It seems that as I get older, there's just very little in the world that surprises me anymore. You read the news and people seem to redefine the word despicable almost everyday. And it might just be the sensationalistic nature of journalism today that has numbed the pain, or just my generally placid everyday demeanor that makes everything just a little too bearable.
But then something comes along that strikes a chord loud enough that even Beethoven could hear it. It's probably because it has something to do with my earlier years, the years that branded me a Cubs fan. The years of Sandberg, Cey, Moreland and Jody and the all too magical 1984 season that created this obsession of mine.
In a rather revealing story in the Chicago Sun-Times
(and you'll see why this wasn't in the Trib), former MLB commissionerPeter Ueberroth
unveils a few inconvenient truths about the Chicago Cubs.
The focus of the article is about the 1984 playoffs. As many around here will remember, MLB was up in arms with the Cubs making the playoffs because without lights at Wrigley they could not play and henceforth broadcast the games in primetime when television ratings were the highest. And of course this was still a time when baseball playoff games easily beat sitcoms in the Nielsens, so the concern was deserved. I recall the whispers at the time that if the Cubs did make the Series, there was a good chance that some of their home games would be played somewhere else with St. Louis's Busch Stadium leading the way. Ueberroth though reveals that he had in fact decided that Comiskey Park would be home to the Cubs if they did advance.
That's right, what could have been the first World Series appearance in 39 years would have been played in an American League park, in a stadium with fireworks in the scoreboard. No decaying ivy, no bleachers, no rooftops for what could have been one of the teams greatest moments. Of course it never got there thanks to Steve Garvey, Lee Smith and Leon Durham's sticky glove.
But that actually wasn't the most shocking revelation by Ueberroth...
Ueberroth let's it be known that he invoked the mythical "best interests of baseball" clause to squash a rather shameful Tribune plan. A plan to knock down Wrigley Field and build a new stadium somewhere in the suburbs. Now I recall whispers back in the day that the Cubs were thinking of moving and I definitely recall the struggles to get lights and nightime baseball at Wrigley as the north side residents were appropriately worried about the noise and drunken debauchery that would accompany those games. Yet I had never known that Trib was actually willing and in fact had decided that enough was enough, time to tear down one of baseball's great treasures for the almighty dollar.
I suppose that it's probably not as big a deal as I'm making it out to be and that these sort of corporate hijinx happen all the time behind closed doors with the public none the wiser. Nonetheless I'm a bit appalled by the whole notion that Trib was willing to pursue their bottom line over baseball history. And I'm a bit saddened that all those memories of going to Wrigley may never have been.