Small. That was my first reaction.
Not sure why I expected it to be bigger than it was. Maybe it's because Wrigley Field to so many is "larger than life" - so I've heard anyway. As a Buffalonian and Yankees fan, I never paid much attention to the Cubs, and I just knew it best as the place Sammy Sosa hit homers and where The Rookie was filmed.
As the game went on, I soon saw why the place was so special.
First, it's the absence of commercialism. I swear it's like you walk into a time machine because there's no huge video screen, no advertising around the perimeter of the upper deck, hardly any advertising at all - heck, I wasn't getting any service on my cell phone. Without replays, an archaic green scoreboard that took getting used to, and no connection to the outside world -- and the passion of these fans -- I quickly immersed myself in a brand new world.
So this is what Wrigley Field is all about, I thought. It was comforting in a way, an escape from the rush of reality and chaos of the city streets.
The game was full of treats. I just hoped it wouldn't be as bad as my last Major League Baseball game, a 6-0 thrashing of my beloved Yankees in one of the last games at Yankee Stadium - to the Reds no less. Or one of my last games before that, a 1-0 final, Los Angeles over the St. Louis Cardinals, after eight innings of 0-0 ball.
Please, I just want some offense!
I got that, and a whole lot more.
Eighteen runs in all, the most I've ever seen in my life at a major league game. The 10-8 final, though a Cubs loss, was back-and-forth and anything but a pitcher's duel - that made me happy. It featured home runs, plenty of emotion, a Lou Pinella argument with the ump (always see it on TV, now witnessed it in person), and maybe my favorite, toward the end of the game, with the Cubs down two, Chicago pitcher Carlos Zambrano entered the game - as a pinch hitter! It was a Why Not move because the Cubs had loss seven straight. He struck out, but it was a great series of pitches...I got them all on video, and here's just one of them, which gives a glimpse of the atmosphere:
A few other cool tidbits:
(1) It was Memorial Day - there was a moment of silence prior to the game. Cool moment. Very reflective.
(2) Newly-arrived Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler, from the Broncos, was sitting 12 rows in front of us. Nice eye from my friend Jon. Some people chatted with him, got autographs. Funny how he just sat with all the 'normal' fans, no suite or special box. Seemed real grounded.
(3) Mr. T. did Take Me Out to the Ballgame. It was hilarious! And a whole lot of fun.
I'm in Chicago, I had to go to a Cubs game. It was just a matter of time. This was great, even with the loss, and I highly recommend this venue - the 6th I've ever been to (other games at ANA, BAL, PIT, TOR, NYY) - to any avid baseball fan.