A chance to add another ballpark to my quest to see a professional
game played in each stadium.
chance to see not one but two
games played at Wrigley Field.
chance to see the Boston Red Sox play at Wrigley Field.
a chance to spend a few days with Dad.
what had me back in my old room, spending the night before we
left on our trip, listening to Mom and Dad try to set rings for
their new cell phones.
was kind of strange kicking off the trip this way. No dogs in
the bed for one thing. While I usually struggle to fall asleep
without Lady and Travis in some way wrapped around or on top of
my legs… the word from Tigg was that the two of them spread out,
collapsed on my pillows and snored all night without me. Yup,
my best friends.
we get packed we really aren’t certain what to expect. When I
booked the tickets on-line, I wasn’t able to enter any information
other than our first and last names… which are the same. The site
didn’t accept middle initials. I have called a couple of times
to make sure that the reservations didn’t get kicked out or canceled…
and have been told that it was a good thing I did. Just a note
to all of you providers (and users) of automated services out
there… I called one time to confirm the reservations, honestly
tried to use the automated system, but it wouldn’t tell me that
there were two reservations, so I had to stay on the line and
eventually connect to a representative on the phone. Nice planning
for any possibility there folks.
put together some things to do… a few restaurants, information
about the Sears Tower (check out the results of everything in
best of Chicago”)… and it’s time to get going…
one, Thursday, June 9, 2005
flights from Warwick to Chicago have a very good chance at forever
maintaining the position of strangest statistic I’ve ever encountered
in a plane. (Yes. It’s Warwick. Not Providence. T.F. Green
Airport is in Warwick, Rhode Island.)
are flying US Airways out to Chicago, and have a connection in
Philadelphia. Watch these scheduled times…
time in the air: 1 hour, 14 minutes
Chicago: 1:27pm (Chicago time is different... add an hour)
time in the air: 2 hours, 17 minutes
was the schedule. In reality we…
is that so strange? Well, those times reflect when we actually
landed on the ground in those cities. We saved 19 minutes of flight
time. The problem was, we sat on the runway in Philadelphia just
after landing… and didn’t move… for 30 minutes. And then
it took an additional thirteen minutes to get to a gate. Why?
Because we were too early. So… we saved 19 minutes on
the flight and actually ended up spending more time on the plane
than we were originally scheduled to.
sitting next to Erica on our first flight. She works at an area
hospital and is making her way down to Georgia to visit her brother…
he’s in the military and stationed there. She’s also engaged and
working on her wedding plans. (Congrats again Erica and good luck.)
conversation with her began when she starts offering stuff to
Dad… gum… goldfish. Quite a nice girl… friendly, generous.
plane is an A321, and as noted anyone looking at the time sheets
must think someone messed up…
Warwick… on time… 9:50am.
Philadelphia… 10:45am… early.
at gate… 11:28am… late.
turns out that because we were so early, a half hour was spent
trying to get an assignment at a different gate because the one
we were supposed to go to had a plane parked there. Then, after
arriving at the new gate we were told to wait because the plane
had now departed for its flight from our original arrival gate,
and apparently the people in charge of gate assignments weren’t
buying the idea that we had already reached the new gate… so they
were telling the pilot to go to the original gate.
around the terminal waiting to board the second flight, it seems
like there are quite a few Boston fans waiting. Hmm… this might
be a big thing. Dad and I hand our boarding passes over and… well…
I screw up… (almost)
walking behind a couple that has two young boys with them. The
older man and both boys have Red Sox hats on. So… naturally…
going to the game?” I ask.
woman turns and looks at me with terror in her eyes. “Umm… no…
couldn’t get tickets…” she says while looking at the boys and
then to me with a silent message of “yes you idiot, we are going
to see the Red Sox play at Wrigley, but the kids don’t know that
so please shut up…”
second flight of our day is on board a 737-700… and that has me
thinking. I used to save the emergency information fliers as a
kid. I had one from every plane I was on from about the age of
eleven until roughly ten or twelve years later. Don’t know why
I stopped collecting them, and I don’t know what happened to that
collection. But I’m not sure if I could keep pace today anyway.
