Well, the Cubs suck again.
I mean, that’s no surprise from a team that hasn’t won a World Series in, what — a century or whatever. But this year they’re posed to epically suck. Like they did in the 70s, back when you’d see loads of empty seats at Wrigley Field.
That’s right. There used to be empty seats at Wrigley. Every game. You’d look at the stands, and it was like a modern day Marlins game, with thousands of lonely, unoccupied seats. It was so empty, if you watched the game on WGN, you could hear individual voices from the crowd.
Seriously. One day, as clear as could be, I heard a kid say, “Cubs suck.” He didn’t yell it, he just said it at a regular volume, as if he were in the booth with Jack Brickhouse.
But then a couple of magical things happened: Harry Caray skipped over from Comiskey. The Cubs got Ryne Sandberg. And those loveable losers started to . . . win.
Soon, those empty seats were filled. And fans realized that, hey — this is a pretty great place to see a game. The ivy, the old school score board, the people watching from the roofs across the street.
Good times on the North Side.
But things in life are cyclical. And, well — people get tired of rooting for losers.
So, yeah, finally Cubs fans are getting impatient. Like a wild animal tasting blood, they got a taste of winning, and now they want more. But here’s the rub:
The Cubs ain’t winning. And now the fans have turned against venerable Wrigley.
The logic goes like this: Because Wrigley is such a popular place to see a game, it has become more of a party joint than a sports venue. So win or lose, the fans go to the games for the atmosphere. Which then gets the owners thinkng, “Well, if they’re going to come to the games anyway — why worry about putting together a really good team?” After all, winning is expensive.
Ask the Yankees.
Ask Charlie Sheen.
So these people propose knocking down old Wrigley. And to further justify it, they’ll throw in that the stadium, built in 1914, is also run down, outdated. They might even make up stuff, like the ivy is actually poison ivy, but the kind that only affects Cubs players when they’re at the plate, down by two in the ninth.
But, really, this is a terrible argument – the assumption that to make Cubs winners, you have to get rid of Wrigley. Because, in reality, if you got rid of Wrigley, the Cubs would still be losers. And you’d no longer have Wrigley — one of the greatest parks in the history of baseball.
Let’s face it, one of baseball’s biggest draws is its history. You don’t hear too many people in the NBA romanticizing about Bob Cousy or Wilt Chamberlain, right? But talk to baseball die-hards about Babe Ruth or Jackie Robinson, and they get teary eyed. Those old black and white images count for something. They mark the beginning of a continuim that makes us like baseball even though it is boring and the players are ridiculously overpaid and it’s too expensive to see a boring game with overpaid players.
There are currently just two parks remaining that can boast that Babe Ruth played there: Fenway and Wrigley.
Wrigley is home of the great Babe Ruth legend — that he pointed to the bleachers while at the plate during the 1932 World Series (Yes, the Cubs were in one), predicting his upcoming homerun. The place where that happened — where the mighty Babe Ruth once stood — still exists. And it’s still homeplate, not some iron plaque.
Don’t tear down Wrigley. Fix it up if you have to. Add more seats if need be. But if you destroy it, you destroy history, even if history hasn’t been good to the Cubs.
And, you know what? Don’t blame history for the Cubs failures; Blame the Cubs.
Blame the Cubs for getting rid of Lou Brock and Greg Maddux. Blame the Cubs for getting washed-up players like Nomar Garciaparra, thinking somehow they’d magically rejuveate once they got to Wrigley. Blame the Cubs for being complacent when the crowds were filling in seats year after year.
Heck, blame the fans, too. If they had just stopped going to games, ownership would have taken notice of the protest and gotten some decent players. And, yes, blame Bartman for reaching out for that foul ball.
That was just dumb.
But also blame the players who folded after that. And the players who fold for the Cubs year after year after year.
But don’t blame Wrigley. It’s just another brick building in Chicago.
But an awesome one.
- P. Pemberton
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