My wife has a childhood friend who lives in the Chicago area, so the Martin family decided to take a trip. My family includes my wife, my 5 year old daughter, and my 5 month old son. Well, having never been to Chicago, we had to plan the trip around when the Cubs would be in town. My wife's friend's husband works for some big fancy securities broker in downtown Chicago and knew that some of his managers and co-workers had season tickets so he thought he could get some. I figured this meant that we would get decent seats and have to pay at least $50 per ticket (which was fine by me). Well, I was wrong. The seats were unbelievably good AND were free. A broker at his firm just gave him 4 tickets on the 6th row right behind home plate for Sunday's game against the Reds. If you watched the game I am the guy in the Rangers cap you can see on every shot from the centerfield camera.
Our friends live in a southern suburb of Chicago so we drove into the city and parked. From there we took the "L" to the game. For some reason that was one of the best parts of the day. Being on the train with dozens of other people going to the game was cool. When we got off the train in Wrigleyville it just felt like a completely different atmosphere than getting out of the car in lot A at the Ballpark. The first thing that hit me was the smells. There are restaurants and vendors cooking all sorts of stuff. I could also feel the tremendous energy of all those people in such a small area. It was really amazing. Like I said before, it's just a different feel. I know it still wouldn't be as good as Chicago but it made me think about what a stadium in downtown Dallas would be like. And of course I had to take the obligatory tourist picture of Wrigley:
Now, to the stadium itself. I am probably spoiled but It's not exactly a great place to go to a game. I really had to piss so we head to the bathroom where I got to go in a trough. My friend told me that they have upgraded some of the toilets but not all of them. The concourse is very small and has little room to move around freely. It gets especially cramped around the concession areas with people waiting in line. One good thing about the stadium is that the people running the concessions know what they are doing and they get you in and out of there quick. I don't think the band boosters from Burleson High School would last long serving up dogs at Wrigley. Now, I am not a fan of the Chicago style hot dog with all the peppers and tomato and stuff on it. I just wanted a plain hot dog so I asked the guy if I could get one without all the shit on it. He didn't skip a beat and plainly told me that the shit was over on the condiment cart and that I could put "whatever the fuck" I wanted on it. That made me laugh.
Time for the game....or so we thought. It was a bit rainy that morning so the game itself was delayed about 15 minutes. Not a big deal and it couldn't be helped. However, the pre-game festivities were ridiculous. First, we had the worst rendition of the National Anthem that I have ever heard live at a game. It was not only bad but long. It reminded me of that Simpsons episode where the Anthem goes for about 20 minutes. Then came the sponsor portion of the pre-game. There were at least 5 "first" pitches thrown by various people. After that was done, we had 9 people run out to the positions on the field so the Cubs players could sign an autograph for them. I have seen that done before but never with 9 adults. It's usually a bunch of little kids. Now the game starts.
Starting for the Cubs was Thomas Diamond. Yes, THAT Thomas Diamond. It's such a kick to the crotch to see all 3 members of the vaunted DVD now pitching in the major leagues for other teams. On the bright side, when my friends asked aloud "who in the hell is this guy", I had an answer. And of course Diamond wasn't the only former Ranger in the game. The Cubs also had Byrd and Soriano starting and Dempster in their rotation. The Reds have Volquez, CoCo, Aaron Harang, Nick Masset, Danny Herrera, and Laynce Nix but none of them played. Nix was in the on deck circle when the Reds made their final out. I have to believe the Reds lead the league in Ex-Rangers. The game itself was pretty uneventful. The Reds starter Travis Wood had a no-no into the 6th inning but that was about the extent of the excitement in an 11-4 Reds blowout. And I have to say that going only by the game on Sunday that the Cubs SUCK. Multiple errors, brain dead plays, laziness. They are clearly a veteran team with a lame duck manager that has mailed it in.
It's a little strange to say but even with the old run down stadium and relatively boring game it was a great experience and I am very glad I went. Now if I could only get to Fenway before they tear it down.