As the Cubbies head to hibernation they are licking fewer wounds this time around. And even their most cynical fans are peeking through their fingers with some hope for next season. No one is saying the wait for “next year” is over, but the way the team played out the final weeks of the ’14 season has left many fans with more patience than their all-too familiar frustration.
Improvements both at the plate and on the mound point in the right direction. And a crop of young hopefuls offer promise of an interesting spring in Arizona. Some trades will be in order, but management needs to avoid the terribly predictable pitfall of trading away the wrong players.
This writer still believes the crucial element is attitude. The “Lovable Losers’” antics may fill the stands but they rarely make it to postseason play. Too many ex-Cubs play much better in a winning atmosphere which seemed tangible in the Cubs’ play at the end of this season. Let’s hope it carries over into 2015.
What may help is the new look at Clark and Addison. There is a fear that tampering with the “cathedral” there will desecrate the history of Chicago baseball – and baseball itself. That remains to be seen but the fear persists. Wrigleyville is a destination spot for all true baseball fans. The pinball machine atmosphere of other parks may work well enough elsewhere but would be anathema at Wrigley. There, the focus has always been on the game itself. No swimming pools, sausage races, monstrous baseball bats in monstrous buckets, vintage trains, leaping marlins, etc. The purity of the game, if not the way it has been played there, is what Wrigley Field (not park or stadium) is all about.
What will greet the fans on Opening Day should honor all of that. The makeovers outside Wrigley itself are secondary and incidental to the “cathedral’s” interior. After all, the name of the game is…baseball, not money, at least to the fans at Wrigley Field. Cub fans will continue to fill the place. And if the lovable losers metamorph into “Wrigleyville Winners,” church bells will ring, hymns of gratitude will fill the heavens and the ivy will blush all through postseason play.
Makeovers can be magical but in the process they need to honor history as well as court the future. And, yes, money matters if they are to be done properly. But what matters more in these makeovers is their respect for the game itself – and its fans.