The 2016 Major League Baseball season has been a remarkable year for the Chicago Cubs. As of the morning of July 7 the Cubs hold an 8.5 game lead in the National League Central Division over the Pittsburgh Pirates. Prior to the start of the season Sports Illustrated predicted the Chicago Cubs make it to the World Series. Next week the Cubs will have seven players represent them in the All-Star Game. The team has struggled of late heading into break and many are watching closely wondering if this is truly the year they end their championship drought.

 

Wrigley Field at 1060 West Addison Street, on the northside of Chicago in the Lakeview neighborhood, is the home ballpark of the Chicago Cubs. The ballpark opened in 1914 and has been the home to the Chicago Cubs since 1916. Wrigley Field is a City of Chicago Landmark and is the 2nd oldest ballpark behind Boston’s Fenway Park which opened in 1912. Wrigley Field’s unique features include an ivy covered brick outfield wall, a hand turned scoreboard, a long open angled fence atop the outfield wall called the basket, unpredictable winds off Lake Michigan, and the iconic marquee. Wrigley Field is located in the heart of a thriving neighborhood and across the street are buildings that predated the stadium. Some of those buildings have built seating on their roofs and they are referred to as the rooftops. Wrigley Field was the last Major League Baseball stadium to install lights for night games and recently added two video boards in the outfield last year.

 

The Chicago Cubs were one of the inaugural teams of the National League in 1876 and won the Pennant that year. Prior to 1945 the franchise was quite successful winning the Pennant 16 times and World Series twice in 1907 and 1908. In 1945 was the team’s last trip to the World Series (the Championship). They came close in 1984 and 2003 but suffered epic meltdowns. In 2007 and 2008 they made the playoffs but were eliminated in the first round both times. Last year was a surprise to many that they made it to the postseason. This time the Cubs won two series before being eliminated in the League Championship Series against the New York Mets.

 

The new ownership of the Chicago Cubs has been aggressive in transforming the team into a consistent contender and improving the ballpark experience for the fans. There have been many changes in and around Wrigley Field since the Ricketts’ family acquired the Cubs in 2009. Theo Epstein was brought in as the President of Baseball Operations and with some payroll flexibility was able to bring some big name talent, sign a high profile successful manager, and strategically make some good trades. The on the field product is amazing for most of this season the Chicago Cubs were the best team in all of baseball. The Wrigley Field renovations however have had drawn controversy. In January 2013 the 1060 Project was unveiled at the annual Chicago Cubs Convention. This 575 million dollar plan calls for improving the structural foundation of Wrigley Field, expansion of bleachers, removal of the bullpens to inside the stadium, new player clubhouses and facilities, concessions, bathrooms, two video boards, a hotel across the ballpark, and an open air plaza with office space and retail among other improvements. In the early months of 2013 the owner of the Chicago Cubs Tom Ricketts threatened to move the team out of Wrigley Field if he was not allowed to continue with his 1060 Project. The Rooftops were against the plan and some have been bought out since. Longtime television home of the Cubs WGN Television airs less and less games and there is a new radio home with a different station. The McDonalds across Wrigley Field is gone and so is the 7-Eleven that were stops before and after games for so many years for fans. There have been many changes for the fans to adjust to.

 

The Chicago Cubs are one of the most beloved teams in all of professional sports and this season has rewarded their fans thus far. At a record of 52-32 there is a lot to celebrate and ponder. A couple years ago there was a commercial made for the video game MLB 12 The Show that realistically captured the excitement of the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series. Maybe art can imitate life this season in Chicago. Cubs Win! CUBS WIN!!

Angel Guzman      

Published by Angel Guzman