The Wrigley Field grounds crew will not have to remove any of the folding chairs from the outfield following two hugely successful shows performed by Sir Paul McCartney July 31 and Aug. 1. The Cubs not only decided to leave the chairs where they are, but also to categorize them as the Bud Light Bleachers for the rest of the season. The decision is not only financially based as the Cubs will save on overtime pay to the grounds crew, but also on the realistic impression of a Cubs team that can’t hit the ball out of the infield anyway.
“It is left to the discretion of each fan to turn his or her chair around and watch the game, if that is what he or she really wants to do,” said Cubs owner Tom Ricketts. “And we have the approval of the commissioner’s office and the umpires’ union who will be changing the rules accordingly.”
Several impromptu ground rules have been added that apply only to Wrigley Field, much like the rule of the outfielder holding his hands up when a ball is lost in the ivy. The ivy will not be a factor since it was removed when Wrigley was tricked out for the McCartney concerts.
“If a Cub should happen to get a hold of one when the wind is blowing out and it lands in the front row of the bleachers behind second base, it will be a ground rule home run,” said NL umpire DJ Vanable, who will call balls and strikes Aug. 5 when the Cubs host the Reds.
While the opponents are at bat, the Cubs will take the outfield as usual despite the inconvenience of 10,000 folding chairs and up to 3,000 fans in their way.
“This is not a hardship for our club,” Ricketts said. “Our outfielders don’t have any range and can’t hit the cutoff man to save their life.”
With this in mind, the Cubs will be allowed to utilize fans in the bleachers to catch opponents’ fly balls for outs and make throws to nail runners or hold them up, despite complaints by the Reds that a random fan sitting in the bleachers can make a better throw than a Cubs outfielder. The Reds quieted down when they realized that any fly ball they hit off a Cubs pitcher is likely to land on Sheffield or Waveland Avenues, particularly when Jay Bruce or Joey Votto is at bat.
As the band stage is also being left as is, the Lowery organ has already been moved there and organist Gary Pressy will acquire instant spotlight status. Pressy says he has lined up Slash from Guns N Roses and The Edge from U2 to join him during “Charge!” on Saturday. Leftover pyrotechnics and fireworks will be set off if the Cubs should ever take a brief lead for half an inning and Pressy will delight the fans with “Live and Let Die.”
By Rob C. Christiansen