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Friday night games well past due for Cubs at Wrigley Field

August 18,2017 02:07

That's a shame, since it makes no sense to prohibit night games on Fridays when people are starting their weekends. It's an archaic rule that's lasted three decades for no apparent reason. The Cubs declined to comment, but a source said the ban on ...and more »


The Cubs will wake up early Friday morning and get ready to play baseball again at Wrigley Field.
But if manager Joe Maddon had his way, they'd be able to sleep in, do their laundry and get to the park in the late afternoon for a 7 p.m. start, like every other team.
"I think 107 years indicates it wasn't such a good idea," Maddon recently said of the Cubs' day baseball tradition, referencing their epic championship drought.
Unfortunately for Maddon, the Cubs are prohibited from playing Friday night games under a city ordinance, and it doesn't seem likely the city will change its mind any time soon.
That means "Friday Night Lights" was not only a great TV show, but a prolonged pipe dream for the Cubs.
That's a shame, since it makes no sense to prohibit night games on Fridays when people are starting their weekends. It's an archaic rule that's lasted three decades for no apparent reason.
The Cubs declined to comment, but a source said the ban on Friday night games has more to do with local businesses who don't want to compete for customers than neighbors worried about parking or congestion.
Zoned parking has been in place for years, and anyone who lives in the neighborhood deals with congestion seven days a week. Billy Joel played a Friday night concert last week at Wrigley and no one seemed to complain.
The bars and restaurants were still packed, even though parking still sucked. Everyone was in a New York state of mind, and the neighborhood survived intact.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel has made it clear the Cubs are going to have to live with the current deal, which was reached in 2013. His comments came after Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenney suggested during an interview with WSCR-AM 670 the team was at a disadvantage because of the cap on night games.
Kenney wants an increase from the total of 43 — which includes 35 games scheduled at the start of the season and up to eight more national games — to the major-league average of 54.

Emmanuel suggested the Cubs decrease their number of concerts, which factor into the night game allotment since any number over four counts against the baseball total. (This year includes a record 10 concerts, which means six fewer night games allowed.)
Remember, the Cubs get to keep all the revenues from the concerts, but they have to share in-game revenues with the 29 other teams. They insist the added revenues go right back into the team.
No one feels worry for the Cubs, nor should they. No one really believes they do their own laundry, and a Tribune analysis of the first 30 seasons of night games at Wrigley Field shows no appreciable difference in their performance during the day or at night.
Through Wednesday, the Cubs had a .514 win percentage in home day games since 1988 and have been outscored by an average of 4.59 runs per game to 4.57. In the 678 night games at Wrigley, they have a .528 winning percentage and have outscored their opponents by an average of 4.54 runs per game to 4.36.
Several Cubs players are in favor of more night games, including Mike Montgomery, who called it a health issue.
"I know the union and league are trying everything they can to keep players healthy," Montgomery told Tribune reporter Mark Gonzales. "The scheduling plays into that. Sometimes those night-day game turnarounds, the next thing you know you have an oblique (injury). The rest isn't there."
That's hard to prove, but at least it's a better excuse than having to do your laundry.
A simple compromise would be to keep the night games cap yet allow them to schedule Friday night games. Instead of 13 Friday day games this season, they could've had 13 Friday night games and subtracted 13 night games from other days, preferably Mondays.
Almost every Sunday game is scheduled for the daytime, except for the ESPN games, so it wouldn't be difficult to travel to Chicago and play a Monday day game.
Neither Kenney nor Maddon has been able to sway Emanuel. Kenney is too polarizing, and Maddon doesn't have enough clout.
Too bad their fans don't have a say.
The time has come for Friday night lights, a change I believe most Cubs fans would welcome with open arms.
psullivan@chicagotribune.com
Twitter @PWSullivan

Chicago Cubs,Wrigley Field,Joe Maddon,Rahm Emanuel,Crane Kenney,Paul Sullivan

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