Tuesday, July 10, 2012

I Visit Wrigley Field and then Watch The All Star Game

I'm sure you're all wondering how it is now Tuesday night and I have yet to write about Sunday's game. Well it's going to take my full attention and I was busy the last 3 days so it's going to have to wait until tomorrow. 

My excuse for missing Sunday's game is a pretty good one - I was busy visiting Wrigley Field! Yay!

Here's the tour Web site. It's $25 for a 90-minute tour. They run every hour on the hour from 9-5, every day. We got in to Chicago at like 3:30, passed that goddamn White Sox park then sat in traffic for about an hour getting to the hotel. Then we threw our stuff in the room and hailed Chicago's Fastest Cab to get us up to Wrigley by 4:59. Hooray!

The tour was just amazing. I mean, really truly worth the $25. Heck it was worth the 5-hour drive! I don't know or care much about the Cubs, other than they have not won a World Series in a longer time than us and Ryne Sandberg used to be my dude when I played 2nd base but...that's about it.

But to be inside such a historic baseball place and hear the story of the FANS and the park it was just amazing. Really guys - if you have any appreciation for the history of baseball you MUST check this out! Here's some of my photos but you also need to hear the tour guide's info to make it special.
 Inside the Cubs' clubhouse. This was the first place we went and I don't know if it was the heat or the fast cab ride over, but I literally almost puked with excitement once I realized where we were.

It was extra interesting to see the "understated" accommodations for the players, after just having read a post on TribeVibe about what our clubhouse manager does and what our clubhouse offers (you should read it, it's really interesting and in two parts). I'm sure everyone in Chicago gets the best treatment but they still have some teeny tiny facilities!
 The only batting cages in the park are under the bleachers and there's no "secret passage" to get there. So if you are going to go in to pinch hit (which happens a lot in the NL), you can come down to the Cubs clubhouse and put that board over the tv (bottom left) and pull down the net and take some swings. There's a tee down there too.
 Here's the view from the "Smirnoff Upper Deck Patio" behind Wrigley. The MLB made the Cubs make their stadium bigger for the ASG or the playoffs or something, so they turned a 20'x50' area into a patio and put up a hot dog stand.

On the corner there is a yellow macaroni noodle sculpture, which I just learned is an advertisement from Kraft Macaroni & Cheese and says "You know you love it" on the side. Lest you scratch your head wondering what Kraft has to do with Chicago, well the same noodle statue appears at Busch Stadium and AT&T Park in San Francisco. Cleveland must be too good to sell out to Kraft. So far.
 Here's a picture of the organ, in the little organ booth. The tour guy was proud to tell us that their organist just played his 2000th game. I was sure as hell to mention that Tribe drummer and patron saint of this blog John Adams played his 3000th game LAST YEAR.
 Here's the view from the press box. I was interested to see that it was open-air but then I realized that TV and radio were enclosed next to us, and I think our press boxes are open-air too. But still cool. Just to the left is where Harry Caray would have sat.
I thought these under-roof scoreboards were a nice touch! Something we could have used at Municipal Stadium for sure!
Here is the visiting player's entrance. It used to be just un-covered stairs until Cubs fans started to have a chip on their shoulders about their playoff record, and visiting players weren't as safe.
Here's the super un-glamorous visiting team's clubhouse. There is a door in the back of the clubhouse that has no outside handle. They say that when young players complained about the lack of accommodations, the veterans would point them towards the "players lounge" outside the door. There is also no easy way to get back from the other side of that door to the clubhouse - especially in a towel!

