Thursday, June 17, 2010

Wrigley Walk-Up Music: an Introduction to Suck

When I heard the Cubs had adopted the otherwise league-wide practice of playing pre-recorded walk-up music before every batter (as opposed to the traditional organ fare), I had almost no emotional response. As far as I'm concerned, and I doubt I'm alone in this, the Cubs picked the perfect time to introduce such a change: a time when our care-o-meter is at its lowest.

Fortunately, my youngest brother doesn't know the meaning of the word apathy. That may be true both literally and figuratively, seeing as though he's more of a music guy than a vocab wizard. I kid. He's my baby brother. Sibling torture aside, the kid cares about his baseball.

The kid also has a kid of his own now who gets to experience the joy and pain of Cubs baseball on a regular basis. But I'll let my brother tell that story in what is, as of this moment, an open letter to the Cubs in response to their use of walk-up music. As I alluded to earlier, Robbie is a guy who lives and breathes music, so it's no small matter to him. As you read, I invite you to also take in this video featuring one of Robbie's compositions. Originally titled "Nancy," I prefer to think of it in this instance as "Robbie's Lament." (feel free to ignore the sappy photo array, it's just easier for me to post videos than songs)




To whom it may concern,
My wife and 2-year old son took me to the Cubs game as an early father's day gift, and they lost 9-5 to the A's, but we had a great time. I couldn't help but notice that the Wrigley staff seemed friendlier than ever. This was my son's 6th Cubs game, and he had a blast. The highlights for him have always been the hotdogs, the 7th inning stretch, singing "Go Cubs Go" (when we're so fortunate to see them win), the cup-holders, chanting "Let's go Cubbies (clap, clap, clap, clap, clap), watching the game (of course), and yesterday he fell in love with "773-202-LUNA").
We've taken him to see the Cubs play the Sox at U.S. Cellular Field, and to "Wrigley Field North" to see them play the Brewers. I even saw them play at old Yankee Stadium. None of these ballparks have the magic that Wrigley Field has. Going to a Cubs game is a very unique experience that is very different from these other parks, a much better experience. In fact, I would argue that if any of these other franchises wanted to improve their atmosphere, they should be trying to emulate Wrigley atmosphere. This, however, would prove to be an impossible task, since they do not have Wrigley Field itself.
For me, two highlights of Wrigley that set it apart from these other parks are the organ music, and the Dixieland band. When I hear this music, I feel like I'm getting a slice of Americana that is as classic as Wrigley Field itself. When I have gone to other parks, I have always bragged about how at Wrigley it's about watching the game, and how Cubs fans actually do that. I’ve loved the fact that we don't have “the wave” or blaring canned music to introduce each batter. You don’t see Derek Lee walking up to the plate in slow motion with Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” blaring as the opposing team’s pitcher shakes in his boots.
I read Paul Sullivan’s* article today about the giant mac 'n cheese noodle and the Toyata sign (http://www.chicagobreakingsports.com/2010/06/cubs-install-giant-noodle-ad-outside-wrigley-field.html), and I don't have a problem with any of this at all (I do miss the old Torco ad, but I digress). But yesterday, after sitting through a 1 hour 45 minute rain delay, my heart sank when Theriot walked up to the plate to Salt-N-Pepper's "Push It." I used to be able to hear fans cheer when the announcer announced each batter. I even liked it when the organ player played semi-obscure songs that play off of the batter’s name. In the aforementioned article Sullivan references this Soriano quote in regards to the song intros: "That motivates people when they go to home plate." "I'll wait to pick the perfect song, and I'll be excited when I go to the plate."
Isn’t that the job of the fans?
Sullivan also stated “The Cubs have also stopped playing organ music to introduce their players when they come to the plate. Now they have taped music, like most other ballparks.” Whether these song introductions are an idea of the players or of the marketing department, either way I think it is a mistake. Why is Wrigley trying to emulate any other lesser ballpark?
Over the years, I've seen the Cubs lose many games, but I've always left satisfied by the "buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks" atmosphere of old school Americana (with some modern upgrades). Wrigley is the field of dreams, it's like you are going back to another era.
All that to say, while overall I had an awesome time yesterday watching the Cubs game as my son fell asleep in my arms, I could not help but feel disappointed by these new song intros for Cubs batters. I expect that sort of thing and even welcome it at a basketball game or even at a White Sox game, but not at a Cubs game.
Thank you for your time,
Robbie

Before reading this, I really wasn't all that bothered by the decision to introduce walk-up music and was considering posting almost the exact opposite sentiment to what my brother wrote in his letter to the Cubs. But seeing it in practice and reading the thoughts of someone with a much better appreciation than I have for the effects of music on the hearts and minds of the people who hear it, I've changed my mind.

