I fell in love with Wrigley Field and the Chicago Cubs because of its purity. For a college student, it was the greatest place to be on spring afternoon.
Wrigley has no parking so everyone takes the El to Wrigleyville and the closer you get to the stop, more royal blue jerseys and caps appear on the train. Walking past the bars, souvenir shops and scalpers, you come to the stadium with its big electronic marquis. It feels like everyone is welcome here -- even though tickets are starting to price some folks out.
Inside, the smell of Chicago-style hot dogs, popcorn and beer fill the air - few gourmet treats here. In the outfield is the old fashioned score board. If you look, you can see the guy that changes the numbers sitting in the hole for the 10th inning. Noticeably absent are the advertisements. They aren't on the scoreboard and no one's figured out how to grow a brand name in ivy so the outfield wall is empty. There's only the Budweiser roof across the street, but that's so quirky it becomes part of the charm. The whole atmosphere was just about baseball.
But apparently, according to today's Mitchell report nine former Cubs were among the steroid users in what some are calling baseball's greatest scandal. In church terms, scandal usually means the acts of one or a few people that discredits the entire institution. It's an apt word here. Somehow Wrigley doesn't seem so pure anymore. The ivy seems a little brown and the beer a little warm.
With that scandal comes our own series of moral questions. What were we seeing? Great athletes? Guys so worried about their stats and performance that they use drugs to supplement their game? Or worse, men trying to take a shortcut instead of actually working out? The fact that most of the guys on the list weren't great stars seems to say the drug route was apparently a waste of time.
Then I wonder how much are we as fans somehow complicit? Do we expect athletes to be like gods - always perfect? Do we put that much importance on sports that they feel compelled to cheat? And do we accept the cheating as part of doing business?