Nowadays I guess the veterans make the kids write up a list of all the famous players who have come through this clubhouse. You basically start with Honus Wagner and work your way up through the HOF. Oh yeah and don't forget everyone who played against the Bears until 1970!
 There's a whole wall with rules taped to it, including a poster about how to choose a bat that is approved and is less likely to break. Click on the picture for a full size!
 Here's the batting cage. The chairs and the people are OUTSIDE of the cage - surrounding the cage is a one-way mirror and what we're looking at is a reflection. So you can watch the players but they can't see you. Just past the cage are stairs to the bleachers.
 A view from the top of the bleachers with a reminder to the "Bleacher Bums" to behave.
Manual score board! Too cool! Apparently a woman has never worked the board - there is no place to pee but in a funnel. True story.
 A Sox fan and journalist bought one of the pinwheels when Comiskey Park was shut down, and installed it across the street and in plain view of Wrigley. He would light it up every time the Sox would score (or win?) but when Harry Caray died he had Caray's face painted on the pinwheel and it gets lit up every 7th inning for "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."
 Here's me playing with the panorama feature of my new camera!
 I was IN the dugout! So close I could make the call to the bullpen! I guess the Cubs dugout has nice padded benches but the visitors get nothing.
 The on-deck circle! I sat on it!
 That sign! Of course I mean the sign from the opening theme of Perfect Strangers!
 Across the street (where the Caray pinwheel is) on either side of the outfield are rows of building on top of which are seats to watch the games. The buildings we walked past in right field, at least, seemed to all be "baseball clubs" like this one - The Lakeview Baseball Club. Next door was the Ivy League Baseball Club [link has auto-play video]. I'm not 100% sure what they do but I think they are like super fancy suites - beautifully-decorated houses set up for a party with catering and then seats on top to view the game. Looks really nice. 
Here's a view of Wrigley from the El train. We didn't bother to get maps of Chicago because in my experience you can just walk around and ask people how to get places. We asked someone how to get to the train then asked which train went south to our hotel. Gotta love our fellow Midwesterners!

Anyway that was my trip to Wrigley. I'm serious when I say you MUST go on a tour. Now I'm sort of intrigued to go to the Progressive Field tour because I want to see more clubhouses, but compared to Wrigley I'm sure it'll be boring as hell. Here's the itinerary... at least it's 1/4 the price! Actually I get a tour for free with a guest being that I'm in the Tribe Fan Club, so I should do that soon.

So that's what I was doing Sunday instead of listening to the Tribe. Afterwards I got some famous Chicago deep dish and then watched The Blues Brothers (seriously - thank you Amazon streaming!) so there was just no time. I did read the recap. OY!! Don't worry, I will cover it tomorrow.

In the meantime...I watched the All Star Game. Did you? I voted too so I felt like I had a stake in the game. But not really because there was no Brandon Phillips, no Torii Hunter and no Jason Kipnis. Asdrubal was there of course but not because of my votes. Perez was of course there AND he got some press but he didn't pitch so whatever.

I'm slightly embarrassed for the AL Central because we were like "HERE IS OUR BEST PLAYER! He is so good! Watch out!" and Verlander got stampeded by the NL guys. The only AL Central guy who did anything was good ol' Joe Mauer who got a hit.

Asdrubal made it in by the 5th because Jeter doesn't care. He walked but then struck out. Dammit! But he did have a nice, classic Asdrubal play to throw a guy out from deep on the left side so that was cool. Jeter had a big fancy throwing-from-mid-air play that ended up not being an out at first. I wonder how Asdrubal would have done?

Perez never made it in, which is kind of sad because 9 pitchers went through so you'd think he'd get a chance. The last guy was Fernando Rodney, who also has a crazy beard. I guess crazy beard plus dumb hat trumps crazy beard plus long hair.
 Perez was excited about being hayted upon. You could tell when he was all smiles as the KC fans booed him during the player announcements. They are still sore about the "You can't see me" stuff with Delmon Young and also apparently he Tweeted stuff about their "It's our time now" slogan. Hahaha he's so 21st century! You know who would be eating this shit up if he was around in this century? Ty Cobb. Oh man his Twitter feed would just be a wall of h8!

I liked the commercials. I don't see many commercials in my regular viewing time so I am a big fan of commercials when I do see them. I also liked the goofy ASG bumpers.

Having just been to Wrigley Field, I like the new State Farm commercial. It features ex-Indian Kerry Wood with a special guest appearance by 80s Andre Dawson!
There was also a "World Series On Fox" commercial that got played a couple times, showing some highlights from the first half. Theo nly Indian appearance is a half second of Josh Tomlin and his tiny mustache! Hooray!

There was a 2-minute montage of the best plays of the first half. NONE of them were for the Indians. Not like last year when half of them were Asdrubal. One play was Minnesota's Ben Revere robbing Lonnie of extra bases by doing a somersault. But that's it.

The All Star Game was super boring. Oh well, at least it was baseball in hi-def on my TV. That's something that rarely happens, huh? Except for when the Indians were on Sunday, which I missed anyway.

I'll catch you tomorrow and we'll go through the awful experience together!

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