On Thursday night, August 13th, Tim and I flew to Chicago to meet up with my dad for The (Second Annual) Great Cook Father-Son-Grandson Road Trip of 2009. The Plan: four days, four stadiums. It all started with the Pirates vs. the Cubs at Wrigley Field. So let’s get to it.
We parked for free on Sheffield Street about one block passed the CF enterance. This Cubs sign on the back of the CF Bleachers greeted us as we walked down Sheffield. Coincidentally, Tim brought his teddy bear with him. Teddy is a young bear, also known as a Cub.
This was essentially our first view of Wrigley once we entered the stadium (I say essentially because, obviously, we had to walk down to the front row before I took this…and I didn’t have my eyes closed during that walk):
I found it interesting that Sweet Lou Piniella (accompanied by first base coach Matt Sinatro) watched batting practice from LF:
Sinatro and Sweet Lou have been together, at least, since Lou was the Mariners manager and Sinatro was out back-up back-stop. By the way, back in 1991, Sinatro gave me his broken bat at Mariners spring training. I glued it back together and its as good as new. Its a beautiful Louisville Slugger that is perfectly balanced and shows a lot of use.
Next, we headed behind home plate, where I took this:
The lady to the left is standing at the cross aisle. They don’t let you below that cross aisle unless you have tickets down there. I’m not a huge fan of that rule.
See those Pirates warming up to the right? We went and stood in the cross aisle behind them. Eventually, former Mariner Ronny Cedeno joined them. I yelled out to Ronny and he gave me and Tim a wave. He tried to take a ball from a coach with the supposed intention of throwing it to us, but the coach needed it for hitting fungo to the infielders…including to Cedeno.
Tim was too warm down by the dugout, so he asked if we could head up the rows to the shady seats. Here is where we landed, section 226:
And here is the view from section 226:
And here is what Tim did after watching a few minutes of BP (notice any differences between the two pictures?):
In case you missed it, the difference is that Tim has a baseball in the second picture. Here is how that happened:
First, my dad met up with me and Tim at our section 226 coloring location. My dad stayed with Tim and I went back down behind the Pirates. By this time, Cedeno had taken a bunch of balls at short stop, gone into the clubhouse for a bit, and come back out ready to take some hacks.
In the top left picture, you can see there is a ball behind the cage about 10 feet to Cedeno’s left. As Cedeno was hitting, I noticed that ball. After he hit, he ran the bases once and returned to his spot behind the cage. I yelled out his name again and he looked back to me. I pointed to the ball. He (i) looked over and noticed it, (ii) walked over and grabbed it and (iii) fired a perfect strike to my glove.
A few minutes later, Ronny started signing autographs for those lucky fans with tickets below the cross aisle. We wanted that ball signed! Tim was with me at this point. We saw one of the ushers leave her post so she could take a picture of some people behind the Cubs dugout. This was my chance! Tim and I bolted through her unguarded post. We walked down 2-3 rows and then cut across the row so we wouldn’t walk by the photo-taking guard. We then cut down the next aisle and found our way over to Ronny.
This was the result:
By the way, that picture is taken from our seats at Section 235, Row 11, Seats 4-6. And, yes, I had absolutely no view of second base. We were actually fine with it. We could see the batters and the obstruction made double plays more interesting because we had to wait to see if and when the ball would come flying from behind the post on its way to first base.
I also got this picture of Tim and me after getting Cedeno’s autograph:
By the way, the look on Tim’s face here is signaling the onset of massive tiredness.
After I took this picture, we left the section and walked by the guard we’d bypassed, as we passed she jokingly to me, “You snuck by me!” I gave her the most sincere, “sorry!” I could muster.
And just like that, it was time to wander and take some stadium pictures, like this…
…and this one featuring my road buddies…
I went for the traditional Chicago Dog (so did my dad) and Tim went with fries with *dip* (that’s what Tim calls ketchup). Most of Tim’s dip would eventually find its way to his clothing, most notably his shorts. He also managed to let some of his dip migrate to my shorts as well.
Before the game, a bunch of military parachuters jumped into Wrigley:
…then some jet fighters did a fly by after the national anthem. They continued to do unannounced fly bys for the rest of the game, much to the delight of the Wrigley-crowd.
Finally, it was time for some baseball. Fresh off of their trade line fire sale, the Pirates’ glorified minor league line-up couldn’t do much at the plate:
I can’t remember who that is at top, but he’s grounding out in that picture. Below, Lastings Milledge is fouling a ball off.
The Cubs, on the other hand, didn’t have much trouble at the plate:
Okay, so I snuck Ronny Cedeno into that picture. I have to give him his face time, since he hooked us up with the ball and autograph. Next to him, Derek Lee makes contact with the ball (foul) before eventually walking. And Jake Fox swings at a ball that would eventually turn into a two run double. In the second inning, the Cubs hung a 10-spot on the Pirates:
The inning was pretty crazy. It went like this:
All of the scoring was very entertaining for my dad, me, Tim and his new give-away Cubs Dora the Explorer stuffed doll:
As I mentioned earlier, I didn’t really mind the beam obstructing our view of second base. What I could have lived without, however, was a human obstruction that spent about 3 innings of the game standing directly in front of us:
This picture is actually of Pirates Jack Salazar at the plate. Its a little hard to see him through our Old Style delivery man. The lady in the Cubs jersey talking to him stood up a lot while ordering beers, so did the guy in the glasses and his buddy (back of the head guy). It was as if these folks had never heard of sitting down and ordering. Its not too tricky of a concept. In the picture to the left, that guy stood right there selling beers to the beer lovers all around us for an entire half inning of Pirates batting. It was ridiculous. To the right, this is one of the 50,000 beers we passed down the aisle in exchange for the $247,000 we passed the other way. (Notice, the beer recipient in the picture to the right is also standing (during the middle of the inning)). Bottom line: the sluggish economy isn’t hurting beer sales at Wrigley Field.
