Wednesday, August 24, 2016
A Cell by any other name will smell as sour
Whenever the corporate naming of ballparks comes up, I try to remind people that "Wrigley Field" is also product placement, named for a brand of chewing gum. It doesn't seem that way because we've had it for so long Wrigley feels like it was named by Abner Doubleday, and many no doubt suspect the gum took its name from the field. It didn't.
So I am not broken up by the change, announced Wednesday, of U.S. Cellular field to "Guaranteed Rate Field." Yes, such names evoke David Foster Wallace's classic "Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment." Yes, I imagine "Guaranteed Rate" is a new, utterly meaningless company to most people—that might be why they're putting money into naming baseball fields. (Founded in 2000, it is a mortgage company, at least based in Chicago, so there's comfort there).
But the honest truth is I don't have a dog in this race. As a North Sider, I've always said that I'd rather pay to go to Wrigley Field than go to U.S. Cellular for free, and that holds true whatever they call it. The Cell is an ugly, unpleasant place to see a ballgame, and changing the name won't change that. South Siders will disagree, but then, they always do.