As it scrapes and fights to remain in business, the Chicago Sun-Times is running celebrity columns. Jenny McCarthy has already written a couple, even though her qualifications as a celebrity are now based solely on the fact that she still looks great naked, she has some very strange takes on immunizations and she can get celebrity millionaires to have lots of sex with her.
Today’s celebrity column was written by another famous sex symbol, Cubs owner Tom Ricketts. His column is mostly about what rubes baseball fans are. At least, that’s what he’s counting on.
I was recently asked to comment on the current state of baseball by someone who expected to hear me talk of a sport struggling to remain relevant today.
That person, apparently was Rocky Wirtz.
However, the truth is baseball is doing very well. Last year’s playoffs were exciting, this year has already had its share of historic moments and attendance across the league is strong — up more than 7 percent from last season.
He’s right. The playoffs were great, especially that part where Nelson Cruz couldn’t run 14 feet to catch a routine flyball and the Cardinals won the World Series.
And, he’s right that this season has been historic. Why just last week, the Cubs were the first team to win five games in six tries and be outscored.
As I walk through the ballpark every game, I am reminded of the things that make baseball the great sport it is.
Nine dollar beers, eight dollar hot dogs, those red and blue beads that the ladies like to buy, the markup on all of that stuff is tremendous!
It’s a social game. Every day, it seems like the world speeds up a little.
You don’t have to tell that to Todd, his bike shop has had to shift to two-wheelers!
Communications have been turned into texts or tweets that are sometimes little more than a series of symbols. Baseball defies this trend.
At least we hope so, we keep trying to find places in this dump to add more seats.
Despite technology, we remain social beings, and the most rewarding moments are those we share with others. Baseball provides a great venue for this sharing with games building, inning by inning, in a story arc punctuated by thrilling or dramatic plays.
And by that we don’t mean you should watch the game in the comfort of your home on a 55″ HDTV while Tweeting with your friends about what happened. We want you to drive down, park by the McDonald’s (Easy In, Easy Out!), drink half your body weight at the Captain Morgan club before the game, go all Kobayashi on a half-dozen bison dogs, and buy the kids those Darwin Barney shirseys they are clamoring for.
In addition, there’s the social nature of Wrigley Field — recently named by a Facebook survey as Chicago’s top social landmark.
Second place, the ladies’ room at the Aragon during any Veruca Salt concert in the ’90s.
Wrigley is welcoming, intimate and, of course, “friendly.” It’s a place to get reacquainted with old friends or to make new ones.
No better way to make a new friend than to comment on how the troughs are so clean the reflection really captures every vein.
I know couples who met for the first time at Wrigley — like my wife and me — or who had their first date at the field.
Really? We’ve never heard that story. Its’ a classic, especially the part where you let that Jerry Morales home run ball hit her in the crotch while you screamed like a little girl and tried to hide behind her.
There is probably no one place in Chicago that has done more to create new and lasting relationships than Wrigley Field.
If, by that, you mean relationships between drunks and their eventual AA sponsors, nobody will argue with you.
It’s all about family. This past Father’s Day, more than 580,000 fans went to baseball games league-wide, including a near capacity crowd at Wrigley Field.
It would have been capacity except some kids love their dad enough to not make him go watch that crap.
It was the largest single-day attendance in Major League Baseball in years. I wasn’t surprised. Ask anyone about their first baseball game and you are likely to hear a story about the parent or grandparent who brought them to the game.
And it usually ends with a story about the kid being bitched out by Dave Kingman for asking for an autograph during batting practice.
It’s the past, present and future in one.
And they all end the same way. Visitors 9, Cubs 2.
Baseball is woven into the fabric of American history.
Which is why most pants are so ill-fitting these days.
Since the late 1800s, baseball has been a constant in American society and its players the icons of their day.
The stories of Ty Cobb,
(beating a legless fan to death in the stands)
(missing a road trip because his gonorrea flared up again)
(having his motel room door set on fire…again)
(begging for more doubleheaders under the misguided notion that PK Wrigley would have to pay him twice)
(cringing at the thought that some day Sammy Sosa would wear his number in tribute)
(trying to shoot Queen Elizabeth during an Angels game)
(trying to figure out why Dale Sveum is more qualified to lose 118 games than he is)
(having the good sense to leave the Cubs…twice)
and Derek Jeter
(scrolling through IMDB saying “did her…doing her now…did her…doing her now…”)
are stories not just of their teams but of the era in which they played.
(The all white player era, the steroids era…)
On a game day, too, baseball transcends time. Baseball fans have perspective.
Especially Cubs fans. ”You think this team is bad, back in ’57 I went to a game where the Cubs scored 10 runs and still lost by 13. But yeah, this team is probably worse.”
They see things in the context of the sport over time and understand that each discrete result is a tile in the larger mosaic of team history.
Hey, a mosaic of frustration, dispair and futility is still a mosaic. You have to give him that.
So far, this has been a very difficult year for the Cubs on the field.
Off the field’s been good though. Nobody’s been accused of rape, yet!
However, we too look at this year as a piece of a larger puzzle.
And like any puzzle, it’s hard to get it all figured out when Todd eats several of the pieces.
We are building a winning team the right way by developing young talent.
Perhaps you’ve met Luis Valbuena?
There are no shortcuts.
Hell, our shortstop doesn’t cut off anything.
Our efforts will pay off.
Especially on those premium weekend games in July against the Padres!
And we will reward our millions of loyal fans with the piece of baseball history we’ve been denied for more than 100 years: a World Series championship.
And when that happens we’ll see just how much we can charge you suckers for the next hundred losing seasons.
Tom Ricketts has donated his fee for writing this column to Chicago Cubs Charities.
And we didn’t think it was at all odd, when he asked we give him a roll of $10s to take back to the “charity office” with him.