  Lakeview became Wrigleyville because Jim Frey and Ryne Sandberg and Rick Sutcliffe and all of them started winning ballgames, then fans braved the neighborhood, and flocked in droves.  They started packing the establishments that had sat there for years, largely neglected by all but a small core of regulars, and new establishments went up to accomodate the overflow.  From there, entrepreneurs noticed the foot traffic that was happening, and opened all sorts of storefronts to take advantage.  The Proto-Yuppies decided to start living there, and the whole thing has snowballed.

In the meantime, against all odds, against all logic, the Cubs still haven't won a World Series.  And, thanks to the afore-mentioned misguided parties as well as an apathetic city, the number of night games has been strictly policed since 1988.  What you also may have noticed is countless former Cubs blaming their lack of success to "the lack of night games".  The hot summer sun tires them out, the unusual schedule throws them out of their routine, etc. 

Well, do I believe Dusty Baker and Moises Alou and Randy Hundley, et. al? 

Not unconditionally, I don't.  I have been cited on here several times that ballplayers, by and large, are not Rhodes Scholars, and it is quite conceiveable that one or more of these mental midgets would glom upon the day games as a convenient excuse.  So no, I am not accepting it as the sole reason why we haven't won a pennant since my parents were in diapers.

But I am going to try to appeal to all of you, yes, even Colin and the rest of the laptop mafia.  I was a systems analyst for over 15 years.  When you're trying to debug an application, not just a computer application, but any procedure that isn't working, you search for causes, external forces.  If there is an extraneous factor that MIGHT have any affect on the application, you remove it, and you test to see if it improves performance.

I am not going to pin all the blame on the day games.  But I am not willing to pin all the blame on "mismanagement", either.  Seems like the Dallas Green era was not "mismanagement".  The current era, either, would not qualify as mismanagement, either.  Larry Himes, Ed Lynch, and Andy McSweatervest, sure, that was bad money thrown at bad.  But let's look at all the one-year-wonders that have won the World Series since the Yankee run of 1996-2000. 

Honestly, do you believe the D-backs, the Angels, the Marlins, the White Sox, the Cardinals, the Red Sox, or the Phillies have a substantially better organizational direction than we do?  Perhaps the Red Sox, who were somewhat on the leading edge of Statistical Analysis, but they are the only repeater of the group.  The rest of these teams were one-hit wonders, beneficiaries of some career years and some blind luck.  We could have (and should have, at least in 2003) been these guys! 

We come up short, we always come up short, and if I were in charge, I would do everything I could to eliminate every possible disadvantage, real or perceived, to try to gain that extra 1% that might make the difference.  So as I look at my team and my organization, I would identify anything that is perceived as an anomaly, and that includes the strange way we schedule home games.  I would get serious about waging war with the neighborhood and thus, the city, to get my schedule more in line with the rest of the league.  If the sensitive types in the neighborhood can't deal, then frickin' LEAVE!!  Nobody on Earth benefits from the notion of "Tolerance" than those people do - so why don't they try practicing some of it themselves for a change?

Once more, so I am not misunderstood, I am not saying that day games entirely are to blame for the Drought, but why chance it?  No more negative outliers!  I personally find Friday afternoon games to be steak sauce, but otherwise, all possible weekday and Saturday games would be played at night at home going forward.  The Cubs organization should eliminate this particular factor, see if it helps, and if not, then use the resources they were using to Fight the Neighborhood to explore other possible causes.  As for tradition?  Winning is the best tradition there is!! 

I will now climb off my soapbox, and return you to your regularly scheduled Cubs worship.  Thank you.

Interesting article and you

Interesting article and you make some good points but Lakeview was most certainly not anywhere near a slum prior to 1984. Certainly the area was not like it is today but it was always a decent neighborhood.

the area east of Wrigley

The area east of Wrigley (over to Broadway, up to Irving Park) was a bunch of supermercardos and chop shops. In these PC days, we can't say it was a barrio, although it was.

Fair enough. Although that

Fair enough. Although that hardly encompasses "Lakeview being a slum" totally. No big deal. And that section you refer to was a barrio - see we can say it. Anyway your post made a lot of good points about Cub night games.

i mean. the influence of the

i mean. the influence of the cubs has spread north a bit currently... but, it basically stops at montrose... as far as i remember, rob's statement is very much so true today, although 1 square mile is pushing it for revitalization...

southport neighborhood associations


i live in RSA at the moment (in temporary shacks built for corporate employees who have to travel there in order to still keep their jobs)... it is currently a little after lunch.

but most importantly. i live on the 1100 block of west addison. i have voiced my opinion much like danny mac does. this neighborhood needs the cubs. it needs the traffic. it gravitates around the ballpark and the ability to play night games.

i knew this when I bought my place. my neighbors knew it when they bought/rented their places too... business owners, quietly, openly, whatever the case may be live and die by the cubs... the organizations and festivities and the aura of living outside the shadow of the most troubled team in all of baseball makes this one of the greatest destination for people to live. that is if you don't mind total bro-dudes vomiting in your front lawn.

i think the big difference here, is to look at day game attendance vs night game attendance...

they're about equal.

everyone knows this. since the cubs have become a commodity of trendy and awesome proportions. it's JUST as ridiculous to go to Taco Bell before a day game as it is to go after a night game. it is just as difficult to walk down the sidewalks during a day game as it is during a night game. and there are just as many drunken idiots who ask me can i bum them a smoke when i am standing on my porch having one day or night.

what does this mean? if we're looking at protecting families, and our kids...

day games start at 1:05... kids get home between 3 and 4... need they be subjected to the tomfoolery that is a cubs home game when the outpouring of overly-old styled fans drenched in sweat and a little bit of mustard start cursing obscenities and making lewd obnoxious gestures about?

and is the traffic really so bad on southport? (it really isn't any worse than it is during rush hour... now, clark to belmont and irving park is and addison to ashland is, but that's only because it's a block party every home game anyway)... the offending party preventing 10-15 more night games need to pack it up and move their now 'established' yuppie family back to lincoln park where it's 'quiet'...

i guess overall my frustration is with the SNA believing that the way things were, were the way things will continue to be... on one hand, pushing for zoning for new bars and restaurants to increase capacity of the commerce of the area, but refusing to lobby for the biggest catch to living, working, and being a wrigleyville resident to occur. they refuse to open up the possibility of renegotiation much to my dismay and lobbying, and as any local cub fan should believe, the key to both the area and the cubs lie in the magical, mystical, absolutely beautiful, lighting of cubs night games.

Chicago Tribune's Chicago's Best Blogs award