Dear Tom Ricketts,
You are a douche bag. Now, it isn’t personal. You may or may not be a guy I would like to share a beer. It isn’t what you have done. You have bought the Chicago Cubs. You ownership group controls a team I love dearly. It is what you haven’t done. That is winning a World Series for the long suffering fans of the North Side. Is it fair to demand a World Series trophy despite this is the first year of your ownership? In any other business such a turnaround would be considered absurd. Unfortunately, we are taking about a sports team. You will be a douche bag just like all of Chicago sports ownership save the Blackhawks franchise (Five years ago I would have laughed out loud after reading that statement) until you bring the trophy to Wrigleyville.
I realize you are a fan yourself having met your wife in the bleachers. However, as it stands many of us look at you like you are a hipster, someone who goes to Wrigley Field because it is the place to be. Let’s face it there are hundreds of thousands of fans who sit along the ivy strewn walls not knowing who the starting pitcher is or who is in the starting lineup. Unfortunately, as it stands I have to count you among those lost and delirious. There were a number of issues this offseason; a more knowledgeable owner could have stepped in asked for those to be handled. You didn’t. Instead you have taken up the task to beautify Wrigley Field. You have brought in a pseudo-vegan dietician for the players. You have imported freetrade wheat grass just in case the players who wanted colon cleansing enemas would be reassured that the purchase helped indigenous people of wherever. All of these things are fine and well, but how will it bring a winner to Chicago? That is why I think you are douche. It’s just part of the baggage of owning a team with long suffering fans. Maybe you will turn around the team. Maybe you will bring a championship to this city. Unfortunately, as it stands as an owner Rocky Wirtz has made you his bitch. Here is too hoping that you get things done and that fans don’t hope for your demise like they did for Dollar Bill Wirtz. Give them a title or they may just wish for that to happen.
It appears the Ricketts family is finally going to move in. What is the urgency of Wrigley Field renovations?
While we should probably remain concerned about the fiscal abilities of a new owner that took nearly six months to scrape together the necessary cash to seal the deal, it remains freshing to finally have a face to associate with the ownership of the Cubs. Maybe Tom Ricketts will indeed be a super-fan bent on building a winning franchise, or perhaps he'll be an amateur meddler of the Pete Angelos mold and will run the team into the ground. Probably he will be somewhere in the middle -- a little heavy-handed on some things, but overall better than what we've had from the Tribune these last 28 years. Like a bunch of Cub fans, I previously wrote Ricketts a rather lengthy "open letter" loaded with this fan's perspective on the things the team needs. Rather than re-post it word for word, or write another one, I think I'll just highlight the two most important things. First -- I sincerely hope that Ricketts surrounds himself with extremely knowledgeable baseball people with a long track record of success. If blogging about the Cubs these last six years has taught me one thing, it's that in many ways the organization's stance on player development and playing strategy is antiquated. You would think that a team desperate to win for the first time in 102 years would try to be perhaps a little more innovative, but "hits not walks," "five-tool prospects," and a ton of other idiotic creeds have dominated the organization for far too long. Second -- If the Ricketts family does what they need to do regarding Wrigley Field, then we may have to tolerate a year or three of diminished expectations and lower payroll. I know, the vast majority of Cub fans out there are in love with Wrigley Field and would sooner set themselves on fire than see it changed, but the ballpark is old, it's unpleasant, and it's falling apart. One of the first things a new owner will need to consider is the renovation of the ballpark -- perhaps resulting in the complete tearing down of the upper deck -- and it might take one, or two, or even three years to do. In the meantime the Cubs may need to play their games at US Cellular, which nobody wants, or perhaps Soldier Field, which nobody but me has even suggested. Either way, get ready for a few years in the wilderness, because it's this or watch Wrigley disintegrate and eventually get condemned. Regardless, we'll get to find out in the near future what the Ricketts' plan is. Hopefully they'll be ambitious. I think we're all burned out on the status quo.