Growing up it seemed so easy… 737 or 727 or DC10. Not much else.
Certainly not an airbus or all of the express jets that are around
now. Jeez… a flight halfway across the country on a commercial
airline today seems to be more often than not on a plane that
is barely bigger than the “puddle jumper” I took from Miami (Florida)
to Marathon (Florida Keys) back in 1994.
also find myself paying attention to the instructional video playing
safety information as we taxi out to the runway. They are showing
the segment where they talk about lighting on the floors, along
the aisle, that leads to the exits. I don’t see any strips that
could hold lights or any other item that resembles what the video
suggests is going to happen in an emergency. And here’s a question…
do they check the life vests before every flight? I reached under
my seat, didn’t feel anything that seemed to be a life vest there.
So now I’m wondering about that… and if I should ask for a life
vest just in case it really isn’t there.
there anyone out there that understands O’Hare Airport? Anyone?
Because Dad and I get off the plane, find a phone to use to call
the car rental agency the way our reservation tell us to, and
then we set off on an adventure of a hike to the pick-up point.
Oh I am very serious… an adventure. Down an escalator… out of
the terminal… down an elevator… over to an information booth…
around a corner following the footsteps on the floor and turning
at a big trash can (A trash can! They gave us directions at the
information booth using a trash can!)… find the hidden elevator
located behind a screening wall… wait for the elevator, and then
nudge all of the people that are sneaking in and trying to cut
us off even though we were there longer than them and part of
an organized line… take the elevator back up… try to find out
where we are located, then use an exit and wait on the side of
the road. It took us almost fifteen minutes to walk from the gate
to the car rental pick-up area to catch our shuttle.
but every so often what goes around comes around. Make no mistake,
we weren’t inconvenienced by the late arrivals at airport gates
or by the long walk. We weren’t having a bad time at all. Things
were going fine. You could say that the world hadn’t been running
smoothly up until that point though.
that changed when we got the keys to our PT Cruiser… the one with
three… 3… three miles on it. We waited with the rental
agent for ten minutes because they literally had to take the protective
plastic off of the exterior. And while we waited, we talked with
her about what the area was like. Our hotel was a Super 8 only
a few miles away and we picked up a few options for meals and
such while we talked.
went to the hotel and checked in, and it turned out to be a fabulous
choice. I had looked at a few locations… some closer to Wrigley…
and kept finding the same basic problems. The prices for rooms
got better the further away from Wrigley or the city I looked.
And, the differences were substantial enough that the option of
renting a car and staying near O’Hare turned out to be much less
expensive than staying near the places we were planning to visit
and trying to find a cab… or pay for one. Other than hearing a
plane on the first night, we were never disturbed by the airport.
And, I don’t remember seeing many cabs at all.
had decided to head over to see Wrigley Field this afternoon,
mainly for two reasons. First, we wanted to check out our directions
and the parking situation so that we would have an idea of what
to do on Friday. Making a couple of mistakes and finding no parking
wasn’t something we wanted happening under the pressure of an
approaching game time. And second, we thought that since the Cubs
weren’t playing today, we might have a chance to see some of the
area… a bar or some food, walk around the park, maybe a souvenir
stand or two… without the pressure of a game day crowd.
plan worked perfectly.
took us about 45 minutes to travel from our hotel to Wrigley Field.
