Anyone who's paid attention to this blog knows I've gone to most of the ballparks in the country, Wrigley Field most often. As much as I love the place, Wrigley's age shows. I mean, poles, for crying out loud.
So, OK, the park needs some freshening, but on the inside. It does not need all this crap.
Yesterday, I and all the other fans of the park lost that fight: the pliant Chicago Plan Commission approved Tom Ricketts' renovation plan after a late-hour capitulation from 44th Ward alderman Tom Tunney:
With a unanimous vote at a hearing this afternoon, the Plan Commission moved the Cubs past one of the final hurdles before the entire project heads to the City Council for a vote, which could be on July 24.
The commission gave the Cubs the green light on construction of a plaza in its adjacent triangle property, a six-story office building and a boutique hotel across the street. The plan includes a pedestrian bridge over Clark Street and a main hotel lobby entrance facing Patterson Street as the team had planned, but the Cubs have "deferred" a planned patio deck over Patterson and hope to revisit the idea at a later date.
We don't need a frickin' Jumbotron. Really. Nor do we need a hotel at Clark and Addison. (And who's going to stay there on the 270 days when the Cubs aren't playing at home?) Oh, and the rooftop owners aren't exactly going to save the day, but their narrow self-interest will at least slow down the destruction:
With the Alderman on their side, the last remaining roadblock to the Cubs' plan could be the Wrigleyville Rooftop Association, which continues to threaten a lawsuit if their views are blocked by outfield signage that was approved last week.
The park has nothing to do with the team sucking like a Dyson; the bad playing does. I have no idea why Tunney is letting this go through or why Ricketts thinks he needs to build this.
Wrigley's biggest draw is its history. Ricketts and Tunney, who have attention spans only slightly longer than Parker's, can't understand this.
Today begins baseball's All-Star break, with the All-Star Game tomorrow in New York and 2/3 of the season behind us in purgatory.
Despite yesterday's 10-6 loss to St. Louis, the Cubs have improbably won 14 of their last 21 games, bringing them nearer .500 than at any point since the fifth game of the season back on April 6th, ending the first half of the season at 42-51 (.452):
So after 93 games, with 69 left to play, the Cubs are in 4th place, 4½ games away from a winning season, but unfortunately 10 full games out of 3rd place. With the Cardinals just ahead of the Pirates as the best team in all of baseball right now, and with both of those teams in our division, we have no hope of anything this year.
Last night was typical Cubs play, though. I went to most of the game, bailing after the 7th with the score 5-4 Cardinals. That became 6-4 Cardinals while I waited for the bus, so I guessed I'd made the right decision.
Because the world will end if 99-year-old Wrigley Field retains any of its historic character, at least according to its current owner, the Ricketts family have pushed the Landmarks Commission to approve an ugly Jumbotron in left field. It may get approved today:
At the strong urging of Mayor Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the Chicago Commission on Landmarks is expected to approve the team's plans for a 6,000-square-foot electronic sign in left field and a smaller non-electronic sign in right.
[M]ultiple sources say that despite [the local Alderman's] opposition, and barring a last-minute surprise, the commission, whose members are appointed by the mayor, will give its assent. That will leave only approval by the Chicago Plan Commission, another body appointed by the mayor, and the City Council, which already has approved the Cubs' request for more night and late-start games.
Wonderful. I can't wait for a huge electronic monstrosity to erupt from the left-field bleachers next year.
The Chicago White Sox gave up 28 runs yesterday, losing both games of a double-header with the Indians, 19-10 and 9-8. While that went on, Philadelphia beat the Dodgers 16-1, and Milwaukee got spanked 10-3 by the Pirates.
In total, there were 171 runs in Major League Baseball yesterday. I don't know if that's a record, but an average of 11.4 runs per game seems a little high, doesn't it?
But, wow. Twenty-eight runs in one day against one team. That's the super-special kind of baseball they play on the South Side.
Park #25 is in the bag.
The Seattle Mariners beat the Cubs 5-4 in 10 innings yesterday after being up by 3 in the top of the 7th. Because if you're up by 3 in the 7th, and you're the Cubs, you're probably going to screw up the 9th. And here is Mike Zunino hitting the 10th-inning single (with bases loaded) that won the game:
So I'm in Seattle, and I have a couple of hours of work to do before my flight to San Francisco. I need some coffee. Where to go? That's a no-brainer: I am under an obligation as a tourist to go to the first Starbucks:
More Seattle and game photos later.
