Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Return to US Cellular Field
All photos of US Cellular Field available on Flickr.
Only a week after the wedding, and my wife and I were already on out of town for a weekend roadtrip - Megan at a bachelorette party, and I of course at a ballgame. Having no interest in tagging along with a bunch of girls wearing glowing penis necklaces, Megan dropped my friend (the groom) Bryan and I off on the south side of Chicago to catch a matinee White Sox game en route to her party in SW Michigan. It was my first trip to US Cellular Field since 2012, when Erik and I celebrated the 5th anniversary of The Tour at the place it all started.
It was a bright and sunny day just as it was four years ago, but this time it was about 30 degrees cooler and I did not burn my forearms to a deep shade of red. Bryan and I had tickets in the right field bleachers, only a few rows above the visitors' bullpen. We got to watch starter Colby Lewis warm up for a few minutes and tried unsuccessfully to lobby the bullpen coach for a baseball. The older I get without having a child, the creepier it gets to ask for a baseball, and proposing a trade for a giveaway Jose Abreu plush doll did not make it any less creepy. We spent about the first 6 innings at these seats, primarily heckling Rangers RF Nomar Mazara and trying not to get beer spilled on us by the drunk kids in our row. After the 6th, the shadows had lurched into our area and we moved to left field - the temperature difference from shadow to sun was incredible. It was pretty funny from our new vantage point to see all of the fans migrating with the sun as it moved, kind of like a dog does by a porch door. The game went extra innings and by the end, there were maybe a few hundred people left on the entire right half of the stadium, and everyone else had either left or squeezed into the outfield. The White Sox won in the 11th on a bases loaded single by Jose Abreu through a 5-man infield, and would eventually go on to sweep the series on Sunday. The Sox are actually playing surprisingly good ball so far this year, but the AL Central is one of those divisions where realistically every team, after the Royals, has a shot of placing anywhere from 2nd to last. They got a stellar pitching performance from Carlos Rodon and the Melk Man had a 3-hit afternoon including a homerun.
As far as the stadium goes, not a lot has changed since the last time I was there, other than a few additional retired numbers. My last two visits were both in the bleachers, and this is definitely the way to go at this park. The outfield has a lovely concourse that is a little wider than typical, with a lot of concession areas and a bar. This concourse has a vibe sort of like Ashburn Alley in Philly or Eutaw Street in Baltimore, where it sort of feels like you're walking on a pedestrian street. One of my bigger complaints with this park is still a relative lack of concession and beer options as compared to most MLB parks today. The Cell has not seemed to fully embrace the craft beer craze that the rest of the country has and we were only able to find one stand on the lower level that sold anything other than Miller Lite. We did find a great little Cuban sammich cart, but you are primarily going to find the three Chicago staples of dogs, pizza, and Italian beef here (although, one could argue that an $8 Old Style tallboy and a Chicago Dog are really all one would ever want or need at a Chicago baseball game, and that wouldn't be an incorrect statement). This park also still has the ridiculous rule of only being able to access the level on which you have a ticket. With so many of the "new age" ballparks being so great and close to one another in terms of amenities, it only takes a couple of poor things like this to keep US Cellular towards the bottom of my list. Objectively speaking, and team aside, it is as good a ballpark as any to take in a ballgame. I have still only been to US Cellular for day games and that is a conscious decision - the South Side is terrifying, and I do not want to see what some of these White Sox fans look like at night when they've had an entire day of drinking under their lapped-over belts.
STANDINGS AND UPCOMING SERIES AS OF 04.27:
Brewers 8-12, -7.0 (3 v. Marlins, 3 v. Angels)
Reds 9-12, -6.5 (3 @ Pirates, 3 v. Giants)
Twins 7-14, -8.0 (3 v. Tigers, 3 @ Astros)
2016 GAMES ATTENDED:
Erik - 6 (+0 worked)
Peter - 7