SaveWrigley.com is petitioning Cubs fans to boycott the sportswear company Under Armour in response to their planned ads on the Friendly Confines’ outfield walls. Me, I try to take the philosophical view.
1. The famous ivy was merely the first great brainstorm from genius huckster Bill Veeck, the man who brought you exploding scoreboards, Disco Demolition Night, Eddie Gaedel, the Comiskey Martians, and baseball player shorts. I think he’d find the ads profoundly uncreative, but his legacy has not been purity.
2. Remember how everyone was so upset about the lights? Oh, you don’t. Ask your dad, kid.
3. Since this is about aesthetics, let’s think about the purpose of architectural design and ornamentation. You could argue that, in pure aesthetic terms, the ads are a mistake. I won’t argue with that. But I submit that, ideally, design should speak to the nature of an institution. And the Cubs are an institution that scalps its own tickets and drove out announcer Steve Stone because he had the temerity to be honest. So think of the ads as honest, resonant design.
4. By the All-Star break, the fact that Under Armour is picking up a chunk of fly-ball pitcher Ted Lilly’s four-year, $40 million contract will seem like corporate charity.