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One of my main objectives this year was to make sure that I got to see more live baseball at ballparks and at various parks. Going to Spring Training this year, as I previously talked about, helped out with that a lot.
I had already planned on making the trip to Chicago to visit my friend, who is a senior at Northwestern. When he asked if I’d want to see a Cubs game, I immediately agreed to it and StubHub turned out to be a pretty good friend.
Upon entering into Wrigleyville, there were a lot of Cubs-centric places, just like around Fenway or Yankee Stadium. However, it was interesting to see a lot of open air merchandise vendors, especially given that it was raining.
This year the Cubs added a Captain Morgan’s club as apparently a way to try and cater to more of a yuppie crowd. Yeah, the Tribune Co. is in the process of selling the team, also, so I think that about sums that one up.
I think the other noticeable thing about the outside of Wrigley was how small it felt. Fenway and Yankee Stadium (the old one) come across as so much larger on the outside, but Wrigley feels almost like it’s just an oddly colored and shaped apartment building. I think this picture I took outside of Wrigley illustrates it, especially with the height of the people compared to the stadium.
The other notable item from outside the stadium was how scalpers were having problems selling tickets to the game. My friend and I witnessed one guy with what looked to be a hundred tickets in his hand. The reselling market has hit a tough time and it’s pretty easy to walk up to most stadiums and get a ticket to the game in some fashion. Unfortunately, this led to a less-than-full attendance at Wrigley.
Inside the stadium, there are some similarities to Fenway, but enough differences to set it apart. It has the wide walkways that also allow concession stand lines to grow long. There is not all that much to walk around to on the inside, though. Much like the old Yankee stadium, the bleacher seats have their own entrance. There are obstructed views and the stadium allows air to carry quite easily through.
When I went to Fenway, the seats, at least in my section (Outfield Grandstand section 1) did not have cupholders. However, Wrigley, despite it’s age, provided that, which turned out to be useful considering how much people in my section left and came back.
Another interesting item you’ll see in this photo from my section is that the pole has a TV on it. The Cubs try to help out those with obstructed view. Unfortunately those close to the pole are not helped much. But you can’t fault them for trying, which is something Fenway doesn’t do.
Another thing that strikes you is just how little advertising and billboard space there is in the park. Obviously the park’s maintenance costs are covered quite well by ticket prices and there isn’t exactly much room to advertise on anyway. The ivy on the outfield wall had not grown in yet, so instead it looked like the wall was coated in fertilizer. The brick behind home plate did look very nice and showed why a lot of teams seek to replicate the look.
The roof top seats are somewhat more bizarre than the Monster seats. At least all of the Monster seats guarantee good views. Some of the roof top seats face into the seats in foul territory on the first base side. What sense does that make?
As for food and drink, the drink options provided a wide beer choice (so that’s why so many crazy fans feel invincible enough to run on the field), yet the food options were not very numerous. However, I will say that what they had available was more than what the old Yankee stadium had from their non-cart options, which is a bit surprising. Chicken fingers, Italian sausage, pizza, a BBQ Pulled Pork sandwich, a buffalo dog, a footlong hot dog, buffalo fries, pretzels and nachos are the first items I can remember off the top of my head.
We got a Friday afternoon matchup between the Chicago Cubs and the Florida Marlins. The starting pitchers were Graham Taylor and Rich Harden. Unfortunately, neither starter pitched very well, as there were 14 walks, one HBP, and two wild pitches in the game. So…there was not exactly good pitching at all.
However, the game didn’t become a offensive show either. The game just kind of dragged along. Both teams had a star player sitting with Hanley Ramirez (FLA) and Aramis Ramirez (CHC) both resting to start the day. Of course, Hanley later came in for essentially a third of the game, which begs the question that if he wasn’t healthy enough to start, why was he healthy enough for three innings of play?
I also got to witness Carlos Zambrano pinch hit, an idea that is probably crazy to a lot of fans of AL-style baseball. The rain basically kill the experience as the crowd seemed pretty mellow until around the 7th inning when the sun started showing up. Or, maybe it helped that the Cubs took the lead in the bottom of the 6th on a Ryan Theriot grand slam (these are words I expect will never be uttered ever again).
Of course, no trip to Wrigley would be incomplete without the singing of Take Me Out to the Ballgame. And the only thing I can say is please do not let Denise Richards ever sing again.