I was on a bus trip over to a Chicago Cubs game in Wrigley Field last week. The thermometer read a glorious 70 degrees when we left South Bend in the late morning.
Even so, I took a sweatshirt and jacket. That wasn’t enough.
A few people on our trip had worn only shorts and T-shirts. They apparently figured that if it was 70 degrees in South Bend in the morning that it was going to be even more comfortable in the afternoon at Wrigley. Yeah, right.
They looked like Popsicles on the way home, unable to even get their frozen tongues to work until halfway home.
Several seasons ago, my wife vowed never to go to another Cubs’ game in April or May after sitting through a 12-inning game (actually, she spent most of the later innings under the heater in the women’s restroom) that was played in off-and-on snow flurries.
Over the years, she added June, July, August and September to her no-fan list but I don’t think that had anything to do with the weather.
But weather is always a big issue with Cubs’ games this time of year. I remember getting through an entire winter in the 1980s without needing the lining of my heavy coat. Yet, thankfully, I zipped it in before I headed to Wrigley for my first game that spring.
So as I get older and the springtime weather at Wrigley doesn’t get any warmer, I go to fewer and fewer games.
Unfortunately, those games in the cold and wind — Chicagoans call it The Hawk — are about the only tickets I can afford these days. When the ivy on the outfield wall finally blooms and Memorial Day passes, the tickets prices rise even while Cubbie hopes usually fall.
Then you add all the hassles of parking, traffic and the cramped underbelly of Wrigley where the concessions and restrooms are and it is easier and less expensive — and far more appealing — to go see the Cubs in places like Cincinnati and Pittsburgh than in Chicago.
And we haven’t even yet mentioned how bad the Cubs currently stink.
I grew up loving Wrigley Field and the Cubs. I guess I still do. Yet without the ivy and the darling, old scoreboard, many would consider the ballpark a dump. This team can be described in the same manner, too.
I know ownership is trying to fix both. They are going through the painstaking process of starting over with the team. Maybe they should think about doing the same with the ballpark, too.
Leave the outfield bleachers, scoreboard and ivy-covered wall and rebuild the rest. Or maybe — sacrileges of sacrileges — start over somewhere else.
While in Arizona earlier this spring, I actually coaxed my wife to a Diamondbacks’ game at Chase Field. After her many experiences at Wrigley, she was astounded. “I might go to more games if the ballpark was this clean and comfortable,” she said.
Among the improvements that Cubs’ owner Tom Ricketts is proposing for Wrigley is a fancy new video board in left-center field. Yippee.
Maybe it will at least help block the wind on a cold, spring day.
Retired Tribune columnist Bill Moor writes a weekly column for Community. Contact him at email@example.com.
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