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.

Royals outfielder Gordon to retire after 14 seasons

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Kansas City Royals outfielder Alex Gordon, the former first-round pick whose rollercoaster career took him from near bust to All-Star and Gold Glove winner, announced Thursday he will retire after the season.

Gordon was the second overall pick in the 2005 first-year player draft following a standout career at Nebraska, where he won the Golden Spikes Award as the best amateur in baseball. He made his big league debut two years later and, after a few years shuttling back and forth to the minors, moved from third base to the outfield and finally found success.

He wound up playing his entire 14-year career in Kansas City, joining only George Brett and Frank White as position players with that much longevity with the franchise. He heads into a weekend four-game series against Detroit with the third-most walks (682), fourth-most homers (190), fifth-most doubles (357) and sixth-most games played (1,749) in club history.

The three-time All-Star also holds the dubious distinction of being the Royals’ career leader in getting hit by pitches.

While he never quite hit with the kind of average the Royals hoped he would, Gordon did through sheer grit turn himself into one of the best defensive players in the game. He is the only outfielder to earn seven Gold Gloves in a nine-year span, a number that trails only White’s eight for the most in franchise history, and there are enough replays of him crashing into the outfield wall at Kauffman Stadium or throwing out a runner at the plate to run for hours.

Gordon won the first of three defensive player of the year awards in 2014, when he helped Kansas City return to the World Series for the first time since its 1985 championship. The Royals wound up losing to the Giants in a seven-game thriller, but they returned to the Fall Classic the following year and beat the Mets in five games to win the World Series.

It was during the 2015 that Gordon hit one of the iconic homers in Royals history. His tying shot off Mets closer Jeurys Familia in Game 1 forced extra innings, and the Royals won in 14 to set the tone for the rest of the World Series.

Gordon signed a one-year contract to return this season, and he never considered opting out when the coronavirus pandemic caused spring training to be halted and forced Major League Baseball to play a dramatically reduced 60-game schedule.

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