Saturday, February 18, 2012

Cubs at Cell? – It’s going to happen, no matter how much some squirm

Thus far, it has just been the rumor mill working overtime. All the players in this particular scheme are denying there is any truth to it.

Yet let’s be realistic. “It” is going to happen at some point in the next few years.

Will the statues of legendary White Sox ballplayers look more athletic than the stiffs playing for the Cubs, should that team need to use U.S. Cellular Field as an interim home in the near future?

THE “IT” IN this case being the idea that the Chicago Cubs will wind up playing “home” games at U.S. Cellular Field – the Sout’ Side stadium of the Chicago White Sox, who play a large role in unifying the neighborhoods of the South Side into one entity.

People on all sides of the Chicago baseball fan schematic are complaining about this one.

Cubs fans are either snobbish, or sissyish, or just downright stupid in thinking they don’t want to go south of Roosevelt Road to see their ballclub of choice play – even if it is just for a season or so while the 98-year-old Wrigley Field gets a substantial renovation that would enable it to remain in heavy use for another few decades.

White Sox fans are being equally arrogant, or short-sighted, or just downright dumb, in thinking that the Cubs can play somewhere else. Some fans seem to think the Cubs should have to move to Milwaukee for a season if they really need to play elsewhere while the one-time Weeghman Park gets an overhaul.

NO ONE IS going to chase the Cubs out of town. Any idea that such a scheme would be feasible, or permitted by the baseball powers-that-be, is absurd.

And for those Lake View neighborhood residents who can’t bring themselves to ride a Red Line train south of the Lake Street station , all I have to say is, “Grow up!” Let’s not forget that the 1918 World Series (Boston Red Sox vs. Chicago Cubs) was NOT played at Wrigley Field, BECAUSE the Cubs played their “home” games at Comiskey Park because they thought it a superior (and larger) facility.
The Cubs once played home games here

The rumor mill got kicked into gear this week when WMAQ-TV reported about the possibility of such a move in the 2013 season – implying that the current renovation taking place now to turn the area near the right-field foul pole into a patio area with a 75-foot-wide and 7-foot-high LED board is merely the first of several that will occur.

Eventually, an overhaul to reinforce the structure (and possibly rebuild the upper deck) would take so much time that games could have to be relocated. And for what it’s worth, only a fool thinks that such work could seriously be done without moving the ballclub for a bit.

SO EVEN THOUGH the Cubs management (through P.R. people) are saying it won’t happen in 2013 (which is what the NBC-owned television station implied), it is bound to happen eventually.

The simple fact is that keeping the games within the Chicago city limits while construction takes place is going to happen. And unless somebody seriously thinks that the “good ol’ days” of baseball played in the Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles was positive, you can forget about having the Cubs play in Soldier Field.

Jokes about having them play at the 5,000-seat ballpark of the brand-new Schaumburg Boomers ballclub are equally ridiculous.

So they’ll play on the South Side, just like the New York Yankees had to endure two seasons in the borough of Queens; playing at Shea Stadium while Yankee Stadium underwent a significant renovation along the lines of what needs to be done at Wrigley Field to keep it structurally sound.

NOW PERSONALLY, I could care less about the Chicago Cubs. The thought of some of those over-glorified frat-boy mentality fans hanging out on the edge of Bridgeport for a Cubs game makes me a bit nauseous.

But there is the thought of what Bridgeport neighborhood people would do to them if they tried to get away with some of the tacky behavior (I’m talking public urination) that Lake View neighborhood residents who live near the ballpark have come to accept as “the way things are.”

Maybe it would be a good experience if at least some Cubs fans learned the ways of civilized society by having to watch ballgames at 35th Street?

But as obnoxious as some Cubs fans are in saying they don’t want to see games anywhere else – even on an interim basis – the White Sox fans who “quote the contract” are even more ridiculous.

BY THAT, I mean that I am fully aware that the lease the White Sox have with the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority gives them significant control over what kinds of events can be held in the building – even though state government owns it.

Nothing can even be considered within 48 hours of a scheduled White Sox game, and the ballclub gets veto power over any events at any other time of the year.

White Sox officials claim it’s about maintaining the quality of the playing field. Having two ballclubs share a field would be just too much wear-and-tear.


FOR THE FACT is that if it means the Cubs wind up playing a season at “the Cell,” it would mean that the Cubs would get hit with the cost of maintaining the field, along with the shares of concessions and parking that the White Sox get from the events (mostly their own ballgames) held there already.

Would Cubs fans hate "the Cell" as much as Yankees fans hated this place?

Cubs money going to bolster the White Sox’ operations? I could live with that.

In fact, I can think of only one real potential for ill-will here. For it has been said that a large part of the reason why now-deceased New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner hated the cross-town New York Mets so much was that he remembered just how excessively that team bled his own financially during 1974-75 when the Yankees played in the flight paths of J.F.K. Airport.

How many White Sox fans really would have a gripe if that same situation occurred in Chicago?


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