It’s Not the Ballpark…
I like Wrigley Field. Always have. Always will, even though I’m a Cardinal fan. I am also of the firm belief that a solid, contending team in Wrigley is good for baseball.
The place oozes history. Wrigley has its origins as Weeghman Park, home of the Federal League’s Chicago Federals or Chicago Whales. The Cubs moved in for the 1916 season after the Federal League collapsed. Virtually all the great players of the 20th Century roamed the Friendly Confines. Babe Ruth’s called shot occurred there.
I don’t believe that Wrigley or day baseball all those years are why the Cubs haven’t won a World Series since 1908. The problem has usually been a lack of good ballplayers. The Cub teams since I started following the game in the late 60’s always seemed to lack one or two things. The ’69 team did not have a quality center fielder. Manager Leo Durocher also didn’t have any trust in his bench—maybe with good reason. As a result, the Cubs ran out of gas as September '69 started. Day baseball should have been an advantage in those days. It wasn’t. More recent editions of the Cubs up through ’03 and ‘04 got close but could never quite come up with all the parts.
The Boston Red Sox used to fit that description too. The Red Sox also play in a tremendous—and ancient venue. They were almost there in the late 1940s and again on a regular basis from the late 60s until they finally won it all in 2004.
It’s quality ballplayers that matter, not curses of the Bambino or Billy Goats although I do have a good time with the goat curse. Let’s see what Theo Epstein can do. He was pretty good at maintaining and adding on to an already solid Red Sox team. Now we’ll find out how he is at building from the ground up. Castro, Barney and Soto are a start among the position players.
One of the great things about Wrigley in my book is that the place can be very different from one day to the next, depending on the weather. When it’s 90 degrees and the wind is blowing out of the southwest at 15 with gusts to 25, it’s a launching pad—a pitcher’s worst nightmare. When it’s cool, it’s a pitcher’s paradise, anything in the air is an out.
Teams with enough good ballplayers are going to win at Wrigley no matter what the weather is doing.