Play ball!

I’ve used this space occasionally in the past to acknowledge my allegiance to Chicago’s North Side baseball team, and while the weather is making it less than certain whether the Cubs will take the field at Wrigley today, it’s that time of year again.

I’ve got a ticket to this afternoon’s game, but I’m sitting at the office, looking periodically at the rain pouring down outside and checking the weather radar, and it doesn’t look promising.

As the Cubs begin this season, there is for Cubs fans, of course, the usual risk of heartbreak. This year the team marks the centennial of the last season that didn’t end in heartbreaking fashion with the 100th anniversary of the Cubs 1908 World Series win, their last.

Last year, of course, the Cubs did make the playoffs, only to be swept in the first round by the Arizona Diamondbacks. This year, some are actually picking the North Siders to win the National League pennant, which anyone who believes that Cubs history has been shaped by bad luck and curses must believe can’t bode well. I tend to believe the Cubs’ history has more to do with lack of talent or bad health or both, but we’ll see.

There are actually some other interesting risks potentially emerging around Wrigley Field as this season begins. Since purchasing the team’s owner, Tribune Co., last year, Sam Zell has made it clear he intends to sell the team and the ballpark to raise cash.

Part of that plan will no doubt include selling Wrigley Field naming rights, which has led some to suggest that anyone buying those rights best be particularly sensitive to how they apply them, lest they risk the ire of the diehard Cubs faithful. That seems a unique, if limited, sort of brand risk.

Personally, I expect someone to buy the naming rights, and they may well slap their name on the grand old marquee at Clark and Addison. But I’ll still call it Wrigley Field.


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