Free tickets to a Cubs game? I'm in! I love everything baseball, so I can venture up to Wrigley Field to catch the Cubs and the Padres.
My friend Steve and I head out about 2 PM, in his car. We head over to Cicero & Archer to visit a currency exchange. He needs to get some checks cashed and I need a CTA day pass. He works for CTA, so he gets to ride for free.
We hopped on the Archer bus to Pulaski. We took the Orange Line to State/Lake. We walk over to the Red Line and get off at Addison. There it is... Wrigley Field. I haven't been inside since 1998.
It's about 4 PM. It's too late to grab a bite, like we planned, and too early for the gates to open. So we stand at the left side of Gate F, right next to the tiny Gate G entrance. It's a good thing that we did because the line behind us, when the gate opened, was huge.
The gate finally did open at 5 pm. We shuffled in and grabbed our Ernie Banks bobbleheads. Steve and I made a beeline to the men's room. It's actually nice to see the troughs in the men's room. They remind me of old Comiskey Park. Although those were old, rusted and painted. These were stainless steel.
We head on over to one of the food stands. Steve wants a brat with sauerkraut, but is unwilling to pay $6.75 for one. We walk around trying to find a cheaper brat. He settles for two plain brats and a souvenir cup Diet Pepsi. I go for two jumbo hot dogs and a souvenir cup Pepsi. We smother all of our food with mustard and head off to find our seats.
We find our seats without a problem. Aisle 224, row 12, seats 111 and 112. There's a post blocking part of our view of right field, but it's ok. Steve goes back down for another Pepsi and two hot dogs. I stay and watch the Padres take batting practice. Every time that I spot Kevin Kouzmanoff, I think of Sooz.
We flag down a cotton candy vendor. I crack wise about eating attic insulation. The game starts. The Cubs run out to "The Boys Are Back In Town" by Thin Lizzy. Not bad. I like "Thunderstruck" by AC/DC much better as an opening song.
The Padres take the early lead, then it's all Cubs. A surprising home run by board game aficionado, Milton Bradley gets the crowd going. Later in the game, Bobby Scales pinch hits. Steve leans over to me and mentions what a great time this would be for his first home run. Not five seconds later, that's what happened. He must be channeling Steve Stone.
The entire game, we were trying to find a Pepsi vendor for Steve. He's a big guy and it's not easy for him to go through the rows to get down where the stands are, when it's a full house in our section. We saw one Pepsi vendor go by, but he never came anywhere near us. We were yelling, screaming and waving, but to no avail. There were, however, no less than four beer vendors in our section at any given time. At $6.50 a beer... thanks, but no thanks. I hate beer and Steve wanted a soda, so that wasn't going to cut it.
I'm amazed at how moody the crowd was. Derrek Lee was actually booed at the plate. The Wrigley crowd can turn on you as quickly as the wind can change speeds. I've never seen anything like that at U.S. Cellular. The thing is, the crowd wasn't into most of the game. They were in it when the home runs were hit and for the final out. That's about it. Of course, everyone was vocal during the "Go, Cubs, Go" song. Ugh.
The people around us were friendly enough. The lady behind us had a nice long conversation about the cat picture that she spied on Steve's cell phone. One of the guys in front of us fist bumped everyone as he made his way down the row towards the aisle.
We went to customer relations to complain about the Pepsi vendors. We were given a form to fill out and mail in. Basically, I felt like she was giving Steve the brush off. We headed over to Starbucks so Steve could use the bathroom. Then we headed to the Red Line.
Way too crowded! We started walking down Clark to scope out something to munch on. While passing one of the bars with open windows, someone tapped me on the shoulder. If I wasn't following Steve, I would have turned around and looked. If it was someone I knew, or a reader, I'm sorry. If it was a stranger, what are you doing reaching out windows at strangers?
We settled on Ian's Pizza By The Slice. Great pizza! I had a slice of Chicago Hot Dog Pizza and a slice of Lasagna Marinara. They were so good! We hopped on a Clark Street bus and headed to Clark/Lake. We walked over to the State/Clark station and got on the Orange Line towards Midway. We got off at Pulaski and took the Archer bus back to Cicero. We walked over to Steve's car and before I knew it, I was getting dropped off in my driveway.
Did I have fun? Yeah! Would I go to another Cubs game? Sure, if the tickets were free again. Despite the travel and the adventures on public transportation, it was a fun day. Would I rather have been at U.S. Cellular Field? Not that night. The White Sox were in Cleveland. And sorry, Sooz, Kouzmanoff went 0 for 4. It was a bad night to be a Padre.