I snapped this shot from the Red Line el a week or so ago. I wanted to get an oil change on my car, and have belts, hoses, etc. checked before Adam and I visited my parents, so I took the el to work.
There's been a big stink about Wrigley lately. The new owner of the Chicago Tribune, real estate mogul Sam Zell, has proposed selling off the naming rights like so many stadiums have in recent years. Not surprisingly, public sentiment has not been favorable.
What might surprise people is that it was not originally called Wrigley Field. It was opened in 1914 as Weeghman Park, and was the home of the Chicago Whales, of the long-gone Federal League. The Cubs were playing on the west side of Chicago at West Side Park.
They moved into their present location in 1916, and from 1920 to 1926 it was called Cubs Park, which a lot of fans still call it. It became Wrigley Field, after the owner, William Wrigley, Jr., of the chewing gum company. In 1981, the Chicago Tribune purchased the Chicago Cubs, prompting many Cubs fans to believe that the Cubs would win the World Series soon; common wisdom had it that the Cubs were a tax write-off for the Wrigley family and that they didn't want a winning team. And of course, the Cubs have not won a World Series, or even appeared in one since then.
Whether the park changes names remains to be seen. I'll probably take Adam to a game this year, but not many-- it's become very, very expensive to see a game at Wrigley. In May of 1979, not long before I graduated high school, some high school friends and I came down for a game on a sunny afternoon. We paid $1.50 for our bleacher seats, and had plenty of room. These days, bleacher seats at Wrigley cost $22.00 and up, and are hard to get on a Sunday or other weekend day. We may make a trip or two this summer to see the Peoria Chiefs, who are managed by Cubs Hall of Fame great Ryne Sandberg. And tickets are ten bucks.
Still, Wrigley is one of the last of the old stadiums. There is nothing like a summer day down there. The White Sox fans have a mythology that Wrigley is filled with cell-phone-yakking yuppies who know nothing about the game. Far from it (and I have seen that stereotype down at whatever the White Sox are calling their mall, er, I mean stadium this week). When Adam and I go, there are inevitably a couple of the old-timers who we can chat about old teams, old players and prospects for the present players.
There's an old George Carlin bit I love, about the difference between baseball and football. Football, Carlin says, is representative of industrial America, aggressive and violent. Baseball, on the other hand, is a vestige of America's rural past, a game played without time limits, and consisting mostly of standing around. For those who don't know the strategies of baseball, baseball is boring. And if you don't know the history, it's even more ponderous. But for those of us who know those things, baseball is fascinating. And to see it played, win or lose, on a gorgeous summer day in Wrigley Field-- or whatever name it ends up being-- is a great break for a few hours from a hectic, stress-filled life.