Sunday, September 26, 2010

My exciting first visit to Wrigley Field

I headed to Chicago today for a conference that doesn’t start until Tuesday, intentionally planning to get here a day early for a long overdue visit to Wrigley Field.

I'm surprised by that myself, considering that this is like my 7th trip to Chicago. But the forces have always conspired against my visiting Wrigley: it was the offseason, the Cubs were out of town, I was here only for a brief overnight trip. But not this time. I purposely set aside time to make the pilgrimage to Wrigley and am happy that I did.

Wrigley Field is exactly what you would imagine it to be: an aging stadium that has an unexplainable charm. I was excited from the moment I stepped off the "L," taking pictures of the famous Wrigley sign, marveling at the elaborate seating on the roofs of nearby buildings, walking around this treasure of a ballpark on the last home game of the year for the Cubbies. And as luck would have it, the opponent was their archrival St. Louis Cardinals, led by Albert Pujols, who I had never seen play in person. It didn't matter that both teams are out of the division race. The mutual dislike of their fans was palpable and made attending the game that much more fun. The Cubs fell just short of what would have been a fantastic comeback, but it still felt great to be there.

I do have two major complaints. One is that it was ridiculously, painfully cold out there for a day game. The temperature was in the 60s, but I always forget to factor in the infamous Chicago winds that make it feel 20 degrees lower than whatever the thermostat says.

My other major complaint was the unbelievable harassment by the ushers. I've gone to more than a dozen baseball stadiums and I keep an elaborate photo album of those trips, including pictures taken from every possible angle within the ballparks. But every time I tried to set up to take a picture, I had an usher rudely approach me to insist I get out of the way. Most ballparks take pride in providing great customer service. Wrigley seems to take pride in having the most impolite, annoying ushers available. I was just about to give up on all of them when one kindly, older usher pointed out a great spot for me to get a terrific photo, restoring my faith that not all Wrigley staffers set out to be as unbearable as possible.

Despite the presence of annoying ushers and excruciatingly cold temperatures, I enjoyed my visit to Wrigley Field. It felt like a rite of passage, which Chicago Cubs fans probably insist that it is.

But stay tuned, folks. I'll be at US Cellular Field tomorrow, hoping the White Sox can kick the crap out of the Boston Red Sox and help the New York Yankees out.

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