When the Chicago Cubs lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the final night game of the year at Wrigley Field, they robbed today’s home finale of any drama. The record for Cubs home losses in a season — 50, if you want to know — has now been set, so win, lose, or whatever, it really only matters to the Pirates now.
The last day of the season isn’t until Sunday, but the Wrigley Field part of the Cubs schedule ends today. If it had come six weeks ago, not too many people would have been upset about that. But early release isn’t an option in the majors, at least not in a technical sense.
So today’s game will have an announced crowd of 34,000 and something, but there won’t be 20,000 fans in the park. And those who are in the park will have one final chance to purchase an Old Style, which has been a tradition at Wrigley Field for more than 50 years.
The beer behemoths that seem to have big league stadia named for them (i.e., Busch Stadium, Miller Park, and Coors Field, to name a few) probably turn a very nice buck at the ballpark. And yet, freedom of choice seemed to be a consideration, too. I never much cared for Old Style beer, but I liked that it was an available option for when lines at the other concession stands were too long. And after Thursday, it won’t be an option anymore, as Anheuser-Busch ponied up millions to ensure their brands — and only theirs — are available at Wrigley Field for the forseeable future.
It doesn’t bother me on one level, as I gave up drinking a while ago. Besides, it’s not like I want to have a cold Old Style in a ballpark where autumn is in the air. But there are people who prefer Old Style, I’m sure, and now they have to get with the program and drink Budweiser products instead.
Whether Old Style sales will be brisk Wednesday or not, Wrigley Field will be different in many ways when we see it again next spring. But the Old Style won’t be flowing, that’s for sure.