Home Opener Under Lights A First
by Douglas Black, April 3, 2015
Wrigley Field, the anchor of Clark and Addison, home of the Chicago Cubs baseball club who have played their brand of baseball at home under moon and stars since only 1988, will be lit up for the first ever night time home opener on Sunday.
But fewer fans than usual will be in attendance as the north-siders host the Cardinals of St. Louis. In fact, attendance may fall 5,000 short of last year’s 39,833 Opening Day numbers.
This will not be because it is a night game, or because it is Easter Sunday. Nor will it be the result of the perpetually “we’ll get ‘em next year” apathy displayed near the end of every season since, well, forever.
Fans will not stay home because rookie phenom Kris Bryant won’t be making his debut appearance, being oddly sent down to the Minors for a strategic 12 days as a way for management to delay his certain big payday.
There should be few, if any, empty seats. In fact, there will be no seats whatsoever in the right field bleacher section. The same holds true in left field. Construction looms large as the Ricketts family, team owners since 2009, are making good on their promise to expand the park, expand the amenities, and expand the Jumbotron.
A team spokesperson says the seats in left field should be complete for the May 11 game against the Mets, and right field by the beginning of June.
Anyone who has remodeled their kitchen, updated the man cave, or added bedrooms for family expansion knows the challenges of construction, beyond control and otherwise, invariably delay our best made plans and rearrange priorities. Thus the case with the Cubbies.
Lawsuits from irate roof-toppers, weather straight from the Yukon, and underground what-not that appear on no plans, no archival files, not even Google Maps, have delayed completion well into the 2015 Season.
But bleary-eyed Cubs Fans have more reason than ever for optimism. There’s a new Skipper at the helm. Bespectacled, quirky, and proven winner Joe Maddon needed little arm twisting by front office head Theo Epstein to travel north from his gig on Florida with the Rays.
New recruits like Jorge Soler, an outfielder already being discussed in the Rookie of the Year basket, and the aforementioned slugger and third base stopper Bryant, along with lefty ace Jon Lester offer a great deal of promise for longsuffering fans.
Yes, those fans who have not seen a World Championship since sidearm hurler Walter Johnson’s rookie season with the Washington Senators, since ‘The Flying Dutchman’ Honus Wagner hit .354 midway through his 20-year stint with Pittsburgh, and not since Connie Mack presided over his Phillies club during their dominance of the decade before the Great War. Since the short lived Federal Leaguers erected the venue on Clark there has not been a World Series team hanging its spikes in its catacombs.
While it may be argued that football is the national sport, if only from broadcast revenue and tax-exempt team profits, baseball is still the Great American Pastime, our game for 200 years.
What a glorious game, an art and a science, a game of geometry and nerve. Ninety feet, precisely sixty feet and six inches, and varying degrees of “way-gone!”. Diamonds and spheres, velocity and parabolic calculi.
And in Back To The Future II Marty McFly found out the Cubs win the pennant in 2015. The stuff of dreams. Play Ball!
Douglas Black is a photographer, writer, fan and coder of quirky algorithms, transplanted from Detroit to the Gold Coast of Chicago.