By Eric Williams Local Columnist
---- — When I was in seventh grade we circulated a petition asking one of our lunch ladies to try different deodorant, and while we generated some much needed hygienic awareness amongst many classmates and picked up a lot of signatures, we also got detention, stern lectures from both administration and our parents, as well as the coldest hamburgers you could imagine.
So when I received a request recently to sign a petition to “Save Wrigley Field,” I was somewhat confused. After all, Wrigley does predate the discovery of dirt, so what could it possibly need saving from?
Cubs ownership wants to institute $500 million in renovations to Wrigley. This demand has sparked a wrestling match between rooftop owners, one crabby Alderman, the Landmarks Commission and the Mayor of Chicago. According to plans, the exterior will be restored to 1938 status, a year the Cubs were swept in the World Series - which is in itself surprising on multiple levels.
Wrigley is already a local landmark, but will work to achieve National Landmark Status while implementing the renovations simultaneously. The most impressive aspect of the project is that it will all be done with private money.
But as negotiations floundered, Tom Ricketts knew the trump card lay in the pocket of his David Beckham Collection, double breasted, Armani suit lined with the fur of the rare and endangered Pamir Spotted Zebra all along.
But does Ricketts really want to go down in history as the man who tore down Wrigley? Did he pay $900 million for the team just to have the chance at writing an even darker chapter of history in what has already been a genuinely lackluster and laughable existence?
I suppose it’s fitting the Ricketts and the Cubs found each other considering the Ricketts family is ranked 371 out of the 400 Wealthiest People according to Forbes. This of course places them near last on the list and that’s where the team has been languishing since the day the Ricketts bought them.
Being one of only a handful who could pay cash for the space shuttle is proof Tom Ricketts is undoubtedly a smart man. Surely then he understands 97.8 percent of Cubs fans are so because of Wrigley Field.
Does anyone really believe Cubs fans actually follow their team? The same one that hasn’t won a World Series since Teddy Roosevelt was President? The one that hasn’t appeared in a World Series since we were dropping bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki?
They aren’t fans because the Cubs are one of the last franchises left who embrace losing.
OK, so maybe it’s not so much the losing as it is the belief that a World Series title can only be fully appreciated if preceded by a lifetime of extreme heartache and disappointment first.
It’s the pomp and circumstance that lures Cubs fans out in droves year after year. The fact the Cubs happen to play baseball at Wrigley Field is secondary and serves only to force people to hang around a bit longer than normal.
Cubs fans embrace Wrigley for all that the park stands for. Things like the Ivy, pad-less brick walls, occasional chunks of concrete falling from the grandstands and “Bleacher Bums” fumbling their way through the seventh-inning stretch while sharing overpriced refreshments with their fellow man.
For all of mankind, the sooner those in high places realize the rare gem they have in Wrigley the better.