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JumboTron much better than getting new Wrigley


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Since 1946, the Chicago Cubs have averaged one winning season per every 3.6 years, and a playoff berth one in every 11.3.

Not good.

Thank goodness we have the rooftop gang at Wrigley Field to keep us entertained while yet another Northside team scrambles to not finish in the basement of the National League Central.

As you’ve heard, professional baseball’s most huggable franchise has decided to join the 20th century — 14 years too late, mind you — by installing a JumboTron the size of Joliet directly above the left field ivy. A smaller scoreboard will go up in right field.

Those noises you hear are the late Jack Brickhouse yelling, “Hey, Hey” as a means of caution, not celebration.

Likewise, the individuals making up the Wrigley Field Rooftop Club, a full-fledged business operation offering Cubs fans unique views of game action without actually ever entering the facility.

Arguments against the scoreboards are many. Foremost are the rooftoppers’ obstructed views of the legendary ballpark and how the boards’ flickering lights during night games could distract the businesses and residents of Wrigleyville.

Legitimate concerns. Now ponder the alternative.

New scoreboards guaranteed to haul in big advertising bucks don’t go up. Cubs ownership elects to ditch Wrigley Field for good and build a cookie-cutter stadium entirely void of history and imagination somewhere in the suburbs. Meanwhile, an iconic ballpark is left to sit and slowly rot, eventually becoming such a community eyesore that bulldozers and wrecking balls are brought to ensure its removal.

Oh, it can happen.

Think old-timers in downtown Detroit liked driving by weed-infested Tiger Stadium the 10 years it sat vacant before finally being reduced to rubble? Some of those folks spent a portion of their childhoods and even experienced first dates there.

And don’t even get native Brooklynites started about Ebbets Field, demolished almost 29 months to the day after the Dodgers’ final game there in September 1957.

One of baseball’s unwritten rules is that legendary baseball grounds in this country aren’t supposed to die. Some do. If Ebbets Field and the original Yankee Stadium can be torn down, so can Wrigley Field.

I remember attending a Chicago White Sox home game in 1991, the first summer of the “new” Comiskey Park, now known as U.S. Cellular Field. More entertaining than the game against the A’s was the destruction going on next door, an 80-year-old staple of Southside Chicago being brought to its knees.

Watching work crews systematically pick apart the original Comiskey Park, a place I had never set foot in, proved incredibly depressing. And I’m not even a White Sox fan, much less from Chicago.

In time, new scoreboards, like lights, will be viewed as a good thing for Wrigley Field, the way modern tinkering to Boston’s Fenway Park has. Seriously, if Bucky Dent hits that same home run today, it’s knocking over someone’s beverage.

To quote Brickhouse’s successor, “It might be ... it could be ... it is.”

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