You’re probably thinking, “I’ve read about this here before.”
And you’re right — you have. Here. And here. And here.
I’m bringing this topic up again because the city of Chicago this week granted the Cubs permission to move Friday’s game time from 1:20 p.m. to 7:05 p.m. after the Cubs were forced to make a one-day road trip to Washington Thursday to make up last Sunday’s rainout.
The ordinance governing night baseball at Wrigley Field does not allow night games on Fridays (except for postseason games). It permits Saturday and Sunday nights during the regular season if national networks (Fox or ESPN) request them, and generally, four or five such games are played per season.
Seriously, what’s the big deal about Friday nights? When the ordinance was originally created, 30 years ago, the reason given for the Friday-night prohibition was that area restaurant owners thought it would hurt their business. No, seriously. That’s the reason. And it’s just as ridiculous as it sounds.
And beyond that, Friday night concerts are held at Wrigley Field on a regular basis. Here’s a complete list of all concerts at Wrigley. There were three Friday night concerts in 2017 and two this year (Billy Joel and Jimmy Buffett).
I’ve posed this question before and I’ll do it again here: What is the difference between a Friday night concert at Wrigley Field and a Friday night baseball game?
In terms of crowd impact on the neighborhood — which is the only reason to have any prohibition on a Friday night event — the answer is: “Nothing. There is no difference.”
Permitting Friday night baseball games at Wrigley Field would help give the Cubs rest coming off road trips. Looking at the 2019 schedule, there are three times the Cubs begin a homestand on a Friday after a road game Thursday. Those are:
August 2 vs. Brewers, after a 6:15 game August 1 in St. Louis
August 30 vs. Brewers, after a 6:10 game August 29 in New York
September 13 vs. Pirates, after a game September 12 in San Diego
The game time for the 9/12/19 game has not yet been set, but that’s a long flight back. The Cubs have currently scheduled the 9/13/19 game for a 3:05 p.m. CT start.
There’s absolutely no reason why the city of Chicago shouldn’t permit the Cubs to play all three of those games at 7:05 p.m. CT. They’re all in the second half of the season, when player fatigue can be greater, and at least at this point the league has not asked the other teams to play the getaway day game in the afternoon. (The San Diego game almost certainly will be, as per the MLB/MLBPA collective-bargaining agreement no team can be forced to make a four-hour flight from a night game to a day game.)
Obviously the situation involving Friday’s game against the Reds needed quick action after the Sunday rainout in Washington was rescheduled for Thursday, originally an off day for the Cubs.
Inn conclusion, I call on the city of Chicago to amend the night-game ordinance at Wrigley Field to permit up to three Friday night games a year when there’s a road game in another city the Thursday before a homestand begins on Friday. It’s the right thing to do, and the effects on the neighborhood — which has changed greatly in the 30 years since night baseball began at Wrigley Field — would be minimal.
Get it done, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Ald. Tom Tunney. It’s way past time.