Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Here We Go Again
It’s time for yet another Sox-Cubs series (has it really been 13 years?), and surprise, surprise, much of the pre-series media coverage centered on Ozzie’s view of Wrigley Field.
While it is definitely a tired subject in my mind, Ozzie’s opinion of the ballpark was generated by his own experience: parking, walking to the clubhouse, the clubhouse, his office, the walkway down to the dugout, the dugouts, the batting cages in the outfield and the field itself. For the most part, these areas are among the worst in baseball. Add to it the press box area and the walk up and down from the press box, and you understand why anyone who works there doesn’t really like the place, particularly when it is compared to most of the other ballparks in baseball. I told my wife this morning, the very worst thing you can have is pre-game rain at Wrigley. First game of the series, lots of media, crowded clubhouse, damp conditions, nowhere to go, nothing really to do. It’s a bad recipe.
Most of my complaints about Wrigley are centered on its age. I have now been doing this long enough to have experienced two truly awful ballparks — when seen from the inside out: Tiger Stadium was the worst, old Cleveland Stadium a close second.
The elevator ride up old Tiger Stadium was the worst five minutes of my life. It still sends chills up and down my spine. First, there was the issue of if you would make it. The ricketty old elevator seemed to be gasping for breath as it went up the five levels. Riders also gasped for breath. The elevator operator, a lovely older woman, must have started her day dousing herself in baby powder. In the cramped elevator, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with nine other sweating journalists, a small fan above her blowing out the baby-powder scent, filling the space by forcing any remaining oxygen out of the compartment. Soon CO2 took over. By the time you arrived at the roof — yes the press box was on the roof — you practically sprinted up the walkway to the press box. But, oh, that walkway! The carpet was coated and the space smelled of … cooking grease. These aromas are so set in my mind that even as I write this, I needed to get up and go get a drink of water. Yuck.
And Cleveland … the press box, which was situated down low, close to the action, featured very special windows. Big cast iron style, they swung up on a hinge, locking over your head into the ceiling with a hook. It didn’t take much of an imagination to see this thing come swinging down during a moment of the game, decatapitating all who sat below it, guillotine-like. I am not exaggerating. I used to check the hooks before I sat down to work.
And once they were hooked up during the season, the Indians policy must have been to leave them up, never closing the windows. I surmised that because water would pool in the windows, leaving an inch or so of liquid to congeal, all summer long. And what grows in standing water? Mosquitos … and midges. Pleasant.
So Wrigley? It’s bad. But not the worst.
(Please note, any time I start to whine about this kind of thing, my friends and family — mainly family because my friends left me long ago — remind me that I get to work in a major league ballpark, to shut up and deal with it)
How truly amazing that after 66 meetings, this series is tied, 33-33, with both teams going 19-14 at home and the Sox holding a 323-322 edge in runs scored (one run!).
We enter tonight on a three-game winning streak (remember that last year?!), having outscored the Cubs, 21-9. The Sox have won eight of the last 12 series.
No truth to the rumor that the Astros were going to loan us Carlos Lee for this series.
To one another over the next three days.