Bud Selig’s grand experiment of 15 teams in each league and interleague play every day means a lot of “off-day” stories are going to come out like that of the Star-Telegram’s Jeff Wilson on Monday.
Usually these are pretty cookie-cutter. Since we’re getting matchups this year we rarely have seen in the past, you’ll basically get a bunch of quotes from Player X about how neat it is to play in Stadium Y.
Tuesday the Rangers visited Chicago’s Wrigley Field for the first time since 2002. The 99-year-old baseball landmark is the process of finalizing approval for a massive $500 million dollar facelift. (Fingers crossed they avoid the temptation to add a water slide in center field.) In turn, Wilson’s story had the usual platitudes from young players about how cool it is to play in the historic park.
Veteran DH Lance Berkman was getting in on the love-fest.
“If they’re looking for a guy to push the button when they blow the place up, I’ll do it,” he said.
Berkman certainly has enough experience playing at Wrigley to form a factually-based opinion on the place, having spent the bulk of his career in the National League Central.
Most of Berkman’s ire about Wrigley is due to its antiquated facilities since ballparks built in the 1910s — shocker — didn’t include indoor batting cages for pinch hitters to warm up. The early-season cold weather whipping off Lake Michigan probably doesn’t help. (His .215/.355/.732 line in 289 at bats could be a reason behind his dislike of the park, too.)
People like to talk about “charm” and “history” when it comes to ballparks. That idea of charm is, apparently, a little different for a guy sipping on a Bud Light eating a hot dog in the bleachers compared to a veteran ballplayer like Berkman who needs his room to stretch in the dugout, darn it!