All photos of Chicago and Wrigley Field available on Flickr.
Day 2 of the trip was another gorgeous sunny day in Chicago. This is one of only 7 or 8 cities we get to spend more than 18 hours in, so we decided to take full advantage of the day by visiting Millenium Park, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Sears Tower (we wanted to go to the top, but in lieu of the price and the wait time, we decided tbo just have margaritas at a 2nd floor bar). Day 2 was also significantly more successful on the fundraising front, as we raised nearly $40 in Wrigleyville, as opposed to close to nothing at Chicago's southside counterpart. So remember that when visiting Chicago - the north side is where it's at!
The place we stayed on our first night away from home was a mere two blocks from the stadium, so it was great. Neither of us had ever been to a night game at Wrigley, but we soon found out that the experience was no different. After meeting up with Erik's dad and uncle at the main gate, we had little time before first pitch, so we sat down immediately. Our seats were halfway between third base and the left field wall, about three rows from the top, but due to the intimacy of the ballpark, we really weren't all that far away. The atmosphere at Wrigley was like Warner Park in Madison, except on a much larger scale. Also, these fans seemed to care significantly more about ball than drinking, but that's not say there weren't a lot of drunk kids around us. Although I personally find Chicago fans to be incredibly hostile and inconsiderate, the stadium was a treat and it was nice to root for the home team on this lone occasion.
If I wasn't a Brewers fan and didn't hate the Cubs so much, I would have raided the team shops here. Lots of nice stuff in the stadium and on every corner. Of course, Wrigley doesn't have all the bells and whistles of today's modern parks - no jumbotron, not even an escelator - but it is an experience like no other. Old parks just have that nostalgic feeling that makes one reminisce about a time when baseball truly was America's pasttime. A large contributing factor to the mystique of Wrigley as well is that it is in a residential neighborhood. There is no traffic after the game because everybody walks there or takes the train, and it's like Mardi Gras in the streets and the bars before and after every home game. The big Wrigley tradition I was looking forward to was the 7th inning stretch - the guest singer of "take me out to the ballgame" was the Blackhawks head coach and his 1st round draft pick.
As for the game, another excellent one! Fontenot, Lee, and Theriot went a combined 11-12, and Mark DeRosa had 3 RBI. It looked to be in the Cubs' hands with an 8-3 lead, but the pen surrendered 6 runs in the top of the 9th (don't ever leave a game early)! The highlight of this inning was not the comeback, however - it was actually an incident involving a fan charging the mound in disgust and getting tackled on the mound by the batboy about 3 feet shy of decking the Cubs pitcher Bob Howry. The Cubs somehow recovered from this and plated two in their half of the 9th on a walk-off single by Alfonso Soriano to take the game 10-9. There were over 30 combined hits, a far cry from yesterday's pitching duel on the south side.
Another great day -- so long Illinois, and another thanks to John for this time letting us stay at his aunt's house in Evanston. Tomorrow it is a 5-hour drive to Louisville, where we will spend a couple of days taking in a AAA game and visiting the Slugger Factory.
park stats and rankings:
aesthetics - 3 (very old and run-down)
views from park - 7 (residential community and bleachers on rooftops)
view to field - 7 (close, but poles in the way)
surrounding area - 10 (Wrigleyville)
food variety - 4
nachos - 8 (some of the best so far, but we are very critical...get the BBQ nachos!)
beer - 8 (they have Old Style)
vendor price - 8 (surprisingly quite reasonable)
ticket price - 2
atmosphere - 9
walk to park - 9
parking price/proximity - 5 (this one is tough to rank...parking is close if you want it but its over $20. Most people walk or take the train, which I recommend)
concourses - 3
team shop - 10 (the ones outside the stadium are outstanding)
best food - Chicago dogs
most unique stadium feature - the bleachers, hand-operated scoreboard, ivy on walls
best jumbotron feature - n/a
best between-inning feature - "Take me out the ballgame" is always sung by celebrity guest
field dimensions - 353/400/350
starters - Jason Marquis (ChC) v. Jeff Francis (COL)
opponent - Colorado Rockies
time of game - 3:35
attendance - 40,500
score - 10-9 W
Brewers score that day - 6-1 W (44-32)