New York Yankees
Chicago White Sox
L: H. Kuroda
W: C. Sale
S: A. Reed
US Cellular Field: Shakthi's first baseball game
Today was the first and only time on my tour where I visited two different stadiums in a single day. I began with a tour of Wrigley Field with my sister and ended with a game at US Cellular Field with my brother-in-law. This was to be his first time inside of a Major League Baseball stadium. I know what you are thinking and no, I do not know how my sister found this guy either, but it is never too late to go to your first game and I think I made him a fan.
I have been staying at my sister's apartment in downtown Chicago while she and her husband were at a wedding in Texas. I traded my parents in for my sister (Shikha) and brother-in-law (Shakthi) for game two at US Cellular Field. Before we headed to South Side however I took my sister to Wrigley Field to take a tour of the legendary stadium. Unfortunately Shakthi was unable to join us due to the fact that he is a doctor who saves lives and had more important things to do...like save lives. Luckily Shikha was able to work around her schedule of also saving lives (she is a doctor as well) to come with me. My father had to get back to Kalamazoo because there were lives to save there too. Are you noticing a pattern? That's right, I am surrounded by people who make a profound impact in the world on a daily basis. And now back to my life of eating ice cream out of a helmet at baseball games.
Shikha and I arrived to Wrigley early both eagerly anticipating the tour. I have been on several “behind the scenes” tours this summer, but this is the one that I highly recommend to anyone interested in baseball or simply American history. The tour lasted roughly an hour and a half and included a visit to both the home and visiting clubhouses, the dugout, the bleachers, and much more. We sat in different sections of the stadiums listening to the very knowledgeable guide tell us about the development and legacy of the park. Overall this was the perfect combination of information and access to the field that anyone would enjoy. My sister is in no way a baseball fan, but she had such a blast that she wants to bring her husband back to do it again.
After the tour we hung around Wrigleyville for a bit and grabbed some lunch. The Cubs are on the road so the area around the stadium is a ghost town. The difference between a game day and an off-day on North Clark street is quite staggering. What had been a vibrant and packed street just 48 hours earlier was now completely empty with the majority of restaurants closed for the day. Without much to do we took the train back to my sister's apartment and I got a little work done.
A few short hours later we were back on the train this time heading to the other Chicago baseball team's home stadium. Shakthi was still at work and now it became a race against the clock for him to be able to make the game on time. Once Shikha and I reached the park I immediately noticed two things: There were far less people outside now that A-Rod had participated in his first at bat of the season and the demographics of the fans were heavily skewed in the Yankees favor. During yesterday's game there were a fair amount of Yankee fans in attendance, but nowhere near the amount who had showed up today. If you want to hear my thoughts on Alex Rodriguez and his return to baseball please check out my previous post for Day #69. Today I will be focusing on the other ballplayers on the field who deserve just as much attention as the disgraced superstar.
One of the reasons why I wanted to make sure that Shakthi made it to the game on time was that Mariano Rivera was being honored during the pregame ceremony. As most of you undoubtedly know by now, the future Hall of Fame closer from the Yankees is retiring this year. During his last series at visiting ballparks across the country he is being given gifts to commemorate his career by the opposing team. It is something that Chipper Jones did last year and looks to be a new tradition for special players to take part in at the ends of their careers. I am assuming that Derek Jeter will be the next to get this type of treatment within the next couple of years.
As I gave my sister a brief tour of the ballpark that I had just visited the day before we came across a tent featuring the Louisville Slugger factory. In addition to having a comically large baseball bat and glove to hold, they were handing out free tickets to the museum in Louisville. The next stop on my tour is Cincinnati so I gladly took one of the tickets and plan on taking a tour of the factory on my off day.
Game time was approaching and I was getting nervous that Shakthi was not going to make it. We called his cell phone several times and got no answer. He is currently a gastroenterology fellow and was being held up at the hospital. Apropos of nothing, my sister is a hematology-oncology fellow and I am crazy proud of her. My sister and I anxiously waited for Shakthi to call, but the time was getting closer to first pitch. We tried to distract ourselves by eating but that had no effect. After eating a Comiskey Dog yesterday, I tried the Comiskey burger today. It was quite tasty, but I think I prefer the dog.
It was now 6:45 PM and Mariano was walking onto the field to meet White Sox Manager Robin Ventura to receive his gifts. Shakthi had still not called. Rivera was given a framed scorecard from his first appearance at Comiskey as well as a $4,200 donation to the Jackie Robinson Foundation to thunderous applause from those in the stands. It was fascinating to see the Chicago crowd treat one Yankee with such reverence when during yesterday's game they treated another Yankee (Alex Rodriguez) with such contempt. In today's game it is not just the uniform that elicits a reaction, but the name on the back.
