Cubs building things worth waiting for
It might be too easy to strike a comparison between the Cubs' renovation of Wrigley Field and their rebuild of the baseball team, but it fits.
Let's just say the two are on parallel tracks toward sustained success, to use one of the buzz phrases baseball president Theo Epstein and his foreman, general manager Jed Hoyer, brought to town in 2011. Nowadays, the two are able to joke that reporters and fans are sick of hearing it.
In walking around Wrigley Field last week during a hard-hat media tour, it was difficult not to get the same feeling one could easily have gotten at times during the 2012 baseball season: This thing is never going to get done.
While tiptoeing around the steel beyond left field, it wasn't a stretch to think of such 2012 luminaries as Justin Germano and Jason Berken. In trying not to cough from the dust in the gutted concourse, it was easy to conjure up thoughts of Miguel Socolovich and Alex Hinshaw, two others who made at least an appearance for the 2012 Cubs.
But you know what? As awful as it was to watch the 2012 Cubs -- it got only a little better in 2013 before becoming somewhat palatable in 2014 -- it was hard to get all up in arms over how bad that team was on the field.
In the same way, I didn't get some of the fuss that was made last week when the Cubs said the left-field bleachers won't be ready until early May followed by the right-field bleachers sometime in June. Of course, both of those delivery dates depend on things going just right between now and then.
In other words, you have to take the long view when it comes to the team and to the 100-year-old ballpark.
The rebuilding job undertaken by Epstein and Hoyer was a massive one, and it's not until just now that they're able to peer up over the figurative piles of wreckage they inherited.
Similarly, this Wrigley Field renovation or reconstruction or whatever you want to call it is a huge job, and like the baseball team, the end result figures to be well worth the wait, with a sparkling new baseball team ready to take the field in a sparkling new-old ballpark with modern comforts for fans.
That's not to say the Cubs haven't made some missteps along the way. We're talking about the ballpark now, not about Edwin Jackson or Ian Stewart. (See, the parallels never end.)
Given Chicago's winter weather, unforeseen problems such as water mains and the fact that Wrigley Field is 101 years old, it wasn't the wisest thing to come out and announce that everything for the first phase of the four-year project would be done by Opening Day.
Cubs business president Crane Kenney should have taken a page from Epstein's management manual and said, "We'll hope for the best, but progress isn't always linear." Those who love everything Epstein ate that "linear" stuff up.
Kenney and team chairman Tom Ricketts also have come under criticism for not shutting the joint down completely and playing a season or two at U.S. Cellular Field, Miller Park or some combination of the two.
I'm not so sure about that one. The idea of the Cubs playing home games in the White Sox' park doesn't seem right, and asking fans to trek 90-plus miles to Milwaukee on a Tuesday night is a little much, even though they would get a nice sneak preview of what life would be like with big-screen videoboards at both the Cell and at Miller.
If you're a Cubs fan, don't you want Kris Bryant and Addison Russell making their home debuts in Wrigley Field, even a Wrigley Field under construction?
That said, it might be necessary to play the first three games of this season somewhere other than Wrigley Field, buying another week of time.
Epstein, Hoyer, Ricketts and Kenney all went into their rebuilding projects with good intentions, with the promise of the end result looking pretty spiffy.
If both turn out that way, fans will forget that Berken and Germano and Socolovich ever played for the Cubs. And they'll have forgotten about all that dust and all that steel lying around a month before Opening Day.
In the meantime, just watch where you step and maybe bring that hard hat.