Beginning July 21st, the Chicago Cubs will be providing kosher hot dogs at Wrigley Field, under the supervision of the Chicago Rabbinical Council. This is the first time in the storied 104-year history of Wrigley Field that kosher food will be made available to fans attending games. In recent years, numerous other teams, including the New York Yankees, New York Mets, Baltimore Orioles Cleveland Indians, and others have provided kosher food for their fans. Is the introduction of kosher hot dogs at Wrigley just another marketing ploy, or is there something bigger behind this culinary move?
Theo Epstein, general manager of the World Champion Chicago Cubs, was worried. The Cubs, baseball’s lovable losers who had broken their 108-year championship drought in 2016, bringing the trophy to Chicago, were tanking, with a record of 43-45 at baseball’s All-Star break. Their World Series heroes – Jon Lester, Kyle Schwarber, and Ben Zobrist – were mired in season-long slumps. Schwarber had even been sent down to the minor leagues for a spell. This year’s edition of the Cubs had reverted to the ways of most Cubs teams of the preceding 108 years, and were remarkably mediocre.
Epstein had spent the past several days attempting to make strategic moves to improve the team, by offering some of his key players in trades to other teams. But no one was interested in the under-performing Cubs players. After all, the Cubs had lost more games than they had won, and not a single player from last year’s team was voted to the All-Star Game. The fans were beginning to turn on the players. Why, last week, the Cubs yielded ten runs in a single inning. What could be done?
Epstein huddled with his assistant, general manager, Jed Hoyer, and they tried to come up with a solution. “Perhaps the Curse of the Billy Goat has returned”, mused Theo. “Maybe we need to bring another goat onto the field”, he said. “Not a good idea”, said Hoyer. The goat will eat the infield grass.” “Perhaps we should call in a cadre of spiritual leaders – say, a priest, a rabbi, and an imam – to make a joint invocation before the next home game”, Hoyer suggested. “That might turn things around.” Theo shook his head. “I don’t think that’s a good idea, either. When the White Sox moved to their new park in 1991, they had a rabbi give the invocation. They lost that game 16-0. Besides, who would represent the atheists?”
Epstein and Hoyer sat deep in thought, trying to find a solution. The pair, both Jewish, knew that the Cubs had employed sixteen Jewish players in their long history. Being trivia buffs, they even knew that Cy Block, another member of the tribe, had pinch-run in the 1945 World Series against Detroit. Surely, they thought, there must be some religious element that they could bring to Wrigley Field that might help the Cubs turn the tide. Epstein was depressed. “Something about this season, the errors, the pitching, the umpires – it just isn’t right. It’s just not kosher, the way things are turning out.” Hoyer suddenly stood, and said, “Did you say ‘kosher’” The two Jews looked at each other and shouted together, “KOSHER!”.
Sure enough, beginning July 21st, kosher hot dogs and polish sausages will be available at an approved kosher food stand in Wrigley Field. And what about the rest of the season? Will the players begin to hit? Will the pitchers start to pitch? And what about other religious observances at Wrigley Field? Who will be permitted to pray near the famous ivy-covered walls? Never mind. Just eat your hot dogs.