Quick Diary: Cubs Opening Day at Wrigley Field

Sparing you the nauseating symbolism of the magic of baseball and the metaphorical sign that after a harsh shockingly mild winter, Summer is indeed finally near, my girlfriend and I headed out to Wrigley Field for Opening Day. As a self-proclaimed radio nerd, it’s been a tradition of hers to do a bar crawl on Opening Day to see the live broadcasts and I was more than happy to go along for the ride. A couple highlights:

  • ESPN 1000 was broadcasting from The Stretch and its backroom was PACKED wall-to-wall with exactly what you would expect–FAT, slovenly twenty-something and thirty-something ‘Chicago’ guys. For some reason, though, the bar wasn’t playing the broadcast over the speakers and as spectatorship for this event was in high demand, we couldn’t get close enough to hear it.
  • We were stoked to get a patio table and were about to pay $14 for the braised short rib mac and cheese at Rockit Burger Bar when the waitress informed us (in an impression-leaving patronizing tone of voice) that we couldn’t sit there, despite the fact that over half the tables were open. Apparently you needed a reservation. Glad they made that decision easier for us but this policy was inane and almost certainly money-losing.
  • Also at Rockit: B96 was hosting its live radio broadcast at the bar and giving out free t-shirts to people who correctly answered easy trivia questions like “How many innings are there in a baseball game?” and “What is the name of the Cubs’ manager?” The latter question actually wasn’t so easy, apparently. Despite the fact that the bar was filled with people wearing Cubs gear, only one person in the bar (other than my girlfriend and me) knew that the answer was “Dale Sveum.” Not a good look for Cubs fans.
  • The bar formerly known as Harry Caray’s and more recently known as Club 162 is now called O’Malley’s. It changes names more often than Prince.

The prevailing market for seats ranged from $75-125 per ticket. Scalpers with STANDING ROOM seats told each other they were “wasting their time” talking to me because I refused to pay $50 for them. “Why are you so CHEAP?” another asked me. Despite their insistence on holding strong on a market with much more sellers than buyers, we were able to find two single seats before the game started for $30/ticket (the combined face value was $120). If the scalpers got anything for their remaining supply, they were lucky. These scalpers are in for another LONG season.

For the first half of the game, these were the seats we snuck into:

It wasn’t terrible to watch a pitcher’s duel between Stephen Strasburg and Ryan Dempster from these seats.

For some reason, only the bleachers and about 15% of the seats in Wrigley’s inner bowl are in the sun. I’ve always been bad at geometry but I’m pretty sure that the stadium is faced exactly backwards from what would be the optimal seats in the shade to seats in the sunshine ratio. And it was COLD; more than half of the non-bleacher spectators left by the 5th inning. “Fuck it, let’s just go back to the bar.” was a common refrain around us (and apparently everywhere else).

We snuck our way to warmer (if not better) seats; there was a lower-level aisle that for some reason wasn’t being guarded by an usher. We snuck down there and made our way horizontally across the rows to sweet, sweet sunshine, ultimately finding ourselves about 10 rows down the fence from the infamous Bartman seats. Note all the empty seats for the sold out game in the background. Remember this image every time you hear about the “suffering” of the “loyal” Cubs fans. This was a one-run game on Opening Day.

The Cubs took a 1-0 lead into the 8th when Dale Sveum pulled Ryan Dempster (who had struck out 10 and only given up two hits) with a runner on and two outs. Kerry Wood apparently decided that he couldn’t be bothered to throw strikes and promptly walked the next three batters, relinquishing the tying run. The Nationals would add one more in the 9th and hold on for the win.

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3 Responses to Quick Diary: Cubs Opening Day at Wrigley Field

  1. Dean says:

    looks like you are in steve bartman territory over there…

  2. mweisburgh says:

    More important than baseball and the rest of the blog, the real news here is that you have a girlfriend. Tell her I said she is one lucky girl.

  3. I was watching the gamecast when Wood ‘decided that he couldn’t be bothered to throw strikes’ and their pitch track actually said he should have gotten strike three calls on ball three and four against the first batter. Not that the pitch tracker is 100% accurate, but the pitches were outside after he had beat up the inside of the plate, so it’s somewhat expected that the umpire would be more generous for the batter when the pitcher switches sides. There are no excuses for the next two walks, though.

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