Stranger in a Strange Land: South Side

August 12, 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 2: South Side

Like Wrigley, I had been to The Cell once before, but it was so long ago I remember next to nothing. It wasn't even The Cell back then, it was still the New Comiskey Park. When I announced I was going back, comments ranged from "why?" to "don't". Seems the neighborhood down there is a bit rough. I have a whole mess of cousins who root for the Sox though, so they were game. With tickets purchased on ebay, it was on: Thunderfist, or at least a tiny portion of it, was going to the South Side on 8/5 to see the Sox and Tigers.

No bus this time. We're all piling in the batmobile for a road trip. I'm particularly excited when my cousins tell me we'll be driving through some serious ghetto on the way. Again though, we have to leave two hours early. We have seats this time, but I'm told its because "the Dan Ryan is brutal". Just who is this Dan Ryan and why does he have a highway named after him anyway?

The ghetto doesn't disappoint. In Maywood there are bums standing in the middle of the road and strip malls with multiple dollar stores in them. It gets even better when we arrive at the The Cell which provides some great views of the projects. We just don't have that type of old fashioned blight back home.

The Cell looks pretty nice from the outside and my excitement over "Mark Buehrle Growth Chart Night" is rewarded when I am handed a life size poster of the pitcher. What I will do with this thing, I don't know. It might look good in the garage.

We make our way to the seats and I am pleasantly surprised. Everyone seems to say the place is a dump and too big. Its bigger than Wrigley to be sure, but what isn't? Its actually a really beautiful park and while our seats were pretty high up, we could see the entire field and Hawk Harrelson making an ass out of himself in the press box.

The game was exciting. Ken Griffey Jr. was making his White Sox home debut which was surrounded by much fanfare. He didn't do a whole lot though. One for six with a single was his final line I believe. Being American League stick-ball, homers were flying out of the park left and right. The Sox fell behind early thanks to the "defense" provided by Juan Uribe and crappy right arm of Gavin Floyd, but they tied it up in the 9th and we went into extra innings. The Tigers went ahead with a two run shot in the top of the 14th, but Nick Swisher came back with a three-run walk off in the bottom of the inning. This was my first in-person walk off and 14th inning stretch.

The Dodger hat got no comments here. I'm not surprised. Not only was I officially neutral in the game, but they're in a different league. There were not too many Tigers fans either. It was almost entirely a Sox fan base. I couldn't find anything like the Fukudome kamikaze headband for a souvenir, so I had to settle for something with the old school logo on it. The regular Sox logo wouldn't work, since I'm pretty sure its still a gang sign out here in LA.

The inevitable question followed: which park was better, The Cell or Wrigley? Apples and oranges. You just can't compare the two. Wrigley is so unique and full of history, you can't compare it to a modern park. I will say The Cell is the nicest AL park I've ever been to by a mile (Anaheim and Oakland blow) and far exceeded my expecations.

The 14th inning stretch. Put THAT on the board Hawk.