Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A Nation Invades Chicago (and for some they have no choice)

A long weekend of baseball on the south side of Chicago and the final result was the Sox won all 4 games.
(Red Sox 2 White Sox 2 )

Red Sox Nation was at U.S. Cellular Field in force all weekend and for the most part was very well behaved.

We met a couple Monday night and their reason for being in Chicago saddened me. They are from Randolph and ardent Red Sox (and especially Coco) fans. I asked if they get to Fenway often and their reply stunned me. They don't go to Fenway *NOT* because they can't get or afford tickets but because they fear for their safety because of their race.

'The Cell' as the park is called by the locals is a very nice place to watch a game and unlike the ballpark 8 miles to the north the fans know exactly what is happening on the field. This was proven in the sixth inning when White Sox pitcher John Danks hit Jacoby Ellsbury with a pitch and a loud groan was heard as Danks' perfect game was gone. These fans know their baseball and the only pink hats I saw were Boston ones. The concessions I sampled were quite tasty and priced far more reasonably than Fenway. One nice feature for those who like to keep score is you can buy a scorecard for only $1 and they also sell beer at the seats.

One thing Red Sox and White Sox fans share is Hall of Fame catcher Carlton Fisk. His number 27 is retired at Fenway and the number 72 is retired at USCF. In the center field bleachers there is a statue of Fisk.

In some ways a White Sox game reminds me of minor league games in Lowell or Pawtucket as their are a lot of gimmicks between innings from hamburger races on the scoreboard to a goal scoring contest sponsored by the hockey Blackhawks and the fans seem to enjoy them.

Leaving the park we saw a sign that would make Yogi Berra proud. I mean how can you enjoy the game when you have left?????

The park is located 5 miles south of 'The Loop' Unlike Boston there is plenty parking and the park is located just off the Dan Ryan Expressway. The park is also served by 2 subway stations. The lines at the SOX-35th St station after the game is just as bad as Kenmore.

Overall if you ever want to see The Olde Town Team on the road I would highly recommend Chicago. It might be the finest city in the United States.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

I had never been to Wrigley Field....what a night

I am in the middle of a baseball vacation and we will see our beloved Sox tonight and tomorrow in Kansas City and then in Chicago this weekend.

I had never seen a game at Wrigley Field so last night we went to the old ballpark at Clark and Addison. I won't remember much of the game but I will never forget the sheer terror of thinking I am going to die with 40,000 other people. The Chicago Tribune explains
The clock on top of the venerable Wrigley Field scoreboard read 8:06 p.m. Monday when tornado sirens began to wail in the darkness. Action between the Cubs and Astros had been suspended already for nearly a half-hour.

Then, minutes after the sirens howled, the wind started blowing out. Like, really out. Like carry-a-ball-to-the- Michigan-shoreline out.

Rain pulled a U-turn within the stadium. Debris floated along a river of standing water on the warning track behind home plate.

All of it giving a new, unsettling meaning to "It's Gonna Happen."

When the sirens went off the Cubs tried to tell the fans to seek refuge under the stands. Cubs fans may be very loyal but they are not stupid as if a tornado hits it most likely would not be wise to be under the upper deck of a almost 100 year old ballpark. 40,000 people vanished in minutes.

At this point it was an official game and of course they were finished for the evening.... nope

We were a mile away munching on a burger some 3 hours later and watching the Red Sox lose on NESN when suddenly the TV showed the game had resumed. We rushed back to Wrigley and joined about 81 other fans to watch the game.

In the eight inning the sky turned white and the loudest thunder I have ever heard at the same instant sent the players running for their lives. The game was finally called and the Cubs lost.

The Cubs fans we met we all friendly and they are SO HOPEFUL that this is NEXT year. They all want to play the Red Sox in the World Series something the Cubs have not been in since 1945.
Nobody that we spoke to wants an all Chicago World Series as Cubs fans fear if they met the crosstown White Sox they would lose.

Wrigley Field is not in good shape. Fans explained to me that renovations like those at Fenway Park are almost impossible to make because the City of Chicago has given the park 'landmark' status.

It is the only park in MLB that does not have a video replay board because the city will not allow it. However they do serve beer in the seats.

Sadly the Cubs have more 'pink hats' than we do.

On to Kansas City