With all the stadiums I’ve been to, the most surprising omission has always been Wrigley Field. After all, it’s the second oldest stadium in existence and I used to semi-regularly drive through Chicago on trips from Ann Arbor to Minneapolis. You’d think that at some point I would have stopped to see the Cubs play. But no, my first trip to Wrigley Field wasn’t until this Friday when I flew to Chicago to visit Anand and drag him to a game.
My initial impressions of Wrigley are that it is very sparse — no jumbotron to show highlights and replays, no sideshow attractions, and no real decoration other than the ivy in the outfield. You’re there to watch a baseball game and nothing else… which is how it should be. It feels a lot like Fenway in places, mostly because of the age and similar construction style. There’s even a giant mechanical scoreboard in the outfield that’s reminiscent of the Green Monster.
The day started with a Chicago dog from Murphy’s Red Hots down the street and a rain delay. The storm cloud coming in from out of nowhere was an awesome sight to behold. While Anand and I waited for the rain delay to pass, we sat in the Wrigley basement doing a cryptic crossword out of the Enigma… because that’s the kind of people we are.
Once the clouds cleared (and the heat came back), we sat in the bleachers, on a recommendation from Harvey that the Cubs bleacher bums are not to be missed. And while we both got a little tired of “HEY DAVID! HOW MANY OUTS?” being shouted at David DeJesus, the Cubs centerfielder, the Bleacher Bums certainly have character.
Being in the bleachers meant we were also in prime location for homerun catching — and the Cubs hit three on Friday. One went clear out of the park onto Waveland Avenue behind us, one went to right field, and one landed right behind us.
Right behind us — in fact, we were on WGN’s broadcast of the homerun where I can be seen chastising Anand for not getting out of his seat to try and catch it. I think we could have had it, despite whatever comment he inevitably leaves says to the contrary. He did get in to the bleacher atmosphere later, yelling at Astros second baseman Matt Downs when he made an error in the field. “I’ll give you a hint: you’re looking for a round white thing!” I think I may have created a monster.
The mini-homerun derby paid off for the Cubs, even though one would have been enough. Pitcher Paul Maholm was on fire, going 8.1 scoreless innings before getting in a mini-jam in the 9th. But Marmol came in to shut the Astros down with the bases loaded and they raised the W flag over that big mechanical scoreboard while playing “Go Cubs Go!” (And that song is *still* in my head.)