The trip to Chicago for the Great North American Baseball Road Trip’s visit to Wrigley Field had many snarls and snags, none of which had anything to do with the driving, which was surprisingly painless.
First on the list of mishaps was my neglecting to check the schedule for the game time. I knew it was a day game and assumed the normal starting time of 1 pm. Of course, this is Chicago and they have day games all the time, many of which start at a time other than 1 pm, in this case, 3 pm.
So, if you add in the fact that I usually get there two hours before game time, I was actually there four hours before game time. Ugh.
Next there was the parking. $40. Holy moley! I could park at two games in most parks for that. I could park for three games in some. I thought it was as bad as it could get until the woman in the seat next to me told me she had paid $50. Ugh.
Then there was the game itself. As you must guess by now, I don’t look ahead to the game and the opponent, I merely walk up to the ticket window and buy a single. And this was a day game, so, really, what could possibly go wrong.
Of course, this is Chicago, where they have day games all the time. And Wrigley is an old, small field. And it was a Friday. And it was battle of Chicago’s. I had the choice of sitting for $79 or standing for $36, both over my budget per game. Pay up or stand up. I chose pay up and here’s what I got. Ugh.
Or, what I thought I got, as I spent the first three innings in the wrong section. When I moved, I could at least now see left-handed hitters and the pitcher (but not the second basemen or the center fielder). And mine wasn’t even the worst seat. That would be this. Who thinks this is a good design for a stadium? Even way back when? Ugh.
I may reconsider my “buy at the window” policy going forward. I will start scouting the remaining 13 games on the schedule and decide whether to test my weather luck by purchasing seats ahead of time. Though, I still won’t know if I’ve got a beam in front of me by choosing online, at least I may be able to avoid budget-buster tickets in the future. Ugh.
The city: Chicago, IL. Come on, you must already have enough knowledge about this city, if just from movies. I’ll be brief, as my Cubs experience left me with less enthusiasm for the place (I had more fun with the White Sox, so there).
Like most early cities, its location was near a large water body (the Chicago River) to capitalize on the only real means of interstate commerce. The city got its name from being smelly. Seriously. The Miami-Illinois tribe (had to get some Florida reference in there somewhere), used the word, “shikaakwa” for the area due to the leeks that grew in the area (the word could mean striped skunk or smelly onion, so either way, the name stunk).
The French came through, as French always do, and the name altered to “Checagou”. Since that sounded too French, you have the name you know and have some opinion of today.
Without trivializing it, we’ll skip past the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, as it should be knowledge to all state historians (and if you’re not, you can look it up…the citizens did a heroic job rebuilding). I’ll jump forward to some of Chicago’s achievements, famous firsts like the first skyscraper, refrigerated rail car, mail-order retailing (now you know who to blame), the car radio and the TV remote control (now you know who to blame).
Chicago’s checkered past, subject of much writing and filming, is of less interest to me than its accomplishments and, despite my lukewarm Cubs experience, it is a city deserving of much respect and admiration.
The Game: Chicago Cubs vs. Chicago White Sox. The battle of North vs. South! The Cubs are doing well this year and are legitimate playoff contenders (they would be in, if the season ended today). The White Sox, while troubled, have put together a strong run, winning 7 of 8 and rekindling hope in a tough AL Central.
The game, of course, was a pitcher’s duel. Instead of the expected slugfest, the fans got goose eggs all the way until the top of the inning. Then, when the Cubs brought in their reliever, the scoreboard flashed the statistic “hasn’t given up a run in 19 consecutive appearances”. D’oh. You could almost hear Al Micheals saying “he hasn’t missed a field goal from that distance all season”.
There’s an old truism in baseball: Never walk the leadoff hitter; it will come back to haunt you. While the Cubs reliever didn’t walk the White Sox leadoff hitter, he hit him on the foot, awarding him first base. Then he promptly stole second, was bunted to third and scored on a sacrifice fly ball. Game over one inning later, 1-0 and GNABRT dropping back to 12-5.
The Tab: Ticket, $79 (ugh); Parking, $40 (ugh); Total – $119 (double ugh)
Miscellany of Day 44:
– I didn’t eat any food at Wrigley (like I was going to give them any more money). Being 4 hours early, I walked around for a long while then drifted into a Subway. Turns out, the $3 sub of the day was tuna and I hadn’t had that in a long time, so my total food cost (w/drink) was $4.70.
– Before I left Racine, I stopped at a car wash (Victory Lane) to use a free wash coupon given to me by the Subaru dealership (which would explain why they didn’t wash the car). I just opted for an exterior wash, but these guys put the cleaning on the car and the bugs were gone. Of course, that leaves my scratched paint more visible, but what the hey. I wish my local car wash did this good a job.
– I am sad to say that my little cough is clearly a chest thingy. My standard test is if I can take a deep breath without coughing. I cannot. It’s probably just a chest cold as opposed to a respiratory thing and it’s mostly under control unless I talk a lot (not an issue driving alone on the GNABRT). But it’s still annoying.
– Good grief but these middle states like to charge tolls. After thousands of miles of free roads, the trip through Illinois, Indiana and Ohio has become quite expensive.
– I am happy to be back in the proper time zone again.
– Something I have been noticing in my travels is the odd placement of things in hotel bathrooms. The most obvious is the toilet paper, which at times is so far from the toilet, it makes me wonder if the architect ever stayed there. In one hotel, it was hidden behind the door.
My current hotel has the bath towels on a rack at the back of the shower. Huh? There is ample wall space above the toilet (like almost every other hotel). I’m thinking a tall person will never get a dry towel from this shower (or else huddle up close to the shower head).
– I totally missed the boat in Chicago. I should have been walking around in my new #GNABRT shirt. I will try to wear it for all future games. That may create some washing logistical issues and certainly might wear out the shirt, but I think it should be able to handle 13 more washings. We’ll see if I can pull that off.
Today it’s the Indians and then the Pirates tomorrow, before a nice break in the action for the All-Star Break. I’ll use that time to rest up (and look for chicken soup), book my remaining stops (Boston and Baltimore) and perhaps buy advance tickets for the NE part of the trip.