Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Should we still think it a novelty to play night baseball at Wrigley Field?

I’m old enough to remember Citizens United for Baseball in the Sunshine – the activist group of Lakeview neighborhood residents who resented the notion that the Chicago Cubs wanted to erect light towers at Wrigley Field so as to make obsolete the concept of a Game Called on Account of Darkness.
That baby-blue sky could become a rarity. Photos by Gregory Tejeda

Those people fought tooth and nail (to dredge up a cliché) against Cubs management, which put its political pressure on City Council officials to ease up on the laws that specifically prevented sporting events from being held after dark at certain specific locations in Chicago (ie. Wrigley Field).

SO I’M SURE there are some aging residents of Lakeview (assuming they haven’t long been priced out of the neighborhood) who are feeling like the world they fought to preserve has gone down the tubes.

Or maybe their time has passed them by, and they’ll find out the outrage just doesn’t exist anymore.

For the Cubs this week asked the City Council for a change in the limits on night games in their ballpark. They want to be able to play up to 54 games after dark out of the 81 games they play at home each season.

That figure was derived from the fact that the 29 other major league ball clubs play an average of 54 night games per season.

TO THE POINT where professional sporting events are ones that take place at night. Day games are truly the exception – unless you’re a denizen of Wrigley Field and want to believe that it’s natural to have time on a Tuesday afternoon to go to a ballgame.
People who work for a living can take in a ballgame after hours

As many did the past two afternoons to see the Cubs take on the Chicago White Sox. The Crosstown Classic – which resumes Wednesday and Thursday with night games to be held at Guaranteed Rate Field.

That’s actually a key point – White Sox fans have always thought the whole debate over day vs. night baseball was stupid, and further evidence of the illogic of those individuals who persist in rooting for the Chicago Cubs.
Sign one of few relics of Wrigley old days?

The White Sox have been playing night games since 1939 – the Sox beat the St. Louis Browns 5-2 in that first game after dark at Comiskey Park on Aug. 14. It seems absurd that it took the Cubs until 1988 to finally get around to installing light towers (the Detroit Tigers were next-to-last, and they lit up Briggs Stadium in 1948).

PERSONALLY, I THINK it just makes sense to play a ballgame in the evening, particularly for baseball since teams play virtually every day (it’s not like football with their weekly games every Sunday). People do have to work for a living, and unless you happen to be on a nightshift or have some sort of job where you can get away with taking a day off, a regular diet of day games is a relic of a past way of life. Then again, Bill Veeck in the books he wrote about his time in baseball once said this attitude was the very essence of the difference between White Sox and Cubs fans.
Light towers on Sout' Side ...

Which is why in modern times other teams reserve day games for weekends. And why the Cubs are viewing this as an issue of being able to run their ball club the way other teams do.

The Chicago Tribune reported how Cubs management talked of other teams questioning how a city had the right to impose restrictions on when a team plays, with business operations President Crane Kenney saying, “We’re one of the few teams that not only has to beat everyone in our division, we also have to beat the city that we play in to try to win games.”

Aw, poor babies! Everybody picks on the Chicago Cubs. Even though the Cubs have made their unique circumstances into such a novelty that they benefit at the box office – they do draw well, as Cubs fans insufferably state over and over whenever discussing the state of the White Sox in Chicago.
... and their lack of existence up north

IT WOULD SEEM like the days of the Cubs having just a dozen or so night games per season (the way it was in the early 1990s) is gone. Those people who chose to live near a sports stadium will have to learn to cope with the crowds of people cramming into their community on game nights.

In short, the Cubs have come fully into the 20th Century – and it only took about one-fifth of the 21st Century for them to do so!

Personally, I can’t help but be reminded of one-time Cubs manager Lee Elia, who once gave us an obscenity-laced tirade about those weekday Cubs fan crowds. Remember, “85 percent of the world works for a living, the rest of them come out here.”

Another element of the baseball past – which also includes a Wrigley Field where the people in apartment buildings across the street can easily see into the ballpark on game days. And where the frosty malt was about as exotic as the Wrigley concessions offerings became.


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