Yesterday we noted how the Ricketts family announced over the weekend that they’d be willing to foot the bill on dramatic renovations to Wrigley Field rather than ask for public dollars to do it. But — and it’s no small but — they want restrictions regarding how they run the ballpark and when they can play games eased. More night games, more signage, scoreboards and, in all likelihood, blocking out the rooftops nearby.
Which will all be the subject of much debate going forward, obviously. In the meantime, they have released conceptual sketches of what this major renovation might entail. And again, I must use the word dramatic:
There are many others which you can over at Biz of Baseball. As for the rundown of all that would be accomplished under the plan:
- Addition of a rooftop patio;
- Party decks in left and center field;
- Expanded luxury suites;
- New LED board in left field;
- Jumbotron-like video screen;
- Club lounge;
- Restaurant where the old administrative offices used to be;
- A much bigger clubhouse;
- Batting tunnels near the dugouts;
- A video room; and
- A new weight room and a physical therapy/rehab center.
All of these things — especially the new player facilities — would greatly enhance old Wrigley. And really, as long as the ivy, brick, scoreboard and location of the ballpark are kept more or less the same, I bet even the purists would get over it eventually. At least they should, because most of these changes are much-needed, either for revenue generation purposes or for simply bringing Wrigley up to the standards of modern ballparks.
The big fights will come from the bar owners who don’t want to lose business to in-park bars and clubs and to night games which limit their high-traffic hours. We’ll see how that goes, but it’s hard to beat a combination of (a) private funding; (b) modernization; and (c) maintaining the overall feel of the old park.
Earlier, Craig asked if Cubs slugger Kyle Schwarber would play the outfield now that the World Series has come to Chicago, where there will be no DH. The answer to that is no, it appears. Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said that Schwarber has not been medically cleared to play the outfield, CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports.
Schwarber returned to the Cubs sooner than expected after suffering a fully-torn ACL and LCL in his left leg during an early April collision with teammate Dexter Fowler in Arizona. In preparation to join the Cubs for the World Series, Schwarber went to the Arizona Fall League and reportedly saw over 1,000 pitches from machines as well as Single-A pitchers. He doesn’t look like he’s missed a beat as he went 1-for-3 with a walk and a double (that was very nearly a home run) in Game 1, then drew a walk and hit two RBI singles in five plate appearances in Game 2.
At least right now, however, it appears Schwarber will serve as a bat off the bench for Games 3, 4, and 5 until he gets medical clearance.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported on Thursday that Astros bench coach Trey Hillman is leaving the team to manage the SK Wyverns in South Korea. According to Jeeho Yoo of Yonhap News, Hillman will earn $600,000 in each of two years plus a $400,000 signing bonus.
Hillman, 53, managed the Royals from 2008-10 but the team wasn’t very successful, putting up a 152-207 record before he was fired early in the 2010 season. Hillman was the bench coach for the Dodgers from 2011-13, served as a special assistant for the Yankees in 2014, and had been the Astros’ bench coach for the past two seasons.
Per MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart, the Astros released a statement which read:
Trey Hillman has accepted the managerial position of the SK Wyverns baseball club of the South Korean Professional Baseball League (KBO). We thank Trey for his contributions to the Astros success over the past two seasons and wish him the very best.
This won’t be Hillman’s first time working in baseball overseas. He managed the Nippon Ham Fighters in the Japan Pacific League from 2003-07.