When the final out is recorded on Wednesday night at Wrigley Field, it's more than just the game ending. It's even more than just the Cubs' home season ending. It's the end of an era.
There's no questioning the historic status of Wrigley Field. Heck, it's the only ballpark remaining at which Jackie Robinson and Babe Ruth both played. It was the last ballpark to install permanent lights. You can walk in to where Babe Ruth called his shot, where Sam Snead smacked a golf ball off of the manually operated scoreboard and where thousands of baseball players made history.
The Cubs and Bears have called it home, as well as millions of dedicated Cubs fans. Although its appearance may not be the same as it was when it opened a century ago, its charm grows every day.
It has withstood two World Wars, the Great Depression and the sixties. It's where Ferris Bueller heckled the opposing batter and where Henry Rowengartner threw the high, stinky cheese in Rookie of the Year.
Years have come and gone, times have changed and society has morphed into a non-stop whirlwind of humanless contact, bad news and modern clutter.
Not Wrigley Field.
Wrigley Field has always been special, largely because it remains virtually unchanged since it opened. It hasn't needed the newest technology to draw fans or a giant videoboard for fans to stare at instead of the game itself. Arguably, its two best qualities are the history that has happened there and the fact that fans can watch a baseball game the same way that it was seen a century ago.
Three, even four generations have walked into Wrigley Field and been overcome by its splendor and originality. Much unlike the rest of the ballparks in baseball, there's been no videoboard flashing a controversial call, no couple surrounded by a heart on the kiss cam. One could almost walk into Wrigley Field in a top hat and suit now and fit in just the same as one did during the Roaring Twenties. Until next year.
Cubs fans have perfected the art of stating "wait 'til next year." This time, next year brings an enormous transformation to Wrigley Field. After a century of traditional baseball, the Cubs owners have decided to let modernization take effect and renovate Wrigley Field. The changes could start as soon as the last weekend of the 2014 season.
Among the transformations are the addition of more suites, expanded concessions and concourses and more signage throughout the ballpark. The most notable added feature that fans will notice when they walk into Wrigley on April 6, 2015 will be a large videoboard to the left of the manually operated scoreboard.
It used to be that fans would go to a baseball game for the game. Now, games are a cornucopia of social events happening in and around the ballpark. Wrigley Field has always reflected what society once was. Now, it will reflect what society is: a technology-dependent, distraction-filled world that is incessantly changing and moving on to the "next best thing."
Some fans love that, while others hate it. Some may say they're improving it, others may say they're ruining it. There's no right or wrong. Regardless, Wrigley Field will never be the same. But in the end, it will still be the same place where our grandfathers watched legends and our parents brought us for our first game.
Whether you agree with the transformations that Wrigley Field will soon undergo, now is a good time to take one last mental snapshot of the Friendly Confines. It will soon be changed forever.
On the plus side, there's a lot to look forward to no matter what Wrigley Field looks like. With one of the best farm systems in baseball starting to reach the major league level, there's a buzz around Wrigley Field. And not just the buzz of jackhammers and bulldozers.
Thanks for a century of old-fashioned baseball, Wrigley Field. Here's to many more years and an eventual World Championship celebration in your majestic bricks and ivy.