Wrigley Done Right
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.
Anyhow, I saw that they had a promotional event going on for St. Pauli Girl beer, and I remembered that I had gotten a press release about the event... never having put two and two together that I would be up there for the event. Anyhow, I asked whether the St. Pauli Girl was up there and sure enough she was... so I boldly approached her and started yapping away. Irina's a good looking blonde who was wearing a sash and a Cubs hat. Can't miss! Her English is excellent and after chatting a while, I asked for her number and she gave it to me. (555-555-5555). Don't you wish you were me!*
Here's the press release.
The 2008 St. Pauli Girl spokesmodel, Irina Voronina, will make her debut in Chicago on Wednesday, July 9 through Thursday, July 10. The timeless beauty will appear at bars and restaurants throughout Chicagoland, including her annual visit to Wrigleyville preceding the July 9 Cubs game, to meet fans of the No. 2 selling German beer in the U.S., sign autographs and give away copies of her collectible St. Pauli Girl poster.
Voronina, an actress and model, was named the new St. Pauli Girl spokesmodel in January 2008, and will carry the title for the entire calendar year. As the official St. Pauli Girl she makes appearances on behalf of the beer, travels across the country on the annual St. Pauli Girl tour and appears on the iconic St. Pauli Girl poster, which is available online at www.stpauligirl.com.
A native of Russia, Voronina began modeling in Europe before moving to the United States in 2001, and was selected as a Playboy Playmate (January and April 2001). She has had acting roles in films such as Reno 911!: Miami, Balls of Fury and Epic Movie, and on television she stars in the Cartoon Network Adult Swim live-action show, "Saul of the Mole Men" and has appeared on E!'s "Girls Next Door." Voronina also speaks four languages, including Russian, German, Italian and English.
P.S. The Cubs won 5-1 and Aramis Ramirez hit a homerun in the sixth that I totally called. Irina was impressed with my prognosticating.**
*, ** Parts of this account may be slightly (ok, greatly) fictionalized.