Cubs completely redo Wrigley playing surface

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Cubs completely redo Wrigley playing surface

During the 2012 season several Cubs players voiced their complaints about the Wrigley Field playing surface, with one player calling it by far the worst in the major leagues."

That led to Cubs management doing an extensive study on every field in baseball and the amount of time that each field is used for non-baseball activities, which can cause considerable wear and tear on the playing surface.

At the conclusion of the 2012 season the decision was made to completely remove the current field and replace it with all new sod and dirt to bring the field up to a more acceptable level for the players.

In addition, the Cubs are expected to curtail the number of activities that are held at Wrigley starting with the 2013 season. From concerts to soccer games to corporate events, the field has gotten more play and more use than any other baseball only stadium in the sport.

When Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney was informed on Tuesday that the Cubs had decided to completely replace the playing field at Wrigley Field, he was quick to praise the team's ground crew who labored day and night to make the old surface playable.

"Our grounds crew did an amazing job trying to keep the playing surface in as good a shape as possible. However, when you have as many events going on as they do at Wrigley from concerts to corporate events it is very hard to maintain," Barney told CSNChicago.com.

At a cost of 400,000 the Cubs elected to completely tear out the old grass and dirt and replace it with a new blend of dirt and a Kentucky Bluegrass that was trucked in from Colorado. The sod is the exact same that was recently installed at Busch Stadium in St. Louis when the Cardinals replaced their outfield.

Barney, who is currently hard at work along with center fielder Brett Jackson with the Cubs hitting coaches in Arizona, is excited to get back to playing at the Friendly Confines.

"My teammates and I are excited to play on a new and improved playing surface at the greatest ballpark in baseball. It is great to see that our front office is doing all they can to make our field the best in the game."

Wrigley Field's infield was improved when a new drainage system was put in place a few years ago, and the crown was removed. Barney said he wanted to make it clear that the Wrigley grounds crew was not to blame for the hard field, but pointed to all the events that take place at the ballpark, specifically mentioning the concerts.

"It's hard on them to get this thing ready to play every day," he said. "They work really hard to do that. The truth is, it is that field that people say (bad things) about. But it's your baby. You've got to say it's the best field you've ever been on and just go from there."

President Obama, with Cubs at White House: 'Among Sox fans, I'm the Cubs' No. 1 fan'

President Obama, with Cubs at White House: 'Among Sox fans, I'm the Cubs' No. 1 fan'

President Obama was happy to have a Chicago team visit the White House one last time during his administration.

But he's not 100-percent changing his baseball loyalties quite yet.

The world's most famous White Sox fan, Obama's made no secret about his love of Chicago's South Side team. But with the World Series champion Cubs on hand Monday at the White House, he had to give his support for his other hometown baseball club.

"Among Sox fans," Obama said as his honoring of the Cubs was wrapping up, "I'm the Cubs' No. 1 fan."

It was the line worth remembering, as Chicago baseball unity took another step toward becoming reality.

The Cubs attempted to make the president an honorary Cubs fan, giving him a lifetime pass to Wrigley Field as well as tons of other goodies.

But the most useful gift for the president might be the second jersey he was presented, a Cubs road jersey that simply says "Chicago."

Check out more from the president in the video above.

President Obama on Joe Maddon: 'Not a lot of coaches or managers who are as cool as this guy'

President Obama on Joe Maddon: 'Not a lot of coaches or managers who are as cool as this guy'

As one of the cooler presidents ever, President Obama knows cool when he sees it.

The president talked about numerous members of the Cubs during the team's visit to the White House on Monday, but he only offered the "cool" label to manager Joe Maddon, who most folks can agree is probably the coolest person to ever manage the Cubs.

"Let's face it, there are not a lot of coaches or managers who are as cool as this guy. Look how he looks right now," Obama said, pointing out Maddon's non-traditional suit. "That's cool."

The president also praised Maddon's unique style, with his themed road trips and visits from zoo animals, as well as his on-field prowess, throwing in a joke about something the skipper couldn't control during the World Series.

"He's got a lot tricks to motivate. But he's also a master of tactics and knows how to make the right move at the right time: when to pinch hit, when to pinch run, when to make it rain in Game 7 of the World Series. It was masterful."

Maybe President Obama really does admire Maddon's style. Or maybe he's just extending his bromance with Vice President Biden to other famous Joes.

Check out the video above for more from the president.