Stranger in a Strange Land: North Side

August 11, 2008 | Comments (0) | by Governor X

As you no doubt have gathered, all but one of the bartenders was recently in Chicago for Thunderfist 2008. I'll leave the details of that debauchery to the others. Since I was the lone out of place Dodgers fan, I thought I would bring you my thoughts as an outsider attending games at Wrigley and US Cellular Field.

Part 1: North Side

I had been to Wrigley once before, but I was six or seven so I don't remember much. I have only a vague notion of being there. Thunderfist weekend was to be my first adult trip to the Friendly Confines and my first experience in the bleachers.

I was told to be there by 10am, which confused me since the game started at noon. I didn't argue though since I figured the Wrigley vets here at TMS would know better than I. Proudly boasting my Dodgers hat, I set off from my temporary home base in Jefferson Park about a quarter to 9 and take a long and awkwardly quiet bus ride to Clark where I was to hop on another bus to Wrigley. The second bus never came, so I had a brisk walk.

I arrive about an hour later, snap some pictures, and meet up with the other bartenders before we all file in to find our seats. My first thought upon emerging from the tunnel is how small the park is. The bulk of my games are at Dodgers Stadium, which seats 15,000 more than Wrigley, so its quite a difference. Advertising is kept to a minimum which I love and there is no jumbotron, which while a little odd at first (is there another stadium that doesn't have one?) adds to the old timey intimate aspect of the park. I feel like everything should be in sepia and I ought to be wearing a suit and a fedora.

Bleacher seating appears to be first come first served (I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong), so that explains why we had to be there early. The seats (benches) were four or five rows up in LF. This proved to be a pretty good place to sit since Soriano doesn't pay much attention to the game and instead spends his time interacting with the fans out there. I have to say, I like the guy a lot more now.

I couldn't find any Old Style at the park. This was disturbing. How was I supposed to have a true Chicago Style time without that? My beer that day was instead a mix of Labatt and Bud Light. Depressed by the lack of Old Style, when I had a hot dog in the middle of the game, I put ketchup on it out of spite. Take that Chi-town! Later in my trip I did find and try a Chicago Style hot dog complete with that radioactive neon green relish, which I will begrudgingly admit, I enjoyed.

Wearing my Dodgers hat in the bleachers, I expected to be heckled mercilously. Fortunately, since we had just acquired Manny Ramirez for two bags of yesterday's garbage, nearly all of the comments I got were complimentary. Thank you Manny for preventing someone from pouring a beer on me.

If you read this blog, you're probably a Cubs fan, so you'll know they won 5-1, so I'll just skip the nuts and bolts of the game. Since they won, hundreds of W flags went up in the stands. I thought briefly that George W. Bush may have walked in, but then I remembered its unlikely you could find that many people who still like him.

I wanted a unique souvenir from the game, and I found it in the form of a mildly racist Fukudome kamikaze headband. I can say without hesitation, that it is the finest kamikaze headband I own.

With the game behind us, the Thunderfist crew files over to the Gingerman. Somehow, as the guy who doesn't really know where things are in Chicago, I arrive a good five minutes before anyone else. Here I finally find my Old Style, which while its no Tecate, is certainly adequate for domestic beer.

I must compliment the Cubs on having a fine ballpark. It was a genuine treat to see a game there.

Coming up tomorrow - Stranger in a Strange Land: South Side or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

The Friendly Confines were not so friendly to the no-name Pirates.