Monday, May 3, 2010

Wrigley Field

"Funky buttlovin'!"

"Did he just say 'funky buttlovin'?"

Sorry for the crudity of my opening line, but I am finally ready to tackle the write-up of Wrigley Field.  If you've been keeping up with my blog at all, I pre-ranked ten of the stadiums I thought would be at the top of my list when all is said and done.  Wrigley Field was #2 on that list behind Fenway in Boston. Not only is Wrigley supposed to be one of the last "pure" baseball experiences, but it enables me to throw in a plethora of quotes from the movie Rookie of the Year.  I'm so excited about quoting that movie that this post could be finished in five minutes.

I left Houston Sunday morning at 7:45 with my dad, who went to Northwestern for journalism school.  He said he hasn't been back to Chicago in 30 years, so this was a great opportunity to make a father-son weekend trip out of my stadium tour. As an added bonus my mom's brother, uncle "Wogo," is up in Chicago on business and was gracious enough to buy tickets to Wrigley for the three of us last night.  If you were wondering, my uncle's name is Carl Webber, but since his father is also Carl Webber, my family calls him Webber and he goes by Carl professionally.  "Wogo" is something you get when my older sister Katherine gets naming rights as a two or three-year-old. Pathetic, I know.

By leaving early Sunday morning, I missed the opportunity to celebrate James Timmins and Belen Barrow's engagement Sunday evening.  The newly engaged couple went to West Alabama Ice House where friends and family were waiting to celebrate.  Even with all of these weddings and engagements happening around me, James is only my second pledge brother to drop the hammer.  Congratulations to both of you and I wish you the best!

ON TO WRIGLEY!  "GARDENHOSER! You're in..."

 Picture from http://www.premiere.com/Feature/The-Best-And-Worst-Baseball-Moments-In-Movies/The-Best-and-Worst-Baseball-Moments-In-Movies

Famous baseball cross streets

Location: One of the unique things about Wrigley is that it is located in a residential area appropriately dubbed Wrigleyville.  This is actually the first stadium I've been to located in a residential area, and it really changes the feel and anticipation of the game as you approach the stadium.  My dad and I are staying in downtown Chicago, and it was a short cab ride to Wrigley even with some game day traffic.  The neighborhood around Wrigley really is pretty cool - cool apartments, bars, and walkups.  A few of these buildings on Waveland and Sheffield have rooftop seating on top of the buildings.  Anyway, the location of Wrigley should have been a tip-off that the entire game day experience was going to be completely unique.

A couple of knocks on our hotel, which is supposed to be a nice 4-star...
  1. Internet connection isn't free
  2. Internet connection is LOUSY
  3. Gym isn't free
But it's right next to the river and Lake Shore drive, which provides for an incredible view of Lake Michigan.

Ballpark:  Wrigley was originally built in 1914 and is the only remaining Federal League park.  It's the second-oldest stadium (Fenway is the oldest, 1912), and besides two or three very small electronic scoreboards, watching a game there is probably incredibly similar to watching a Cubbies game in the 1940s, 50s, or 60s.  The comparison is pretty accurate because the Cubbies are still terrible, much like they were then...ZING!  The team is dubbed the "Lovable Losers" by the press because they haven't won a World Series since 1908, but I find the team particularly despicable.  They're easily my least favorite team in baseball.  I hate it when the Cubs come to Houston because they are so much louder than our own fans, and 100% more obnoxious. Whoa, looks like I'm digressing from the park description.

The park just looks really old school.  I've always wanted to see the ivy-clad walls in the outfield, one of its main trademarks, and the park just seems incredibly cozy. In a good way.  The field box portion of the stadium is probably the largest in the majors.  Wrigley seats 41,160, which is more than Minute Maid Park.  I was pretty stunned when I looked that up at the stadium.  I don't know how there are possibly 41,000 seats there because it feels so small.

Anyway, the stadium and the field are really pretty. Very little corporate advertisement, a small upper deck, bleachers across the entire outfield, an old school scoreboard, and pennants for each team in the National League positioned according to the division standings. 

 View from behind the plate

View of the outfield from our seats

A view of the standings pennants.  The Astros may or may not be on the bottom of the middle column.

The scoreboard. The electronic board in the middle on the bottom is one of three or four electronic boards in the entire park.

