I was talking to a couple from Baltimore, who were among the many
who had traveled to Chicago to see their beloved Orioles play, now that they finally are leading a division late in the season, and will in all likelihood be in the playoffs for the first time in a long time. (They lost Machado yesterday, and Wieters is out, but remember that baseball is probably, of our 4 major American sports, is the one where any one single player matters the least. ) The Faithful of Baseball make their pilgrimages to Fenway and Wrigley, and they ooh and ah over the quaint charm of these places. The truth is that Wrigley is interesting and charming, but it is also a dump. So is Fenway. Going to them once or twice is fine, but once you’ve been to Camden Yards or AT&T Park, they just seem like rusting tourist traps, selling history rather than a good place to watch baseball.
So today my son and I made what has become our annual trip down to the “Friendly Confines”. Because weather prediction is for shit in the summer in this part of the world, we decided to go even though there was a chance of rain. And it did rain. It poured. The floodgates of heaven opened up upon us, and we all made for the concourse under the grandstand.
Then we waited.
After that we waited some more.
And after that we decided to do what most of the spectators did: We left.
And on the way out, the cheerful young woman in her bright blue Cubs polo shirt informed us,
“If you leave, you can’t come back in.”
It seems, then, that the Cubs (and MLB) have an internal monologue that runs like this:
We are not only going to make you wait as long as it is necessary for us to finish the game–and we don’t know how long that is–we are going to make you wait in our ivy -covered but extremely uncomfortable stadium where beer costs $8.00 and a hot dog is over $5.
No, you may not go out of the park to wait in reasonable comfort. We’ve got your money already, and frankly, we’re on a very tight schedule.
So according to the Powers That Be in Major League Baseball, it’s perfectly OK to make 30,000 people wait for an indefinite period of time in a ball park that has no accommodation for it. Even though attendance has dropped by nearly 700,000 over the past 6 years, MLB seems to be using the same strategy that the airline industry uses: We are going to just bluster onward, regardless of how it makes you feel about us.
Next year, we may go to a Cub game when we visit Chicago, but we probably won’t. We’ve seen Wrigley enough, and if I want to flush $100 down the toilet, I can save the trip on CTA.