The other night I went to a Cubs game with my family. Cousins were in from out of town, and my sister-in-law, despite having a broken ankle, came up with the idea and made all the arrangements. It was exciting to be at the park. I hadn’t been to Wrigley in several years.
I’m ill-qualified to write about the Cubs or even their stadium. I doubt I could pass muster as a baseball maven or even a ‘real’ Cubs fan. Have I ever rooted for the Sox? Honestly, yes. Do I follow the Cubs much during the regular season? Honestly? No. Yet, precisely because I seldom go to a game at Wrigley, features of the experience charm and impress me that don’t matter to a regular fan.
Some of the Ricketts family’s improvements at Wrigley have triggered controversy, controversy that in my view isn’t warranted. The new plaza and adjacent tavern (above), which sparked months of careful public discussion, struck me as unobjectionable, benign. The plaza is a secure area outside the gates, where, during the game, fans can sit on the lawn and watch the game on a jumbotron. In general, the redevelopment in the immediate vicinity of Wrigley is likely to make the neighborhood less ratty and cleaner-looking, which I view as a wholly good thing.
Because of my sister-in-law’s ankle, we sat in ADA-accessible seating. We sat at the very top of the main level of seating, at the very back of a deep overhang, on folding chairs. A very nice, lanky, elderly usher gave us lots of personal attention. He kept checking back to make sure we were comfortable and that my sister-in-law was safely situated where the many passersby wouldn’t jostle her. I was sorry we couldn’t see all the scoreboards and the night sky from under the overhang, but it was pleasantly quiet because we really were on the very edge of the crowd. Plus the overhang would have sheltered us in the event of rain.
The Cubs were in the middle of their stand with the Diamondbacks, whom they had creamed the previous night. Unfortunately, the game I saw developed into a pitching contest, in which the D-backs, with Zack Godley as their starting pitcher, succeeded in shutting out the Cubs. Jake Arrieta, the Cubs’ starters, pitched a good game, but it was all for naught because the fielders made errors.
I spent most of the game playing with my new camera, experimenting with the shutter-burst feature, and marveling at the wild contortions that go into a pitch.
When someone in a row buys a beer, neighboring fans become middlemen who faithfully help execute the transaction. Thankfully, given the price of beer (over ten dollars), they do so as a matter of course, in a spirit of reciprocity—probably the only class of money-handlers on the face of the earth that doesn’t charge a fee.