Not too bad considering we were in traffic for virtually the entire
trip. One interesting thing about Chicago is that it has to be
the first city I have ever seen with a ton of highways that is
desperately in need of another one or two.
drove along 90 and got off at the West Addison exit. Just about
every time my father has taken me to Fenway, we have driven along
the Veterans Parkway. We both felt reminded of that drive as we
went along Addison. In a way, we found that interesting because
of the history of the parks, the way the teams represent their
communities, and how for decades the neighborhoods have grown
and developed around the fields. Nothing really that we know of
to justify the similarities of the drive falls into those categories,
but it could be an interesting project to research.
door to The Cubby Bear.
passing through Wrigleyville, we parked on Clark Street and walked
up to The
Cubby Bear… recently voted one of the best
sports bars in the country, and I certainly wouldn’t dispute the
claim. Although it was incredibly quiet on this Thursday evening,
the food was fantastic. (For the record, I had a buffalo chicken
sandwich that was great, although it got a bit messy toward the
end. Dad had a ribeye sandwich.) Jennifer was out waitress and
she took fantastic care of us.
eating we decided to walk around the park. Turns out that over
the years Wrigley Field has developed an amazing sense of community.
The bars, shops… heck, let’s just say the whole area… is known
as Wrigleyville. And it is impressive. To be honest, it is the
best community immediately around a park that I’ve ever seen,
and I don’t know if I’ll see anything else that’s even close.
(Yes, I’ve been to Fenway lots of times. And the stuff they do
now is very nice and fan friendly, but it’s a business move. Fenway
is great, but this is a neighborhood.)
the corner of Addison and Sheffield...
you walk along West Addison… from the corner featuring the famous
sign at North Clark to the statue of Harry Caray at the corner
of Sheffield… there isn’t a single place where you cannot see
a bar, a restaurant or a gift shop. In fact pretty much only in
the center of the portion of Waveland Avenue, that runs parallel
to West Addison along the left field to center field section of
Wrigley’s exterior, is there a place surrounding the field where
you wouldn’t see a souvenir store or stand, but you’d still see
bars and all the other great attributes of Wrigleyville. It’s
quite the place.
should also point out how clean and well kept the neighborhoods
looked. Small gardens all over the place, almost no trash on the
ground, and amazingly comfortable to walk around.
picture is for Tigg. She takes photos of flowers and
plants when we go on vacation and puts together framed
collages when we get home. The one she did for Australia
is gorgeous. I took this in a small garden along the
street near Wrigley Field.
we walk away from the Caray statue and turn up Sheffield, we see
them. The stands built on top of the buildings across the street.
This has always been an interesting part of the Wrigley history
that you hear about on television, but man does it hit you when
you see it in person. How important are the roofs of nearby buildings
at Wrigley? Well, go ask Budweiser. They basically bought one
of them. But these stands are pretty neat. Think about it… people
are buying seats to watch a game from across the street.
picture was taken at the Saturday game, June 11th. A
beautiful day for a ballgame. And, if you look closely,
you can see the stands built on top of the buildings
across the street from the outfield. Also visible is
the Budweiser roof.
we get to the left field entrance there’s someone that appears
to be from a maintenance or grounds crew taking a cigarette break.
Another guy is walking in carrying a briefcase. As he passes the
first man, he says “the World Champions are in town.”
head back to the car and are off to head to the top of the
Sears Tower. To get there, I decide to head
over to Lake Shore Drive and use that to get to the city.
if you’ve never been to Chicago, there is a very good chance you’ve
heard of Lake Shore Drive. And you probably just shrugged your
shoulders and thought something like “yeah, alright, it’s a road,
running along a lake… Lake Shore Drive, I get it… big deal.”
view from the top of the Sears Tower. This one is basically
to the southeast, with the Field Museum and Soldier
Field near the water of Lake Michigan.
you would be incredibly wrong.
feel bad. I was wrong too.
stunning view. Gorgeous.
are a few events and some construction going on, so we need to
actually go past the turn I wanted to take in order to head over
to the tower and the parking garage its web site directs you to.
the street is the Washington Mutual Building, which is… as many
of the buildings in Chicago are… unique and it catches our eyes.
down on the south side of the tower.
