“We have a system. It’s a good system. There’s an old saying: Don’t… change… anything… ever.”
As I expect everyone is aware, the use of “walk-up” music for the players was instituted last year in Wrigley Filed, replacing the traditional organ-ic strains of Gary Pressy. As it turns out, this was done at the request of Marlon Byrd. After reading the following article from the Chicago Tribune this weekend, I decided to post it here for your perusal, with some added commentary of my own (in red.)
Unlike most teams, the Cubs are forced to walk a fine line between progress and tradition.
They were the last team to install lights, and one of the last to install rotating advertising boards behind home plate. The installation of the car sign in left field caused a stir last summer, and talk about bringing a Jumbotron to Wrigley has been debated for years. (Let the record show that the FBB and most of its readers are anti-jumbotron.)
The Cubs made one small (the smallest things are often the most annoying) change to tradition in 2010 to make their players happy (all two of them?), while aggravating a segment of their fan base (that’s me! *Waves hands wildly and excitedly*). With no fanfare last June, they suddenly replaced Gary Pressy’s organ music with snippets of taped music for hitters’ intro songs.
Asked by a fan at the Cubs Convention why they were spoiling the “Wrigley Field experience,” Chairman Tom Ricketts recalled a conversation with an unnamed player who wanted the taped music to help the team out of its early-season slump (That really worked, too, didn’t it?)
“We weren’t getting the clutch hits, we weren’t scoring runs,” Ricketts told the fans. “And a player came up and made that request. “I was like, ‘Geez, we have traditions.’ ”
Ricketts and the marketing department debated it, and ultimately decided to make the change.
“I said ‘Look, I know that it won’t be popular with everybody (I think he meant anybody), but if it shows the players that we’re going to give them some support and try to shake things up and help things a little bit, then I’ll give it a shot,’ ” he told fans.
Marlon Byrd confirmed he was the player Ricketts cited and that he was trying to boost the team’s morale. Points for honesty.
“We were the only team not coming out to music,” (Dude, why don’t you just punch Gary Pressy right in the face?) Byrd said. “I thought it’d be a good twist (and how is conforming to exactly what everybody else does a “twist?) , with it being ‘Year One’ with the Ricketts. (what does that have to do with it?) I understand you have to keep tradition (DO YOU?), have to keep the organ. But change it up just a little bit.”
Byrd’s intro song was “Work” by Gang Starr, which included the lyrics: “I’ve been laying, waiting for your next mistake/I put in work, and watch my status escalate.” He said he enjoyed seeing fans “bobbing their heads in the stands” when they heard his song (If your walk-up song is supposed to help you focus/jazz you up, why are you paying attention to what the crowd is doing?), even if the sound system is so antiquated it barely could be heard. Another good point, there. All the crowd hears is four seconds of blurred static.
The reaction was split between the traditionalists and progressives (personally, I didn’t hear any positive reaction, and I’m not just saying that). Ricketts admitted to fans they received “a lot of feedback from fans who preferred” organ music to taped songs, and said they’re considering whether or not to return to the old-school ways. Please, please, please return to the old-school ways!
Infielder Jeff Baker, who came out to various Beastie Boys songs, said he hopes the Rickettses keep the status quo. I like you, Jeff Baker, I really do. But I wish you would have kept your trap shut here.
“It creates a personality and an identity for each player, showing what you bring, and making your own stamp,” (Wrong. All it really shows us is what terrible taste in music you all have) Baker said. “I’m all for it. I know the majority of the players like it (If majority rules, than the fans should outweigh the players. There’s more of us than you. Just saying.) I know it’s a tough line for [the Rickettses] because they’re trying to balance the traditions of Wrigley with what the players like and want.”
“It’s a tough call, but I hope they don’t can it. It’s not like you’re replacing the organ music completely. You’re just adding to (no, subtracting from) it. I don’t think it has ruined the fundamental history of Wrigley.”
Catcher Koyie Hill, who preferred striding to home plate to Led Zeppelin, said a new sound system would make the recorded music more palatable.
“If they’re going to [play] music on that speaker system they have now, I don’t know what the point is.” Hill said. (There isn’t one. There isn’t one.) “But if guys in the room like it and that’s their thing, I’m all for it. When you’re up at the plate, or on the mound, it’s your turn. So take your turn. If you want music, you get music. I’m a big traditional guy, but I’m also not ignorant to the modern stuff. I like a good mix.” Quit being all political, Koyie.
If the Ricketts family decides to go back to organ music, Byrd said the team can live with it (good!). It’s not a big deal, but one of those little “Chicago things” Chicagoans like to debate. It’s not a debate. I’m pretty sure we all hate it.
“I’m not part of the marketing department. So I’m not sure what kind of feedback they got,” Byrd said. “If the fans didn’t like it, we don’t need to have it. (Thank you.) They do need a new sound system. We need a lot of things. But I think the Ricketts are going to take care of that, and if we did have one, it’d be pretty cool. (Not untrue.)
“I know, just looking in the stands, that a lot of people enjoyed it (I don’t think it was your song that those people were enjoying.) It’s all just fun, trying to keep it loose. It’s too serious sometimes in Chicago. We need to have fun.” That wonderful, Marlon. Just find some other way to keep it loose and have fun. Pretty please.
But what does everyone else think? I’ve pretty much taken the assumption that everybody is on my side, but I could be wrong. Let me know what you think!
*Snarkasm… that’s going in the glossary, for sure.