11 May 2007


On the #152 en route to Wrigley yesterday for the kid's first game of the year, I struck up a conversation with a kind, middle-aged man from Schaumburg named Bob. After exchanging pleasantries & anecdotes about raising a daughter, Bob asked if I was a Cubs fan. Bob had noticed that my daughter was holding a teddy bear with a Brewers shirt on, which her father had procured from Miller Park during the Indians - Angels series up there. I love it when people ask me if I'm a Cub fan. Without a word, I took out my wallet & showed Bob the worn "birds on bat" sticker that I keep handy for just such a situation. Bob laughed & replied, "I don't like baseball myself. I thinks it's boring. I'm more of a football guy." Since Bob was a nice guy, I didn't want to get into it with him about how professional football is easily more tiresome than baseball, but I did want to ask him the obvious, "Then, why are you going to a baseball game?" I didn't ask the question, as Bob followed his comment with maybe the most honest & thoughtful reason for someone not to like The Game. He said, "I'm not in statistics & if you can't follow the statistics in baseball, you got nothing." Fair enough.
Wrigley Field should be a great place to go if you would simply like to watch a baseball game. God knows the place is not kid-friendly at all, but you already knew that. Since the Tribune Company's product should prevent fair-weather fans, there should be plenty of available seating. Lots of afternoon day games should mean less people at the games. There is nothing electronic provided by the stadium that demands your attention. There's easy access by public transportation. Every other ballpark in the league goes out of it's way to entice non-fans with exploding scoreboards & swanky restaurants & kids areas & good food & clean restrooms & wide concourses & trivia games & kiss cams & cheaper tickets & plenty of parking. Wrigley has none of these things & yet perversely it's a terrible place to watch a ballgame.
The kid & I managed to wrangle 12th row - behind home plate seats for $20 apiece from a kind man outside the park who was just asking anybody who walked by, "Do you need tickets?" Generosity knows no bounds in Chicago. We headed back across Addison & took a short walk to our seats, after checking in the stroller with guest services, of course. I had failed to remember that El Toro was starting yesterday, so by the time we got in to see the scoreboard, the Pirates were already up 3 - 0. Good. Since our seats were in the middle of a row occupied by many, many old people, our nice attendant named Pete let us sit in some unused seats on the aisle a few rows back. We went to get some Connie's pizza from the concessionaires & sat back down to watch the ballgame. Now, going to a game with my daughter is not unlike going to a game with an adult at Wrigley. Neither of them really know what is going on on the field. They both just want to eat, drink, & cheer loudly when everyone else does. It was great to hear my daughter continue the overanxious Cub fans clapping after Jack Wilson robbed The Riot of a sure base hit. Thanks, honey.
We were soon joined in our row by 2 guys & 1 girl who were the perfect embodiment of Cubdum & pretty much sum up "The Wrigley Experience" for me. All three of them were in their mid-late 20's, the boys dressed in their updated Tau Delta togas (backwards hat, lewd t-shirt, khaki shorts) & the girl was dressed in short jean shorts & a tight tank-top. Sound familiar? Anyway, things started off fine enough between us. One of the boys, named Jeremy, tempered his obnoxiousness with genuine kindness towards me & the child & the other 2 smiled, texted, talked on the phone, ate nachos, drank beer, & yelled at Zambrano to throw strikes. They persistently trade to sneak down a few rows, causing a beleaguered Pete to spring into action. Jeremy apologized for yelling "WHAT THE HELL?", which, of course, my daughter repeated verbatim, but that didn't bother me. As it is with baseball games, things began to deteriorate around the 5th inning. Pete the usher became visibly upset with our neighbors, not just for their juvenile attempts to move from 13 rows behind home plate to 9 rows behind home plate, but also for spilling a full beer on a guy sitting in front of us. Ugh. Jeremy's requests for hi-fives now became belligerent demands & I couldn't wait for the 7th inning stretch so the child could stand & sing. She did, we did & settled in for the final 15 outs. By now, our neighboring trio had coaxed some friends down to our section & they stood through the entire 8th inning, obstructed the views of 3 southern couples sitting directly behind us... I was noticing all of this peripherally, since my first & only obligation for the day was to make sure the child didn't die, but my ire was raised. See, I really enjoy public drunkenness. I hate event drunkenness. Jeremy & crew were finally asked to leave in the top of the 9th by Usher Pete, which, to no one's surprise, raised an immense ruckus. The kid & I braved through it, saw The Phantom pick up a well-deserved save in the bottom of the 9th & headed for home. I got to partially quell my baseball fix & the kid got to marvel at how the seats lifted back up by themselves. That's it. I could go on about how I think Zambrano is finished or how much I love the Phantom, but I'll save those for later.. Somehow, even with everything stacked against them, the non-fans still rule at Clark & Addison.
Wrigley Field should be a great place for a baseball fan to watch a baseball game.
I am a baseball fan who went to Wrigley Field to watch a baseball game.
Wrigley Field sucks.

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