Jim O'Donnell: Weak Cubs-Reds game could turn Fox/MLB cornfield dream into a nightmare

  • White Sox players walk on the field before playing the New York Yankees in Dyersville, Iowa.

    White Sox players walk on the field before playing the New York Yankees in Dyersville, Iowa. Associated Press/Aug. 12, 2021

Updated 8/10/2022 1:56 PM

THE WONDERFUL THING ABOUT bad baseball is that it's easily recognizable as bad baseball.

A Casey Stengel or a Bob Uecker might milk baselines of laughter out of it.


Instead, Thursday night, Major League Baseball and Fox Sports will wind it up again on a chopped-up piece of Iowa farmland and solemnly present "Field of Dreams II."

The telecast, the event and the diluted redux all reek of profit pandering in the first degree.

Since 2.0 will feature the hapless Cubs and hopeless Cincinnati, a more appropriate title might be "Field of Dregs."

It's the type of barn dance diamondeering that should come with a warning from the U.S. Surgeon General -- and the Better Baseball Bureau.

LAST SUMMER'S WHITE SOX-YANKEES INAUGURAL, with Tim Anderson larruping a walk-off winner that kept even Tony La Russa up and at 'em, drew close to 6 million viewers.

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Which also means that approximately 350 million Americans had something better to do.

If Thursday's "Snoozer in the 'Stalks" draws 6 million, it'll be a telling statement on national disinterest in such compelling alternatives as summertime xBox, beach book discussion groups and vacuum cleaning after dark.

As a national attraction, the Cubs are proof negative of what can happen when a band of reactionary out-of-towners hire a sharp baseball man, back into a World Series championship and then apparently feel entitled to forevermore rake in profits from one of the top urban sports tourist traps on the planet.

LOST IN THE HOARY FOG about the cornfield cobbler is the fact that the Dyersville, Iowa, site is on target to evolve into one of the most heavily promoted amateur baseball complexes in America.

Last September, all-time Sox great Frank Thomas announced that he and a cadre of others had purchased the land and all other significant interests forward involving the primary filming locale of the 1989 Kevin Costner baseball movie.


The fact that that Thomas' This Is Heaven LLC is replete with investors friendly to White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf is mere trivial footnote.

"This place is magical, man," Thomas has said.

Probably, most of the time, if a visitor comes with deep imagination and a deeper wallet.

Just not when MLB and Fox Sports are presenting some bad, bad baseball.


The farewell-to-tennis essay of Serena Williams in the new edition of Vogue is both fluidly textured and enlightening. It is must reading for any New Sports Male (trying to lose his scratch-and-sniff ways.). And her choice of channel refreshingly energizes "old school." ...

News that ESPN has dropped out of the pack chasing Big Ten football rights simply underscores the fact that competitively, the conference is Grade-B prime at best. A national championship more frequently than every decade or so might help. Last to turn the trick was Urban Meyer and Ohio State in 2014; last non-Buckeyes titlists were Lloyd Carr, Charles Woodson and Michigan in 1997. ...

Slipping into darkness, the Bears have been punched from 2 ½-point favorites to 3 ½ over visiting Kansas City on Saturday. Anyone betting this exhibition albatross may want to take a long look at Lori Lightfoot over or under 17½% in next winter's Chicago Democratic mayoral primary. (Willie Wilson reportedly has the under.) ...

Adam Amin will again team with Mark Schlereth on Fox's No. 3 NFL team. As a play-by-play voice, that puts the West suburban Addison native behind Kevin Burkhardt and gabby Joe Davis but ahead of Kenny Albert, Kevin Kugler and Chris Myers. (Troubling Q.: If his name were "Adam Smith," would Amin be No. 2?) ...

Li'l Tommy Edwards -- the career radio diplomat who took "Sirius" and made Michael Jordan pregame introductions iconic -- is back from his stately California manor for a Sunday afternoon appearance at The Des Plaines Theatre. (Wendy Snyder, in association with the Museum of Broadcast Communications, hosts; full info at the theatre and MBC websites.) ...

Among the items up for auction in round one of the Churchill Downs Inc. / Arlington Park desecration was a pair of used crutches. Opening bid price: 70 cents. (Unconfirmed rumors that Bunker Bill Carstanjen and his Kentucky rummage salers were also trying to get old gauze from the jockeys room on the block.) ...

And masterful Sally Jenkins, summoning her inner Sally Field to agree with the federal court decision excluding LIV golfers Talor Gooch, Matt Jones and Hudson Swafford from the FedEx Cup playoffs: "Norma Raes in gabardine, they are not."

Jim O'Donnell's Sports and Media column appears Thursday and Sunday. Reach him at jimodonnelldh@yahoo.com.

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