And I still am betting that when the temporary relocation occurs will be when the Cubs win a championship. It'd be just too fitting not to happen.
While we should probably remain concerned about the fiscal abilities of a new owner that took nearly six months to scrape together the necessary cash to seal the deal, it remains freshing to finally have a face to associate with the ownership of the Cubs. Maybe Tom Ricketts will indeed be a super-fan bent on building a winning franchise, or perhaps he'll be an amateur meddler of the Pete Angelos mold and will run the team into the ground. Probably he will be somewhere in the middle -- a little heavy-handed on some things, but overall better than what we've had from the Tribune these last 28 years.
Like a bunch of Cub fans, I previously wrote Ricketts a rather lengthy "open letter" loaded with this fan's perspective on the things the team needs. Rather than re-post it word for word, or write another one, I think I'll just highlight the two most important things.
First -- I sincerely hope that Ricketts surrounds himself with extremely knowledgeable baseball people with a long track record of success. If blogging about the Cubs these last six years has taught me one thing, it's that in many ways the organization's stance on player development and playing strategy is antiquated. You would think that a team desperate to win for the first time in 102 years would try to be perhaps a little more innovative, but "hits not walks," "five-tool prospects," and a ton of other idiotic creeds have dominated the organization for far too long.
Second -- If the Ricketts family does what they need to do regarding Wrigley Field, then we may have to tolerate a year or three of diminished expectations and lower payroll. I know, the vast majority of Cub fans out there are in love with Wrigley Field and would sooner set themselves on fire than see it changed, but the ballpark is old, it's unpleasant, and it's falling apart. One of the first things a new owner will need to consider is the renovation of the ballpark -- perhaps resulting in the complete tearing down of the upper deck -- and it might take one, or two, or even three years to do. In the meantime the Cubs may need to play their games at US Cellular, which nobody wants, or perhaps Soldier Field, which nobody but me has even suggested. Either way, get ready for a few years in the wilderness, because it's this or watch Wrigley disintegrate and eventually get condemned.
Regardless, we'll get to find out in the near future what the Ricketts' plan is. Hopefully they'll be ambitious. I think we're all burned out on the status quo.
I’m a bit embarrassed this got past me yesterday, but Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote a disturbing feature that I’d like to comment on today. In said feature, Wittenmyer wonders how a potentially volatile African American player like Milton Bradley will interact with a notoriously racist Wrigley crowd.
Now here’s a full disclaimer here before I get started. I'm a white male of upper middle class status. I have never experienced any racism directed at me in my life and I have not participated in any racism directed at others. That does not, however, mean I am ignorant towards its existence.
It’s no secret that there is racism at Wrigley (and all across baseball for that matter), but perhaps I’ve been too naive to realize its full extent at our “Friendly” Confines. In the Sun-Times article, Wittenmyer wrote that several African Americans - including Jaque Jones, LaTroy Hawkins and Dusty Baker - have been on the receiving end of racial slurs, hate mail and even physical threats while being members of the Cubs.
In the last five seasons alone, Cubs outfielder Jacque Jones and pitcher LaTroy Hawkins said they were the targets of racist taunts and fan mail. Jones also said in 2006 that he became the victim of racial slurs and threats on his cell phone when the number got out.
Former Cubs manager Dusty Baker said that same season that he received enough threatening, racist mail in Chicago that his wife and young son no longer would attend games. - Gordon Wittenmyer, Chicago Sun-Times
The article even said that current Angels outfielder Torii Hunter openly admitted to placing the Cubs on his no-trade list a few years ago for this very reason.
And the cherry on top of the racist sundae (which I’m sure is made with vanilla ice cream) is that the story ran on Jackie Robinson Day. While every team in the majors was celebrating the color barrier that Robinson broke, our fan base was been singled out as proponents of the very racism that kept black players out of this great game.
