The metaphor hung in the background until Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts, the last speaker at the Wrigley Field rededication event Thursday, seized it.
“In many ways, the story of the long road to saving Wrigley Field mirrors the success we’ve had on the field,” Ricketts said.
It was very clear, however, as the sun beat down on the rows of white chairs set before a Gallagher Way stage, that the timelines of the two projects were offset.
The timing of the rededication – which celebrated the conclusion of the 1060 Project that restored and expanded the ballpark, unveiled the Cubs Hall of Fame on the left field concourse, and revealed Wrigley’s National Historic Landmark plaque – wasn’t entirely up to the club.
The event was originally planned for last year but was postponed due to the pandemic.
“Slightly disappointed because we were so excited about it, we want to share it with people,” said Colin Faulkner, Cubs executive vice president of sales and marketing, “and really thank the people that did all this stuff, whether it’s honoring Cubs that played here or honoring people that worked on the project.
“It was fun today to be able to see all these faces. It was almost, in a way, better, because we haven’t seen a lot of these people in a long time. So, it was a reunion of sorts to see all these people that we spent six years of our lives with, working on the project.”
That’s the upside of the event’s timing. The downside was the stark contrast it drew between the end of the Wrigley Field renovation and the start of a team rebuild – even if Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer pushes back on the term “rebuild.”
If the rededication event had happened last season, the end of a championship era still would have still loomed large. The core was fielding questions about its impending breakup for years before it happened at the trade deadline this year. But at least the celebration wouldn’t have been days after a 12-game losing streak, the Cubs’ second double-digit skid of the season.
“Let me also say to our fans,” Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney said in his speech to the crowd, “we know our current play on the field is not what you expect or deserve. And we assure you that winning another World Series continues to be our No. 1 goal.”
Ricketts would later reiterate the same promise and add: “at least one more.”
After drawing a comparison between the architects who put back together a crumbling ballpark and Theo Epstein and Hoyer – the architects of the 2016 World Series championship team – Ricketts cast forward the metaphor.
“Now Jed and his architects are at it again,” Ricketts said, “making tough decisions and long-term investments to build the next great Cubs team.”
The difference is that the Wrigley Field construction could be confined to the offseason. The team deconstruction hit a peak in the middle of this season. Metaphorical chunks of cement are falling from all parts of the upper deck.
So, now, the organization is asking the fans again to, “Please pardon our dust.”