CHICAGO -- The bits of information about the Wrigley Field renovations that started to trickle the Cardinals way over the last few weeks of Spring Training painted a mostly ominous picture of the setting that awaited the club on Opening Night. Perhaps that's why manager Mike Matheny described the ballpark as "a lot better than we were anticipating," while general manager John Mozeliak noted that he was "pleasantly surprised" upon arriving on Sunday.
Sure, the area is still very much a construction zone, with nearby roads blocked off, forklifts in the concourses and unfinished outfield bleachers that won't be ready for fans until late May or early June. But rumors of no hot water proved to be unfounded, and perhaps there was even a competitive advantage within it all.
As left fielder Matt Holliday said, "It should be a little quieter out there."
While much remains unfinished, the completed installation of a large video board -- a first in the ballpark's history -- above the left-center-field bleachers did catch everyone's eye.
"I think the [video board] looks great," said reliever Carlos Villanueva, who spent the 2013 and '14 seasons with the Cubs. "It should have been there a long time ago. It will add some life. … Slowly but surely they'll implement what they want. I saw the blueprints, and it is ambitious. If they finish the work that they've started, it's going to be very good for them to lure in free agents and have people be more comfortable playing here. I think it's going to help them."
There has been speculation that the video board could affect the infamous Wrigley Field wind patterns. It was a theory that Matheny quickly dismissed.
"There's no question that the wind can play havoc here, and I don't think the board is going to do that much," he said. "When it's blowing in, you couldn't hit it out of here with a rocket launcher. And when it was blowing out, you just wanted to get it up in the air. That's just part of the history of this place. It's always been like that. It affects the way you go about your at-bats. It affects the way you pitch. It affects the way that you think about the game as a whole."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB and like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.