Sunday, August 16, 2009

Wrigleyfest, day 2

7:00: Got up on time again. I always wake up early on vacation when I have to be somewhere. (Actually, that's true at home too. If I'm traveling, I will be on time.) Wrestled with the time to get up before I went to bed, though ... decided on 7 because 6, while getting me close to Murphy's around 9, would get me there early. Not helpful. Plus, even though the gates open at 10:05, we don't have to be the first in line, or even in line, as long as we get a section.

Back to the station, confirmed the first lot is 4-hour parking all the time, parked close by, waited for the train ... 10- to 15-minute delay ... and got on board. Finished the book, off the train, out to Adams Street (which puts you on the block of State where the entrance to the Red Line is; Jackson takes you to the exit), and up toward Wrigley.

10:00: Into Murphy's, greetings to the other people there, and a brief wait during which we saw Captain Morgan and his party taking his chest ... somewhere. (Rather a desultory group, but then I would guess hanging around with a liquor mascot is not a high-paying job.) A few people go in and mark off our section; shortly thereafter, they ask for reinforcements, so a couple other guys head in with me.

For those who don't know, bleacher seating in Wrigley is general admission. Saving seats is expected – nay, encouraged, because after all you don't want to go with a group of 20 and sit all over the place – but there is a certain code. Most people abide by it, and the staff will generally support it. You need a reasonable ratio of people to seats, and if people don't show up by the first inning or so, the staff will make you bunch up and make room for those who are there. Now, once you have the seats, they're yours for the game, and it's rare that people will try to poach your seats when you're up getting beer or food or whatever (beer vendors do not visit the bleachers any more, which is probably a good thing).

We had 39 people, I think, so we took a block 11 seats by 4 rows, with one corner of 4 seats going to people who beat us there. (It was funny when two of the guys whom we had yet to see were making their way down to the front. We were trying to explain that we had this section, and they didn't say anything because they already had their stuff there ... it was cleared up quickly, and they were cool about it, but it was still funny.)

12:05: First pitch. With overcast skies, there were no paratroopers and no pregame flyovers. (In fact, the air show made very few appearances due to visibility issues.) Fortunately for light-skinned people whose sunscreen ran out in the middle of applying it, the clouds would last most of the day, thus preventing even more sun damage.

Cubs take an early lead, albeit 12 runs smaller than Friday, and hold on for another win. They're now 7-0 in official (Saturday) Wrigleyfest games.

3:00: We head out of Wrigley and west ... the street fair we visited last year is on again, so we figure we'll hit that. There's a cover band there, Wedding Banned, that some people really wanted to hear. I figure I'll hang out for a while, then head back to the hotel and crash.

3:45: Apparently the street fair is farther away than we realized. (The locals knew about where it was, but not exactly.) We stop outside a bar in some confusion ... a manager/waiter/employee overhears us and confirms that the fair is up ahead on the right a couple of blocks. This was farther than some people planned to walk, so we stopped in for a quick drink. While in the bar, we find out that some of the group who'd headed off in another direction are already there, so we finish up and go to meet them.

4:30: The street fair is much smaller than last year. Instead of three blocks, it's barely one. A few food and drink tents, a few merchandise tents, and the stage, and that's it. We eat (pretty good food, and cheap too: $4.50 for a half an 8" pizza and a can of Diet Coke) and wait.

5:30: The band is pretty decent. As you'd guess from their name, they play a lot of popular rock and assorted other songs, so basically just the stuff I like. I think there was maybe one song I didn't know that well, and I still knew what it was and who sang it.

Unfortunately, not everyone is a fan. A few people were making noise about heading out early to the next stop (a private club where one of the locals is a member), but they stuck it out. A few other people head back to their hotels, some to return later, some not.

Some people go to the stage (and apparently on the stage at some point); I stay with the conversational group. We've commandeered a tent that was apparently for some kind of health club/spa/something. Hey, nobody was using it ... at one point, I'm talking to one of the women in the group (friend of a friend; not many women play online sports sims) and discover that she thought I was 25 or so. As Ice Cube once said, today was a good day.

7:15: The encores are done, the party regroups, and the next step is planned. Remembering that trains are every two hours now, I get advice on the best way back toward downtown and head for a Brown Line train. Luckily, there's a stop just a couple of blocks away, and a few minutes later, the train shows up. (That was actually slow for me this weekend: today, I got to the Jackson Street station just in time to get on the Red Line.)

8:00: The advice was excellent. The Brown Line runs closer to Union Station than the Red Line, so I'm there in plenty of time. Of course, so are 200 other people who've been downtown and are heading home. Fortunately, our train boards before the other one. As a "veteran", I head almost to the end of the train and get a car all to myself. (Most people who are unfamiliar with the train will get on as soon as they can, particularly if they're accustomed to the L. Those trains take off quickly; these don't. You've got plenty of time to board.)

Naturally, the car fills up eventually, but it's not a big deal. I wait, and eventually we're in motion.

9:25: The train arrives in Itasca. I wave goodbye to my good friend Metra, exchange smiles with a pretty blond on my way back to the car, and head back to the hotel. Clean up, take care of things, and it's off to sleep.

I'll leave reasonably early in the morning, but for now I'm just enjoying another busy weekend in Chicago. I'm very comfortable visiting ... if things had turned out differently, I probably could have lived here, but I'm happy where I am now.

I spend a little time working on staff for Cambridge City, and then it's off to sleep.


  1. I sounds as if you had an excellent time. Where did you meet the 39 people to see the game with? College?

  2. oh no. On the innernets. Most of us do online sports sims at Some are friends of the ones that do and are brave enough to join us. (We're actually nice people, no one has been thrown out of a game in six years.)


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