MORRISSEY: Cubs vs. rooftop owners is the best series they play
BY RICK MORRISSEY rmorrissey@suntimes | @MorrisseyCST November 2, 2013 1:06AM
The view from one of the rooftops along right field on Wednesday when crews put up a test sign at Wrigley Field. | Provided photo
Updated: December 4, 2013 6:23AM
In terms of the Cubs’ on-field entertainment value, not much has changed since Carlos Zambrano famously declared in 2011, ‘‘We stinks.’’
But off the field? Oh, what theater! What drama! What comic relief! Stinks? When it comes to playing hardball, the team doesn’t stinks at all.
The war between the team and the rooftop club owners is fantastic — a spectator sport filled with accusations, recriminations and dirty tricks, sometimes before breakfast.
And to think, people criticize the Cubs for not offering a competitive product.
If for some odd reason you haven’t been paying attention to recent developments, allow me to get you up to speed. Last week, the Cubs erected a mock-up of a 650-square-foot sign at Wrigley Field so that everyone could get an idea of what a permanent sign might look like when installed. In July, the City Council had OK’d that right-field sign and a massive video scoreboard after months of protest from rooftop owners. The roofies were concerned the sign and scoreboard would obstruct views of the ballpark from their businesses on Sheffield and Waveland avenues.
You know, the views of a ballpark and team the rooftop owners don’t own.
So the Cubs put up a mockup sign Wednesday that all but mocked the rooftop owners with a very challenging view of the inside of the ballpark. Predictably, the rooftop people responded by continuing to be furious that the Cubs would have the gall to try to do business.
The see-through mockup sign reads ‘‘Wrigley Field’’ but likely will read ‘‘Budweiser’’ when the real structure is built. Judging by a photo of the sign taken from one of the Sheffield rooftops, the large ‘‘F’’ in ‘‘Field’’ seemed to block the view of home plate. That ‘‘F’’ wouldn’t be part of a two-word message from the Cubs to the rooftop owners, would it?
‘‘Every one of these rooftops still has a view inside this ballpark,’’ Cubs spokesman Julian Green said. ‘‘I didn’t say the same view. But we believe every rooftop partner will be able to have a view inside the ballpark.’’
Allow me to interpret: Some of the rooftops will have a lovely glimpse of the grass in center field.
Another translation: You rooftop owners thought we were going to cater to you? You thought you would get the full sweep of the field, and we’d stand by and watch you watch us? Wait, you really thought we had you, not a corporate partner, in mind when we designed the sign?
One further reading: How’s the view?
It’s true the Cubs and the roofies have a contract that gives the team 17 percent of the rooftops’ revenues. The rooftop owners say signs that block the clubs’ views of the park violate the contract. The courts might have to settle this, which would be a shame, seeing as how the path the two sides are on now eventually could involve hitmen. What a loss a court case would be for all of us. The rooftop owners have tried to paint themselves as David doing battle with Goliath, but the biblical David wasn’t a millionaire, didn’t have a legal team and wasn’t stealing someone else’s goods.
The idea that the rooftop owners somehow speak for the neighborhood only adds to the hilarity. The residents of Wrigleyville and Lakeview have about as much in common with the rooftop owners as a street and a roof have in common.
In some corners, Murphy’s Bleachers owner Beth Murphy is portrayed as the down-to-earth patron saint of the Little Guy. Then again, the Little Guy will have to pay $7,000 for a group of 50 people to sit on Murphy’s rooftop in June and watch Cubs and Marlins the size of ants mostly stand still.
In some corners, Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts is portrayed as the fanboy who wants to make a lot of money off advertising to help recoup the money his dad spent to buy the team. Then again, that’s pretty much who he is.
And somewhere out there is Ald. Tom Tunney, exhausted from playing James Stewart in ‘‘Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.’’
I say we put all three in a cage and see what happens.
Wrigley Field is in need of renovations, but Ricketts has said the team won’t start work on the worn-down ballpark until the rooftop owners stop threatening a lawsuit. Me? I worry that one side will cave in to the other.
Please don’t stop the show. The alternative is watching Cubs baseball.