07/29: Cougars vs Peoria @ Wrigley
Took long enough to write this. I found myself standing around Wrigley again, which is sure enough time to get started. Too late for a narrative, but maybe bullet points. There’s tons of photos on flickr too.
1) The neighborhood itself was taking the day off. My usual parking place was unstaffed, and I got stuck at a place that boxes me in instead. The bars and the atmosphere felt different too…
2) but maybe that’s because the crowd was different too. Lots more families, less 20/30s singles like at a usual Cubs game. It was very similar to what you’d get at a normal minor league game, just a lot more of it.
3) 32,000 people was shocking. I was thinking they’d be happy with 20,000, but they ended up being six ML games (I think). It being in Wrigley and being a novelty were contributing reasons, but not one of the biggest. The much discounted ticket prices were one – $5 upper deck ticket is old school. Like old times, those seats weren’t even filled, but that’s because the main level seats were so much cheaper than usual that people just grabbed them before the upper deck went on sale. The main level and the bleachers seemed about 95% full (the obstructed sections of the 200s might have not been sold), and most of the empty seats were upstairs.
4) The second biggest reason for the tickets was Ryne Sandburg, who’s still very beloved. More than any player or either team, Sandburg was the guy most people came to see, and the number on the most Jerseys. Sandburg’s probably the reason the game happened – he does National City bank ads all the time, and they were the big sponsor for the show. The early plan was to rotate the game with all the minor league teams. Iowa will probably work out pretty well, but I don’t about everyone else.
5) My seat was right behind the Cougars bullpen bench. Always fun when you can sneak down that far, and watch the players with people. Usually, only a couple guys sit in the pen early on and the relievers who might be used wander down during the early inning. In Wrigley, every pitcher on the team was hanging out there.
6) When the Cougars were warming up, I looking at the uniforms and was surprised to see they got new ones for this game. (Unlike pretty much every other team, the A’s give the players A’s jackets so they can keep wearing them at every level, instead of Cougars gear.) It took me about five minutes to realized the uniforms looked new because this was a ROAD game and they were wearing their ROAD uniforms and I still haven’t gone to see them at a visitor’s park this year. Duh
7) The Peoria Firedog is dumb. Why is the mascot for the Cheifs a fire fighting dog, anyway?
8) I don’t have many thoughts about the game. I was hoping that since it was a major league park, they’d do something crazy like give out the lineups before the game. No. (They were better about pitchers changes than the Cougars game.) This was the first time I saw fantastic new draftee Jemilee Weeks, and sliding into first and getting hurt wasn’t the greatest impression. Paramore has some power but I don’t if he’s going to hit for average. Richard seems to get all of his hits when I’m not at the game. It was a pretty fine hitting day because of the conditions and it showed on the scoreboard.
Leonardo Espinal is my favorite guy on the whole team. I’m not sure he’s the best player, but he’s the best guy.
The only scores they had on the scoreboard were this game, and the Milwaukee game. Every time a number went up on the board, or people checked their phones and heard something good happened, the crowd cheered louder than anything for the game they were actually watching.
9) It started to sprinkle in the middle innings, but it never got more than an occasional drop and I thought we might have missed it. The game just took long. It started raining decently in the bottom of the 9th, they tried to play thru it only because it looked like the Chiefs might just end it and solve the problem for them, but the Cougars held on just long enough (perhaps stalling a little bit on purpose) and the skies just opened up and unloaded on all of us on once. It was the worst storm I’ve seen at a ballpark*
Like everyone else who was exposed to the elements, I rushed towards the interior of the stadium. 30,000 people crammed into the concourse, trying to get away from the seats but just as disinterested at getting all the way out of the stadium. It wasn’t a soccer crushing situation, but you couldn’t really move without forcing your way thru people, and you couldn’t do much else but stand and wait.
I waited about 10 minutes, killed time writing stressed out text messages (crowd aren’t my thing.) I had promised to meet Mike at his apartment to exchange tickets* and pretty much needed to do it. Once I could no longer stand anymore standing around, I slipped my way to the exit, opened my small umbrella and made a run for it.
My umbrella quickly broke, bent in the wind. And also, I kinda started walking towards Mike’s old place, maybe a half mile west of where he actually was. On the upside, I got plenty of practice wearing my new bluetooth headset when I got directions.
The rain stopped by the time I left to walk all the way back to Wrigley for my car, and my car was no longer boxed in, so it worked out in the end. Except for that non-finish thing.
* Since then, I’ve been back to Wrigley on Monday (08/04) and that storm beat this easily. This time, I was seated underneath the upper deck and we were all willing to sit out the rain delay for at least a while. We were still feeling okay when they told everyone to seek shelter, because we felt pretty safe. Then the tornado sirens went off, possibly for the first non-test ever at Wrigley, and no one much felt safe.
Again, I was stuck on the concourse, packed in with people watching a storm blow by. This time was worse. The storm was so bad, the wind took driving rain and made it go horizontal. (Which made it a good thing we left our seats, because nothing was protecting people from that.) And the concourse waiting was worse too; because the rain happened before the 6th, beer vendors were free to keep on selling, and they had no issues with getting people hot, confined and on nerve very drunk too. It was so dumb.
I got to the park way early (another story that I’ll skip) and I had gone to IHoP for dinner. Everyone else had just gotten from work and didn’t want ballpark food, so the plan was to go to a place around Wrigley after the game for an actual meal. We decided we might as well go now, rather than wait out a game that didn’t look like it was restarting and tried to time it with a down moment with the storm. The idea was great, but the storm kicked up again once we battled thru to the exit and I had no umbrella (because it’s still broke and unreplaced.) But dinner was good and it was finally sane outside when we were done.
I was just about home when the game picked up. It looked like it was going to restart at some point when I passed it again on the way to my car – amusingly, some ushers were stopping people from coming back in, but you could walk around to another side and be welcomed back with a problem – but I was still surprised it actually happened. Given that they only lasted about 40 minutes before being stopped (and for good) again, I’m not sure why they bothered.
I took Lake Shore on the way home. Lightning over the city and the lake is awesome to see, but it would’ve been better if people were not slowing down to watch it.
** Mike had to give me a ticket for the Fire/Everton game the next day, and I thought enough to give him my new camera so I didn’t have to carry it around in any more rain. I had planned to take more pictures at THAT game, but Mike didn’t think to bring the camera into the stadium, and so I didn’t get it back until later.
short: The Fire’s stadium’s really nice, it was a fun game, and I’d totally go back.