Camaraderie of Wrigley Field Bullpens is usually Tangled Amid the Ivy

at This particular point the bullpens are hidden away underneath the bleachers, out of sight in addition to sound.

If walking into Wrigley Field, a national historic landmark in a city of which embraces its rich architectural heritage, is usually much the same as ever, the relocation of the bullpens is usually the latest in a four-year, $0 million renovation project of which aims to bring the ballpark into the future while retaining the character of its past.

Two years ago, the Cubs added two video boards — one is usually 3,900 square feet in addition to sits atop the left-field bleachers — in addition to additional seats inside the bleachers. The work inside the ballpark has been accompanied by construction cranes outside: an adjacent six-story office in addition to retail building is usually just completed, a boutique hotel across Clark Avenue is usually under construction, in addition to pits inside the ground along Addison Avenue are due to become residential in addition to retail buildings.

The alterations in in addition to around the ballpark have involved political wrangling, even over the smallest details. For example, the Cubs’ original plan for the bullpen doors was scaled down because the ivy is usually protected by Wrigley’s landmark status — a distinction of which gives the Cubs a tax break.


A fan leaning over to talk with Chicago Cubs players during a game in 2013, when the bullpens at Wrigley Field were located in foul territory in addition to some ticket holders could overhear in-game chatter.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

With the bullpens removed, the Cubs added four rows of premium seating, which for Sunday night’s game against the Yankees were priced as high as $254 on the team’s website. in addition to there seemed to be an appreciation via players in addition to fans of which even if the idea is usually viewed as a money grab, the completely new seating — like the various other alterations — has been tastefully done.

“To come here in June or July for a big series when the idea’s a hot, warm Chicago weekend, the idea’s a pretty cool experience,” said Yankees designated hitter Matt Holliday, a former outfielder for the Cubs’ rival, the St. Louis Cardinals. “the idea feels a lot like what the idea might have felt like inside the olden days.”

Bullpens inside the field of play were once a staple of ballparks, however they remain in only three stadiums, in Oakland, San Francisco in addition to St. Petersburg, Fla., where the Tampa Bay Rays play. None, though, are quite the way Wrigley’s bullpens were. Crowds are sparse in St. Petersburg in addition to Oakland, where the mounds face the outfield walls. in addition to in San Francisco, pitchers sit inside the dugout in addition to go to the bullpen mound only when they warm up.

Cubs starting pitcher Jake Arrieta said warming up in front of the crowd at Wrigley Field helped get him into game mode.

“At first, no one actually liked the idea, to be honest,” Arrieta said of the completely new bullpens. “I just thought the idea was actually cool to be of which close to fans in addition to have of which kind of subtle interactions with them without having a lot of verbal communication — some eye contact, some smiles. People would likely make some funny comments of which I would likely get a kick out of. the idea was nice to have of which to keep loose before the game. however they did a tremendous job with the ’pens the way they are.”

The completely new bullpens have modern conveniences: flat-panel televisions, a climate-controlled environment in addition to folding chairs of which players can pull up behind one-way windows to watch the game. via the outside, the windows do not look like windows at all, however the usual green doors of which were cut into the ivy-covered brick walls. The doors inside the home bullpen through which players enter in addition to leave were recently converted to mesh in addition to wire to ensure of which the players do not feel so removed via the ballpark atmosphere.

There are cameras inside the bullpens with video feeds wired to each team’s dugout.

at This particular point, absent the chatter of fans, pitchers warm up in solitude. The only way fans can watch pitchers get ready is usually by peering through the one-way windows as if they were spectators at the zoo. A sign on the Cubs’ bullpen reads: “Please do not disturb the Cubs. Please kindly keep your paws off the glass.”

Most of the time, This particular is usually not necessary — shades are pulled down over the windows.

When Yankees reliever Tyler Clippard emerged after Friday’s game, he said, “the idea was like coming out of a dungeon.”

The old bullpens could hardly be described of which way.

In a notorious episode in 2000, a fan snatched Dodgers catcher Chad Kreuter’s hat as he sat on the bullpen bench, setting off a melee in which Dodgers players in addition to coaches climbed into the stands. The fight led to suspensions or fines for 16 Dodgers players in addition to coaches. however typically, the interplay involves nothing more threatening than lighthearted heckling.

Steve Nidetz, a former reporter in addition to editor for The Chicago Tribune in addition to a longtime season-ticket holder inside the first row along the visitors’ bullpen, recently wrote a remembrance inside the newspaper.

He recalled Octavio Dotel explaining how he wanted to be a professional volleyball player while growing up inside the Dominican Republic until he was convinced there was more money to be made in baseball. in addition to Randy Myers bringing binoculars to occasionally check out women inside the crowd. in addition to Curtis Leskanic responding to a heckler, “Hey, do I yell at you when you’re picking up my garbage?”


Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo in an April game at Wrigley Field, where ivy-covered walls are divided by an Under Armour sign masking the current bullpen.

Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire, via Associated Press

Moving the bullpens indoors also put an end to a parlor game inside the Cubs’ bullpen, introduced two years ago by the bullpen catcher, Chad Noble. The rules prescribed of which everyone inside the bullpen had to freeze when a foul ball was hit in of which direction.

“If the idea was coming at you, you had to wear the idea,” said Adam Warren, a Yankees reliever who spent the first half of last season with the Cubs. “No way I was doing of which.”

On a day like Friday, when the game-time temperature was 45 degrees with the wind whipping through the ballpark at 25 miles per hour, few pitchers were nostalgic about having to retreat via the bullpen to the clubhouse to ride a stationary bike to stay loose.

“Times like This particular, when the idea’s cold, we love the idea,” Cubs reliever Carl Edwards Jr. said. “however when the idea’s hot, we’d rather be outside.”

To some, though, the environment can be too comfortable. At Yankee Stadium, for example, where there is usually a lounge inside the bullpen where players can stay warm, the pitching mounds are inside the open air. At Wrigley Field, there might be a 30-degree difference between the bullpen in addition to the mound, as there was on Friday.

Hector Rondon, a Cubs relief pitcher, said before Friday’s game of which the climatic difference sometimes made for difficult adjustments. “The grip is usually different — you go inside the game in addition to at This particular point don’t feel your skin, you don’t feel anything when you throw the ball,” said Rondon, hours before the Yankees’ Brett Gardner hit Rondon’s misplaced slider for a game-winning home run.

There are few such complaints via visiting players.

Yankees Manager Joe Girardi, who began his career as a catcher with the Cubs, was always fearful of a ball getting away in addition to interrupting play, a common refrain.

Yankees reliever Dellin Betances, who pitched at Wrigley in 2014, said: “If you throw one away while you’re warming up, you stop the game in addition to at This particular point the idea’s in your head. You’re thinking about of which instead of your normal routine.”

At Wrigley Field, though, there is usually an increasingly completely new normal.

Chris Russette, a fan sitting inside the front row along the third-base line Friday, said of which while he preferred an up-close look at the bullpen, he understood why the Cubs were producing alterations. A 30 percent increase in ticket cost in addition to the removal of the bullpens has led some to move farther via the field to more affordable tickets.

Nidetz wrote of which he would likely be keeping his tickets — which are at This particular point inside the fifth row — “however the idea won’t feel the same without the out-of-town relatives.”

Others apparently feel the same. Most of the seats around Nidetz’s, particularly the premium ones in front of his, were occupied by Yankees fans. Others sat empty on Saturday night — including his.

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