A couple weeks ago I stepped back in time when I saw a ball game at Wrigley Field. The Cubs won 7 – 2, which would have been good news for me if they hadn’t been playing the White Sox.
I went to Chicago to visit my family, but I also got to see three baseball games, two at Sox park, and one at Cubs park. I was only planning to see one game, but a couple generous relatives (thanks, Doug and Dean) I got to see a couple more.
This story isn’t as much about baseball or the Cubs-Sox rivalry as it is about Wrigley Field. I am now in agreement with the White Sox part-time announcer, Hawk Harrelson, I’ll never go back to Wrigley Field again. I hadn’t been to Clark and Addison in more than 20 years and even though Comiskey Park wasn’t much of a ballpark at that time I thought Wrigley Field was even worse – a real dump to say the least. It was old and felt filthy. The scoreboard didn’t offer much information and when I went to the bathroom I felt like I was going to get yelled at for peeing on the wall.
When I was offered the chance to see a Cubs – Sox game at Wrigley I was excited about seeing both my favorite baseball teams, but I was even more excited about seeing Wrigley, especially after having followed all the stories about the renovation. Even in California where I now live there was plenty to read about the work being done to Cubs Park. I read the stories about what was being done, saw the pictures of walls being torn down, dirt and rubble being piled up, and construction workers moving metal and mortar. Based on that I thought Wrigley would no longer be the old, tired, dirty looking place I remembered. I was expecting so much more than I found.
We parked in a lot a couple blocks from Wrigley. That was interesting to me because I’d always taken the L and walked to the park in the past so I never knew where everyone else put their cars when they went to a game. I could hardly wait to get to the ball park because I was truly excited about seeing the improvements. As we approached the park I was quite impressed. We were surrounded by a number of crisp looking brick buildings and a large amount of grass. There was a picnic-like feel to the place.
After we got through security, made our way up the ramps and found our seats I realized whatever had been done to Wrigley was merely cosmetic. There was a huge, modern scoreboard in right field. There were a few other electronic doo-dads scattered about the park, and the seats might have been new, but it was still the junk yard I remembered. There was nothing new and shiny about the parts of the park where the fans spend most of their time. The aisles separating the various sections were still a death trap. Be careful moving about because if you’re not particularly careful (or if you’re someone like me with only one good eye and limited depth perception) the chances you will stumble and fall are greater than winning $10 playing the lottery. I noticed that Cubs fans are particularly rabid, which is great especially if you’ve become accustomed to being a fan of a losing team. Still, an entire row of those fans were still sitting on fold up bingo-hall chairs that made the place look cheap.
Thank God the ball club is finally offering some excitement because the park the Cubs play in is barely serviceable. The place is still a dump. Now that the Cubs have finally won the World Series it’s time for the owners to be realistic and tear the place down. Cubs fans deserve something better. Nostalgia is often a good thing, but that should be limited to the center-field bleachers and scoreboard and maybe take the front of the stadium and attach it to a real ball park. I’ve seen minor league parks that are better than the empty gum wrapper that is Cubs park.
I felt like this had been an evil trick to make me think I’d stepped back in time, a time when the Cubs were still the loveable losers. About the middle of the sixth inning I made my way men’s room and just like the good old days I felt like someone was going to yell at me for peeing on the wall.