Sunday, September 27, 2015

Wrigley Field isn't ruined


     Entropy demands that systems run down, that clocks stop, empires crumble, and the glittering good generally decays into the shabby bad. It is the columnist's job, frequently, to bemoan this fact, clutching at the ashes of the past and letting out a wail before the rain washes them away and into the sewer.
     So I was interested Friday, when I had the chance to visit Wrigley Field for the first time since the Ricketts clan put in a pair of jumbo TV screen scoreboards, how these perversions of Wrigley's bucolic tradition would go down. Just how horrible would it be? Just how much of a thumb in the eye of all that is holy would it be?
     I found ... to my vast surprise ... they were ... fine. As in okay. Not a problem. Even ... dare I say it... an ...improvement.
     The Toyota plug tucked under the iconic Wrigley sign at the corner of Clark and Addison? Fine. The name "Wrigley Field" is itself a plug — gum, remember? — and to be honest, other names of other sponsors have been tucked there before. The sign itself is unchanged.
Left field scoreboard: not a problem. 
     The big ass TV screen erected in left field? Unoffensive, and I enjoyed the chance to see the plays I'd missed because some idiot was standing up to grab his beers from the beer vendor, or someone was entering or leaving a seat, or the little girl two rows up was raising her glove in such a way that it blocked my view (and no, I wasn't constitutionally able to shout, "Hey tot, put your flippin' glove down!"  I considered it, several times, but decided I didn't want to be that person, and besides, her twig of an arm would have to get  tired, eventually, and it did, about the sixth inning). 
     They also kept the crowd occupied by showing videos of plays more exciting than anything we were seeing on the field, where the Cubs limped along before losing 3-2 to the Pirates, though they made a good show in the 9th inning and stranded the tying run on third. 
    I didn't mind the scoreboard in right field either, admiring the way they used a Wrigley
Right field scoreboard: does not suck.
green, and retro graphics to make the thing seem to fit in. I keep score, and on plays where I wasn't sure if it was a 4-3 or a 6-3 they'd flash the numbers up, so I could look and cheat.

     This isn't a blanket endorsement of the Ricketts, who are still charmless, right wingers who think Scott Walker should be president.  It's hard enough to pay $4.50 for a bag of peanuts without also underwriting the Republican destruction of the American government. The skeleton of whatever godawful hotel they're building just to the north of Wrigley loomed, and we'll have to see how that turns out. But the little ballpark still has its beauty, the concessions still suck—$3.75 for a cup of coffee that might have been hot at one point, but at best held the memory of warmth when handed to me from the concession stand. There is advanced urn technology that will keep coffee hot until the moment it is sold. Maybe that's coming in a future remodeling of the place. 

16 comments:

  1. Do you also distinguish between a simple caught fly out vs. sacrifice?

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    1. Probably -- there weren't any in the game I saw, and I haven't kept score in a while.

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  2. They really did a masterful job with the graphics design. A scheme that blends with the center field board, taking its major attributes but not going overboard with either modern nor retro elements. I think if they'd gone overboard with "old" script-styled typefaces, or used a lot of "3D"-style elements, it would have looked cheesy. This is simple and effective, as if they'd used stencils and paint rollers on a flat surface. That little board between the right field bleachers and the foul pole becomes so unobtrusive that I didn't even notice it until the third telecast I watched.

    Flashy graphics (like last night's Star Wars-themed scheme) fit just fine at Petco Park here in San Diego. They'd be awful at Wrigley. Someone deserves a pat on the back there for showing creativity and restraint.

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  3. What would they do without paisano Maddon? He saved them.

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  4. Ricketts is an ass.

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  5. Glad you finally got the chance to visit the updated Wrigley Field.

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  6. That isn't the hotel under construction at the corner of Clark & Waveland. The hotel will be build in the space now occupied by McDonald's across the street from the ballpark.

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  7. I think Wrigley Field now looks like the inside of some giant sports bar, perhaps suited to the current fan base. I don't understand why they kept the old scoreboard, as they've reflected its appearance with the new. I suppose we must move on, but I don't think I'll be visiting the ballpark in the future.

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    1. The scoreboard is landmarked, so they have to keep it. So are the brick walls & the ivy.

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  8. I went to my first game since the new scoreboards were installed a few weeks ago, and found myself completely distracted by them. I liken it to television; whenever I visit my parents' house and we sit in the living room with the television on, conversation largely stops as we're all drawn toward the images on the box. Same with the scoreboards: it's tough to focus on the game on the field with the constant flashing of the scoreboards with replays, advertisements, and statistics on each player. I realize that this is what the younger generations of fans probably want (and I don't think I'm that old at 46), but it certainly doesn't enhance the game for me.

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    1. It did occur to me that, in the absence of anything particularly exciting on the field, they were replaying moments from other games, we weren't at, that WERE exciting. But you have to keep asses in the stands, and that seems to be what people want. At least they aren't in parks. Yet.

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  9. It seems to me what the Ricketts family wanted to do was try and erase 100 years of futility in one fell swoop. The problem is the look of the place has been forever altered and, yes, ruined. Wrigley was the one place you could go where you wouldn't be distracted by large scoreboards or other items that took away from the game. What I don't understand is, for once, the Cubs have a competitive team. When the action should be on the field it isn't. The fans are distracted by two large boards that completely dwarf the center field scoreboard. This isn't quite the "alien saucer" destruction of Soldier Field, but I wouldn't recommend the park for national landmark status anymore.

    If Wrigley must have video boards, relocate them across the street to the rooftops. The Ricketts will soon own them all anyway. That way you preserve the "grand sweep of the bleachers" and still keep the ad money coming in. I would also recommend Wrigley turn off the boards once a year on Old Timer's Day.

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    1. Former Season Ticket HolderOctober 11, 2015 at 10:32 PM

      "The problem is the look of the place has been forever altered and, yes, ruined." Couldn't agree more, Steve. The video boards dominate the center field scoreboard; the latter now looks like it was hit by a shrink ray. And don't get me started on the jock rock.

      Was it too much to ask that we have one sports venue in the country that was about the action on the field and not about video boards and jock rock?

      And let's be clear: Despite assurances to the contrary, we're going to experience advertising creep. That's what these boards are all about.

      At the end of the day, the Ricketts are greedy Omaha white trash who make Chicago a worse place every day they remain here.

      If Neil Steinberg thinks the ballpark has improved, then he's an idiot. I suspect he doesn't and is not; he's just trolling for hits on this page.

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  10. Sox need to fire Ventura.

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