It has been pointed out by reader(s) that TMGcollegesports.com has slowed to a crawl. We assure you that, when young amateur men led by multi-million-dollar coaches (who are decidedly not amateurs) return to the gridiron, we shall, too.
In the meantime, the Cubs have opened a six-story, 125,000 square-foot office building adjacent to Wrigley Field.
It appears that the building is right where I used to park when I was a weekend Cub warrior during the Frey-Zimmer era.
That’s one of many reasons I did not pursue a career as a baseball writer. Others include 16-inning games and labyrinthian clubhouses where reluctant-to-talk ballplayers could hide.
Did you know. . . you can often find signs that say “Zimmer Frei’’ in Austria and other Teutonic locales? I noticed this on a ski trip, and thought, “Wow! There really are Cub fans everywhere.’’ I found out later that the phrase means “room available.’’
But I digress.
The Cubs’ march to their proper place among the dominant powers in the Major Leagues continues.
They have an office building.
It started with lights and a handful of night games. Then came a steady flow of night games. Billy Joel concerts. Then $10 beers. And finally, a World Series championship.
We’re talking Progress. With a capital P.
I, for one, am not concerned by the Cubs’ undistinguished start to the 2017 season. I never expected a second straight championship, although I did not then, and do not now, rule it out.
The key thing is, these Cubs are interesting in an anything-is-possible kind of way.
Longtime Cub fans will tell you that “interesting’’ has long been the measure of a good season. If they couldn’t win—and for a long time, they couldn’t—at least hit some home runs. At least have Adolfo Phillips do a mattress ad, and then go on the disabled list with a bad back. At least have Jose Cardenal complain that he was in a slump because a cricket was keeping him awake at night. At least have Larry Biittner lose the blooper in his hat after the failed diving catch.
At least have a wonderful string of closers like Lindy McDaniel, Phil Regan, Dick Radatz and Bruce Sutter, even though there often was nothing to close.
At least bring up some sure-fire prospects like Lou Brock and Oscar Gamble before trading them for washed-up pitching—or quick fixes.
But most of all, always have beautiful Wrigley Field.
I was fortunate to be a free-agent signee of the Cubs in 1969-71 for a three-year stint as a vendor and part-time groundskeeper.
That job had more best parts than you can name.
You were out in the fresh air. You could make an impressive amount of money for college. You saw a ballgame, especially the last three innings, when the vending was winding down and the groundskeeping had not yet begun.
As part-time groundskeepers, we cleaned the upper deck after the game, and tidied up the bleachers the following morning before the game.
In other words, unlike the Cubs, we always swept the series.
We did not have those unbelievably annoying blowers, which may be great for cleaning a ballpark but are brutal on your ears and your piece of mind.
There was no sweeter moment to reflect on life than when you were knocking Coke cups and peanut shells down the row in the upper deck, stealing glances at the ballpark in the shadows and the sailboats on Lake Michigan over the right-field wall.
We needed to be calm, because at the end of the day, we would sweep the concourse under the stern eye of head groundskeeper Pete Marcantonio.
For this task, we traded in our little kitchen brooms for long, heavy push brooms. Because it was generally windy around the stairways, Pete required us to coordinate our sweeping.
Invariably, he was disgusted by our incompetence. He would grab a broom and show us the proper way to grip the broom and swing through the wind-blown piles of wrappers and beer cups.
Many part-time groundskeepers did not take good care of their little upper-deck brooms. Because Pete became even more disgusted with fellows like that, we took to marking our brooms, so we could make them last, and not incur Mr. Marcantonio’s wrath by requesting a new broom too often.
The Cubs didn’t have a big budget for brooms in those days.
When I did require a new broom, I approached his work-bench respectfully.
Cardboard boxes with beloved new brooms leaned against the workbench, which was laden with tools, just like the workbench in your handy neighbor’s basement.
Above Pete’s bench, there was a nail bearing a stack of Cubs’ pocket schedules. I once stole a glance at them. They went back to 1941 or something like that. To a 1970 high-school kid, that was like going back to the Civil War.
The area that contained Pete’s is now a concession stand, I believe. That concourse we swept nervously so many years ago now is much more inviting. It has little retro features. It is also much smaller, thanks to the explosion of new concessions stands.
But it is a friendly confine.
And the Cubs have a 125,000-square-foot office building.
And now, we pause for this commercial message: If you are a TMG subscriber, thank you! And please tell your friends about us. . . . If you aren’t, please go push the $19.95 button. That’s like buying us a round of beers in exchange for a a whole annum of occasionally interesting sportswriting. Cheers!