Now I know not all Cubs fans are racist. In fact, I truly believe there is only a small percentage of fans out there who would participate in such abuse. But we don’t exactly have the best track record when it comes to being racially tolerant at Wrigleyville.
Currently, there are 11 players on the Cubs roster who are not white (12 if you count David Patton...clear is not the same as being white). Those players are Carlos Zambrano, Carlos Marmol, Angel Guzman, Luis Vizcaino, Geovany Soto, Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, Milton Bradley, Kosuke Fukudome, Joey Gathright and Alfonso Soriano.
That’s a really high portion of this Cubs team that does not look like you Mr. or Ms. White Cubs Fan. Hell, some of them don’t even speak the same language as you - so your racism is probably falling on deaf ears anyways. But regardless of your personal feelings to those who look different than what you see in the mirror, why hate them? These players represent you and your city. How much do you think they like playing for people who openly hate them because of their skin color? Seems that you are creating quite the contradiction. You want your team to win yet you hate some of the players so much as to threaten them? Hmmm.
Also, might I mention that you are paying the salaries of these minorities so they can go out and buy minority things and participate in minority events and support their minority families that will eventually produce more minorities? For every ticket, hat, hot dog and beer (aka racism fuel for some of you) that you buy, your hard earned dollars go into the pockets of minority players on the Cubs. So here’s a novel idea for all you racists out there: Stop buying tickets and Cubs paraphernalia. Stop coming to the games and stop wearing Cubbie blue. In essence, stop being a Cubs fan. It’s a win-win situation for everyone!
Now I’ve been involved with some friendly heckling before. Sure, the language could reach rated-R levels at times, but I never went after someone because of their skin color. You might dislike someone for what they do or how badly they play, but it is not OK to hate someone because they have a different pigmentation. Grow up already.
I’m calling out all Cubs fans right now to act. If you hear an individual using hateful, racially charged language towards anyone (Cubs player, opposing player, fans) at a Cubs game then please ask security to remove them from the stadium. I’m all for free speech, but your lack of compassion and understanding for human life has no place in our stadium. Just stay home if you’re going to be like that and yell at your TV.
You know, a friend and I were once talking about what is the worst thing a white person can be called by someone else. There is a very nasty word that starts with “N” that African Americans are called, but what is the equivalent for white people? After much debate, we decided there was no word that came even close to the “N” word, but rather there is a term that labels whites as something terrible. That term is “racist”, and just one is one too many in Cubdom. If you’re a racist, get out.
Get out of our stadium, get out of our bars, get out of our fan base. And never come back.
I don’t often agree with Sun-Times columnist Greg Couch. Hell, I’m not even agreeing with him now actually. I’m merely recognizing that the words he wrote today happened to fall into an order that made sense for about a paragraph.
In his most recent column, Couch wrote this...
“Something weird is happening here with the Cubs. Understand this: The latest news is about Carlos Marmol. It's not that Kevin Gregg is the Cubs' new closer, but that Marmol is not.”
He them promptly followed up this kernel of logic with about 700 words of non-sensical rambling. No wonder the Sun-Times is going bankrupt (Hey-O).
But Couch is right in the sense that the real news here is about Marmol and not Gregg, but for a reason that I think is less obvious. (Full disclaimer first: I am a supporter of Gregg as the closer over Marmol. Big deal. You wanna to fight about it?)
Kurt and Rob already discussed the two sides of the Great Closer Debate of 2009 with reasonable arguments for both pitchers, but maybe Lou is telling us something about the state of the bullpen. A while ago, I wrote a post about the bullpen turnover and how the current ‘pen looks almost completely different than the ’08 model. Now things look even more different. When it’s all said and done (and the fate of the Shark is decided), Marmol could very well be the only significant returning reliever.
While it’s true that Gregg had an excellent spring, perhaps Lou’s decision to give Mr. LensCrafters the closing role was based on his need to have some sustainability and familiarity in the bullpen. Lou knows what Marmol can do and he knows what Marmol is good at. But for guys like Gregg, Heilman and Vizcaino, there’s going to be an adjustment period.
