Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Wrigley Field

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GROTA’s Printed Word Club: Wrigleyworld

On occasion, I like to dabble in books and other literary pieces…especially when I have been without cable or Interwebs the last few days because I’ve just moved into my new apartment.

But that’s neither here nor there. No hard feelings Comcast…for now.

Anyway, a few years ago my dad gave me a book to read before I headed back to campus to start my junior year of college called Wrigleyworld and I decided to give it a reread to pass the time.

My first thoughts were that Wrigleyworld was going to be yet another book waxing poetic justice about the majesty of Wrigley Field and its powerful influence on the neighborhood and city.

FALSE.

Written by Kevin Kaduk – a former sports journalist/columnist and now editor for Big League Stew – covering the less-than-fantastic 2004 Chicago Cubs season from start to finish, “Wrigleyworld” is about the fans.

After growing up a Cubs fan in the Chicagoland area, Kaduk gives up his sports writing beat in Kansas City to move into a crappy apartment near Wrigley in order to live the dream of attending as many Cubs home game as humanly possible (with the occasional road trip for good measure).

While most writers would have focused on the players or the mystique of the Cubs, Kaduk looks around at all the stories sitting in the stands with him. He watches games from the bleachers, bars, rooftops and streets, and in doing so, tells the story of the Cubs better than anyone with press credentials ever could.

If you like the style of writing we have here at GROTA, then I’m sure you’ll like Kaduk. Here’s a little taste:

At six this morning, I entered Hi-Tops, located across from the right field entrance on Sheffield. On the stage stood a goateed Chicago shock jock and his posse. In front, a crowd of twenty-somethings, most of them wearing hard-ass black, paid close attention. Everyone seemed to be having a good time, so I craned my neck to see what I was missing.

Two men were pouring lighter fluid on their testicles.

For some reason (and Lord knows why), I wasn’t fazed. Seconds later, a flame lit, causing each man to dance around for what were presumably a few uncomfortable seconds. The crowd squirmed, the roared. A few fans with video cameras pushed closer to the stage.

The gross-out contest continued for two more steps, the details of which I am hesitant to reveal here. (However, I will tell you it involved the following: strippers, peanut butter, and vomit.) When one of the men left the stage, a swarm of questions went through my mind.

Were Opening Day tickets at stake? Would you like some aloe for, uh, your…uh, err…you know…your [points toward crotch]? What in the name of Durocher is wrong with you?

Instead, I went with a simple: “Why would you do something like that?”

“I just love life, man,” said the obviously drunk contestant, before immediately heading to the bathroom.

And, truly, what expresses a love for life more than a flaming nut sack?

-Kevin Kaduk

There are few books that have made me laugh out loud like Wrigelyworld, but I have embarrassed myself several times in public places while reading it.

From one Cubs fan to another, it’s a solid book that doesn’t take long to read and it reminds us why we love not just this team, but why we love being a fan in the first place

Goat Riders vs. G-Rod - TKO for GROTA

On Saturday, your humble, but hard working correspondent was pretending to attend the St. Patrick's Day Parade in downtown Chi-town. In reality, I was laying in wait for the Governor to come strolling down Columbus Drive, shaking hands of all the conveniently gathered voters.

As Governor G-Rod approached, flanked by half a dozen black-coated-sunglass-sporting Illinois State Policemen, I moved into position and took aim. The giant of a man reached out with his left hand and awkwardly shook my hand... the kind of hand shake that is really about letting the masses extract some sort of reflected glory... I 'shook' the Governor's hand today!

Anyhow, after securing my awkward hand shake, I said loudly enough to let my voice carry over the marching band and troupe of traditional Irish dancers, "Governor, Don't buy Wrigley Field!" Much to my amazement, G-Rod stopped his hand shaking and addressed me. Now, I'll take a moment away from my recounting to offer a few caveats. First, I don't think he's that great of a governor... so I should disclose that... but I've also seen him personally on a few other occasions and he always seems to be a decent guy.

Well, decent guy that he is, and with at least two dozen voters in attendance. G-Rod replied by telling me that I shouldn't worry about the state of Illinois buying Wrigley Field because it won't cost the taxpayers anything. Now, G-Rod probably hadn't counted on me being the most informed fan... and maybe he thought I was half-way in the bag like many of the other parade attendees... but I peruse Chuck's site often enough to understand the basics of the transaction, so I replied that I've read the papers and it would indeed cost the taxpayers money because the state plans to divert tax dollars that currently go to things like police and hospitals and into the financing of Wrigley Field.

G-Rod, now quaking in his boots because he'd made the mistake of engaging an informed, sober Chicagoan decided it would be a good time to attack both Chicago dailies. He alleged that the Sun-Times and the Tribune have a rivalry and that the Sun-Times would pretty much print anything to keep the Tribune from getting a win. He then declared that the press coverage has been wrong and that I needed to contact his office to get the details of why this would not actually cost us taxpayers anything.

Now, I'm sure G-Rod thought that might shut me up, but I'm persistent. So, I argued that even if it doesn't cost us taxpayers anything, it's still not right for the state to buy the stadium and the only reason they're planning to do this is to make Sam Zell more money. And G-Rod replies... and I'm quoting him here. "Well, there is that." Then, covering over his momentary lapse into transparency, G-Rod suggests that if the state doesn't buy Wrigley Field, the Cubs might move away... and we just can't have that.

I might have said something derogatory like, 'You're kidding me right? There's no way the Cubs are leaving Chicago or Wrigley. Any new owner would be a fool to move the team.' I think the Governor realized he'd really stepped in it there... because it's pretty much impossible to suggest that the Cubs would actually leave Chicago. Where are they going to move? Durham? Portland? Good grief, no one is that dumb, and no one believes they'd actually leave Wrigley... Plus, so what if they leave Wrigley. The state's stated purpose in that the point of purchasing Wrigley is to preserve the Ballpark. If the Cubs move, the state can preserve away at that point.

So, the governor replied again that it wouldn't cost the tax payers anything. I said something about the state enriching Sam Zell at taxpayer's expense, and then he moved on down the line to shake other people's hands.

The judges' decision: TKO to GROTA. (Thanks to my friend Jackie W for the photo of G-Rod, right before I bruised him with my prodigious debatin'.)

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