watch the video, head to the top, and spend about perhaps an hour
wandering around. It’s very quiet, which seems a bit unusual to
me for a couple of reasons. First of all, we’re very close to
sunset. I would like to guess this place would be incredibly popular
around sunset (the hours make me believe that you’d have to make
some fancy arrangements to be there at sunrise, but it would be
worth it). And also, since the work day is over and this would
also seem like a tourist destination, having only a handful of
people around seems a bit odd.
to northeast from the Sears Tower.
views are great… we’re having a good time… until the phone call
is finally made that will mess us up, more or less completely,
the next day.
don’t remember who called who. Was it Dad calling Mom to brag
about where we were? Was it Mom calling Dad to find out how things
were going? Whatever. Tigg is out with my Mom and sister looking
at materials for a bathroom renovation that my parents... ok,
not my parents... that my Mom is planning. The phone was handed
to me, and I was standing on the Skydeck of the tallest building
in America listening to a description of bathroom floor tiles.
should be noted that after all was said and done, my mother later
decided on an entirely different set of tiles.)
and I head back to the car and off for the hotel. Along the way
back I introduce him to Cold Stone Creamery. Great day. Beautiful
two, Friday, June 10, 2005
head to the lobby of the hotel for breakfast… one of those special
breakfasts that is advertised in a way that leads you to believe
there will be a chef working at an omelet station. But it’s just
pastry, juice and coffee. Not too bad though, and a decent assortment.
leave at 9:30am and are pulling onto North Halsted Street at 10:15am.
Clay is just opening up the First Express Parking lot, and we
pull in. We talk to him for a few minutes, because we have questions
about what parking might be like on Saturday. We are going directly
to the car rental agency so we can drop off the car and get to
the airport for our flight.
short… and scenic… walk to the ballpark follows.
off all Garciaparra items!”
the sign that greets us as we walk into Wrigleyville
Sports. We had been here briefly the night
before, and I don’t recall seeing the same sign. Considering the
weekend… with the Red Sox in town… Dad and I find it hysterical
at first. Later we find signs offering similar discounts on Wood
and Prior merchandise… but still. The moment was good.
is trying to find something for the grandchildren, and that’s
where things are going kind of crazy. Remember the phone call
from the night before? Well, Mom had asked Dad if he had found
anything for the grandson. He said no, but after that call began
looking around more carefully at things. So now, he’s in the children’s
apparel section, trying to figure out sizes. And, naturally, two
men looking for kid’s clothing is just falling into the stereotypical
comedy you would expect it to be. Apparently, every name brand
making clothes for kids thinks a 4-6 is a different size. We both
know that no 12 month old baby wears the 12-month size cloths.
Things aren’t going well. More phone calls. We end up deciding
that with a trip to Disney approaching, there are plenty of other
things to get for the kids at another time.
gates are open, and we head inside.
we walk around, Dad is in his glory. He’s wearing a World Series
champions t-shirt, and he’s talking to everyone. And I mean… every…
one. Ushers. People wearing Boston hats. People wearing Chicago
hats. Heck, at one point we’re down the left field line taking
pictures, he sees Nomar walking around on the field, and he starts
looking for a way to get closer to the wall without alerting alot
of other people around us that haven’t noticed Garciaparra on
under the stands, we decide to get something to eat. Having grown
up on the best hot dogs in the game... Fenway Franks (I’m biased...
I admit that... they are good, but not as good as the ones they
served when I was 10)… I am sold on the no game being complete
without one, and always have to get at least one hot dog. I probably
will change my approach as we get to more stadiums in our quest
to see a game played in every one… since many of the newer ones
feature tremendous food options. But here there’s a stand here
selling Chicago Dogs, and we try them. Great stuff… better than
the regular hot dogs. Even was able to get peppers for mine at
the condiment station. I do have a question about the souvenir
cups though. Who makes these things? The large cups are basically
disposable considering the quality of them.
to the seats we go.
game was great, but I leaned if I wanted to see the pitcher.
today’s game we are sitting down the right field line, in aisle
239. Funny thing about Wrigley… if you have been brought up at
a stadium like Fenway, you don’t realize that poles being in the
way is odd. I have no view of the pitcher from my seat. I can
see the very back of the mound, and the very front. No pitcher.
