Game 1 - Milwaukee Brewers at Chicago Cubs

Trip Start Sep 06, 2013
Trip End Sep 08, 2013

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What I did
Cubs vs. Brewers

Flag of United States  , Illinois
Friday, September 6, 2013

Wrigley Field.  What more do I need to say?  Every sports fan has a day game at Wrigley Field on the bucket list.  After the city of Chicago approved a $500M renovation to the stadium, there was a bit of urgency for us to see Wrigley "dumpy," and we jumped on the chance to see a game there.  Now, here's something I didn't know about Cubs games.  I thought tickets would be fairly hard to come by, but apparently it's not too difficult of a task for a September game.  I logged onto the Cubs website a few months before we left and simply bought tickets.  Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

We arrived in Chicago just before noon, rented a car, drove to the hotel, checked in, jumped on the red line train, and arrived at the ballpark just in time to catch the bottom of the first inning. 

 Stadium - Wrigley Field is one of only two iconic stadiums left in Major League Baseball, along with Fenway Park in Boston.  Yankee Stadium?  Replaced by a newer model.  Milwaukee County Stadium?  Gone.  Tiger Stadium?  Demolished.  Even Comiskey Park in the South Side of Chicago has been replaced with a shinier, newer model.  After all of these "improvements," Wrigley is still there with it's ivy-coverd brick wall, rooftop seating, and 7th-inning stretch.

Now that we're done with the sentiments, let's get down to the actual stadium.  Wrigley Field was built in 1914 as the home of the Federal League Chicago Whales, and it's been the home of the Cubs since 1916.  It also housed the Chicago Bears from 1921 to 1970.

Wrigley definitely needs a facelift.  It feels very much like a 100+ year-old ballpark that has gone through an expansion or two.  There is something to be said for a modern ballpark.  The seats were in clear need of a paint job.  The concessions need a serious upgrade, as the best food available was an admittedly delicious bratwurst (I had two), and the best beer available was Old Style (I had two, of those, too).  And, I saw the absolute worst seat I've ever seen in a stadium (section 220, row 7, seat 1), and I can't believe they sell it in good conscience.  It was directly behind a pole behind home plate.  You can see third base, and that's pretty much it.  I was also quite surprised to see advertising carved into the Ivy of the outfield wall.  People had a big enough fit when they finally installed lights to enable night games in 1988.  I can't imagine what happened when ivy was torn out.

Anyway, enough with what's wrong with it.  Just the atmosphere of being at Wrigley Field was electrifying.  I mean, come on, it's Wrigley Frickin' Field!  The view from the stands is exactly what baseball should look like.  And the rooftop bars across the street blend into the stadium in a way that makes it look like a part of the stadium.  I don't believe there is anything like that anywhere else.  At least I haven't seen it.  

This one gets a bit of a bump up for an emotional vote (but I'm looking forward to seeing it after some renovation).  Rating - 6 of 10.

 Tailgating - This was originally a college football blog, so tailgating is a key category.  For baseball, not so much.  However, I left it in here just so I could talk about the bars in Wrigleyville.  Holy Cow!  I've never seen anything like it, and that's saying a lot.  There are blocks and blocks of bars, most of which are along Clark St on the west side of the stadium.  One guy we met at the Cubs game described it as the biggest beer garden in the world.  Many of the bars had college football flags hanging outside, proclaiming them the place to be to watch whatever your favorite Big 10 team happened to be.  We even saw an Oregon flag flying (as the only representative outside the Big 10 and Northern Illinois).  Tailgating Rating - NA (Bar Hopping Rating - 10/10)

 The Game - As stated earlier, we arrived at the bottom of the 1st inning, and we were immediately treated to an unusually large amount of offensive production for a baseball game.  We saw the Cubs score 5 runs in the first inning, including a grand slam home run by rookie Junior Lake.  We also saw two more home runs and two RBIs by a pitcher.  Overall, it was a very entertaining baseball game and a nice, relaxing afternoon.  Plus, the Cubs won 8-5, which is always good for the mood.  Rating - 9 of 10.

Fans - What can you say about Cubs fans?  They are knowledgeable, respectful of the opposing team's fans, and very gracious.  They didn't exactly show up in droves on a Friday afternoon to watch two teams fighting for last place in their division, but the people that did show up seemed to be having a good time.  Although, I'm not sure how much of it was for the baseball and how much was for the experience.  Either way, they were a nice bunch of folks.  Rating - 8 of 10.    

Best Player - We got to see a few standout performances.  Starting pitcher Chris Rusin didn't have a great game pitching with 2 earned runs in 3.2 innings, but he did get 2 RBIs on a bloop single.  We saw home runs by Brewers Aramis Ramirez and Scooter Gennett.  We also saw Kevin Gregg notch his 30th save of the season.  Not bad for a player who didn't have a job the first two weeks of the season!  While those players all had some good days, none compared to our player of the game, Junior Lake.  He started off with the grand slam home run in the 1st inning, and followed it up with a bunt single in the 3rd.  Not many players can follow up a home run with enough speed to beat out a bunt.

Overall - Man, what a day.  Fly to Chicago and go straight to Wrigley for a game.  Check it off the bucket list (but that doesn't mean I won't do it again).  Rating - 8 of 10.
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Mom on

Gotta love the Chicago pizza!

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