The wife and I start out with breakfast at the nearby, flavor of the month, Southport Grocery. We decided on this place simply because we had a gift certificate and it is only a few blocks from Wrigley. We had eaten here once prior, with the result being decidedly mediocre (I felt like starting a 'overrated' chant in the middle of the restaurant), but since this time would essentially be free, we were willing to give it another shot. As our fearless leader once said, "Fool me once...(awkward pause)...shame on...shame on you. (Pause) If you fool me, you can't get fooled again."
Point being, this place wasn't good the second time either. Case in point, the only side dish offered with the meals is mashed potatoes. That's fine. I love mashed potatoes. But, we see our waiter tell the table next to us right before he brings their meal out that they are out of mashed potatoes (or as they're labeled on the menu, 'potato mash') and would they like to substitute? He then tells us that same thing right before our meal comes out and later we hear him tell another table right the same thing? Uh, why didn't you just tell us that when you took our order since you've obviously been out for a while now? And the replacement choices? Mixed greens or fruit. I ask him without sarcasm, "Don't you have anything a bit more unhealthy?" He thinks I'm kidding. I'm not. How do you run out of potatoes? There is a Jewel-Osco right across the street. Go buy some bags of Idaho's finest. How hard is that?
Furthermore (wagging my finger violently), this place is known for their cupcakes. It has been written about in many a trendy magazine how good these damn things are. And since I just ate a plate of friggin mixed greens I feel I owe it to myself to indulge in a cupcake. But guess what? They're all out. At 1PM on a Saturday. Unacceptable.
So we pick up our tickets and take our seats a few minutes before game time. It is still raining though, so a few minutes turns into an hour. No worries, as the beer man is always nearby. We are on the first base side, section 205, Row 3. That's 3 rows under the cover of the overhang. No rain for us. This weekend also coincides with the annual Air and Water Show, so there are numerous flyovers before the game starts to keep us entertained. Loud but cool. I'm hoping that it is in fact the air show and it's not Chicago under siege.
It is raining steadily throughout, though not enough to dampen (stupid pun!) the Cubs bats. Or shall I say, the bat of a one Daryle Ward, whose grand slam in the bottom of the third had the ballpark in a violent frenzy. I tried to rip my seat out of the concrete and throw it onto the field to show my enthusiasm, but unfortunately I'm just not that strong. About 2 beers in I start getting text messages from the Saloon's own man of mystery, Brant Brown. This is a foolproof sign that Brant has been drinking heavily, as he has only sent me text messages twice before, both under the influence of adult beverages. The man is generally about as anti-technology as Ted Kaczynski. He keeps asking the score and ending everything with 'Go Cubs!', but his spelling is at times highly questionable. Never the less he is a true fan of the highest order whose thirst for Cubs knowledge is forever unquenched. Bravo Brant Brown. Bravo.
Digger Phelps sings the seventh inning stretch and in a ballsy move henceforth unseen, he actually stays on the mike after the song is over and gamely starts a 'Lets go Cubbies!' chant. He yells this a good 4 times. He overshot his alloted song time by at least 20 seconds. The crowd, sensing that this guy won't stop unless we humor him, finally plays along, only to stop the chant once Digger and his ego finally let go of the mike.
The Cardinals make things interesting with a couple of late runs and a Poopholes homer, but right as things are getting interesting the Lord starts pissing everywhere and in the bottom of the eighth we are delayed once more. Screw this noise, lets finish this baby off at a bar. We decide that it is in our best interests to head to the Gingerman Tavern. While we walk there, in the pouring rain, we walk by the bar Casey Moran's. Keep in mind, it is raining hard. There is a line about 30 deep out the door to get in, the majority of the people who don't even have umbrellas. This angers me. Why would you wait in line and get soaked to get into that stupid bar when there are 50 other bars just like it right there? What, does that bar play more Nelly? Apparently, if you open a bar in Wrigleyville you should make it four syllables and name it after someone Irish and you've got yourselves a cash cow. Casey Moran's. John Barleycorn. Ick.
Gingerman Tavern. In a previous review, I gave it an 11 out of 12 rating. I'd like to bump that up to a perfect 12. We saddled up to bar and didn't move for a good two hours, with the wife drinking PBR on tap and me Old Style bottles. The jukebox was brilliant. It was crowded, but not too crowded. Perfect. Dark outside, dark inside. The bartender (tattooed rocker chick, natch) was aloof yet attentive. The crowd was diverse and random. Trixies, hillbillies, old drunks, young drunks, MILFs, tourists, punks, artists, rich, poor, gay, straight, and everything in between. If Chip's 'beer post' could manifest itself as a bar, this would be it. Oh yeah, and as a footnote, the Cubs finish off the last inning and a half with victory. 5-1. All is well with the world.
Around 9:30 we realize that we haven't ate anything since some ballpark nachos five hours earlier, so we head to Salt and Pepper Diner, more by default than anything, as by this point, everything in the area has turned into full fledged bar scene. Salt and Pepper continued it's downhill slide in my book, as my Philly Cheese Steak and tater tots weren't that great, even by drunk food standards. They do have $7 pitchers of beer, which is worth noting since that is the cost of 2 Old Styles at all of the other places around there.
We hail a cab and head home, our bellies full of tater tots and cheap beer and dreams of a better tomorrow. Go Cubs Go.
Hopefully a talent agent was in the crowd when Drama threw that strike. Maybe he can land a gig on one of those ESPN mini-series.
I thought The Police played Wrigley last month?
I think it's time for a long overdue Daryle Ward Slip N Slide exhibition.
Gingerman, you son of bitch, I salute you.
This was on the women's bathroom in the Gingerman and Katy decided to document it with a photograph. I don't have solid proof, but my hunch is that it was written by Tommy Buzanis. And yes, I say that knowing that this was in the women's bathroom, not the men's.