Sometimes as nicely as you'd like to put things it is hard to maintain a professional, calm and reserved style when communicating about it. When Reds announcers and many others described Shea stadium as "a dump" when it was limping in the direction of euthanasia, I knew what they meant but didn't agree that it was that terrible.
Sure, it was made of drab concrete and was outclassed by many stadiums built after it. Still, it had a lot of charm to me since I once saw Doc Gooden pitch against Nolan Ryan one hot summer day there. I also saw Kevin McReynolds rob a home run. Memories account for a lot of how you feel about some things, and I suppose stadiums are one of them.
Aside from memories, Shea was once a modern stadium, and it was put out of its slowly decaying misery before it really could be classified as a Major League Dump.
Whilst attending a Cubs game at Wrigley Field a few days ago, I could not figure out why some brilliant Chicagoan doesn't sketch out a new stadium and put enough TNT into Wrigley to send it brick chunks to Gary, Indiana.
I've heard Wrigley referred to as "The Friendly Confines." To me, it was sort of like showing up uninvited to an Ohio State Frat Party. Aside from the ticket taker, the people I came into contact there were surly and acted as if they were trying to fulfill the void in their lives left by never actually becoming a police officer.
Fast forward to the middle of the fifth inning. Anybody who has been to the dilapidated sardine box known as Wrigley Field is aware of the lack of bathrooms. Finding one takes a while, and waiting through the line to get in is no good at all. The bathrooms look like something out of a World War I movie ... and I was more than mildly disturbed by the man sneakily standing by the weiner trough, or whatever you'd like to call it, with his phone out. People have camera phones nowadays you know.
After leaving the men's room, I attempted to walk further down the third base line (upper deck) to accompany my lady to the women's room. At this point an usher advanced quickly toward me and asked if I had a ticket. I understand him doing this if it were early on in the game or if someone was standing in the aisle aimlessly. But if you are walking down the terribly narrow concourse to get to a bathroom, you shouldn't be stopped.
After checking my ticket, I turned to continue following my girl in the direction of the women's room. At this point he reached out and touched my arm, as if he was going to stop and further harangue me. I turned around and told him I was headed to the other bathroom ... and thought of how many other things I could've/should've said, most of which would have resulted in an ejection. For an usher to touch a paying fan at a game is not only unprofessional, I'm reasonably sure it's not in their job description.
At this point I decided we were done getting bumped into and aggravated by fans and team staff alike. I was also pretty sure I didn't want to spend another $6 for a 12-ounce cup of some foamy domestic beer poured from a tap last cleaned when black and white people had different privileges as Americans.
Marty Brennaman took some heat when he watched Cubs fans throwing souvenir giveaways onto the field, delaying the game. I think he said something to the effect of "this is why nobody likes Cubs fans." I now totally understand and hope he unapologizes, if he ever did apologize for saying so.
Upon leaving the stadium, I felt like I was at the Swap Meet. The same classy street merchandisers who up until recently sold a shirt with an inappropriate, racist print on it regarding Kosuke Fukudome have now outdone themselves with a new, dumber shirt: blue tees with an outline of a man pushing a lawnmower reading "Albert Mows My Lawn."
Not sure what that means but I know it's not true. What Albert Pujols does, in fact, is wake up every day as the best player the game knows today. Pujols then goes to the park and mashes a few extra-base hits and/or home runs. Upon returning from the park I bet Pujols also finds time to look at his World Series ring and maybe watch the jewels in it twinkle.
The Cubs are not "Lovable Losers" and a large swath of their fans act like Blakes and Tylers from the local frat party's drinking team. I never really cared much before descending into the belly of the beast, but now I'm glad the Cubs haven't won a World Series since 1908.
There's no point in addressing how out-of-control drunk, unneccessarily loud and annoying many Cubs fans are when they come visit Cincinnati and GABP. Instead, the next time they come down and try to butcher the lyrics to "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," remind them that they aren't in some outdated outdoor bar.
I have been to many stadiums, including Olympic Stadium during the final year it was opened, and Fenway Park. Never before have I encountered such an overcrowded, discourteous and overpriced combination of settings.
I still love baseball though.
Image: A Cubs fan proving to the world how big a dickhead he is.