It turns out, all of O'Hare has free WiFi these days, so I can do work right at the gate when my plane's delayed by several short intervals. (A long delay would have seen me in the club, what what!)
Tonight I'll be at Safeco Field watching the Cubs probably lose to the Mariners and taking in my 25th park. Right now, I'm at H11A waiting for them to clean the plane.
Pretty normal travel day, except for getting out of the Loop.
The journey began with Jonathan Toews organizing informal workouts while the NHL lockout raged on and ended with the Blackhawks captain holding the Stanley Cup aloft.
The Hawks' magical 2013 season concluded with seemingly the only result Toews and Co. would allow — the franchise's fifth title and second in the last four years after a 3-2 victory over the Bruins on Monday night at TD Garden.
And like the first title, the second sparked a celebration that began on the ice, continued on the flight back to Chicago and showed no signs of letting up as the team partied first at Harry Caray's in Rosemont and then at a private gathering at The Scout bar in the South Loop.
Last night we had fireworks, a huge impromptu rally a few blocks from me, helicopters taking video of the huge impromptu rally, and a drunken neighbor having some difficulty getting into his apartment at 1:30 am that set Parker off.
Well done, Hawks. I'll have to watch the last 76 seconds of the game at some point.
Meanwhile, the Cubs and Brewers both had a day off yesterday, keeping them tied in 4th place. One of my friends has a bet going with a cheesehead that hinges on which team is ahead of the other by the All-Star Game on July 16th. The loser has to do something public and embarrassing: changing his or her Facebook picture to the winning team's logo. For my friend's sake, I hope the Cubs can stay in 4th place. (Third place is now an insurmountable 12 games away. We're in 4th this season.)
Going into yesterday's game against the Astros, the Cubs and Brewers were tied for 4th place in the National League Central division, and the Astros were the second-worst team in all of baseball. (Miami, with a 24-49 record, is firmly in last place overall.)
So no one expected anything exciting in the game, and we got what we expected. Both teams played at a level familiar to parents with children in Little League. Baserunning mistakes cost the Cubs three outs in two innings; simple relays between fielders went all over the field like electrons in a cloud.
We did get to see a rare play when Houston executed a perfect suicide squeeze in the top of the 9th to score the winning run. With a runner on 3rd, shortstop Ronny Cedeno bunted the ball just to the left of pitcher Kevin Gregg, who got the ball in time—but with catcher Wellington Castillo infield of the plate, neither he nor Gregg saw Justin Maxwell barreling down the line from 3rd until his foot crossed the plate.
The park erupted with ennui. Not a peep. About half the fans had already left. When the Cubs went one-two-three in the 9th, we shrugged and went home.
With Milwaukee's win yesterday, the Cubs are back in 5th place, at 30-43. Houston rose to 29-47 with the win, and Miami rounds out the benighted trio of losers at 24-50. Yay, us.
After a two-and-a-half hour rain delay, last night's Cubs game ticked along with the Cubs ahead 3-1 until the last time I checked the score before going to bed.
This morning I woke up to a 12-4 Cubs loss. Why? Marmol, again:
After escaping two bases-loaded jams early, the Cubs were unable to do so when they needed it most, as D-backs first baseman Paul Goldschmidt launched a tie-breaking grand slam off Carlos Marmol (2-3) in the eighth inning to make it 8-4.
"He's a good hitter," Marmol said. "I left one up there and he took advantage."
Marmol walked Willie Bloomquist and Didi Gregorius and allowed a double to Gerardo Parra before Goldschmidt's slam.
I'm going to the game today. The only good thing about Marmol's loss yesterday is that he won't pitch today's game.
The Cubs have won the last five complete games, and were ahead when Tuesday got rained out. They swept the White Sox, and just today beat the Diamondbacks 7-2. In fact, in their last six games, the Cubs have gotten 36 runs to their opponents' 12.
Here's how the season looks at the end of May:
The orange line tracks their position in the division. With their 23-30 record, the Cubs are now 3.5 games ahead of the last-place Brewers (19-33), but fully 9.5 games behind the third-place Reds (33-21).
There's really no hope of a pennant this season, but it's great to see them finally winning some games.