CHICAGO – The changes to baseball that come from the commissioner's office generally have required considerable modification. For instance, there were those runners who were out at the plate by 20 feet being declared safe because the catcher had a couple of cleats in the baseline before he received a throw.
That changed. Everything changes with baseball, which almost always gets something wrong before getting it right.
Interleague play started in 1997. The effects were mostly positive, but there was also absurdity, such as the manner baseball tried to take advantage of the Labor Day holiday for the final round of interleague series.
The last of those three-game sets were played on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
Apparently, no one in the Commissioner's Office took note that 90 percent of America's children returned to school on the Tuesday after Labor Day.
That's why you saw this the first time the Twins came to Wrigley Field:
On Labor Day in 1997, there was a vociferous, Twins-heavy crowd of 34,117. And then the Minnesotans headed back to the Twin Cities and the crowds on Tuesday and Wednesday were in the low 20,000s.
Ron Coomer, now the analyst for Cubs radio, and LaTroy Hawkins, a special assistant for the Twins, were talking before Friday's game at Wrigley Field and agreed on this:
There were more Minnesota fans and more enthusiasm for the club in that 7-6 victory on Labor Day in Wrigley Field than there were for scores of Twins games played in the Metrodome in that dreary season.
The early years of interleague play had the AL Central playing the NL Central, and the Twins were back in Wrigley Field in 1999 and 2001. The system changed to where a Twins-Cubs series takes place once every three seasons, and the Twins had been scheduled in Wrigley only one more time — June 12, 13 and 14, 2009 — before this weekend.
That series was notable for Cubs right fielder Milton Bradley tossing a ball into the stands when there were two outs, and the Twins winning a series (2-1) in Wrigley for the first time.
Things have changed dramatically in and around Wrigley during the Twins' nine-year absence: The Cubs ended their 108-year championship slump with a World Series victory in 2016, and $575 million was spent to remodel the ancient ballpark and a wide area outside and to the west of the stadium.
What hasn't changed is that Sheffield Avenue behind the right-field stands is still part of a neighborhood, and also that Twins fans will show up in droves at Wrigley Field even with their team in the throes of a dreary season.
Paul Veit and his crew of family from St. Paul were in Murphy's Bleachers, the bar on the corner of Waveland and Sheffield.
This was three hours before the first pitch and there was a need to hydrate for a game that would start at 4:10 p.m. with a heat index of 106.
"We take a Twins trip every summer," Veit said. "We were thinking Kansas City and then saw the schedule: Wrigley. You can't miss the Twins in Wrigley. This is everything that's great about baseball."
The Veits have a 20-game season-ticket package at Target Field. "On a scale of 10, I'd give this season an '8' on the disappointment scale," he said. "The pitching staff is better than I thought, but this lineup, with Buxton and Sano not being factors …
"As loyal fans, we've been saying the magic number for the Twins is 2019."
There were three Eidens — Jeff, Ron and Daryl — and Richard Ische from the Chaska area who started their baseball weekend with Thursday's 13-inning game at the White Sox ballpark.
"It was bad enough that the game dragged on so long, but they stopped selling beer in the seventh inning," Ron said. "Just being in Wrigley guarantees a better ballgame than we saw yesterday."
John Ryan and Grant Dietrich were standing in front of an old apartment building on Sheffield.
John was in a Twins jersey, and part of a large group that his brother Mark has been putting together for Wrigley trips since the mid-'80s.
Mark, a longtime administrative employee in Gophers athletics, became a Cubs fan as did millions around the country: watching Cubs cable telecasts on WGN.
One gentleman in Ryan's crew was Michael Bruce, who flew in from his new assignment for Dairy Queen International — in Singapore.
Singapore? "I lived in Minnesota for 14 years," he said. "The Twins in Wrigley. What more would you want from a baseball weekend?"
I got one: A three-run home run into the basket in left field from Joe Mauer. The Twins fans got that in the second inning Friday, and started the weekend with a mighty cheer.