I don't advocate tradition above progress if it stands in the way of actual improvements to the ball club or the fans' ability to enjoy it: but this is a move that offers no advantage to anyone. As much as I've been mocking the fans this week, I don't discount that the participation of the fans is more valuable for energizing our players than . . . Mony, Mony or whatever the crap these guys choose as their intro music.

I think it's time for Gary Pressy to play his own introduction and welcome himself back to the role of player introductions . . . Baby Come Back? I Want You Back? Gary, Indiana? I'll stop. These are all awful and nothing better's ever going to surface. Anyway, bring back the organ.


*Pepin le Bref, as he's known here.

7 comments:

  1. I say ... Just Say No
    To Cubs taped intro music
    Lousy idea

    My daughter and I first noticed the intro music when we attended Friday's game against the White Sox. Initially, we just assumed we had missed it on TV and radio, but then I heard that this home stand is the first time they used it.

    It's like "other parks"?
    But we're not at "other parks"
    We're at Wrigley Field!

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  2. The Toyota sign is not as bad as I had imagined, the noodle doesn't matter (outside the park), but the cancellation of organ introductions and replacement with music cuts is vile and violative of the ballpark experience. It just doesn't fit or belong at Wrigley -- sign this petition if you agree:

    http://www.cubbytees.com/Petition.html

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  3. I'm a little surprised they just tried to sneak it in there along with the Toyota sign and the weird noodle thing. It's like they're firing away with as many changes at one time as they can to dissipate the backlash at any one thing. This one is unexpected though, because it's lame pretty much everywhere.

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  4. Iblamemydadi'mafanJune 19, 2010 at 8:22 PM

    Can I just say how sad I am to learn that Ryan Theriot chose Salt-n-Peppa's "Push It" as his walk up music? It makes me wonder what he plays in the club house. Does he do the running man to get psyched?

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  5. I think I'd be more surprised if he doesn't do the running man as a pre-game ritual.

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  6. This has got to be the lamest complaint I've ever read yet. I think the the walk-up music is great. I know the organ is tradition, but holding on to an organ tradition is a little much. Four seconds of music is not going to kill anyone. It does not take away from the game or the atmosphere at Wrigley. It only adds to it. I love everything the new owners have done in an attempt to modernize the ballpark while at the same time keeping many of the traditions at Wrigley. You can complain about the music, night games and ads all you want. All I care about is the team putting a good product on the field. Wrigley is not a church or place of worship. It's a baseball stadium.

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  7. If that's the lamest complaint you've ever read, you can't possibly come across that many. The thing is, when I first heard the walk-up music, I didn't really care. But the more I heard it, the more it grates on me. Not because of any tradition, but because it sounds stupid everywhere. You're right, it's just four seconds of music. And playing four seconds of some random song is really, really stupid. It's stupid everywhere. Every single stadium I've been to, 15 or whatever the number is, that plays walk-up music as a batter steps to the plate reminds me of how dumb a concept it is. What my brother wrote reminded me that, while the Cubs don't get a whole lot right when it comes to baseball, steering clear of that new and altogether idiotic tradition, was one of the good things this organization had going for it.

    I agree, putting a winning baseball team on the field takes precedence over everything else. But this has absolutely nothing to do with helping the team win. It's just a poorly thought out gimmick. With that in mind, if all you care about is the product on the field, I'm not sure why this complaint bothers you since it's completely unrelated.

    If you want to read a much lamer complaint, I recommend you search for the morons who are actually angry that the Cubs offered a discount on bleacher tickets. Not that you should be on the search for lame complaints. I just don't get it. If you like the walk-up music, fine. That doesn't disqualify the rest of the world to recognize it for the annoyance that it is, at least to them.

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Spill it.

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