I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t think Lou would be afraid to take a chance on Marmol as the closer if he had confidence in the rest of his bullpen. So while I think Gregg is probably the right choice for the start of the season, I’m also worried about the state of the ‘pen.
Wrigley (expletive) Field
Strange article in the Trib today about Blago’s secret talks with Tribune Co. over the state purchasing Wrigley Field. The story has cameo appearances from familiar Cubs names like Sam Zell, Crane Kenney, John McDonough, Lou Piniella and even Larry Rothschild.
I knew Ex-Gov was a fan, but he might as well have been the third base coach with all the contacts he had in the organization.
Anyway, the article says that Blago was trying to save Wrigley from the evil powers of Old Man Zell, who wanted to demolish the stadium and erect a new park in the mold of Coors Field. Or maybe Blago just wanted to hold the sale of the Cubs and Wrigley Field hostage until he could force Zell to fire Chicago Tribune journalists who criticized him?
I highly doubt that Zell wanted to build a new stadium. The dude probably wanted to sell the Cubs and Wrigley from Day 1. Why would he waste time building a new stadium? so the hostage theory makes more sense to me.
The moral of this story is that Blago is not really a Cubs fan. How do I know this? Well, if he was threatening to slow the sale of the team/stadium for his own personal gains, then that means he had no regard for the Cubs’ attempt to trade for Jake Peavy. Clearly the team cannot get Peavy until the sale is final. Why would a true Cubs fan get in the way of that? Answer that question sir!
Plus all those expletives makes him sound more like a Sox fan to me.
Victory over the Red-Bill Caps?
On cubs.com, everyone’s favorite “journalist” Carrie Muskat had one of her always entertaining mailbag articles in which she answered questions from fans just like you.
For those of you not as uni-obsessed as I am, the Cubs wore the new, futuristic CoolFlo helmets last season. The new helmets have fancy vents and are supposedly more comfortable than the older models. However, the team returned to the standard model this spring and will use the older version in the 2009 season. According to Muskat, this is because the CoolFlo helmets broke too easily. Tell that to Sammy Sosa’s face.
Anyway, while this was something I have been wondering for the past few weeks, Muskat drops some intriguing info in at the end of her answer.
“Also, no red bill on their caps,” she writes.
Wait, what? Does this mean the Cubs have finally decided to ditch the horrendous red-bill road caps that I despise with my every waking breath? Or are the simply not going to be wearing red on their away batting helmets anymore?
Damn you Muskat! Why do you taunt me like this? These 7 words are going to haunt me until Opening Day!
Viva la all blue caps. The revolution lives.
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.
I'm not planning on going too far into detail about this, since we could debate the future of Wrigley Field until fists start flying, but I was EMailed not too long ago by somebody with a vision to change the Wrigleyville neighborhood a bit.
Apparently, this individual wants the Cubs to take the big empty space next to the ballpark - where they have long been planning to build a training facility, gift shop, underground parking center, and Cubs Hall of Fame - and turn it into a park rather than a structure. You can check out their website here (and why I'm rewarding them for trying to spam the site with this earlier today is beyond me). If you think that building a park would be the best possible use of that space, head on over there and sign the petition.
And just to be fair, I'll note that it isn't my preferred use of that space. The Cubs at Wrigley Field are seriously deprived of many of the modern amenities that other teams take for granted. They have limited training room area, fans have limited parking possibilities around the park, and a Cubs Hall of Fame would be really effin' cool.
Therefore, in my opinion, the park isn't the way to go. But I have a lot of crazy opinions about the Cubs and the future of Wrigley Field (see my recent uniform proposals as examples of my obvious insanity). I wouldn't assume that anybody else would agree with me, so don't let me deter you from signing the petition if you really want to.
But remember something - without a state-of-the-art training facility located in or near Wrigley Field, children will die. Don't you care for the children?
