New twists coming to Wrigleyville, and that’s not a bad thing
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Let’s start with this: Someday the Cubs will win the World Series.
I didn’t say this year, or even by 2124, another 108 years since the last title.
But math is irrefutable, in the same way it says that a million monkeys typing madly forever will eventually duplicate Shakespeare. Which is true.
So Cubs fans’ demand and pent-up desire should sustain Cubs madness for a long, long time.
Next, a personal story.
Not that long ago, the Sun-Times building was located at 401 N. Wabash, along the Chicago River, with one of the most beautiful city views you can imagine.
The building, however, was a seven-story lump in the midst of skyscrapers — designed, apparently, to look like a tugboat, which it did. I mean, there was a phony forecastle on the roof and a faux smokestack behind, and frankly, God knows what the architect was thinking. Me, I would have at least made it look like a destroyer, fake cannons aimed at the Tribune Tower across Michigan Avenue.
At any rate, one day in 2004, the dumpy structure was torn down so none other than Donald J. Trump could erect his 90-story ode to himself — Trump Tower —on the site.
There were lots of complaints from old-schoolers about the change, and I myself was quoted in a Chicago Magazine story as saying I didn’t mind the tugboat being blown up, but did we have to get ‘‘a penile implant’’ as the replacement?
Well, we did. And the massive “TRUMP” logo notwithstanding, the building is a beauty. And it makes sense.
Change happens. In time, you’ll appreciate it.
Which brings us to Wrigley Field and the neighborhood around it. People call the area Wrigleyville, but I prefer Cubs Kingdom.
No matter what you think, this ballpark and surrounding area is not half as developed and focused as it could be, as it should be.
The Cubs are a phenomenon that rarely appears in the sports world, one that can’t be consciously created but must spring from accidents and confluences of sport, sociology, demographics, history, aesthetics, ineptitude, neglect and stupidity.
Wrigley Field is in the middle of an elite, upscale neighborhood in a grand city, but without parking, amenities or foresight. Wonderful!
No superhighway connects citizens to Wrigley. There are no glorious skyboxes with leather sofas and showers. There is just the tiny park and bricks and vines and baseball.
And each year that Wrigley lives on, its diversion from the norm becomes more intriguing, more appealing. Go to most Major League ballparks, and you might not even remember what city you were in. Go to Wrigley, and you can’t forget it — it’s the most beautiful dump around.
And at last it is being revamped, without being changed. Somehow, we all survived the Jumbotron in left field. Somehow, we have tolerated having the greasy little McDonald’s across Clark Street demolished.
Somehow, at last — after disastrously trying to float city bonds at the same time patriarch Joe Ricketts was forming a super PAC to rip into President Barack Obama, the man whom Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel once worked for as chief of staff — the Ricketts family is charging into the future.
All the new things that are coming, without citizen payment — the office building, the boutique Starwood hotel, the two-story annex on Addison, the people-friendly plaza where Yum-Yum Donuts once ruled — all this is change. All is inevitable. And in the end, all is good.
The demand for Cubness during spring training in the Phoenix area was mind-boggling. Standing room only at Sloan Park, game after game. Nearly a quarter-million attendees total. Cubs shirts and pennants everywhere.
The simple, 100-yard walk from the main practice building to the ballpark was, for Cubs players, like the walk for the Most Interesting Man in the World to his Dos Equis spaceship to Mars.
Generation after generation of fans are so Cub-crazed, so yearning, that architecture must be created to accommodate them. At long last — after the Wrigleys and Tribune Co. just shrugged — the Rickettses have bought up most of the rooftop buildings on Waveland and Sheffield. Someday, those two streets framing Wrigley must become part of the park, with all the rooftops. The entire Cubs Kingdom could become the most visited place in all of Chicago. I’m not saying that because I want it to be. I’m saying it because it’s fact.
Someday soon, nobody but Luddites will complain about the lost “good old days” at Wrigley. I remember them. They weren’t so good. They were just old.
Last thing? The Cubs really need to win.
Follow me on Twitter @ricktelander.