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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Reinsdorf's Roof
Pleases Plebs!

by Hal Vickery

This past week the Sox unveiled plans for what was probably the worst kept secret in baseball, Phase IV of the renovations to U.S. Cellular Field.  Probably the only people who were surprised by the details were those who haven’t been following the message boards on WSI since October. 

This year the bulk of the renovations will finally go to the upper deck, the part of the ball park that needed it the most.  That’s what the infusion of $60 million from a corporate sponsor can do.  The main features of this year’s renovations are the demolition of the top eight rows of the upper deck along with the roof that served more as decoration than protection from the sun or rain. 

The top eight rows also happen to be where the grade of the “old” upper deck was steepest (35 degrees), which should be a relief to those who either got felt like they needed mountain climbing gear to scale Mt. Reinsdorf.   

The new roof will cover all but the bottom eight rows of the “new” upper deck, which will accomplish two things.  It should help to eliminate the feeling of vertigo fans felt while looking up to the top of the deck, and then while looking down on the field.  It will also protect far more upper deck patrons from the sun during day games and rain all season. 

The Sox feel that the new roof will also help to hold in fan noise, which, if all the Sox actually field a team above AAA level, should help strike fear into the hearts of the opposition.  Some would classify that benefit as wishful thinking. 

One difference that will be evident when the new roof is completed is that there will now be about 300 obstructed-view seating at the ball park.  Just a dozen years ago the fact that there were no seats with obstructed views was considered a primary selling point in marketing the Sox new home.  My, how times change! 

The second improvement of the upper deck will be enclosing the concourse area.  Up to now that area has been well suited on some days for wind tunnel tests of small aircraft.  It also will now provide protection from the elements, something that was sadly lacking before now. 

A third change will benefit those fans shelling out the biggest bucks.  The lowest level of sky boxes will now have an outdoor balcony area in front of each box.  If someone could explain the purpose of this, please send an email.  It seems to me that this will allow the fans to go outside of the boxes and block the view of those who choose to remain indoors.  Of course, maybe those who occupy the suites couldn’t care less about the game going on below them anyway. 

The final renovation is for the rest of us plebeians.  The one renovation that was immediately a smash hit with the fans was the addition of the fan deck in center field.  The problem was that space was quite limited and once the crowd formed, it became difficult for late arrivers to see anything but the bare backs of Crede’s Crew. 

This year the will be tiered standing and/or seating on the fan deck.  This will at least allow more fans who want to see the game from that unique vantage point to be able to do so. 

Overall the good news is that Comiskey Park II as it was originally designed is nearly dead.  Gone are the corrugated steel batters eye, the worst seats in the upper deck, and the entire “ball mall” atmosphere.  “The Cell” is turning into something that looks like a ball park that fans will enjoy coming to. 

Of course, the media reaction is predictable.  It’s not Wrigley.  

Thank God! 

--------

We cant let another week go by without commenting on the results of steroid testing by MLB.  It was announced week before last that “between four and six percent” of all players tested positive for steroids.  This triggered the mandatory testing of all players through the duration of the collective bargaining agreement. 

Under terms of the CBA, no names were released after this round of testing.  Players won’t be so lucky in the future.  They will be faced with the possibility of increasingly stiff fines or suspensions without pay if they are caught again. 

It will be interesting to see which players are fined and which players are suspended when they are caught in violation of the no-steroid rule. 

And some will indeed be caught.  Just consider the results of this spring’s testing.  The players knew at least six months in advance that they would be tested.  Rather than cleaning up their acts, forty-five of them were stupid enough to continue using steroids.  You can bet some of those forty-five are stupid enough to continue using them even now. 

The whole situation could turn into something as damaging to baseball as the drug investigation centered around the Pittsburgh Pirates and Kansas City Royals in the 1980s.  The sad thing is that Commissioner Budlight was the biggest enabler in this scandal. 

It was Budlight who encouraged the playing of the game as it is now, centered on the home run.  It was Budlight who played up the home run race between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa in 1998, including the specially marked balls for each record setting home run.   

Of course a lot of people involved with the game also chose to look the other way when players who previously were built like relatively normal humans came to spring training six months after later looking like Brahma Bulls.   

There is a scandal brewing, and it’s not going to be pretty.  But as the Bible says, “As you sow, so shall you reap.”  All of the looking the other way is going to explode and destroy a lot of players’ reputations. 

Let’s hope that no one forgets the Chief Enabler. 


Editor's Note: Hal Vickery has been a White Sox fan since 1955 when he was five years old. For much of that time he also had a secondary rooting interest in the Cubs, which he has shown the good sense to abandon. When not cheering for or writing about the Sox, Hal teachers chemistry and physics at North Boone High School, in Poplar Grove, IL. Hal commutes there daily from Joliet, where he lives with his wife Lee, and their dog, Buster T. Beagle. Hal's opinions are not necessarily those of North Boone High School, his wife, or Buster T. Beagle. You can write Hal at hvickery@svs.com.

More features from Hal Vickery here!

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