DB posted a link to her flickr account recently in the reader blogs. Because I'm always hungry to post more content on GROTA, I thought I'd pick a handful of her pictures and post them again, this time on the front page for your enjoyment. (Actually, I'm doing it because they're cool and we're all fortunate to see them. Thanks again, DB, these are great!)
Anybody who can blog has the option to do the same, if they have a Flickr or photobucket account. When you're creating your blog, just click on the little tree picture thing (I'm so technical), paste your image URL, write up a pithy description, and save it. A helpful note, though: try to limit the image's width to 500 pixels or below. You can modify size by clicking on "dimensions" and keying in the left hand option to reflect the width you want it to be. Now, if you haven't zoned out already, the images:
Photo Courtesy of DB
Photo Courtesy of DB
Photo Courtesy of DB
Photo Courtesy of DB
Photo Courtesy of DB
Photo Courtesy of DB
Photo Courtesy of DB
Before I enter into today's contemplation, and feel free to hate me for having sat through "For the Love of the Game", but hey, Kevin Costner did OK in his other two baseball movies, as well as "Tin Cup", so I figured it would be good. One good part is, I believe the last pitch of the game, which I figure kind of mirrors Kerry Wood's last pitch last night. For those of you unaware - Costner is playing a Greg Maddux-esque figure, except older and in more pain. He's out there because he has not allowed a baserunner, but in the end, he has shot all his bullets. His pain-blocking mechanism is no longer functioning, his fastball has completely lost its zip. His catcher is putting down the fingers for the deuce, because that's his only chance to get past this last batter, but Costner's shaking him off, "No, Gus, the curve would hurt me too bad." Finally he accepts the inevitable, and throws the deuce, but not before telling himself, "This is gonna hurt a little bit".
I was thinking about that last night as Woody kept pumping Fielder fastball after fastball. I was wishing it was 1998 again, and Kid K would unleash his monster 12-to-6 breaker. But I knew it was pointless to ask, because it was probably the Uncle Charlie that introduced Woody to Tommy John in the first place. So even though Kurt and Bob Brenly and Dan Plesac and I and everyone else was wanting the curve, I was absolutely, positively shocked when he whipped it out there. So was Fielder. Grab some bench, Tofu Dog.
Anyway, as shocking as Woody's "slurvy slurve" (as he put it) was last night, I was even more shocked to hit today's Trib to read your heroes' thoughts about new ballparks. Somewhat lost in Sunday's hoo-hah after the No-Hitter, Senor Holy Shit gushed about Miller Park, and how much he would love a new park like this. Hey, OK, if he hadn't just tossed a historic gem (and pretty much saved the season), he'd be getting grilled like a Klement's Beer Brat right about then by the Kool-Aid Klub.
Well, the cynic in me was a-twitchin when I read today's linked story in the Trib, because, let's be honest. The best thing that is going to happen if-and-when Sam Zell climbs off his Money Mountain and sells the Cubs is that there will be no more Conflict of Interest when the Trib writes about them. I do appreciate it when they are able to pass along insider information at times. But when they broke bad on Hundley in 2002, Stoney AND Sosa in 2004 - and again with Baker in 2006 - the Tribune is just the PR arm of the Cubs themselves. When I see a story like today's, I wonder if the agenda is as clear as it seems to be; namely, the Tribune is trying to introduce a groundswell of interest amongst the fans to somehow WANT a new stadium built to replace Beautiful Wrigley Field (the three words MUST be included whenever it is referenced, and will be referred to from here as BWF) as a nice housewarming present for the new owners. And what better way to plant the kernel is through our conquering heroes, when we are at our most loving and accepting?
