This morning as the sun came up in a warm autumn breeze over Lake Michigan, the iconic baseball park, Wrigley Field, went under the scalpel as streets were blocked off till next April, semi trucks carrying the giant tools of construction chugged on to the once green fields of summer, the ivy that ringed the field quivering because everything would be different now.
One tough problem here. Because Wrigley Field really is a dump. We all get old. And if we don't take care of ourselves? Stuff happens. Not that long ago, giant nets were strung up over sections of the grandstands to catch the falling chunks of concrete before they landed on people's heads.
Still, the planned changes to Wrigley Field seem like flashes of the "Pottersville" Jimmy Stewart runs through on a snow falling night looking for some sort of meaning to his life. Captain Morgan Rum now takes up more space than the statues of Cub icons Ron Santo, Bill Williams and Ernie Banks. When comedian Jeff Garlin was recently asked what he'd do if he had all the money in the world, he said, "I'd buy the Cubs and tear down all the crap they are building and make it real again."
The real money for all this is coming from the family heirs to the Ameritrade fortune. It's their team. They can do whatever they want with it. Perhaps they will see it as a trust. Perhaps they will see themselves as stewards. Perhaps not. We don't talk much. I hear one of the heirs roams the stands talking to fans. That's nice, but I really can't afford to go anymore. I don't have that kind of money.
My first baseball game was old Comisky Park. My Dad took me in that magical Sox year of 1959. I remember the pennant with names like Nellie Fox, Louis Aparicio and manager Al Lopez, that hung on my childhood wall for years.
But the Cubs? My grandfather was a Cubs fan. Took my Mom out of school once to take her to a World Series game. The Cubs run in my blood. I never bought the silly cross-town rivalry, dug up and splayed across the newspapers as some sort of class war. Here is a news flash. Cubs fans had money problems too.
I was there on a gray, rainy afternoon to watch Kerry Wood pitch in a game that will be described for generations. I was there in 1984 when we were winners.
We were winners.
Buried deep in my closet is a glove and uniform from my other grandfather who played minor league ball for a Boston affiliate. Why am I a Cubs fan?
Cause I was born that way.
Is the Wrigley Field makeover a good thing or a bad thing? I don't know. Could go either way. Depends on what it looks like when it's done. But even more then what it looks like, it depends on whether that family cares more about practicing stewardship or quarterly returns.
Which direction do you think they'll choose?