Cubs might not win pennant in 2015, but hey — at least scoreboard will shine
BY RICK MORRISSEY firstname.lastname@example.org July 14, 2013 10:37PM
FILE -This file photo shows an artist rendering provided May 1, 2013 by the Chicago Cubs showing planned renovations at Wrigley Field. The Cubs said that have reached an agreement with the city that would allow the team to build a Jumbotron in left field at the team's historic ballpark while adding another sign in right field. The agreement over the changes to Wrigley Field must be approved by Chicago's landmarks commission, which is meeting Thursday, July 11, 2013. A team spokesman said the Jumbotron is slightly smaller than what the Cubs initially wanted and the right field sign is significantly smaller. (AP Photo/Courtesy the Chicago Cubs, File) ORG XMIT: CX101
Updated: July 15, 2013 4:08PM
It’s 2015. OK, I know it’s 2013, and the Cubs are playing host to the Cardinals on a beautiful Sunday night in Chicago. Work with me here. I’m trying to rescue you from your current nightmare.
I’m envisioning Wrigley Field two years from now. Talented young players, bright new scoreboard — the works. Look at me being positive!
What follows will make the dreamers happy. The rooftop owners, not so much, nor the people who think any Cubs future is a bad future. I’d have to put myself in the cynical/skeptical/what’s-the-point-of-it-all crowd, but, hey, I’m trying. Maybe I’ve been in the sun too long.
So it’s 2015, and in front of me is the left-field video scoreboard that, when it was on the drawing board, had many fans crying bitterly into their Ryno jerseys and saying prayers of intercession to Harry Caray. The scoreboard lights up the night sky like a Vegas casino sign. That might sound bad, but it’s somehow inviting. The outfield doesn’t look so shadowy anymore.
There’s a reason actors wear makeup under the glare of stage lights. Looking back on it, the old Wrigley looked plain, its face washed-out and wan. Now, it looks ready for the role of a lifetime, rather than a life of selling nostalgia like a roadside museum.
The Cubs’ lineup flashes on the Jumbotron:
2B Darwin Barney
CF Albert Almora
1B Anthony Rizzo
LF Kris Bryant
RF Jorge Soler
SS Starlin Castro
3B Pablo Sandoval
C Welington Castillo
P Jeff Samardzija
The scoreboard blocks the views of some of the rooftops across from the ballpark. So does the large advertising sign in right field. The rooftop owners don’t look happy. Nobody cares.
The old green center-field scoreboard is still operational and stands watch over the ballpark and its history. Back in 2013, I found the tiny numbers about as easy to read as the ingredients on an aspirin bottle. Throw in the night pushing in on Wrigley, and there was a whole lot of squinting going on. With the new scoreboard, I don’t have to work at it. I can look at the old one and appreciate it for its aesthetics. Without a bad case of eyestrain.
But I wasn’t alone back in 2013. Oh, don’t think I didn’t see you traditionalists looking at your smartphone for updates from around the major leagues. You wanted to know scores and batting averages and WHIPs.
What’s on the field in 2015 is very much a product of Theo Epstein’s imagination. The Cubs’ president of baseball operations has gone all in on a homegrown youth movement. The lineup is a bit too young, and Scott Boras, Bryant’s agent, continues to point this out because he has older clients and because he likes money.
The only nod to outside experience in the lineup is Sandoval, who’s 28 and coming off several down years. It’s a typical Epstein reclamation project. He’s hoping the chubby “Kung Fu Panda’’ can reclaim the form that made him an All-Star. He’s also hoping McDonald’s shuts down forever.
But the lineup is primarily composed of native plants.
“We’re just getting better players in the organization that can make a difference in the long run,’’ manager Dale Sveum had said of the rebuilding process in July 2013. “When everything is said and done, you have depth, you have guys who are coming, you have starting pitchers, you have power arms.’’
Matt Garza’s power arm is no longer here. Since being traded two years ago, he has gone 22-22 with a 3.90 ERA with the Rangers. There are fans who still love him but not as many as when the Cubs were struggling through that 101-loss season three years ago.
Hey, there’s former alderman Tom Tunney. Other than the rooftop owners, nobody cares.
Back in 2013, people were saying that the idea of a video scoreboard inside Wrigley was an abomination. No, an abomination is a century-plus of futility. Tight concourses, uncomfortable seats and nets guarding against falling cement — that’s an abomination.
But things have changed for the better. The clubhouses don’t look like a slop sink from the 1950s. That’s what a $300 million stadium renovation looks like.
The Cubs lose this warm night in 2015. They are in third place in the National League Central and are likely to finish there.
What, you thought this was a dream with a perfect ending? A division title? Snap out of it, people. Maybe in 2016. Probably not, but maybe. These are still the Cubs.