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Posted: Tuesday June 27, 2000 05:03 PM

Tear Down Wrigley!  

It's time the Cubs made the supreme sacrifice for a Series

By Mark Mravic

Sports Illustrated

They pour into Wrigley Field every year, more than two million strong -- Kiwanis clubs from the Quad Cities, frat buddies from Lincoln Park, businessmen from Loop offices, families from Arlington Heights and Oak Forest, baseball purists and tourists from around the world. The fans pack Wrigley on hot summer days and nights to quaff Old Style, regale one another with Harry Caray stories, check out the action in the stands. At these big, happy outdoor parties, it hardly matters whether the beloved Cubbies win or lose. Which is precisely why Wrigley Field must go.

This Sammy Sosa trade business is the last straw. It tells you all you need to know about why the Cubs will never win a World Series at Wrigley. Sosa, a 60-home-run man, wants to be one of the highest-paid players in the game, wants to know he's loved. He'll never get that love from the Cubs, for the same reason big-market Chicago didn't do everything in its power to keep Greg Maddux, and the same reason the Cubs never make a play for guys like Kevin Brown or Ken Griffey Jr. The Cubs don't need Sosa, Brown or Griffey. Year after mediocre year Wrigley fills up with fans.

All over baseball, teams looking to change their fortunes are tearing down old parks. Unlike Cincinnati, Milwaukee or Pittsburgh, though, Chicago already generates revenue with an appealing, quirky throwback venue. What the Cubs need is a change of heart, a karmic conversion, a blood sacrifice. Preservationists may shudder at the idea of a wrecking ball smashing Wrigley's famously ivied walls. But what is really preserved at Wrigley other than a nearly centurylong tradition of haplessness? Their environs are a national landmark, but the Cubs themselves are a national laughingstock.

It's unrealistic to ask fans simply not to show up; rationalists have been making that plea for years, to no avail. The Wrigley siren is too tempting. Tribune Company, which owns the Cubs, must wean itself from its cash cow. No Cubs fan should be content until ownership puts a decent product on the field, and that will happen only when Wrigley lies in smoldering ruins and the Cubs are playing in a cold, charmless cement home where nobody wants to linger any longer than they have to.

After all, it worked for the White Sox.

Issue date: July 3, 2000

For more Scorecard see this week's issue of Sports Illustrated, on newsstands Wednesday, June 28. Click here to subscribe to SI.

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