By the TSB Staff
So the Cubs’ Milton Bradley claimed he was showered with racist epithets from the Wrigley Field bleachers. I believe him, even though he failed to give an example. I’ve heard some of the most disgusting, useless and vile language ever uttered by humanity when I’ve visited the Wrigley bleachers. This came just a couple weeks after one of the biggest dillholes in sports fan history dumped beer from the bleachers on Phillies’ outfielder Shane Victorino. It seems the Wrigley Field bleachers are becoming, as Obi-Wan Kenobi described Moss Eisley Spaceport, “a wretched hive of scum and villainy.” Despite the fact that they’re some of the most expensive tickets in all of MLB, why are the bleachers so trashy?
Why are they so hyped? Are they actually buzz worthy? I asked my editorial staff these questions. Here’s my two cents on the topic
PAUL M. BANKS:
I remember going to the Cubs’ Bleachers with my friends for $11 a pop in 1998. That was just over a decade ago. Today, those same tickets cannot be had for less than $50. And certainly no less than $75 for a weekend game. All I can say is WHY? It’s mildly fun when you’re a college kid, even though the area has BY FAR the worst views of the game in the entire stadium. This is undoubtedly the most over-priced and overrated piece of garbage consumable in the Chicago sports market. And did I mention that it’s $8 a beer, you don’t get a seat back, and should you have the most basic desire of sitting next to your friends, one of you will need to get that there at least 90 minutes before game time to save seats. And to possess admission into this supposedly elite era, you’ll have to buy those tickets months beforehand in February. How do they get away with this?
Like Cubs tickets themselves, bleacher passes have been marketed as a place to “meet people.” And yes, I’ve met lots of people there, people I’ve never seen or talked to again. Do you know anyone that met their significant other, or even gotten digits for that matter, from the Wrigley bleachers? Not that you should actually expect that from a baseball game, but the manipulative organization, in conjunction with the sheepish local entertainment media, have sold the public on the idea that this MLB seating section is a dating service, elite night club and adult Spring Break all rolled into one.
Famous Cub fan Joe Mantegna even wrote a play about it in the early ‘80s “Bleacher Bums,” which was made into a low budget HBO movie with quite possibly the ugliest cast ever to grace premium cable. I don’t think they’ll ever make a movie about say…the Infield Club seats at Washington Nationals Park, so the Bleachers certainly have the hype. They just don’t give you anything of value for the price.
Even a Sox fan knows the allure of the Wrigley Field Bleachers and why they are hyped so tremendously throughout the summer as the “place to be” when taking in a Cubs game. In an otherwise cramped, “not friendly” confines, the bleachers are the one place where there is a hair more freedom to move around. And let’s face it, they are considered the party place at Wrigley Field.
I liken it to the after hours bar people go to when they want to hook up or get in a fight. This is a far stretch from what the original “Bleacher Bum” label was meant to be.
A Bleacher Bum was supposed to be similar to a beach bum or a parrot head, supporting Jimmy Buffet. People who regardless of profession or demographic, religiously followed their loveable losers by purchasing (once inexpensive) bleacher seats, drinking beer, soaking in sun, and watching the Cubs be the Cubs (insert your own definition here).
Like parrot heads, there was all sorts of colorful followers and overall, the experience was a great one. Ever wonder why Buffet is a Cubs fan?
What has been lost over time is the tradition or meaning behind the name and sadly the seating section in general. Somewhere the stereo-type has changed to half-naked floozies, and over-served muscle head wannabes, whose main goal is to benchmark a new standard for inappropriate behavior.
The fortunate thing is that Cub fans have the power to change that perception. The hurdle may be greater than winning the World Series. Many people (and I use the term people thinking these are civilized humans) actually like the disgusting allure of acting like a complete idiot.
White Sox fans took their stereotypical black eye years ago when those two nimrods from Alsip ran on the field and attacked a Royals coach. Cub fans now have theirs. It’s up to them to put a raw steak on it and stop the swelling.
In any park, Soxman believes in a fan’s freedom of speech. However, when behavior interferes with the sanctity of the game, the enjoyment of other fans, or becomes inappropriate by the definition of “fan friendly,’ a line has been crossed. Like a sobriety test, most of those who ruin it for others couldn’t walk it.
Wasted away again in Wrigleyville.
Looking for my world series and liquored malt.
Some people claim that there’s a curse to blame, but as a Cubs fan,
I know it’s my own damn fault…
H. JOSE BOSCH:
I’ve never had the “pleasure” of sitting with some of Chicago’s finest in the bleacher section and I hope I never will. Why on Earth would anyone pay money to sit under direct sunlight on top of a piping hot bleacher and pay $8 a beer to watch a crappy team prove again and again that it’s an absolute failure?