First pitch occurred at 7:10 PM and there was an empty seat next to my sister and I. Shakthi was stuck at the hospital. I had been looking forward to this game since before I started planning the schedule. Shakthi is a fully grown adult male and he had never been to a baseball game before. I understand that not everybody is a fan, in fact I do not want everybody to be a fan of baseball. If everyone loved the game as much as I do life would be pretty boring. I like having friends and family that have eclectic passions that I can learn about. However this is still no excuse for reaching adulthood and never going to a live baseball game. One of my favorite things to do when I lived in Washington DC (before the Nationals came to town) was use my Orioles season tickets to bring people to the ballpark who had never been to a game before. I had a pretty decent average when it came to converting non-fans into believers. Sadly it was starting to look like I was not going to get the opportunity to give my brother-in-law his first baseball experience.
The Yankees jumped out to an early lead on a passed ball, but unlike yesterday's one sided slugfest today's game was a tight one for all nine innings. White Sox ace Chris Sale toed the rubber for the Sox and threw an absolute gem. After allowing the unearned run in the top of the first Sale pitched into the eighth inning allowing just five hits while striking out six. Being a Tigers fan, I have seen Sale pitch quite a few times in divisional games on TV. Watching him pitch live is quite the sight to see. He is a tall lanky lefty with a delivery that is all elbows. I have no idea how any batter is able to pick up the ball coming out of his hand. Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda put up a quality start of his own, however the three runs he gave up over seven innings were too much for the Bronx Bombers to overcome.
As much as my sister and I were enjoying our sibling bonding time, both of our minds were elsewhere as we hoped that Shakthi would eventually make it. Over the years I have dragged my sister to many sporting events and created many amazing memories including Rose Bowls and World Series games. Even though she is not a sports nut, we have always had fun together. Today was supposed to be all about Shakthi. Finally, in the second inning, the special guest of honor made it into the stadium. I watched him walk down the stairs for the first time and I saw his face light up as he looked out onto the diamond. We all remember our first time at a ball game, I got to see the look of absolute wonder in his eyes as he took in the majesty of his surroundings. I spoke to him after the game for the podcast which was one of the more unique interviews I have done. One of the questions that I ask everyone who joins me on the podcast is to tell me about their first ballpark experience. Being able to capture his immediate reactions resulted in some interesting thoughts on the positives and negatives of the game. There are many things in life that are purely subjective and consequently not for everybody. There are only two things that I am currently aware of that do not fit that pattern: The Wire and baseball. I have recommended the television show The Wire to several people and have never heard a negative thing about it. I have brought dozens of new people to the ballpark over my lifetime and to date not one has ever had a bad time. It truly is impossible to have a bad time at a live baseball game. This is not to say that everybody is a fan of the play on the field; however the atmosphere inside of a ballpark is undeniable.
Unlike yesterday's blowout, this was a tightly contested game. After the Yankees jumped out to an early 1-0 lead, the Sox came back to score in the 4th, 6th and 7th inning to take a 3-1 lead. The 9th inning was not without its drama as the Yanks brought the deficit to 3-2 with the tying run at the plate. With Alex Rodriguez standing in the on deck circle, newly acquired Yankee Alfonso Soriano struck out on three straight pitches to end the game. The crowd erupted and the fans went home happy.
It took two days to pull it off, but I was able to share a sliver of my tour with my entire immediate family and bring my sister's husband to his first baseball game. If nothing else happens on this tour, I feel as if I have succeeded. Shakthi told me after the game that he would love to go to another one in the future and that it was more fun than he could have ever imagined. I am not sure that he is going to follow in my footsteps and become a nerd for the sport, but the fact that he wants to come back is a great first step. It is time for me to leave my family once again and head back out on the open road.
Next up: Great American Ballpark
Game Time Temp: 79
First Pitch Time: 7:10 PM
First Pitch: Nazr Mohammed
National Anthem: John Vincent
Seventh Inning Stretch: Living on a Prayer
Total Pitches Thrown: 263
Total Hits: 17
Total Singles: 14
Total Doubles: 3
Total Triples: 0
Total Home Runs: 0
Total Walks: 5
Total Strike Outs: 14
Total Errors: 0
Game Time: 2:56
Attendance: 23,826 (58.7% full)
Home Plate Umpire: Alan Porter
Miles Traveled: 0 miles
Time in Car: 0 hours
Sleep Time: 6 hours 20 minutes
Bottles of Water: 5
Food Eaten: Fish taco from Flaco Taco in Wrigleyville
Ballpark Food: Comiskey Burger, corn
Scoreboard Cap Game: Under Cap #2
Money spent on parking: $0
Money spent on ticket: $88.00
Cost of Program: $0.00
Money spent on food: $13.00
Total money spent on Merchandise: $0
Total Money spent at stadium: $103
Total Money spent today $111.09