Chicago Tribune Phil Rogers column
Mar 22, 2013 (Chicago Tribune - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Go ahead. Get the tar and feathers.
Or I'll stack the wood and bring the matches.
Not being a Chicagoan by birth, I know I should just stay away from your sentimentality. If you think ketchup on a hot dog is an act of subversion, so be it. I'm not going to try to change your mind (although ketchup is a tasty condiment, even on hot dogs).
But I'm weird in a way that's really not that weird. I like scoreboards that, you know, actually tell you the score of the game. When something in my house is outdated, I generally replace it.
If the Cubs wanted to do that with the 76-year-old center-field scoreboard -- yes, the iconic scoreboard -- here's what I would say: What took you so long
I am not surprised in the least that there has been talk about that scoreboard this week. A couple of weeks after President Theo Epstein was hired, here's a quote I used from an unnamed general manager about the changes coming for the organization.
"I wouldn't look for that old scoreboard to be sitting on top of the center-field bleachers for many more years," he said. "There's $20 million (per year) sitting up there if they put a giant Jumbotron up. I know people are attached to tradition, to that scoreboard, but is taking it down any bigger change than putting seats on top of the Green Monster
"People in Boston went nuts when they were talking about closing off Yawkey Way. But now it's a part of Fenway Park. Everybody enjoys it and the Red Sox make so much money from those things. It helps the team compete."
Oh, did he say $20 million per year I believe he did.
You know what $20 million a year will buy you in the free-agent market Maybe Robinson Cano after 2013. Maybe Justin Verlander after 2014. Or maybe Epstein finds a way to trade for David Price, who seems likely to hit free agency after '15.
You tell me: What would you rather have, a team that honors its architecture or a contender that is in position to grab top free agents when they come onto the market
Most Cub fans want both, of course, and ideally they could have it. But to bring Wrigley into the modern era, both as a place to watch baseball and a facility that captures the available revenue streams, you're going to have to make some compromises.
I don't believe the center-field scoreboard will become a major issue. Chairman Tom Ricketts and Epstein value it as highly as the traditionalists in their fan base do, despite the reports that Chicago Ald. Tom Tunney and the Cubs have discussed replacing it with a video board.
The team believes it can accomplish its video boards needs with a screen located at the back of the left-field bleachers, and hopes it can find a way to get approval for one before the team's April 1 deadline. Landmark status would make it really tough to change the scoreboard, if the team wanted to. But if it was up to me, major changes to the center-field scoreboard would be in play.
I would find out if there's a way to keep the exterior of the monster intact and replace the guts with the digital works for a giant replay screen and modern scoreboard. If it is too delicate for such a reconstruction, I would build a replica that keeps the exact same dimensions and exterior that houses a video board.
As for the old board, it would look great at Doubleday Field in Cooperstown or some other acreage belonging to the Hall of Fame.
We should honor history, always. We shouldn't be bound by it.
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