We decided it was time for some ice cream helmets
We went to the first line. I couldn’t see any ice cream helmets. Then a guy walked up and said to his buddy that he could go for some ice cream. I asked him if they had ice cream helmets. He said they did, and that he has got ice cream helmets at a couple stadiums. I said we had too, and we compared ice cream helmet stats. Not to be boastful, but he was a novice ice cream helmeter.
When we got to the front of the line, I asked for two chocolote ice cream helmets and the lady replied, “Our ice cream isn’t ready yet.” Huh? Okay. She pointed us to another stand.
My line-mates and I relocated to that food stand. While waiting in line, I noticed something…
I ordered our ice cream helmets — I decided this time to get myself a twist. When the lady handed it to me, she yelled to the crowd, “TWIST ISN’T FROZEN!” Two seconds later, “CHOCOLATE ISN’T FROZEN!” Another lady working there, “ICE CREAM ISN’T FROZEN!”
So, I headed back to the seats with two soupy ice cream helmets in a tray in my left hand, a megahuge diet coke in my right hand, and a sleeping boy on my shoulders. Two steps out of the line, a guy lunged at me, tapped my shoulder and yelled, “HE’S TOTALLY ASLEEEEEEEEP!!” He thought I didn’t know and Tim was going to fall off. But I’m a sleeping Tim on the shoulders pro. I thanked him but said we were good to go. It was the first of many comments on the walk back to section 235.
And then grandpa and I enjoyed the ice cream soup as Tim slept..
…slept some more. That’s what happens when Tim doesn’t nap before a game.
He missed some of this action:
Due to all of the baseball the last few days and my lack of a connection with most of the Cubs and Pirates, I can’t really remember what happened on all of these at bats. But I know that several action shots I took resulted in singles. No doubles or home runs. And several resulted in ground outs or fly ball outs. I’m pretty sure the top picture here (which shows the actual contact of the bat and ball) resulted in a hit, but don’t hold me to that. (NOTE: Click to see pictures larger).
He missed all of this too:
In the bottom two pictures, the batters hit grounders. In the middle picture, you can see the dirt flying up where the ball landed. In the bottom picture, you can see the ball bouncing in the dirt.
Look who woke up! His first words, “I’m ready for my ice cream now.”
So you’re probably seen on ESPN some celebrity leading the crowd in “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” at Wrigley, our celeb singer was Jeremy “The Piv” Piven — Chicago native. He also threw out the first pitch:
Interestingly, at the last game Tim and I went to with my dad, Mark Walberg threw out the first pitch — of course, both The Piv and Marky Mark are associated with the hit show, Entourage (a show I have never seen).
Here is a panaramic from the bottom of section 235, where I took a picture of The Piv singing:
Guess who won? The Cubs — 17-2!
After the game, we got our official Road Trip game picture by the field:
The usher who took this photo thanked us for visiting Wrigley and gave us directions on how to get out to the bleachers so we could take some pictures. “Thanks, sir.”
Hey, by the way, did you notice that all of the NL Division Standings flags in CF are gone and they are replaced by a single “W” flag. That’s cool. I like it.
Bleacher photos, here we go:
And here is the view from the bleachers:
Below the CF bleachers, there is a spiral walkway to the sidewalk level. Here is a photo from the bottom of the walkway:
When we left, I realized we didn’t get a picture of the famous Wrigley Field sign, so we walked around the stadium to get a shot of it. On the way, we passed a ton of people standing at the fence of the players parking lot:
Here is the photo with the sign:
Unfortunately, this is the best picture we could manage out by the sign. The guy in the blue shirt behind us took a picture with all of us in it, and it didn’t turn out. But just imagine my dad standing next to us!
Finally, we hit the road. It was time to start the long drive to Minnesota to see the Indians vs. Twins.
We stopped by the McDonald’s next to Wrigley and got a McFlurry that I scooped into Tim’s Cubs ice cream helmet…
Tim enjoyed his ice cream helmet in the car and then helped my dad navigate on the drive to Wisconsin Dells — the Water Park Capital of the World — where we camped out at a KOA for the night.
Day 1 of the Road Trip: a complete success!
Season Fan Stats:
22 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
8 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park and Wrigley Field)
18 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Red Sox, Yankees, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Cubs, Braves, Padres, Dodgers, Cardinals Marlins, and Pirates– and sort of the Giants)
18 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (5), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3), Yankees and Cubs)
19 Baseballs (12 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire, 1 Nationals, 1 Pirates)
4 Divisions Closed Out (So far in Tim’s Life — AL West, AL East, NL West, NL East)
4 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Ronny Cedeno, Ryan Perry)
2 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jack Zduriencik, Ryan Perry)
5 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose (2), Orioles Bird (2), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats) — Honorable Mention: The Green Monster statue bench)