Last year, when the Pirates didn’t schedule an afternoon game on getaway day in Pittsburgh when the Cubs played there in September, the Cubs received permission from the city of Chicago to play a Friday night home game at Wrigley Field against the Brewers.
At the time, it was stated this would be a “one-time exception.”
Personally, I thought that statement was nonsensical, especially since the Cubs had three Friday night concerts at Wrigley Field in 2017. The reason the prohibition on Friday night games was instituted in the first place was, supposedly, loss of business by restaurants in the area. (Yeah, I know. That’s as absurd as it sounds.) In reality, there should be no difference between permitting the Cubs to play a Friday night home game or to have a concert at Wrigley Field on a Friday night.
I raise this topic again because of today’s unusual starting time of 4:05 p.m. The Cubs, as you know, are coming home from a four-game series in Los Angeles. The Dodgers actually did the Cubs a favor by scheduling Thursday’s game at 12:10 local time — the only 12:10 p.m. start on the entire 2018 Dodgers home schedule.
Gosh, what a concept. A team actually helping another team out schedule-wise. The Dodgers are home this weekend, so the early starting time didn’t really help the Dodgers one way or another. But it did allow the Cubs to get a somewhat earlier start on their return to Chicago, though with the length of Thursday’s game (3:03), having to fight L.A. rush-hour traffic, the four-hour flight and two-hour time difference, the Cubs likely didn’t land at O’Hare until close to midnight, not home until probably around 1 a.m.
A 7:05 p.m. start today would have been much more beneficial. The extra three hours do matter. Every other MLB team would schedule a home night game in this situation. But the Cubs can’t.
And guess what? Wrigley Field will host two Friday night concerts this year, July 13 (Jimmy Buffett) and September 7 (Billy Joel). So once again I ask: What is the difference between a Friday night concert at Wrigley Field and a Friday night baseball game at Wrigley Field?
The answer, from a crowd perspective, is that there is no difference. Sure, concert crowds are by their nature somewhat different than baseball crowds, but in terms of traffic and impact on the neighborhood, there is little or no difference.
Lastly, this is the only time during the entire 2018 season where the Cubs have a Thursday game on the road and begin a homestand at Wrigley the next day. What would be the big deal about the city permitting a Friday night game once a year, or even twice a year if needed? With more off days now built into the MLB schedule, this sort of thing wouldn’t happen more than one or two times a summer.
C’mon, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Ald. Tom Tunney. Get rid of this antiquated provision of the night-game ordinance and let the Cubs play baseball on a couple of Friday nights a year when they’re coming off road trips.