Friday, July 22, 2011

Go Cubs Go

For years now, one of our vacation goals was to get Wife to a Cubs game. As a native Milwaukeean, she has never been to Wrigley Field before. Each year, it seems the Cubs were never in town while we were or we always had a conflict. With the boys now able to sit through an entire sporting event, and both of them coming off their own baseball seasons, I wanted to get the whole family and not just Wife to see their first Cubs game.

Finally, this year, everything fell into place. We'd been eying this Friday to see the Cubs play. I pounced on some seriously discounted tickets on StubHub last night, and the thunderstorms that rolled through Chicago subsided just as we got on the train. Everything fell into place perfectly for Day 3 of our vacation.

My dad dropped us off at the Skokie Swift station, and two trains later (Eldest wanted to take the subway on vacation; we never went underground but I it was close enough to enjoy the Chicago rapid transit experience), we were on Addison outside the Friendly Confines. After a lap around the outside of the ballpark (walked more for Wife and me; Eldest wanted to get inside), we entered Wrigley Field for their first Cubs game and my first since 2002.

One memory I have from Wrigley Field in my youth is the men's restrooms that feature troughs instead of urinals. I figured after all the remodeling the stadium has gone through, the troughs would be gone, but sure enough, I took the boys into the restroom and there the troughs were. I think they were unsure what to think of the troughs (they kind of look like giant sinks to wash hands), but they got the hang of it, though I had to lift Littlest underneath his arms so he was tall enough to effectively relieve himself. After that first adventure, we made our way to our seats.

I really got lucky with these tickets: upper deck on the shady side, third row, about even with the pitcher's mound. The seats were perfect for the boys to see all the action. I couldn't help but smile as I surveyed the stadium from the upper deck. Yes, Wrigley Field has changed much over the years (the Toyota sign behind left field is seriously obnoxious), but it's still mostly the same ballpark I remember from the late 1970s when I first started going to Cubs games -- even Ivan DeJesus was in uniform (the former shortstop is the Cubs' third base coach).

The rain never returned and the sun (and humidity) made an appearance. We bought hot dogs and pretzels, and ate sunflower seeds and peanuts. Wife bought the boys giant foam bear claws. I bought an Old Style from a vendor just for the experience of drinking one at Wrigley Field (it's only slightly better there, which is still not that great). The Cubs, naturally, didn't play that well, but still managed to beat the Astros 4-2 thanks to home runs by Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez. We watched actor Tom Felton (Draco in the Harry Potter movies) throw out the first pitch, and heard Jeff Garlin sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." We sang "Go Cubs Go" after they won.

Afterward, we slowly made our way back to the el train to return back north. We picked up Giordano's for dinner and mostly took it easy for the rest of the night. The boys said they liked the game; I really hoped they did. I know I did.

(Slug Bug standings after Day 3: Eldest 8, Wife 7, Littlest 7, me 6)

Click here for Day 4.

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