Really, it's just another night game.

When they turn on the lights Monday for the first night game at Wrigley Field _ barring a rainout or an act of sabotage _ the world isn't going to change.

And the baseball world will survive _ quite easily, too, in spite of all the harangues.

Does colorizing "Casablanca" and other classic black-and-white movies ruin them? Of course not. They're still great pictures. Bringing them into the modern age just gives people a choice.

Film buffs too upset by the new versions don't have to watch them; they can turn off their televisions or turn down the color.

If some fans are too distraught at the prospect of night games at Wrigley, they don't have to see them. There's still plenty to pick from _ more than three-quarters of games at Wrigley through 2002 will be played in the afternoon.

Many complain Monday's game marks the end of a tradition at a time when good traditions are hard to find _ in life in general, they say, and in baseball in particular where artificial turf, domes and the DH have taken over.

Then again, major league attendance is at an all-time high and so is the game's popularity.

Sure, the idea of all-afternoon ball is unique. But the Cubs and visiting players aren't thrilled by it. Never have been.

It's draining, takes away sleep and might be part of the reason the lovable losers have not reached the World Series since 1945 or won it since 1908. When the ivy dies, so do the Cubs, the saying goes.

What about the fans? Day baseball is great for the bleacher bums, but folks who work 9-to-5 are shut out.

And the kids? Many traditionalists claim those are the ones who will be hurt most by these whopping 18 night games each season. Parents won't keep the youngsters out late on school nights, the argument is.

That's right, maybe it's better to encourage students to skip school to go watch a ballgame. Besides, the Cubs plan to play almost all of the night games in July and August, when classes are out and their folks can take them after finishing work.

What night baseball will do, simply, is give more Chicagoans a chance to see their team.

There are some angered by the hardball techniques used to get the lights at Wrigley Field. There were threats the Cubs would not be allowed to play postseason games at home and that the team might move to the suburbs.

Those ways of doing business aren't commendable. Certainly the lights were a concession and hedge against much more drastic measures.

But that doesn't make the lights so bad. For anyone.

And Wrigley Field will remain intact. There still will be the hand-operated, inning-by-inning scoreboard, the visitor's dugout on the first base side will remain crooked and the field itself will stay bumpy at the edge of the infield dirt.

What won't exist anymore will be all those games that got suspended because of darkness and others that finished in near-darkness.

Besides, former Cub Gary Matthews pointed out, they've been playing night games at Wrigley Field ever since the ballpark opened in 1916.

"They always called them 3 o'clock starts," Matthews laughed. "But by the end of some of those games, it was so dark you couldn't see anything."