Chicago Cubs vs. Philadelphia Phillies Preview, Thursday 6/9, 6:05 CT: Another Writer Gets Wrigley Wrong

Kosuke Fukudome of the Chicago Cubs celebrates with manager Mike Quade after the final out of the game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on June 8, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Cubs won 4-1. Just what did Mike say to Kosuke? (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Instead of a regular game preview in this space, I'm going to devote this part of the preview to ripping apart this piece about Wrigley Field, which appeared today on Bill Simmons' new Grantland website.

The writer, Dave Eggers, grew up in the Chicago area and went to the University of Illinois, presumably giving him knowledge of and credibility on this issue. Instead, he continues to promulgate the myth that Wrigley Field is the only thing Cubs fans care about, not about winning. Eggers spent some time on one of the rooftops -- not even inside Wrigley -- and concluded his essay with this:

A bunch of people from Chicago had gathered in one place, and that was 98 percent of the point of it all. I'm sure among the thousands who flowed through the tributaries around the stadium were some who were upset the Cubs hadn't won. I'm sure there are Cubs fans who are interested in the standings, and have been for decades.

But to fill a stadium you need more than that. You need to build and nurture a place that's an actual place. A place that celebrates not just a team but a city — and a city's refusal to plow the past under. Wrigley is the ultimate neighborhood stadium, the ultimate urban stadium, the ultimate statement that some semblance of tradition is more important than the money you could make with a hundred new skyboxes in some spectacularly soulless new stadium (sorry, White Sox). If the place is an actual place, little else matters. Owners should take note of the strange, almost inverted model of capitalism at play here. By not building a new stadium, the Cubs have filled the seats for 100 years. By not relocating it 50 miles outside Chicago, the Cubs have inspired fierce loyalty in its fans and the city. And by allowing the neighborhood to help shape it, and even profit from it, everybody wins.

Even if the Cubs never do.

Absolute nonsense. (And what does this mean: "You need to build and nurture a place that's an actual place."? That's just... nothing.) The Cubs, first of all, haven't "filled the seats for 100 years". Routine sellouts at Wrigley have occurred only since 2003. And why is that? Because the Cubs came close to winning and created an expectation, hope and desire to win. It hasn't worked out, and now, the ballpark sits half-empty many days. He compares Wrigley to Fenway Park, claiming:

Fenway is electric. Fenway is tense. When you're at a Red Sox game, you're at a professional baseball game, you're standing up, you're paying attention, you're keeping track of things. Because your team has a chance to win.

It would appear Dave didn't go to any games between 2003-2008. Because there was plenty of electricity in the ballpark during those years.

Look, I get it: everyone thinks Wrigley is one big party and Cubs fans don't care about winning, that's the theme of national writers. Thanks, Dave -- you should know better; instead, you're perpetuating the myth.

If anyone here thinks I don't care about winning, want the Cubs to win very, very badly, you are mistaken. But you can have Wrigley Field and win, both. The ballpark isn't the problem. The party isn't the problem. Mismanagement of the team is the problem. Fix that and you'll fill the ballpark AND win.

Rant over; there is, in fact, a game tonight.

Cubs lineup:

Fukudome rf, Barney 2b, Castro ss, Pena 1b, Ramirez 3b, DeWitt lf, Soto c, Colvin cf, Wells p

Phillies lineup:

Rollins SS, Polanco 3B, Utley 2B, Howard 1B, Victorino CF, Ibanez LF, Brown RF, Sardinha C, Kendrick P
Today's Starting Pitchers
Randy Wells
Randy Wells
Cubs
vs. Kyle Kendrick
Kyle Kendrick
Phillies
1-1 W-L 3-4
5.74 ERA 3.78
14 SO 12
8 BB 13
3 HR 3
vs. Phi -- vs. Cubs

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2011 - Randy Wells 1-1 3 3 0 0 0 0 15.2 14 10 10 3 8 14 5.74 1.40


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2011 - Kyle Kendrick 3-4 17 3 0 0 0 0 33.1 33 16 14 3 13 12 3.78 1.38

Randy Wells last faced the Phillies on July 17, 2010 at Wrigley Field, his only career start against them. He held them to five hits and no runs in seven shutout innings; that was the game where Geovany Soto dropped a perfect ninth-inning throw from Tyler Colvin that would have ended the game with a Cubs win; they lost 4-1. A repeat of the first performance would be great tonight; of the latter, not so much.

Kyle Kendrick has never started against the Cubs; he has made 13 relief appearances and three starts this year. What stands out is that he has 13 walks and only 12 strikeouts while having faced 144 batters this year; hitters like to put the ball in play against him, and are hitting .264 overall. So if Cubs hitters can put bat on ball tonight, as they did yesterday in Cincinnati, they should be able to beat Kendrick.

Today's game is on WGN and CSN Philadelphia. If you live in the New York or Boston markets, MLB Network will carry this game (Red Sox vs. Yankees is their national game). here is the complete MLB.com Mediacenter for today.

MLB.com Gameday

Baseball-reference.com game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Phillies site The Good Phight. The usual caution is advised.

Today's first pitch thread will be up at 6 pm CDT and the overflow threads will post at 7 pm, 8 pm and 8:45 pm CDT. If you need more overflows due to extra innings or rain delays, post them in the fanshot section.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

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