Overall, the Field of Dreams game is fine. Perhaps teams should be “flexed” into it during the season, so you don’t end up with two Quad-A rosters in the one regular season game MLB gives the network primetime treatment. Though if you’re trying to showcase baseball in 2022, having two teams that have simply chosen to be dog ass to increase profits is the best way to go about it for sure.
Still, it’s a cool visual, and this year seemed to get a little farther away from the movie itself and more to celebrate what the movie was supposed to really accentuate, which was the familial connection baseball had, and probably still has, amongst all of us fans. Other sports obviously have that generational connection now, but none is as ingrained in the culture as baseball yet. It’s a fine thing to celebrate, and having the Griffeys out there is a step up from Kevin Costner wandering aimlessly around the outfield trying to remember if he was in this movie or not.
I’ve always thought baseball should do a better job of embracing just how not cool it is, how it will always stick out from what is popular these days, and how it’s the exact antithesis of our short attention span culture. Sure, there are cool things within the game that should be highlighted — Edwin Diaz’s entrance or a Javy Baez tag or Aaron Judge hitting a ball to Quebec — but overall baseball isn’t cool and it probably will never be. And that’s fine! They should lean into it, and the Field of Dreams game feels like them doing just that. The movie is certainly not cool, I’m not even sure it’s good. But there’s value in being a dork.
Still, everyone will be talking about the hologram Harry Caray that made an appearance in the seventh inning stretch, even though it didn’t look like Harry at all and the whole hologram thing is a creepy and cheap grab at…something? Nostalgia? It all feels like Ian Malcolm again telling us, “You were so preoccupied with whether or not you could if you could, you didn’t stop to think if you should.” The Cubs have been playing a video of Harry leading the stretch for years, and it was far more effective than Fred Mertz or Seinfeld’s dad only kind of there.
Besides, as any Cubs fan will tell you, Harry doesn’t sing the whole thing in a loud blazer. He’s in a short-sleeve shirt, sweating profusely, and usually sweating out whatever he was imbibing until 5 a.m., swinging his mic from side to side to conduct and you were never completely sure if today wasn’t the day he wasn’t going to tumble right out of the booth. We were all sure it would happen. If we’re going to project a hologram of Harry anywhere, it should be on Rush St. on closing time when he’s getting let in while everyone else is being kicked out.
I’ll exit with my favorite Harry story, because it’s personal. My father worked in advertising for decades here in town, and was once recording a radio spot with Harry when he was broadcasting the White Sox. They were scheduled to record his voiceover before a day game one day, except that it was pouring straight through the morning into the afternoon. It was obvious that day’s game wouldn’t be played. And Harry knew that meant as soon as he was done with this spot, he could hightail it to the bars he probably only just left.
Being a pro, Harry gave my father and the producers a more than acceptable read, maybe even twice, and as my father tells it, as soon as he was done he turned to my father and with the speed of cocaine uttered, “HeyGeorgewasthatgoodenoughIcandoitagainifyouneedbutifthatwasgoodenoughit’sgoodenoughforme….” Dad barely had time to relent and let Harry go before there was a Caray-shaped cloud in the booth as he bolted out of there and out to his car.
Now that’s the Harry I’d like a hologram of.