That the City of Chicago and the Chicago Cubs have been at odds with one another over a number of issues in recent years is news to nobody.
Time after time, the City has blocked – or, at least, slowed – progress, expansion, renovations, and even simple requests at Wrigley Field in the name of what’s best for the neighborhood. And while they may, in some cases, truly have the residents of Wrigleyville’s best interests in mind (remember, I am one of those neighbors), too often their motivations seem to reside elsewhere.
But even if every single one of the City’s decisions were made in the utmost good faith, it would be fair to say that the Chicago Cubs face challenges that no other team in baseball faces. One of the loudest and clearest examples of what I’m talking about is the recent request for a larger night game allowance.
If you think back to earlier this week, you’ll recall Crane Kenney’s recent plea with the city to add more night games to the Cubs schedule. As of now, the Cubs’ total night game allowance is limited to just 43 (35 they can schedule themselves, plus eight more that come from National broadcast contracts). That total is eleven night games short of the MLB average of 54.
As we explored, those limitations can not only have an effect on the amount of revenue the Cubs can generate, but can also hurt the team’s performance. Check out my post from yesterday for more on how that’s true.
In any case, Chicago’s Mayor, Rahm Emanuel, has heard the Cubs’ plea for a bigger allowance of night games so that they may match the league average of 54, and he has definitively, and rather harshly, shot them down. Per the Sun-Times, Emanuel’s reasoning was that the Cubs could have used their other allowance of 4-5 night-time concerts/events as games, but instead elected to use them for those special events.
In Emanuel’s opinion, the Cubs decided to go that route because they get to keep 100% of the revenue without sharing it with the rest of the league (that’s true, and Kenney said as much yesterday). Taking it further, Emanuel concludes with “No. You make those choices. You live with the consequences of the choices. That’s how this works.”
What Emanuel fails to see, or simply does not agree with, is that no other team in baseball is faced with the same decision. If the Cubs did decide to use their night time events as night games, they’d still be at a disadvantage relative to every other team in baseball who isn’t forced to make that decision. As Cubs spokesman Julian Green put it to the Sun-Times, “It’s like choosing between a foul ball and a strike. No matter which one you pick, they both count against you when you’re trying to marshal resources to compete against 29 other teams.”
And on top of all of that, even if the Cubs did use their night events as games, they’d still fall short of the league average anyway. In the end, Emanuel goes back to the same old well that every single person (the rooftops, the bars, the alderman, and the rest of the government) uses whenever the Cubs ask for anything: you’re in a neighborhood, and you need to be a good neighbor.
Let’s really think about this for a second. While I could use Green’s response that the Cubs’ multi-million dollar investments in the surrounding neighborhood prove that they are a plenty good neighbor, I think we can take this a step further.
I’m 25 years old and moved to Wrigleyville just after turning 23. Wanna know why? Because it’s a loud, fun, vibrant neighborhood with bars, restaurants, and a giant baseball stadium. That’s why so many other people who move into this neighborhood move into this neighborhood. And before that, when I had just turned 21 (and who knows, maybe a year earlier, too … ), I went out in Wrigleyville because it was one of the rowdier neighborhoods in the city.
That’s what we like about it.
So you’ll have to excuse me for being annoyed every time the Mayor or alderman says that the neighbors want things quiet, events wrapped up earlier, and giant patios we can hardly use, because that’s just not the universal case. So now that the Cubs have asked and been denied a raise on their night-game allowance, I’ll do it for them.
Allow the Cubs additional night games, and let them stand on an even playing field with the rest of the league. They’re the primary reason this neighborhood is great, and they’re the best neighbors in it.
Your friendly neighborhood blogger.