The time has come.
The time is now.
What was to start as a test following Harry Caray’s death has grown beyond belief—and with it the 7th Inning Stretch beyond all recognition. When the guest conductor thing first came around, it was presented as a time-to-time thing with audio of Harry Caray doing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”
As we can see, that didn’t happen. What has happened, however, is what should have been Harry’s legacy and what once was the one constant fans could looked forward to at or watching a game has become a mockery.
It has become a mini version of The Tonight Show with Len and JD, a brief performance followed (sometimes) by a couch visit. And as with that any variety show, when you have 81 of them to string together, for every Steve Martin or Martin Short, you are going to get a Joaquin Phoenix. The Cubs have rolled out more Phoenixes than is necessary, which to me hit a peak last night with the guys from Book of Mormon.
I use the word peak conservatively here, because what they did by mocking their way through the rendition is the ongoing enabling of every goof who grabbed the mic before them has gotten from the Cubs and the media. It’s their chance to make something cherished by fans all about them. Their lasting (personal) memory or (inside and incredibly unfunny) joke to share with their in crowd or use as a story to pay for a free drink at a bar years down the line.
It’s the equivalent of a selfie. Unless it comes with knockers out to Batavia, I don’t want to see a seflie, ever. Separate editorial on selfies to come another time.
It’s time to close the curtain on this overblown experiment, and the Cubs have a great opportunity to do just that. To do the right thing, and to also get some mileage out of their new, heralded Wrigley Field jumbotron.
Unless the guest conductor is a former Cubs player (Billy Williams, Steve Trout, Lee Smith, etc.), another member of the Cubs family or broadcast teams or someone who can be considered a celebrity super fan (Bill Murray, Eddie Vedder, Lin Brehmer and Joe Mantegna come to mind), the only person we should see and hear during the Stretch is Harry Caray on the jumbotron.
This is not a call from a fan who is holding on to the past like a child on his parent’s pant leg. This is about using a new opportunity in the jumbotron to do what is right and preserve a ballpark experience that was originated by the Mayor of Rush Street. The Ricketts family has said time and again they intend on preserving Wrigley Field and its legacy. Now is the time to preserve a huge part of its legacy in the 7th Inning Stretch.
OK, fine. It may be too late to “preserve” it, but it’s not too late to pull it off the pier where it’s flagging down sailors, pump it full of Zithromax, clean it up and send it back out there.
Once you've done that, you should recognize that. It will look and sound a lot like this. I, and a very large portion of your fan base, will thank you.