Where do I start?

Tom Ricketts’ desire to build a huge new video scoreboard at Wrigley Field is misguided in so many ways.

Wrigley Field is hallowed ground.

You wouldn’t outline the Statue of Liberty with neon. You wouldn’t cover the Vatican with faux paintings. You wouldn’t park an RV on the south lawn of the White House.

Some things deserve respect. And, despite my dislike of the Cubs, Wrigley Field is one of those places.

Honestly, sometimes I think the baseball powers that be don’t care for the sport. Instead of enhancing the baseball experience, they seem hell bent on providing distractions.

Going to a baseball game used to be the crack of the bat on the ball or the thud of the ball in the mitt.

Forget that? The ambient noise is entirely too loud for something that nuanced.

A trip to the ballpark is now like going to the concert. Music blares through the speakers every time there is a break in the action. Walk-up music? Really?

I nearly got physically ill last year when I heard a pair of 20-somethings having an earnest discussion about who had the best walk-up music.

As Jimmy Dugan, Tom Hanks’ character in “A League of Their Own” might say, “There’s no music in baseball.” (Singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the seventh inning stretch is the notable exception.

Baseball is a game to be savored like a fine wine or a mellow bourbon.

Watching baseball should be a social experience. Nothing beats attending a game with two or three friends and wiling away the innings second-guessing the manager, or discussing statistics, sabermetric or traditional.

Unfortunately, in most venues, that’s not possible.

I fulfilled a lifelong dream last summer, attending a major league baseball game at Wrigley Field.

Sure, you couldn’t escape the incessant music, but baseball took center stage.

My experience was in no way diminished by the lack of a huge scoreboard. In fact, the lack of that electronic abomination added to the experience.

Ricketts’ plan to build the huge scoreboard has angered homeowners in the Wrigley neighborhood. The scoreboard would block the view from many of the rooftops beyond the left field wall.

Is there anything more inherently American than watching a baseball game from those rooftops? Does Ricketts’ understand how iconic that is?

The simple things that used to make American life so rich are disappearing rapidly. Some things deserve to be saved, if nothing else, just for the sake of simplicity.

Wrigley Field is one of them.

Finally, if Mr. Ricketts wants to make Wrigley Field more attractive, here’s a novel suggestion — put a winning team on the field.

LES WINKELER is the sports editor for The Southern Illinoisan. Contact him at les.winkeler@thesouthern.com, or call 618-351-5088.

(1) comment


Right on, Les!

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