Cubs Push Plans to Move Bullpens Back to 2017

The Cubs announced today that plans to move the bullpens from foul territory on the field to beneath the bleachers would be pushed back a year to 2017. I’m not sure what, if anything, this signals in terms of the overall timeline and readiness of Wrigley’s renovations, but I find myself somewhat encouraged by this news.

While I’m not a “get off my lawn” guy at all when it comes to Wrigley, my views change a little when taken literally. That is to say, I’m all for the new video boards, walk-up music (particularly Kyle Schwarber’s choices of No Diggety and Thuggish, Ruggish Bone), but I really like the idea of the bullpens being out on the field. In other words, I’d prefer they not get them off my lawn. Or the Cubs’ lawn, as it were.

That’s probably an anachronistic point of view, particularly coming from someone who’s rallied in favor of progress, but I like what I like. In the end, though, moving the ‘pens will probably improve safety for both the active players and those sitting or warming up. Removing the practice mounds, chairs, and people can’t be a bad thing, nor can limiting the number of men who could be blindsided by a hard line drive.

I will say, however, that I have thoroughly enjoyed the way some ballparks have open bullpens beyond the outfield fence, particularly when they’re open to the public. Watching Greg Maddux warm up before a game in Cincinnati was a real treat, as was chatting up Chris Bosio in Cleveland. Wrigley’s setup doesn’t allow for that same open-to-the-top deal, but it’d be pretty cool to have viewing windows for the bleacher patrons to check out the action in the ‘pens.

I have no doubt that once it’s done I won’t even notice the removal of the on-field bullpens, but it just feels strange to me right now. Again, I know that’s a bit of a hypocritical view, but already have a bit of melancholy knowing this change is coming. Oh well, onward and upward.

Looking on the bright side, this means there’s no chance for anyone to get hurt on a stray chair while running onto the field in celebration of another world title. And it also sets up climactic entrances, like Mo Rivera running out to Enter Sandman or Rick Vaughn to Wild Thing. So that’s pretty sweet. Okay, I’ve convinced myself: if we can see even one moment like that during a deep playoff run, this change will be worth it.

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