Rangers designated hitter Lance Berkman (PHOTO: Tim Heitman/USA TODAY Sports)
Who doesn’t love Wrigley Field? It’s a functioning piece of baseball history, rich with tradition, redolent of hot dogs, brimming with day-drunk fans singing Take Me Out to the Ballgame every afternoon despite more than a century’s worth of disappointing seasons. Sure, it has its drawbacks: Occasional harshness from the bleachers and the lack of modern amenities ballplayers and fans have come to expect from sterile but state-of-the-art new stadiums around the country. But it’s a great park in a great town and — wait, what’s that, Lance Berkman?
“If they’re looking for a guy to push the button when they blow the place up, I’ll do it.”
Jeff Wilson’s feature for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram suggests nearly every Texas Ranger but the team’s veteran DH is excited for the club’s interleague series in Chicago. But Berkman calls the city “one of the worst places in baseball … really for anything.”
He might be biased by some personal misfortune. In Berkman’s 15-season major league career, he has amassed more than 100 plate appearances in 17 parks. Want to guess which one he has been the worst at?
It’s Wrigley, and it’s not even close. Across 83 games in the Friendly Confines, Berkman has a .732 OPS — more than two hundred points below his career .954 mark. And though Berkman has struck out at a higher rate at Wrigley than he has in his career, his .255 batting average on balls in play – compared to a career .318 mark – suggests he has been a bit unlucky for a prolonged period in the park.
The especially bad news for Berkman? It’s starting to appear unlikely anyone will implode the historic park anytime soon. Cubs owner Tom Ricketts is working on a $500 million renovation plan for Wrigley Field, one he expects will preserve the park for at least 50 more years. So here’s hoping for Berkman’s sake his button-pushing finger is still strong and operable when he’s 87.
Monday, Ricketts told…