Even if the Cubs take the NL Central wire-to-wire, the best performance fans see at Wrigley Field all season might come from a pair of dueling piano players who root for other baseball teams.
Elton "Rocketman" John and Billy "Pianoman" Joel announced this week they will bring their Face 2 Face tour to the National League's oldest ballpark on July 21.
The concert will be the third major gig of its kind in the history of Wrigley, which hosted shows by Jimmy Buffett in ‘05, followed by the Police two years later. The ballpark somehow escaped exploitation by the music industry for most of its 95 years on Earth, though it used to have Bears football and Sting soccer on the side.
The recent concerts, plus an NHL game on New Year's Day, have quickly reshaped Wrigley's image into that of a quaint amphitheater.
As the most recent acts to tap in, John and Joel also have linkage to baseball. Brought up with soccer and cricket in merry ol' England ("what?!"), Sir Elton began converting to the Braves in the '80s thanks to cable TV. He also happened to buy a home in Atlanta in 1991, the same year the Braves went viral, which hooked him for good.
Born in the Bronx and raised on Long Island, Joel has said he wept for several years after the Dodgers left Brooklyn; he raps about Roy Campanella, the Bums' championship in '55 and their West-Coast exodus (along with the "space monkey mafia") in his kitschy classic "We Didn't Start the Fire."
Joel stayed a New York baseball fan, and claims to have seen more Amazins games than Bombers, but he played concerts at both Yankee ("Mickey Mantle, Kerouac") and Shea before they were mothballed. Joel adds that he's never written the Mets into a song because so little rhymes with "Mets." (Cop out.)
Tickets go on sale Saturday. Too bad that Loopy Nella and Co. will miss the show; Cubs are at Phillies.
Here's hoping Elton comes out dressed in a Cubs motif like he did for that concert at Dodger Stadium 30 years ago. It's time to update.
As for Joel: Marciano, Liberace, Santayana, good-bye.