Why oh why are the Cubs playing at Wrigley Field this season?
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Tommy needs john surgery.
And it’s not just the Wrigley Field bathrooms that are a problem for Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts. It’s the entire look and functionality of a bombed-out ballpark that has no business hosting baseball games this season. Where does one go to get a Wrigley-ectomy?
The unfinished bleachers are an embarrassment, no matter how much the franchise tries to hide them with images of a smiling Ernie Banks. With construction work cutting down the number of bathrooms, the concourses are more congested than normal, and normal already was bad. It’s dark and dank and generally unpleasant as renovations to the 101-year-old ballpark proceed.
But the key word in the previous paragraph is “business.’’ There’s commerce to be transacted, merchandise to be moved and corporate partners to be appeased. Any questions you have about Wrigley can be answered by that. And thank you for your patronage.
After Sunday’s bathroom disaster, which included terribly long lines and emergency concourse whizzing, the Cubs deployed an army of portable toilets for Tuesday night’s game against the Cardinals. That game was postponed due to a forecast calling for showers and sub-freezing wind chills. So, yes, it rained two games in a row, once meteorologically.
Actually, as of 4:30 p.m., there wasn’t a chance of rain until two hours into Tuesday’s game, and then only 30 percent. There ended up being only a trace of precipitation, according to the National Weather Service. You don’t think the postponement had to do with the shameful ballpark conditions or the chance of making more money when the rescheduled game is played in the warm summer, do you? Me neither.
The Cubs say they couldn’t have foreseen that there would be plumbing problems on Opening Day. That and a reduction in the number of bathrooms due to renovations led to Sunday’s mess, which brought us, via social media, lovely images of beer cups full of urine assembled like shrines inside the Friendly Confines.
Wrigley Field is an ancient ruin, and the problem with ancient ruins is that it’s always something. You address one issue and find three others that had never occurred to you. It’s why it difficult to understand how Ricketts didn’t come to the conclusion that playing at The Cell, the home of the Cubs’ crosstown rivals, was the way to go this season.
What about hour-long bathroom waits says “positive ballpark experience?’’ If you’re in the entertainment industry, why would you expose your customers to even the remote possibility of that occurrence? See paragraph four.
The Cubs have asked more of their fans over the past century-plus than any other sports franchise in America has. The gruel the team has served up on the field now has sawdust mixed in. Outrageous.
As the Cubs ask for your patience, please don’t lose sight of this: Portable toilets are for outside, not for inside a baseball stadium. When you plunk down money to watch a major-league team, you shouldn’t have to look down into a black hole filled with somebody else’s waste. I think that’s written on the back of your ticket.
Many of us have had the unfortunate experience of waiting for a portable toilet to open up at a concert or a golf tournament. You wait for what feels like forever for the red on the handle to switch to green, indicating that the person who was doing Lord knows what in there is coming out. How’s that going to work out at Wrigley? I foresee traffic tie-ups between the concession stands, the bathrooms and the portable toilets that will rival rush hour on the Eisenhower.
I’m sure that, as I write this, Cubs exec Crane Kenney is on the phone with the good people at Depend adult diapers working out a marketing deal. Who needs a bathroom or a portable toilet when Cubs workers are handing out freebies that boast maximum absorbency?
On Opening Day, I made the mistake of being dazzled by the massive new video board, with all its modern touches. The Cubs were hoping for that sort of anesthetized reaction from everyone who wandered through the gates Sunday.
But then the reports of bathroom trouble started flooding in, and my eyes were opened. It wasn’t pretty. (You might not be surprised that the toilet in the press box men’s room wasn’t working either that night.)
Wrigley is more of a dump now than it was before. That will change, in time, and the renovated ballpark should be a good thing. But the Cubs shouldn’t have put fans through this. They should have shared The Cell with the White Sox or taken their show to Milwaukee.
Speaking of actual working bathrooms, the Cubs’ slogan this season is “Let’s Go.’’