Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Another business trip took me this time to Chicago during the heatwave of 2011. As “luck” would have it, the Phils were in town facing the hapless Cubs. No matter how the Cubs are playing, I always want to root for them. I just love the fact they’ve held on to tradition at Wrigley. The Ivy walls and manual scoreboard bring back memories of a simpler time in baseball. Not to mention that one of my best experiences of a ballgame was at Wrigley years ago, but I won’t go there now.
One of my business partners, Tim Duvall, from Concord USA, and I met up at the hotel and we headed out to Wrigley. The traffic was pretty bad, in part due to the eerily-looking marine layer over Lake Michigan. It was a bizarre sight to see. While I don’t know what the thermometer said, it had to be mid-90’s with incredibly high humidity.
Tim is pretty experienced when it comes to going to games. He knew where to park and came prepared with a backpack full of frozen waters, other drinks and peanuts. Nice to know that they allow that in Wrigley. Yet another reason to like that place.
After the walk to the stadium, I was dripping wet. Tim worked his way around the stadium to the conveniently located broker – right across the street from the entrance. He picked up a couple of fantastic seats, lower level, 3rd base side about 20 rows back.
Wrigley’s interesting. It has the old park feel of Fenway, but is slightly more modern in the interior corridors. As we worked our way through the crowd, we picked up a bite to eat and drink and made our way to our seats in time for the first pitch.
The day before, the Cubs rocked Roy Halladay as he fell victim to “heat related symptoms” and went on to win the game 6-1. Today, it didn’t get any easier with Cliff Lee on the mound facing off against Matt Garza.
We couldn’t believe the amount of Phils fans at the game. I figured there would be a few since my hotel, The Palmer House, seemed to be crawling with them when I arrived earlier in the day. My guess is 10-15% in attendance were backing the visitors. It’s hard to imagine that many transplants from Philly to Chicago, so we’re thinking they had to be travelling fans. Pretty impressive.
The Cubs struck first in the bottom of the first thanks to a 2-run shot by Starlin Castro. Garza had a no-hitter going into the 5th inning and seemed to be baffling the Phils batters. Over time, Lee settled down and pitched through 7 while Garza started to show signs of fatigue after throwing over 110 pitches in the 8th. Jimmy Rollins led off the inning with a single that sent Garza to the bench. As he walks towards the dugout, straight towards us, he’s screaming into his glove and is obviously ticked that he allowed that hit.
The reliever came in and allowed back to back hits, the 2nd was Chase Utley’s 2-run double that tied the score.
In the top of the 9th, the Phils came through again with two more runs off of Michael Martinez’ double. Martinez ended the inning by getting thrown out at 3rd trying to stretch it. At this point, the damage was done and Bastardo came in to save the game for the Phils.
While there, I tried to find some of the unique Chicago eats and drinks. The best I could do was a warm Old Style beer served from the most baseball intelligent beer-man I’ve ever met. The guy would talk to fans and ask them trivia questions while serving. Our question was, name the two Cy Young award winners with only three letters in their last name. One was easy, Cliff Lee. The other, before my time, Vern Law, 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates.
The next day was even worse for the Cubs as they not only lost 9-1 in a day game, but I saw them later that night at our hotel, where one of their own was hosting a casino night fundraiser. As we saw them come in, all dressed in their white tux’s we couldn’t help but notice their miserable faces. I can’t imagine how hot it must have been out there for a day game.
All-in-all, another great experience at the ballpark thanks to my friend Tim and Concord.