I was used to Wrigley Field not having video replay boards.
I was used to a game schedule with many more day games than night games.
I was used to the fact that the National League doesn’t have a designated hitter.
I was used to the Chicago Cubs being a perpetual punchline.
Now that third thing above may or may not change, but I think we can agree that tradition isn’t necessarily what is optimal for a franchise. No, tradition is just what we’ve gotten accustomed to. All the losing. The terrible amenities. Completely Useless By September.
Ever since Tom Ricketts took over the franchise, we’ve seen them rip away at tradition piece by piece. Tradition was that the Cubs couldn’t do anything because they had a contract with the rooftops. Boom! Done. And now the Ricketts Family controls around half the rooftops in the neighborhood. Anno was telling me that the two major signs we’ve been used to, the Budweiser/United/Horseshoe rooftop and the Miller billboard, are now blanked out with numbers to call if you want to advertise behind a Jumbotron. Attendance has been steady even with a third of the bleachers still yet to open, and the team has given hints that it is willing and able to spend past this year’s budget increase.
The new signage isn’t horrible, either, as Josh and I talked about in our last Dreamcast. I always had to check the lineups on my phone or a scorecard, but now one video board lists the lineups and the other shows current pitcher-batter matchup, pitch count, stats and replays. It’s been a great supplement to our already decent in-game experience at Wrigley, but now I don’t have to look overhead to small screens to check for replays, I can actually see it unfold in ultra-high definition on a screen befitting a true major league ballpark. I like that; it’s like the Cubs are starting a whole new tradition.
Back in the day, there were no bleachers, no upper deck, etc. etc. As things gradually change and old, expired traditions are swapped out for new and better ones, we may see things like fewer day games and a more consistent Cubs game schedule, which could in turn usher in a better tradition like actually scoring runs. It takes a while to get enough activation energy to enact a change, but I applaud the efforts by everyone in the organization to give it a go.
The Cubs are currently four games above .500, within shouting distance of the division lead and still holding strong in the wild card race. It’s a little against tradition if you think about it, but this is certainly something we can get used to for years to come.