And you know what? I don’t care either.
woman sits down in the row in front of us. She’s wearing a fantastic
shirt that says “real women don’t date Yankees fans.” Here’s her
story… In the bottom of the second inning, she starts laughing
as a “Yankees suck” chant breaks out two aisles away from us.
In the bottom of the third, she takes out her cell phone and calls
someone that apparently is sitting some place in aisle 211 to
tell her that she heard a “Yankees suck” chant and was surprised
it didn’t happen before the second inning. Her friend hadn’t heard
a “Yankees suck” chant yet. Oh, and by the way, Cubs fans agree
that the “Yankees suck.” Hey… I don’t make up the news… I just
bring it to you with as much accuracy and unbiased talent as I
The view was pretty good overall.
few thoughts about the game, taken directly from my notes…
is Neifi Perez hitting .300? How? Doesn’t seem possible.
is Jeromy Burnitz hitting clean-up? His average is so-so at
best this season, and all he ever does is strikeout or… crap…
hit a home run. 1-0 Cubs.
you’re looking to start a really big fire some place that
you don’t actually want a fire, Alan Embree is the man to
call. Heck, if Corey Patterson hadn’t hit teammate Neifi Perez
with a wicked shot, the seventh inning might still be going
on right now.
No gimmicks. No sponsors. Just advertisements on the scoreboard
occasionally with a contest or two along the way. But no major-company
prize patrol with air cannons firing shirts into the crowd.
It’s refreshing actually.
David Ortiz hit two home runs, and saw Greg Maddux pitch...
and... umm... saw Maddux hit a home run.
runs… 7 homers… Cubs – 14 runs and 20 hits… Game time? 2 hours
and 52 minutes. Try getting those stats in an American League
observation – Having a great time with the Cubs fans. Very
pleasant to talk to and fun to be around. Seems like there’s
a relaxed atmosphere with everyone getting along and laughing
as opposed to the tension that seems to run between Yankees
fans and Red Sox fans when those two teams face each other.
(There was a huge “Welcome Red Sox Nation” sign that we used
as a marker for the street we turned on to get to our parking
leave the game and are heading home when I ask Dad what he wants
for dinner. We decide to stop at Outback Steakhouse. The meal
was good but we weren’t thrilled about the parking. They set it
up with a very confusing valet station. The lot was narrow and
not that big, and we easily could have parked our own car and
been eating an appetizer by the time they had taken our key and
given us a receipt. Coming out I would had been five miles down
the highway before our car pulled up. So why didn’t we park it
ourselves? Because the flow of traffic just about forced you to
stop at the valet stand. Cones and all sorts of things moved you
to it and made navigating the lot incredibly confusing.
funny thing happens getting on the highway. I get to watch Dad
try to jump out of the car, dive into his seat and crawl under
the dashboard all in one motion. As we approach the top of the
on ramp, I spot a stop light. Having seen them in California and
recognizing the device used to help merging traffic, I stop. Dad
on the other hand hasn’t seen one before and seems to think the
only possible reason for me to use the brake is a horrendous crash
that he can’t decide how to prepare for. When I point to the light
that has just gone green, he’s surprised but relieved.
visit to Cold Stone is in order to wrap up the night. Tomorrow
we head to our second game, and then the race is on to get to
loss that afternoon isn’t quite as stinging as we watch the early
results between New York and St. Louis. The Yankees are down 7-1
and Jason Giambi looks so horrible at first base that words haven’t
been created yet to describe this level of bad play. They eventually
lose 8-1. Go Cardinals!
three, Saturday, June 11, 2005
fixin’s at the grand hotel breakfast buffet are a bit scarce today.
