In Vinedetta, Cubs need to go under-groundcover

Club VP clings to theory, but ivy vandal may not have been out of his league

Sports Plus

August 04, 2002|By Andy Knobel | Andy Knobel,SUN STAFF

A brown gap in Wrigley Field's lush, green ivy has Chicago Cubs executives red with anger, twisted out of shape and climbing the walls.

And pointing fingers.

Oh, what a tangled mess.

The unsightly blemish at one of baseball's prettiest ballparks measures about 4 feet wide and extends from the base of the wall to the home run baskets in right-center field. The swath was first noticed by head groundskeeper Roger Baird during a series against the Texas Rangers, which took place June 18-20. It just so happens that the Cubs were host to the cross-town White Sox from June 14-16. June 17 was a day off.

"If somebody poured something on that area, it would take 48-72 hours to start taking effect," Baird said.

In other words, the Cubs suspect the culprit might be a White Sox fan.

"I think we're just assuming," Cubs executive vice president Mark McGuire told the Chicago Tribune late last month. "No decent Cubs fan would damage the ivy."

Baird does not view the offense as a clever prank.

"I'm pretty upset about it," he told the paper. "To be truthful, I've tried to keep it quiet. It's a little scary. I'm worried that if one does it, one could turn into five, and then we'd have major problems."

The Cubs are reluctant to institute new rules to prevent another incident. Don't expect to see signs warning fans not to bring alcohol or weed killer into the ballpark.

"We've been here 85 years and seen it happen once," McGuire said. "We're not going to overreact."

White Sox reliever Kelly Wunsch thinks the Cubs already have overreacted, saying it was "irresponsible" to "assume" the culprit was a Sox fan.

"It could've been anybody whose team played the Cubs," Wunsch said. "It could've been St. Louis fans."

Could a White Sox fan have done it?

"I think anyone's fans are capable," he said. "Cubs fans are capable, too. You could take any fool out of the stands and give him enough beer, and he might think it's a good idea."

Tribune reader Jeff Grabill suggests the Cubs look into the "possibility of a disgruntled employee possibly pouring something on the vines to send a message to the organization.

"Have they looked into the possibility that one of the rooftop owners poured something on the ivy to get back at the Cubs for the installation of wind screens ... I mean, security screens? With all the talk of Sammy Sosa doing steroids to raise his game, has anyone thought to ask Sammy if he relieved himself on the ivy after a game, causing it to wilt from all the chemicals that may be in his body?"

Finally, an unsigned piece in the Tempo section of the Tribune suggested the Cubs enact the following revenge:

Plant poison ivy on the walls of Comiskey.

Get that annoying person from the Verizon ads to walk around the stands saying, "Jerry Manuel, can you hear me now? Good."

Whenever Magglio Ordonez comes up to bat, loudly cheer, "Sam-mee, Sam-mee."

Paint over all the signs on Comiskey Park to make them read WorldCom-iskey Park.

Caught looking

Even defaced, Wrigley is one of baseball's most stunning ballparks. It and San Francisco's Pacific Bell Park are gorgeous compared with monstrosities such as the bowl-shaped Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia.

After taking batting practice at Pac Bell for the first time last season, the Phillies' Scott Rolen looked admiringly around the breathtaking stadium, stuck his tongue in his cheek and said: "It's a nice park. It reminds you a lot of the Vet - three bases and a home plate."

The late Herb Caen of the San Francisco Chronicle once wrote that Pac Bell's predecessor, Candlestick Park, is "the ninth blunder of the world."

Here comes the sun

Sometimes, no matter how nice and new the stadium is, the public won't be happy.

Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder told The Washington Times about a fan who got the seats on the 50-yard line at FedEx Field that he had requested, only to complain that the sun was in his eyes during games.

Said Snyder: "I told him we'll see what we could do about moving the sun."

Compiled from wire reports and Web sites.

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