Here's where the disappointment lies, at least with me, and maybe with you, too: as you know, if you've even been to GROTA at ALL, there are different levels of "Cubs Fans":
- There are those "Cubs Fans" who are really Wrigley fans, who sit in the bleachers, get drunk and try to hook up, who don't even watch the game in most cases. These twenty-something latter-day-yuppies would simply DIE if Wrigley was gone, and I cordially invite them to insert a Bud Light bottle up their ass, wide end first;
- Then there are those "Kool-Aid Cubbie Fans" for whom the team and the park are pretty much interchangeable to their experience. My opinion of these retired bank tellers from Keokuk is pretty low, but at least they can tell you who won or lost on a given day. They would certainly miss Wrigley if it were gone;
- Then there's us, for whom winning isn't everything - it's the only thing. I have gone on record on here as saying that I wouldn't care less if we played at the Lions ballfield #2 in Lisle, IL, as long as we won the World Series that year.
But even the most cynical, jaded amongst us has to admit how gorgeous and historically significant BWF is. Sure, there has never been a World Series winner there, but I don't have time today to list out ALL the history made in the block surrounded by Clark, Addison, Waveland and Sheffield. Fact is, there is a certain part of me who feels that every last man who puts on the same Cubs uniform that Hack Wilson wore; dresses in the same clubhouse that Ernie Banks dressed in, and performs in front of the same ivy that Ryne Sandberg played in front of - should completely and utterly understand how much of an honor and privilege it is, and therefore should put out an almost superhuman amount of effort to do justice to the name and the team in that park. You are a Chicago Cub - you play in a veritable museum of not only baseball history, but American history - and you owe it to yourself, all Cubs fans, and all Americans to do everything in your power to bring the ultimate glory and honor to your task.
This is simply not been the case. I would say "Today's ballplayer", but it obviously has been "all ballplayers" have not felt the same urgency as I outlined above, based on historical results. Maybe Ernie Banks talked the talk, maybe Ron Santo walked the walk, and certainly there have been others who have given entirely everything while playing for us. Who, exactly? Who knows, unless you can look inside a man's heart. But suffice it to say, when the current occupants were asked, many gave good, reasoned answers as to why the Cubs need a new park. They used to refer to the crown and the bad-hop infield, and the lack of lights and the summer heat. Now they refer to weight rooms, Jumbotrons, and creature comforts, and some go as far as mentioning revenue streams in order to attract and retain top talent.
I'm not saying their opinions are invalid - they are the chosen ones; they are the stars; the laundry is on their backs, not ours. They have earned the right to have their opinions. They throw, hit, and catch balls far better than we do. But I share this revelation about myself to you: I honestly thought the Cubs themselves had a bit more respect and passion for their home than they seem to have, and it appears that The Zell's last official act is to exploit this fact to grease the skids to what I am going to call "a new ballpark experience". Whether this means that Wrigley is going away, or whether it is going to be a detour labyrinth hellhole for five years while it undergoes a parallel rebuild, just get ready, BWF fans.
Something that hasn't gotten too much play since the Holy Shit Carlos Zambrano No-No is that he said something along the lines of "I wish we could play at a new park all the time." This slagging of Wrigley Field is permissable because The Big Moose is an ace who just made history, but most days fans would be up in arms about such a ... erm, reasonable statement.
I mean, no kidding. Wrigley Field is old. Real old. While I think few Cub fans would advocate that they take a bulldozer to the place, we have to admit that the ballpark is in need of some serious work in order to ensure that the team will continue to play there into its second century.
If and when these renovations take place - and I basically envision them completely taking apart the upper deck and extending the clubhouses a bit - the Cubs will likely play their games in another park for minimally one year, and possibly two or three.
So, let's open it up to discussion and debate. If the Cubs have to play outside of Wrigley, where should they go? Would you rather see them play 2 years in the Cell, or 2 years in Milwaukee? Is Milwaukee even possible, or is it too far away and too much of a stretch on the "Chicago" aspect of the Cubs?
And if the Cubs won their first World Series in a century in a ballpark other than Wrigley, how would you feel? Upset? Uncaring?
Share in the comments.