Dad and I decide to head down the road to Krispy Kreme. They charge
us for our coffee, but the doughnuts are free. Pretty sweet deal.
drive over to the same lot on North Halsted, and Clay points us
to a spot. We talk with him for a few minutes… nice guy, and so
far we have found nothing but great people in the city to talk
to… and then head on our way. We have a flight leaving at 8:40pm
to head home, and we figure that we can leave as late as 6pm and
still make it… but that will be cutting it very close. Later start
today though, with a 2:15pm first pitch scheduled.
too much different today for us. Dad has a shirt he wants to get
and he has been scoping out a few places that are displaying it.
(He eventually gets it at a stand along our walk, and has proudly
worn it several times this summer.) But we’ve already done the
majority of our shopping, so we take our time and decide to stop
in the McDonald’s across the street, buy two sodas and sit down
to wait for the gates to open. It’s actually surprisingly
refreshing. It has been incredibly hot, so the air conditioned
restaurant works perfectly for a few minutes of relaxation.
head inside and again catch batting practice. We wander around
a bit, stopping to talk to some of the ushers. Our seats are better
today, in the outer segment of our section, but between home and
first. Today we are sitting in aisle 226 and I don’t have a view
of first base. Different pole, same basic story. And again… having
too much fun to notice.
we buy the smaller souvenir cups with our hot dogs. This time
we get the sturdy, last forever but the wives don’t seem to love
them as much as we do cups we thought we were getting yesterday
when buying the larger drinks.
game is much closer, but ultimately heads to the same result…
a Boston loss. Started out exciting enough, with the Red Sox jumping
to a 4-0 lead. In the end, the Cubs take this one 7-6. But something
funny happens in the ninth inning. It had happened before while
we were there, but this time it is amazingly loud and strong and
I’ve never really felt many moments like this at a sporting event.
the Red Sox bat, a “let’s go Red Sox” chant begins.
that’s met by an equally enthusiastic “let’s go Cubbies” chant.
sides go back and forth, with each group filling in the natural
pause that comes in the other groups efforts. The ballpark is
go Red Sox… Let’s go Cubbies… Let’s go Red Sox… Let’s go Cubbies…”
game goes 3 hours and 2 minutes. We get in the car at 5:32pm and
start heading out toward the highway. Naturally, all of the roads
we were able to use Thursday, yesterday and even earlier today
are being redirected into different routes tonight. At 6:58pm
we make it to drop off the car, get on the shuttle, and arrive
at O’Hare by 7:20pm.
I was pretty much ready to end the story here. Nothing happened
at the airport that was any different than what you would expect…
check-in windows we couldn’t use because we have the same
name. We stand in line.
line at the security check point.
done with everything, grabbing a sandwich (me) and smoothie
(Dad) and sprinting to the gate. Because after both of the
lines and a quick trip to the restroom, we had to grab dinner
on the run in order to get to the gate for boarding.
arriving at the gate just in time to see no plane outside
and find out the flight has been delayed.
of that is pretty standard stuff, and pretty predictable. In fact,
evidently Dad has some sort of smoothie membership card. I don’t
quite understand it, and Mom was trying to explain it earlier
to me. The whole thing is based on all of this traveling to Australia
and such that they have been doing. But silly me… I didn’t listen.
And since delayed flights are now the normal result of things
at the airport instead of those days when I was younger where
airlines refused to have late departure times, I’m stuck with
no great stories.
the one I have sums up traveling today for me, so I want to share
get on the plane and I happen to have some headsets in my backpack.
During the announcements as we are heading out to the runway,
it is mentioned that we can listen to the flight transmissions
from the cockpit. My Dad and I exchange an interested look at
this information. Something different. Could be fun. We plug in,
set the station, and wait. A few seconds of garbled talk and static,
but nothing for our flight. And then… silence. It didn’t work.
that my friends is usually the way with flying today. A whole
lot of promise… saving money or some method of increased convenience…
with nothing announced ever delivered.
I get home at around 1am I’m greeted by a wife that’s asleep,
a teenager on the computer that doesn’t realize I’m there and
two dogs that are jumping all over me. Life is good.