New York Yankees
New York Mets
W: S. Fife
L: C. Villanueva
S: K. Jansen
I am about to make a controversial statement. I do not like Wrigley Field. Are you still reading? Good, because I was lying. Of course I love Wrigley Field, it is impossible not to. I have some minor quibbles with the friendly confines, but overall this remains one of the best ballparks on the planet. It is time for some day baseball at the second oldest stadium in the country. Come on Cubbies, let's get some runs.
What is there to say about Wrigley Field that has not been said already? Honestly, I am asking. This park has been around since 1914 and until very recently was largely untouched. They held their first night game the same year that Who Framed Roger Rabbit was released in theaters. Over the years there have been some renovations to the stadium that have included adding and removing seats, installing lights, and adding an LED scoreboard in right field; however some major changes are on the horizon. The city of Chicago recently approved the Cubs spending $500 million to update this historic park. This will include a fully electronic jumbotron in left field and a possible redesign of the concourse. I spoke to a married couple who have been coming to Wrigley since 1938 about the differences in the park before and after WWII and I was pleasantly surprised at the answer. If you would like to hear my chat with Rich and Barbara please subscribe to the podcast and be on the lookout for the Cubs episode to be released.
The only way to get to Wrigley is via the L. Do not even attempt to drive in because parking is a nightmare. Upon arriving at the Addison stop of the red line, I was treated to a great view of the light fixtures high atop the stadium. Stepping onto a train platform in full view of a baseball stadium is one of those experiences that feels special every time. Baseball fans in Baltimore, New York and Chicago get to replicate this moment at least 81 times a year which is something that I am incredibly jealous of. As I walked down the stairs and arrived into the pleasant surroundings of Wrigleyville I felt like I was stepping back in time. I looked up at the iconic sign reading “Wrigley Field Home of the Chicago Cubs” and felt a chill run down my spine. For the past 99 years men, women and children have stood at that exact spot and looked up at one of America's most beautiful monuments to perseverance. The popularity of the Cubs on the field ebbs and flows as new generations begin to embrace the “loveable losers” moniker every couple of years, but through it all, this stadium survives.
After scarfing down a bison dog from the Chicago Dogs stand I took a stroll around the stadium. Obviously, as this ballpark is nearly a century old, there is little in the way of amenities around the concourse. The walls themselves are the main attractions. I have spent the last six years living in Manhattan. During that time I would often stop and think about the centuries of humans who once stood on the same slab of concrete or patch of grass as I was standing. People who have long since passed away, but at one point were looking in the exact same direction as me and perhaps having the same thoughts and the same emotions. We are still a relatively young country in the grand scheme of things, but walking around the hallways of Wrigley connected me to the millions of Americans who walked through those turnstiles for the last ten decades. We in the States do not have thousand-year-old churches like they do in Europe; but we have our baseball cathedrals that will hopefully never go away.
Sadly, I was unable to venture into the famed bleachers without a ticket. Instead, I headed to my seats in the grandstand and enjoyed some pop music being played live on the organ. I will never understand why every ballpark in the country does not employ an organist to entertain the crowd. The organ makes *insert current popular music sensation* listenable. As you can tell, I am not really up on the pop music today. My collection ends around 1998. Even though it was a nice 66 degree day outside, my seats were in the shade and kept me pretty cool for the entire 9-inning affair. Unless you are lucky enough to sit in one of the field boxes close to home plate, I recommend you bring a jacket. Before the game began, the lone video scoreboard in right field lit up with images of notable moments in Cubs history accompanied by the radio and television broadcast calls. You can never escape the fact that you are sitting inside of a historical landmark, and I love it.
I believe that I witnessed a quintessential Cubs game. The Cubbies outhit the Dodgers 7-2, and somehow lost 1-0. After giving up a double with one out in the 4th inning, Cubs pitching did not surrender another base hit for the rest of the game. To call this a heartbreaker is to forget the past 105 years. Sadly this is the type of baseball that the Northsiders have come to expect from their ball club. Honestly, I have no idea how you do it Cubs fans. I grew up in Kalamazoo, MI which is exactly between Chicago and Detroit. It took me two and a half hours to get to an MLB stadium in either direction. I could have easily chosen the Cubs to be my team of choice, but I had too much Detroit in my blood to let that happen. I have the utmost respect for true Cubbies fans for putting up with this franchise year after year.