You can see the rooftop bleachers behind the actual Wrigley bleachers

Some Harry Caray love

Food:  While I dock teams for lacking in variety elsewhere, I guess I went into Wrigley expecting to only get traditional fare, but expecting it to be good.  I was pretty accurate with my expectations.  They had chicken breast sandwiches, dogs, burgers, pretzel bites, HUGE nachos in a full-size baseball helmet, cheesy beef sandwiches, and veggie burgers.  They have smaller stands around the concourse that serve brats, Italian sausage, and polish sausage with all the trimmings.  They were awesome.  Once I started walking around the concourse a little more, I ran into a stand with a foot-long buffalo bison dog that I ABSOLUTELY had to try.  I didn't walk away disappointed. It was AWESOME.  The bison dog tasted pretty much like a regular hot dog and was topped with some buffalo sauce and some bleu cheese slaw.

The local brew is Old Style, so I had a few Old Style Lights instead of some of your more typical brews.  The SCPI at Wrigley was $11 ($6.75 draft and $4.25 dog).  Certainly not like it would have been in the 50s, but definitely cheaper than every stadium I've been to so far.  The beer might have been a couple of ounces smaller than most large drafts, but not by much.

 He got lucky. I have a much more embarrassing picture.  The dog looks good though (see below).

Obligatory dog close-up.

Game:  The game experience was fantastic.  For some reason my dad and Wogo were rooting for the Cubs, but I didn't budge from my loyalty to the Astros.  One of the first things you notice about the stadium is the legitimate organ music - it doesn't sound polyphonic in any way, just real true organ music.

The game I attended was the third Diamondbacks game I've seen so far on my tour.  I'm getting pretty sick of watching them lose, but it was OK today because Alfonso Soriano went OFF and he's on two of my fantasy teams.  2 HR, a double, and 4 RBI.  I also got some good pictures of him rounding the bases, except when this huge Chicagoan stood right in my viewing angle.

The game never was in doubt after the first inning, when the Cubbies piled on 4 runs.  Edwin Jackson, newly acquired from Detroit, just didn't look good at all. You knew it was going to be a long day for him.  He should have just tried the floater pitch or had Henry Rowengartner's mom come on and pitch.

Mark Grace sang "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," and he performed pretty well.  I think he does play-by-play for the Diamondbacks and used to play for the Cubs, so it made sense for him to get the nod.

I just knew Soriano was gonna have a good day. He's the only Cub I took pictures of before the game.

Dad?!

This is what Alfonso Soriano looks like HITTING A HOME RUN.

Marlon Byrd taking a trot...

Soriano's second trot.

Soriano's 2nd trot with obnoxious Chicagoan in the way. IS HE EVEN WATCHING THE GAME?!?

This is what 4 IP, 11 H, 8 ER, 1 BB, 2 HR, and 88 pitches looks like.
"Pitcher's got a big butt, pitcher's got a big butt!!!"
"I haven't seen the floater pitch since Scuffy McGee!!!!"

Summary:  I was really glad my dad and uncle could tag along as I attended one of the coolest stadiums in the world.  The whole experience was phenomenal.  The fans were obviously in the game the entire time, the park was crowded, the dogs were hot and dressed and the beer was fresh.  You could just smell baseball everywhere.

I continued my jersey shirt purchase by getting a Ryne Sandberg (Hall of Fame second baseman) jersey across the street.  Everything they sold in the stadium was this awful navy blue color.  Plus I couldn't bring myself to buy the jersey of any current player.  Wrigley Field is everything good about baseball.  Except for the home team.  Even if you don't like the game of baseball, it's something everyone should do, as long as you root against the Cubbies.

Me and Wogo

Me and Dad

Artsy "50s" photo of Wrigley
Artsy photo #2. Or was this from the Chicago Tribune in January 1965? I can't even remember it's SO good.


Location: 9
Ballpark: 10
Food: 9
Game: 9
Overall: 9.5


Record: 6-4 (thanks, D-backs)
Giveaways: A's Snuggie and Padres sticky calendar, plus a Dunkin' Donuts coupon for a free iced coffee since the Cubbies scored in the 4th inning.

Fantastic "Rookie of the Year" references: 4

4 comments:

Katherine said...

cheap shot on naming wogo. cheap - but accurate.

Joe Herman said...

HA! Got ya. I couldn't write a blog without getting in some good natured sibling ribbing.

Lee said...

If I thought the Astros might go somewhere this year, I might root against the Cubbies. But if the Astros can't win it, I'll go for the north side team. As sacrilegious as some might think, it's like rooting for the Aggies - except if it might affect the Longhorns - or for the Cowboys unless it might affect the Texans.
Dad.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I've been called worse things in my life.