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Column: What does the Field of Dreams game have to do with the Chicago Cubs’ new sportsbook? 4 observations about Thursday’s game.

The Field of Dreams game is just around the corner, with the Chicago Cubs preparing to play the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday in Dyersville, Iowa.

Here are four observations on Major League Baseball’s attempt to make it an annual classic:

1. Construction of the sportsbook annex to Wrigley Field remains on schedule.

What does that have to do with Thursday’s game?

Connect the dots.

The nationally televised game capitalizes on the 1989 movie “Field of Dreams,” adapted from W.P. Kinsella’s novel “Shoeless Joe,” which revolved around a farmer’s mystical meeting with the ghost of Shoeless Joe Jackson, the late Chicago White Sox star.

Jackson was banned from the game with seven Sox teammates for taking gamblers’ money to throw the 1919 World Series to the Reds. In the book and film, Jackson gets some personal redemption by playing with his fellow ghosts in a baseball field in Iowa cut out of a cornfield. His character, played by Ray Liotta, has the movie’s money line: “Is this heaven?”

The soon-to-be-completed DraftKings sportsbook at Wrigley is another money-making venture for the Ricketts family, which owns the Cubs. When the sportsbook opens in 2023, the Cubs will begin profiting off gamblers coming to their own field of dreams at Clark and Addison streets to legally bet on baseball and other sports.

It’s another example of MLB’s growing association with gambling and its partnership with DraftKings, the official sports betting partner of baseball.

Watching a game on MLB Network, a viewer gets not only the scores on the crawl at the bottom of the screen, but also the updated moneylines on each game. Every other commercial during a game seems to be an ad for a betting site. They’re almost as ubiquitous as the beer ads that dominated baseball telecasts the previous six decades.

So if Shoeless Joe were alive today, what would he say?

The guess here is Jackson not only would bet on the Field of Dreams game, he’d probably be promoting it on commercials for Fox Sports. (“Say it’s so, Joe. Cubs and Reds, live from Iowa, here on Fox.”)

Unfortunately Jackson didn’t live long enough to see gambling become an acceptable vice in America.

2. It’s too bad Fox can’t flex out of the Cubs-Reds matchup.

The NFL does that with some of its Sunday night games involving two teams going nowhere fast.

The MLB schedule obviously was made well in advance. In fact Cubs manager David Ross accidentally leaked the news of his team’s involvement in the 2022 Field of Dreams game after last year’s inaugural game between the White Sox and New York Yankees.

Why MLB chose the Cubs, who had just sold off their stars a few weeks before the announcement, and the Reds, who were getting ready for a full-scale rebuild, is a question for the geniuses in New York who run the game.

Fox is now stuck with two of the National League’s worst teams, with few stars and nothing on the line. That hasn’t stopped the network from promoting it like crazy, using highlights of last year’s classic ending — Tim Anderson’s walk-off home run — as a reason to tune in.

Kevin Costner walking through the cornfield was the perfect opening for last year’s game, but would it have the same dramatic effect a second time?

Everything seemed to line up right in 2021, but a repeat of the Sox-Yankees classic is a long shot at best.

3. Any special event at a small venue like Field of Dreams will be pricey, even if it’s between two rebuilding teams.

According to the Des Moines Register, tickets for this year’s game were $375, plus $38 in fees, which includes a parking pass. MLB held a lottery for Iowa residents giving them a chance to purchase tickets.

As a once-a-year event, it’s probably worth it just to say you were there. But watching it on TV seems like a better bet.

4. Kevin Costner needs to lobby for a Bull Durham Classic.

The Hollywood star wasn’t surprised the Field of Dreams game would get a second helping after last year’s success.

“You never mess with a winning streak,” he said afterward. “It does feel like all the teams will want to touch this.”

Certainly many teams would want to be featured in a nationally televised affair. But I’m still hoping MLB takes my advice from last year and creates a game event revolving around Costner’s other baseball classic, “Bull Durham.” It was arguably the better movie and would create just as much interest.

Only Costner could make it happen.

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