Should the Cubs Tear Down Wrigley?
By Benjy Lipsman in News on May 16, 2012 4:40PM
Photo by Enjoy Illinois
As Sox fans, we've long enjoyed watching the Cubs implode. And we'd certainly like to level much of the neighborhood that surrounds their ballpark. But tear down Wrigley Field? That's exactly what one writer suggests in yesterday's Wall St. Journal, although not for the reason's one might assume given the publication's East Coast heritage.
In his piece, Rich Cohen suggests that the Cubs tear down the historic ballpark in order that they might win again. He suggests three reasons that starting from scratch on their ballpark may better suit the Cubs' World Series aspirations. Perhaps he has a point, given that the Cubs were a major league powerhouse in their pre-Wrigley days, yet have defined futility since moving to the corner of Addison & Clark in 1916.
First, he suggests that the ballparks dimensions and variability of the winds whipping off the lake mean that the Cubs front office is unable to build a team unique suited for the park, which negates the home team advantage most teams build into their roster. On the other hand, we think the cramped visitors quarters create a disadvantage for visiting teams and the Cubs could still gain some benefits by going after players who perform best in day games.
Second, he blames the niceness of the park on drawing fans who don't care about winning. The Cubs have done an excellent job of selling the "Friendly Confines" as a big party for the past 30 years to lure fans through the turnstiles even when the team sucks, but the luster seems to be coming off anyway. Which is par for the course on party hot spots. Between the tourists, suburbanites and businessmen who come to join the party, Wrigley is on its way to becoming an outdoor version of Excalibur.
Cohen's justification for blowing up Wrigley is that persistent losing makes them losers. (Duh! They're the Lovable Losers for a reason.) It's the team and players who are the losers, not the ballpark... which is the jist of Deadspin's counter-argument to Cohen. Cohen tries to point his finger at the park because players, managers and execs who were successful elsewhere still lose with the Cubs. But that's the organization's fault, top to bottom. Not a pile of bricks and iron and ivy.
And for a Cubs fan who is used to seeing his beloved team lose, you'd think that Cohen would show a little patience for Theo Epstein to try and work his magic before declaring such drastic measures. Theo helped end the decades of futility in Boston, and he seems to have an actual plan to rebuild the Cubs. If Epstein can't improve the Cubs, then maybe more drastic measures might be necessary... what does Cohen think about relocating the team to Charlotte?