Behind Enemy Lines: Brewers-Cubs at Wrigley Field

16 Sep
Not just scratching my ear
Not just scratching my ear

Monday night paid me the pleasure of my first game at the friendly confines of Wrigley Field (Thanks, roomie).  By now the hospitality shown by Cubs fans is  legendary.  Few teams bring out their best and dimmest like my Milwaukee Brewers.  Unfortunately, what was a pivotal early series in heated divisional race months ago when we last met has lost its lustre.  The ‘Crew have tanked throughout August and September to fall a dozen-plus games back while even the Cubs find four teams between them and the NL Wild Card.  This would explain the slow filling of the stadium, which seemed half-empty at game-time.  Adding to the barren feeling of the stadium is the almost complete lack of signage within the stadium.  Aside from the old center field scoreboard and a couple of small LED screens displaying current batter and pitching information.   Compared to Miller Park where every square inch of flat space seems to be covered with a sponsor and every other section themed and brought-to-you by one purveyor of encased meats or another, Wrigley has done well to keep a traditional feel devoid of most corporate distraction – no small feat in an age where it almost seems that clubs are begging you to find something to do in the stadium other than watching the team play.

Where's the TGI Friday's?  So bush league.
Where’s the TGI Friday’s? So bush league.

Ravenous from a day of driving and walking, we decided it would be a good idea to grab a bite to eat.  Our next thought – where better to get a Chicago dog than at a ballpark in the Second City?  If Wrigley Field couldn’t provide a serviceable Chicago dog, well…I think that’s the source of the curse right there.  While none of the main concession stands advertised a Chicago dog, one of the carts behind the bleachers went a step further – footlong Chicago dogs.

These toppings weren't the only thing dicey about my time at Wrigley.
These toppings weren’t the only thing dicey about my time at Wrigley.

This über-dog put us back $6.75 (not too bad considering a plain hot dog was $4) and was unique in that, other than placing the dog in the bun and asking if we wanted fried onions or not, it was a dress-it-yourself affair.  Options included diced tomato, nuclear relish, sport peppers, mustard and…gasp…ketchup.  The lack of pickle spear was highly disappointing.  The dog itself was a little overdone or just plain old, but not a total deal-breaker.  The bun was lacking the traditional poppyseed coating and also on the stale side, but again, not out of the usual range of tolerable stadium-food quality.  The grilled onions added a nice savoriness not usually present in a traditional dog.  All told, not the most traditional or high-quality iteration of the local classic, but it hit the spot before game time and somehow managed not to stain my shorts when I dropped nuclear relish on myself, which challenges the acuity of my understanding of the universe.

Proudly donning my old-school glove logo in the cheap seats certainly drew attention from the locals, especially when my clapping and cheering for the ‘Crew pierced the silence like Joe Wilson at a vigil.  Thankfully, the Cubs fans in section 304 were generally friendly and happy to engage in friendly ribbing throughout the game.  Who knew they had it in them?  While the on-field product that night was horrible from the Brewers perspective (zero runs, a paltry four hits, despite a solid outing from Suppan), we were treated to the vocal stylings of  the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus during the National Anthem and Vince Vaughn for Take Me Out to the Ballgame, complete with the requisite shouts of “You’re so money!” from revelers who’ve seen Swingers.  Oh wait, that’s everyone.

By now, I think he knows just how money he is.
By now, I think he knows just how money he is.

A 2-0 Cubs win lead to the need to drown one’s sorrows (and by one, I really do mean only me…) so we headed to Bernie’s for a drink or two before we made the unfortunate trek back to Madison.  A 1am stop at the Belvedere Oasis for some begrudged T-Bell (review, unfortunately, not forthcoming) and Mt. Dew and the entire Spoon catalog on my iPhone provedjust enough fuel to keep me awake enough to get us home in one piece.  I must say, aside from the actual game, I had a great time at Wrigley and retained some faith in humanity based on the mostly-well-mannered fans.  Don’t get me wrong, I still hate their guts.  Paying me off with batting practice home run balls beer when the Cubs scored didn’t hurt though.  Oh man, if I had a beer for every time the Brewers got scored on…

One Response to “Behind Enemy Lines: Brewers-Cubs at Wrigley Field”

  1. Roomie September 16, 2009 at 8:44 AM #

    What, no mention of your friends to the right? Let me assist – FAHHHX! SCAAAYLES!

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