Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A Trip To Wrigley

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.


Hayden said...

I just went to Wrigley last week with relatives. While I'm a Sox fan, it is nice to watch a ballgame once in awhile where you're not berated with constant promotions (the same ones over and over, I might add) and loud music any second the ball is not in play. As for Cubs fans, I have seen some that are really into the games and others that are just there to be there. I have experienced the same at The Cell. I have been to a few Sox games where the crowd really gets into every inning, and other games where they only become excited when they see a home run. Or when the jumbotron tells them to get loud. Sorry, I recently read "The Summer Game,' so I'm a bit bitter...

Go Sox!

night owl said...

Thanks for the detailed rundown of your day! Any day that you're going to a ballgame is a great one.

Reading it all I could remember is my one trip to Chicago. Didn't go to a game, but drove past Wrigley. The traffic was a nightmare! But the pizza was the best I ever had.

Wrigley Wax said...

Holy Cow! You can't beat fun at the old ballpark! Sounds like a nice time. I think you get a "less interested" crowd at night games. These seem to attract more of the party crowd compared to the day games.

I made almost the same commute to Wrigley last year. We got a ride from Oak Lawn to Midway and then took the Orange Line to the Red Line. I do like that public transportation makes the trip so much easier.

And now I am hungry for a Chicago Dog, which is nowhere to be found here in Michigan.

steveisjewish said...

Sounds like a sweet day Steve - I wish I had documented by trip to citi field better

zman40 said...

At first, I thought that a $6.50 beer was a good deal (for a ballpark) and then I remembered that it was Wrigley and I relaized that is was probably a can. Not so good.

Either way, sounds like you had an alright time.

Steve Gierman said...

The crowd was loud, but mostly for the wrong reasons. Between half innings there was music blaring loud enough to where I couldn't hear myself think.

Addison was a madhouse before and after the game. I'm glad that I didn't drive.

How well would a stand with Chicago foods do out in Michigan? I've been toying with the idea of trying to get one up in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, since there is a huge ex-Chicago population and no authentic food.

All in all, it was a good day. I didn't feel like traveling all the way to Cleveland to see the White Sox. Plus, the Cubs tickets were free. Can't beat that!

It was cans of beer poured into an itty bitty plastic cup. Not my idea of a bargain. Plus, I hate beer. Give me a Mike's Lemonade any day!

ElectricFriar said...

Sounds like you had a good time!! Too bad the Cubbies had to ruin everything and win!

GOGOSOX60 said...

What kind of hat did you wear?

I always grabbed a couple of dogs at Murphy's Bleachers and took them into The Shrine. They had cheap decent dogs.....

My last Cup visit was back in 1991 for a game. Funny thing my Dad took me to Bat Day 1962 for my 1st Sox game, and I don't really remember it (Luckily I have some home movies of that visit) but remember my 1st visit to The Wrapper in 1964, how ever I think I remember this more because of the EL ride to the game from the south side.

Keep up the good info, hopefully the Sox will win a couple of games in Toronto!!


Steve Gierman said...

No hat. Nothing with any team's logo or affiliation, unless you count Sgt. Pepper as an affiliation. I guess the black hoodie (with white inside) that I had on could be construed as being the colors of the White Sox. Otherwise, I went stealth.

GOGOSOX60 said...

I asked about the hat as back in 2007 I went to a D-Backs-Cups game at Chase Field where the fan-dom is 50% Cups and 50% D-Backs fans.

My buddy and I went dressed in our White Sox stuff, (even though we have D-Backs stuff to wear)just to piss off all the Cub fans out at the Chase. The funny thing there were alot of other fans dressed in White Sox stuff at this game.

Hope fully next year the Sox will have inter league play in Phoenix??


Steve Gierman said...

I felt like going incognito to the game. Sometimes it's just fun to sit back and watch a game without having to explain yourself to inebriated people.

If I find myself in Arizona when the Sox play an interleague game there, I'll definitely get tickets. Hopefully that will be soon.

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