Here’s a suggestion, Cubs fans. You can do this for little money at any Little league game in the Chicagoland area. I understand you can’t drink but A.) You can always sneak some hard liquor into that $1.50 soda you bought at the concession stand and B.) You’ll be so delirious from the heat stroke that you might as well be intoxicated.
You might not find this as glamorous as the bleachers in Wrigley, but you won’t have to deal with drunks throwing up on everyone. And you’ll have a better view of the game, and it’s still crappy baseball.
Just like the Black Hole in Oakland, the Wrigley bleachers will always get hype no matter how bad the team is. Part of the reason the ticket prices are so high is simply because there are Cub fans willing to drop $300 to sweat alcohol for three hours. I’d be willing to bet most are the fair-weather variety that care more about heckling than watching the game, because any self-respecting fan of any team, has a price cutoff for when their team sucks. I’ve only been to Wrigley once, when it was about 30 degrees and Ozzie Smith and Ray Lankford were starting for the Cardinals, but I really have no desire to return, unless someone pays for my ticket because the prices are just too high to watch a team with a huge payroll yet only three 90 win seasons since 1950- compared to five 90 loss seasons since 1990 on its resume. Any other team would see a fan backlash in the form of slumping ticket sales, but since the Cubs always have people willing to be gouged for a chance at bleacher heaven, things won’t change.
I believe Bradley has faced some pretty nasty taunts from the Wrigley bleachers, and part of that is due to the fact that Mark DeRosa, an all-American do-it-all player who happens to be white, was let go in favor of a loose cannon that can hit, but has been in five different uniforms over the past five years. The other part is that because the Cubs haven’t sniffed a World Series in so long, their fans will now settle for nothing less.
Thus the most drunk, stupid ones that like wearing their “C” hats, “Drunk chicks dig me” and “Horry Cow” shirts which greatly offend the very own team they claim to be supporting, end up speaking for the majority’s frustration with racial slurs and beer-throwing contests. Instead of facing the reality that the organization itself needs to change, not just the people stepping onto the field 162 games out of the year. As long as racists aren’t silenced by their neighbors and beer chuckers get away with their middle school behavior while someone else takes the fall, the Wrigley bleachers will continue looking more like a biker bar than a group of loyal fans starving for a championship.
From the resident Milwaukee-native and Brewers Fan, MELISSA S. WOLLERING:
I don’t want to stereotype Chicagoans or Illinois dwellers. I’m sure there are some well-behaved folks who grace the bleachers of historic Wrigley. However, in terms of “experience” in any industry, the experience one always remembers more than the positive is the negative one.
If you have a terrible experience with an airline, you remember it and you tell your friends about the 6 hours you had to sit on a runway, only to end up being put on another flight the following day. If you have an awful experience with a dentist or doctor, patients typically spread the word like wildfire and there goes 1/4 of your appointments. Forget any positive referrals for the next 2 months. You rarely hear your friends tell you how great Airline X was about rescheduling a flight, or getting you more peanuts and a clean pillow. We dwell on the negative.
The number of fans making the Cubs bleacher experience an “unenjoyable one” seems to be growing—but is it? Or for the reasons above, are we just hearing more about it? Either way, something should be done. The Cubs organization should start a campaign to get the behavior under control because no Stadium wants to be known for its bleachers being the jerk capital of the Midwest.
UW-Madison instituted its “Roll Out the Red Carpet” campaign several years ago to control unruly students. The Milwaukee Brewers created a text system in which you can report unruly fans and an usher will address the situation. Miller Park is actually known for having a pretty friendly fan base. It has its moments…cough…when Cubs fans come to town. But our bleachers are nothing like yours and we’re proud of it. Keep it classy, Chicago.
The reason the bleachers are so trashy is that there are hardly any diehard baseball fans sitting there. So when these people have ten beers, they have nothing intelligent to say about baseball and just spew nonsense. I was sitting in the right field bleachers earlier this year when a drunk girl yelled, “Goooooo Ichiro!” when trying to cheer on Fukudome. It’s embarassing, especially when true sports fans make the pilgrimage to Wrigley expecting something special. Or at least something close to living up to the hype.
To be fair and balanced, I must point out that the responses here are from two White Sox fans, a Tigers fan, a Cardinals supporter, and two Brewers backers. The Cubs fan writers on staff were invited to answer this question, but failed to respond. I guess these are dark times in Cub Nation, and all it’s enemies are just piling on.