By Dave Wischnowsky –
(CBS) Every season since 1916, the Cubs have played their baseball at the corner of Clark & Addison on Chicago’s North Side.
But if the rumors that swept through the Windy City on Monday evening are true, come 2013, we might see them migrate south from Wrigley Field and spend their summer at the corner of 35th & Shields.
Where they’d play their home games at – gasp! – U.S. Cellular Field.
Here on Valentine’s Day, can’t you just feel the love for that notion, Chicago?
On Monday, NBC 5 was the first to report that the word circulating among workers at U.S. Cellular is the ballpark should expect to enjoy a much busier season in 2013 – and not because White Sox fans are supposed to suddenly start packing the place.
Rather, according to NBC’s sources, the Cubs are considering spending a full season on the South Side while Wrigley gets a complete gut rehab. The Cubs’ brass promptly denied the reports – sort of – with Ricketts family spokesman Dennis Culloton saying, “I have never heard of a done deal of moving home games to the Cell.”
Note that Culloton didn’t say that he’d never heard of such a deal, but rather that he’s yet to hear of a “done deal”.
I think we can all read between the foul lines on that statement.
In any case, if the Cubs do end up playing the 2013 season at the Cell, they won’t be the first MLB team to spend a prolonged period playing home games at their intercity rival’s ballpark.
Almost 40 years ago, the New York Yankees vacated the “House that Ruth Built” as Yankee Stadium received a complete overhaul. The reconstruction there was so extensive, in fact, that for both the 1974 and 1975 seasons, the Bronx Bombers settled down in Queens and played all their home games at the Mets’ Shea Stadium.
The Yankees’ two years in exile were for the most part forgettable as the team went 89-73 in ’74 and finished in second place in the American League East before slipping to an 83-77 record and third-place finish in ’75.
Once the Yankees moved back into the refurbished Yankee Stadium, however, the team suddenly recaptured its old Murderers’ Row mojo and reached each of the next three World Series, winning back-to-back titles in ’77 and ’78.
So, considering how new Cubs president/sorceror Theo Epstein has, you know, already managed to rid the NL Central of Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder and Tony LaRussa in just one offseason, might this rumored move to “The Cell” simply be part of his master curse-busting plan for the Cubs?
Well, whether it is or is not, if the Cubs are indeed planning on spending a full season away from Wrigley, they had better do it soon. Because, from all accounts, the timeline that Theo & Co. have laid out for the Cubs’ rebuilding is expected to ripen into championship contention by 2014 or 2015.
And I can imagine very few scenarios more rotten – or, at the very least, bittersweet – for Cubs fans than to see the franchise finally put together a championship team, only to see the North Siders end up winning the World Series on the South Side.
At the home of the archrival White Sox.
Actually, really, the more you think about, there’s nothing that would be more “Cub” than that.
If nothing else, Dave Wischnowsky is an Illinois boy. Raised in Bourbonnais, educated at the University of Illinois and bred on sports in the Land of Lincoln, he now resides on Chicago’s North Side, just blocks from Wrigley Field. Formerly a reporter and blogger for the Chicago Tribune, Dave currently writes a syndicated column, The Wisch List, which you can check out via his blog at http://www.wischlist.com. Follow him on Twitter @wischlist and read more of his CBS Chicago blog entries here.