As has been suggested elsewhere, the condition of Wrigley Field seems only to become a huge issue vis a vis the Chicago Cubs’ performance when the team is really struggling. Take from that what you will, but, hey, the Cubs are really struggling this year, so folks are talkin’.
For his part, Cubs’ GM Jim Hendry doesn’t think the situation at Wrigley is as dire as others have suggested.
Responding to Peter Gammons’ comments about Wrigley, including calling it a “dump,” Hendry said, “I think where Peter was going with that is when ownership changed in Boston, they knew they had a lot of work to do [at Fenway Park]. Probably even more than needs to be done [at Wrigley] now. I think a lot of it from where we come from is we know [Cubs’ owner] Tom Ricketts is going to take care of that.”
Hendry also says that, whatever is done, it won’t harm the essence of Wrigley.
“We love Wrigley Field. Nobody wants the field to be any different, the ambience,” Hendry said. “It’s a great atmosphere here. But I don’t think it’s any secret of the plans Tom and his family have to enlighten the facilities and make it better for fans but also make it better . . . and more productive for the players. I think that’s going to be taken care of in the next few years.”
On the flipside, Rick Morrissey reiterates his belief that Wrigley Field is a dump – something he’s been saying for seven years. And, he says, fans are finally starting to agree.
Public opinion seems to be shifting. More people appear to be coming around to the idea that Wrigley is a crumbling mausoleum where baseball dreams go to die. Go online to some of the message boards about the Cubs, and you’ll see a healthy discussion about the 97-year-old ballpark. There’s as much talk about uncomfortable seats and tight quarters as there is about fond memories.
Season after season of disappointment have opened fans’ eyes to the emperor’s buck nakedness. No one can be sure exactly when the epiphany arrived, but it might have started in 2003, when the Cubs were five outs away from going to the World Series and — stop me if you’ve heard this — fell apart.
Anger began replacing cheery acceptance. Fans started slathering themselves in high expectations rather than suntan lotion. And what had been considered a graceful building began to be viewed more soberly, despite the heavy intake of booze.
The best thing about Wrigley is the ivy on the outfield walls and the hand-operated scoreboard towering over center field. You can have the rest of it. It’s a great park when you’re looking at the field from your seat. It’s not so great on the way to and from your seat.
Morrissey is certainly right that most Cubs fans would be all too happy to have most of Wrigley Field torn down and reconstructed (save the outfield wall, the scoreboard, and the marquee). I suspect that he’s also right that the primary reason is a decade of actual hope and expectation met only with more failure and misery.
Steve Rosenbloom amplifies the point that Wrigley Field’s dumpdom is simply obscuring the troubled nature of the organization.
Stop me if I’m wrong, but Wrigley Field isn’t a dump when the team has a smart owner.
Wrigley Field isn’t a dump when the general manager knows talent and acquires it.
Wrigley Field isn’t a dump when the manager clearly is in charge of all the field personnel.
Wrigley Field isn’t a dump when the players perform like major leaguers.
Stop me if I’m wrong, but you know when Wrigley Field is a dump? When the team being foisted on the public is something like this execrable mess that spent most of the season with the worst defense and highest ERA in the bigs.
Though I agree with the principle that Wrigley Field’s condition – and problems – become a little more visible in down years, I do think it’s worth pointing out that the Ricketts’ acknowledged Wrigley was going to need serious work back when they bought it.