It may not happen soon, but one day it will be your time. One day the Cubs will do it. It may not be for another 105 years, but it will happen. When that day does come, whether you are alive to see it or not, you will have played a part in history by supporting this team and the celebration will be like none other. The joy that we have all felt watching our home town teams hoist the trophy in the air will pale in comparison to the pure unbridled ecstasy that you, or your children, or your children's children will feel. And for that I am envious. I have felt the pain and despair of 119 losses, or losing a nine-point lead in the 4th quarter of game seven in the 2005 NBA championship, or simply by being a Lions fan. But none of that compares to what it is to be a Cubs fan. The lows that you have felt for generations will only lead the way for a high that I can not even imagine. I can not wait for the day that the Cubs figure it out and make their way back to the top of the baseball elite. In the meantime however, you do have one of the best ballparks on the planet to call home, and that is something you can always be proud of.
A byproduct of being perpetual underdogs leads me to my one minor quibble with the lovely people in Chicago. I understand that Wrigley is an American institution and a landmark unto itself. Subsequently this will attract non-baseball fans by the thousands which is generally speaking an amazing feat. But if you are going to show up to a game here, would it be so difficult to actually, I don't know, pay attention to at least one inning of action the field please? I am not asking for everyone who comes out to the ballpark to watch every pitch, but how about watching one at bat? What drove me nuts was that there were large groups of people that I am pretty sure had no idea that a baseball game was even happening in front of them. This, by the way, did not happen in the bleachers. This was behind home plate in some pretty expensive seats. The bleachers were packed with both locals and tourists looking for a great place to party and toss around a beach ball (which landed on the field at least three times). I am actually in favor of the bleachers serving as a venue for the more raucous fans to express their fandom in anyway they choose. It is the people taking the good seats from the loyal fan bases that drive me nuts. Going to a baseball game is an inclusive activity. There is always something for everyone to enjoy including the play on the field, the views of the urban environments, the scoreboard games between innings, the food, activities and stores around the concourse and much more. My only request is that when the home team needs your support, you give it to them.
I do not want to end this post on a negative note, so I will reiterate that overall this remains one of the best baseball venues in the world. I have not yet visited the stadiums in Latin America, Asia and beyond, but the bar is set pretty high for what I expect out of a ballpark. You do not need me to tell you this, but if you are ever in the Midwest, you need to make it a priority to attend a game at Wrigley Field. My only regret is that the Cubs did not win today, but maybe that is the only way one can truly appreciate a game at Wrigley Field...surviving a tough loss with 40,000 other people in the comfort of the friendly confines. I will now leave you with the image of the magnificent manual scoreboard in center field.
Next up: U.S. Cellular Field
Game Time Temp: 66
First Pitch Time: 1:20 PM
First Pitch: Sgt. Rogelio Fuentes
National Anthem: Wayne and Kathleen Messmer
Seventh Inning Stretch: Jody Davis - Take me out to the Ballgame
Total Pitches Thrown: 282
Total Hits: 9
Total Singles: 7
Total Doubles: 2
Total Triples: 0
Total Home Runs: 0
Total Walks: 6
Total Strike Outs: 17
Total Errors: 1
Game Time: 3:07
Attendance: 38,409 (93.6% full)
Home Plate Umpire: Jerry Layne
Miles Traveled: 0
Time in Car: 0 hours
Sleep Time: 5 hours 30 minutes
Bottles of Water: 5
Food Eaten: Tacos from Carbon
Ballpark Food: Bison Dog, ice cream helmet
Money spent on parking: $0
Money spent on ticket: $77.98
Cost of Program: $0.00
Money spent on food: $7.25
Total money spent on Merchandise: $22.00
Total Money spent at stadium: $107.23
Total Money spent today $107.23