Cubs 'restoration:' Dollars and nonsense

Chicago Tribune sports columnist Steve Rosenbloom on Cubs' owner Tom Ricketts' latest renovation plans for Wrigley Field. (Posted on: May 1, 2013)

Whose turn was it to watch Crane Kenney?

C’mon, Ricketts kids, fess up. Someone has to take the blame here. Who failed to make sure Kenney was sent to his room without dessert and stayed there?

Because Kenney got loose Tuesday and couldn’t wait to say something dumb about the Cubs’ renovation plan for Wrigley Field.

Renovation is the operative word here. Ricketts has been calling it a renovation. Ricketts presented a vague outline of his $500 million renovation plan recently because Wrigley is old and needs to be fixed, rehabbed, renovated.

But all of a sudden, Kenney started calling it a “restoration.’’ As the Cubs released drawings of the proposed renovation detailed in the Tribune, Kenney was quoted as saying, “This is a historic restoration. This is not a renovation. This is not trying to make Wrigley new. It’s actually trying to make Wrigley old.’’

I don’t know if Kenney is playing Cubs fans, Lakeview neighbors and politicians for stupid, but this approach is making his employer look dumb. Ricketts has done enough of that himself already, thank you. He doesn’t need a minion popping off with talk that sounds like he’s trying to pull a fast one.

Look, it’s about revenue. All about the revenue. No. 1 Rule in Life: Follow the Money. That’s the deal here. Just leave it at that.

The drawings of the Wrigley renovation plans look wonderful. I found the renovation plans exciting. I believe the renovation plans will create a new, greater experience. But it’s about the money, everybody knows it, so stop talking like you’re running a Three-card Monte scam on the corner of Clark and Addison.

This might sound like nitpicking --- it’s just a word --- but the words are crucial to selling a campaign.

Ricketts repeated the renovation theme since this movement got started with that stumbling press conference where the billionaire’s kid asked for several hundred million dollars from the city. Renovation, renovation, renovation.

It began to sell when Ricketts offered the right to spend his own money. He’s trying to fix his business, even if he sounded like a docent. Ricketts gained traction, especially the mayor’s support, judging by the way the alderman suddenly abandoned his financial angels along the rooftops.

Now Kenney is trying to shovel this “restoration’’ stuff. Yeah, nothing says old-time baseball like a 6,000-square foot video screen.

Remember when grandma and grandpa watched hi-def replays of Tinkers to Evers to Chance?

And who could forget Gabby Hartnett’s “Homer into the LED ribbon board’’?

This brings me to a point that’s bigger than the one atop Kenney’s head:

Stop this blather about saving the baseball tradition of Wrigley.

In fact, stop this talk of baseball tradition altogether. I’m sick of that. It doesn’t exist today.

I know that Ricketts means well, but sorry, he sounds silly talking about tradition as he goes about proposing renovation plans to ruin some of the tradition of Wrigley.

It’s not that the Cubs don’t need an improved park with massive new revenue streams, but the cascade of cash doesn’t happen without affecting tradition.

Ricketts talked about tradition, and here comes a 6,000-square foot video screen more than twice the size of the historic scoreboard.

From the left-field corner to the right-field corner, the Wrigley renovation plans call for six LED ribbon boards in addition to the massive video board. “Tradition’’ will now look like a pinball machine, especially with $52 million Edwin Jackson pitching.

Ricketts can talk about tradition all he wants, but it’s crock. Same goes for everyone regarding Wrigley. Same goes for everyone in baseball.

Yankee Stadium is the most famous stadium in baseball history, but the franchise with the greatest tradition built a new one. Ballgame.

I mean, have you looked around the majors?

Baseball games are played with a flagpole sitting on a hill in play in center field.

Baseball games are played on fake grass.

Baseball games are played with a fake player in the American League lineups but not in the National League.

Baseball games are played indoors and at night.

Almost every game is played at night, except in Wrigley, where the tradition-loving owner is negotiating to lose as much of the tradition of day games as possible.

Face it, tradition is convenient and huggable until you can make more money by ruining it.

Talk straight. And send Kenney straight to his room.

CHICAGO

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