Wrigley Field

Wrigley Field — the most human park in baseball — turns 100-years-old

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Happy birthday, Wrigley Field! Or as it was known when it opened on this date in 1914, Weeghman Park, home to the Chicago Whales of the Federal League. Today it hosts the Cubs and Diamondbacks, who may be better than the Chicago Whales, but that’s not saying much given that all of the Whales players would be, like, 130-years-old today. If you think the Dbacks are gritty . . .

Anyway, there shall be a grand celebration. There is a 400-pound cake. Bud Selig will be there. The crowd will likely sing to the ballpark and 100 years of memories — most of them sad or dubious in terms of baseball greatness — will be shared.

It’s the dubiousness of those memories which give some Cubs fans mixed feelings. Kevin Kaduk of Yahoo is one of them. Today he expresses the ambivalence many Cubs fans have about a park with zero in the way of championship history to celebrate. A park which has defined the organization far more than any one of the teams it has hosted has. Which makes all of this weird. Parks tend to be remembered for what has happened within their walls, not simply because the walls haven’t fallen down after all of this time.

Still, there’s no denying that Wrigley is worth celebrating. As I said when I visited Wrigley last year, it’s hard to say anything about Wrigley Field that hasn’t already been said. And that almost everything that has been said about it, no matter how superficially contradictory, is pretty much true. It is charming. It is a dump. It is a great place to watch baseball. It contains a whole hell of a lot of people not watching baseball. I can’t think of a park which has the whole of baseball experiences in it, both bad and good, like Wrigley Field does.

RELATED: Photos of Wrigley through the years

Lately we’ve been talking a lot about its renovation. It’s decaying in many ways and has to get that renovation. It’s not some Field of Dreams-style jewel that must be preserved lest baseball lose its very soul, but if it doesn’t get carefully preserved, baseball will certainly lose something. The essence of the place is right. The Cubs may not have given their fans a championship since moving in, but they have done a great job of presenting a nicely unadorned baseball game in an urban setting. Some teams, like the Braves, are leaving urban areas because they think it’s too much hassle or that they can’t make enough money there. Most other teams are sticking in or returning to urban areas, but have totally forgotten the part about the games being best when unadorned. In Wrigley there are a lot of post-college drunkards and party people, but there’s also a nice ratio of sunshine and baseball and organ music to nonsense on the scoreboard and over the P.A. system. There is so much value in that.

Wrigley is more like a person than anything else. A person you have to admire and love. It’s old, it’s not in as good a shape as it could be and it hasn’t witnessed nearly as many accomplishments in its life as it hoped to when it was young. But if anything, it’s easier to love that kind of person than that old guy who has aced life, is richer than Croesus and looks 25 years younger than he actually is. Far more of us are like Wrigley Field than Fenway Park.

So happy birthday, Wrigley Field. You got a lot of mileage on you and your life has been defined by missed opportunities more than goals achieved, but in this you’re like a lot of us. Here’s hoping we’ve all seen as much as you when we get — if we get — to your age.

Video: Nelson Cruz hits second-longest home run of 2016

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 14:  Nelson Cruz #23 of the Seattle Mariners celebrates his solo homerun with Daniel Vogelbach #20 of the Seattle Mariners to take a 2-1 lead over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim during the seventh inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 14, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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There’s certainly never a bad time to hit a home run, but when you get the opportunity to crush a triple-deck, 493-foot shot off of Tyler Duffey, you should take it. With the Mariners down 2-0 to the Twins in the fourth inning, Cruz hammered a fastball to deep left field for his 39th long ball of the season — and the second-longest home run hit in 2016, to boot.

It doesn’t hurt that the Mariners are 1.5 games back of a playoff spot, although they’ll have to oust the Blue Jays, Orioles, or Tigers to get a wild card. They’ve gone 3-3 in the last week, dropping two consecutive series to the Astros and Blue Jays and taking their series opener against Minnesota 10-1 on Friday night.

Cruz, for his part, entered Saturday’s game with a .299/.337/.610 batting line and six home runs in September. According to ESPN.com’s Home Run Tracker, Cruz sits behind Edwin Encarnacion and Mike Napoli with 13 “no-doubt” home runs in 2016, third-most among major league sluggers. It’s safe to say he can add Saturday’s moonshot to that list.

Marlins’ outfielder and undisputed home run king Giancarlo Stanton remains untouched at the top of the Statcast leaderboard with a 504-ft. home run, and it’s difficult to envision any slugger reaching beyond that before the end of the season. Even so, Cruz won’t need to clear 500 feet to extend an impressive hitting record. One more home run will put the 36-year-old at 40 on the year, making 2016 his third consecutive season with at least 40 homers, and his second such season doing so in Seattle.

Report: John Farrell won’t rule out a postseason return for Pablo Sandoval

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 11:  Pablo Sandoval #48 of the Boston Red Sox looks on from the dugout before the Red Sox home opener against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park on April 11, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Orioles defeat the Red Sox 9-7.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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It’s been a strange season for Red Sox’ third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who lost his starting role in spring training, went 0-for-6 in three regular season appearances, and underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in May. That was the last the Red Sox were supposed to hear about Sandoval until spring 2017, when he was expected to rejoin the team after a lengthy rehab stint in Florida.

On Saturday, manager John Farrell was telling a different story. Per MLB.com’s Sam Blum, Farrell hinted that Sandoval could return to the team as soon as October, albeit in a very limited capacity.

At the time of the surgery, it was all looking at the start of next Spring Training,” Farrell said. “We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves here, but at the same time, we compliment him for the work he’s put in, the way he’s responded to the rehab, the way he’s worked himself into better condition. We’re staying open-minded.

If the 30-year-old does return in 2016, don’t expect him to look like the three-home run hitter of the 2012 World Series. Should the Red Sox lose another player to injury, Sandoval might be called on as a backup option, but he’s unlikely to see substantial playing time under any other circumstances. Despite making two appearances at DH in the instructional league, Sandoval has not started at third base since undergoing surgery, though Farrell noted that a return to third base would be the next logical step in his recovery process.

Sandoval has yet to hit his stride within the Red Sox’ organization after hitting career-worst numbers in 2015. According to FanGraphs, his Offensive Runs Above Average (Off) plummeted to -20.2, contributing approximately two wins fewer than the average offensive player in 2015. (The Diamondbacks’ Chris Owings held the lowest Off mark in 2015, with -26.3 runs below average.) Sandoval has not appeared in a postseason race since the Giants’ championship run in 2014.

Heading into Saturday evening, the Red Sox could clinch their spot in the postseason with a win over the Rays and an Orioles’ loss.