Imrem: For Cubs, it's back to the future with The Board

  • With The Board standing proudly in left field with not a bleacher fan to be found Sunday night, players line up for the opening of the 2015 baseball season at Wrigley Field.

    With The Board standing proudly in left field with not a bleacher fan to be found Sunday night, players line up for the opening of the 2015 baseball season at Wrigley Field. Daniel White | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 4/5/2015 11:30 PM

Sunday night's Cubs' season opener will forever be remembered as The Board Game.

No, not Monopoly.

 

This was at the intersection of Clark and Addison, not Boardwalk and Park Place.

For the first time in its 101-year history, Wrigley Field has a huge screen overlooking the action on the field.

Relax, all you traditionalists.

It's fine.

If anything in the park was ugly it was the Cubs, who lost 3-0 to the Cardinals and looked all too familiarly futile doing so.

But it's only one game, as is often pointed out, and regardless the new board was a neat distraction.

No, it isn't perfect, which is the word Cubs' president of baseball operations used. Nor is it "spectacular" as new manager Joe Maddon called it or "incredible" as third baseman Mike Olt said.

It isn't a supermodel, fellas. Supermodels tend to be perfect, spectacular and incredible. This is a videoboard. Videoboards tend to be nice additions, not main attractions.

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For the Cubs this is so overdue that it's more a leap into the 20th century than the 21st. It isn't as historic as Wrigley Field's first night game in 1988, but it still was eventful.

To be honest, I was on the field a few minutes before even noticing that it was there because it blended in so naturally. Or maybe it's only natural for there to be a videoboard at a sporting event.

If longtime Wrigley Field regulars don't like the feel of their vintage park being updated, here's what they should do.

Drive away in a car without power steering. Remove the window air conditioner at home. Dump it in the backyard next to the outhouse. Find a tape of a game between the St. Louis Browns and Philadelphia A's and insert it into a VCR. Pop open a Meister Brau. Find a phone booth. Rotary dial friends to come over and join you.

A videoboard -- in this case simply The Board -- isn't a luxury anymore. A sports venue without one is like a kitchen without a microwave.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The Board showed pictures of the batter and the hitter, their statistics, the pitch velocity, the pitch type, the pitch count, the on-deck batters and other basic information.

Believe it or not, Wrigley Field didn't collapse in a heap of steel and concrete just because The Board debuted.

Video ads weren't obtrusive. The bank on top and the paint store, sauces, seasonings, liquor, hot dogs, insurance and other sponsors just sort of were there to the side, that's all, nothing more, nothing less, just there to the side.

Overall this was a night to merge past and present.

New: The Board. Old; Wrigley Field. New: Maddon and pitcher Jon Lester drew big cheers in pregame introductions. Old: A tribute to the late Ernie Banks. New: The bleachers under construction. Old: The manual scoreboard in center field.

Both new and old: The customary Cubbie oddities of a rabbit running across the field during batting practice and a clergyman sitting in the home dugout wearing a cleric's collar and Cubs cap.

This franchise is playing catch-up with the rest of baseball, trying to inch into modern times on and off the field.

Of course, this being the Cubs, not everyone is buying into the notion that activity is progress. Take the grizzled gentleman sitting in front of his house a half-block from the ballpark four hours before the season even started.

"Front-porch weather," a passer-by said.

"Wait 'til next year," he said without prompting.

Hey, at least Cubs fans have The Board this year.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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