333 W. 35th Street
Chicago, IL 60616
June 11, 2009: We enthusiastically stepped out of the doors to our Travelodge on our way to buy a CTA Visitor's Pass to take us to US Cellular Field. Unfortunately, we stepped outdoors into a monsoon. In torrential downpour, we walked to the nearest CTA station to buy our pass only to discover that you cannot buy passes from any nearby CTA stations...which, needless to say, completely bewildered us. We had to walk a few blocks to a hostel...which brought us memories of that extremely terrifying movie and strange cell phone commercial. Once this got taken care of, we were off to utilizing public transportation! Cue Superman theme music.
As you can see by the picture, the weather was absolutely glorious. We trekked through puddles and mud to reach the stadium....which appears to be ENORMOUS. It felt like the biggest baseball stadium we've ever visited. Maybe even bigger than Giants Stadium.
Once inside the stadium, it was clear that batting practice was cancelled (which was ironic being that it was the sole reason why we arrived 2 hours early). With nothing else to do, Lisa converted from a Mets/Pirates fan to #1 Sox fan...
Yes...that there is a poncho. It's not a garbage bag like many people seem to think. It is legitimate White Sox merchandise. Lisa even paid $6 for it. While Lisa weighed the pros and cons of supporting the White Sox over the Pirates, Serena took a shower...This is an actual working shower that had been taken from the White Sox old home at Comiskey Park. While during this particular game, the need to cool oneself off with a shower was highly unnecessary, we imagine that during the sweltering, humid days of July and August, this shower will prove quite useful. Finally (after being turned away at the Fundamentals Zone because we were not children, which we found to be prejudiced), Erin and Matt met us at the stadium. At the same time, the White Sox announced that we were in a Rain Delay. We saw that coming from a mile away. As the day dragged on, we became more concerned that the game would be called and that we'd have to fly back to Chicago just to re-visit US Cellular. Of course, this stress did not stop us from getting hungry. We ordered hot dogs with onions and mustard/ketchup from Dick Allen's Rooftop Dogs & Polish, located in section 139. We were told by a girl working a souvenir stand that it is the only stand in the park that grills their hot dogs instead of steaming them. They were mighty tasty and cheap! At least they were cheap compared to what we were used to in New York. Also during the rain delay, Lisa was approached by a member of the Chevy Pride Crew (for Mets fans, they are equivalent to what the Pepsi Party Patrol is) and asked if she wanted to be on the jumbotron during the top of the 7th inning. Lisa's day in the sun had finally arrived. Admittedly, she would've preferred if this had happened at Citi Field or even Yankees Stadium, but she'll take whatever she can get. However, while filling out the waiver form, Lisa panicked. What if the crowd booed her? She was not sure her self esteem could handle such a hit. The woman tried to reassure her that no one would boo her, but Lisa would not budge on the situation. Erin stepped up to the plate. She didn't care if anyone booed her, she just wanted to be on the jumbotron. And this was an opportunity to win a trip to Cancun...where it wasn't raining. Erin and two other men pulled numbers out of a hat to decide who would open which suitcase at the top of the 7th. Erin pulled suitcase #2. Now we had to wait for the bottom of the 6th when another member of the Pride Crew would retrieve Erin from her seat to see if suitcase #2 had a trip to Cancun in it. We all agreed that if Erin won, we would all drink Cancun-themed drinks for the remainder of the trip. We also had to wait for the game to even begin...Finally, after 3 hours of waiting, the White Sox announced that first pitch would be thrown at 4 pm! We were so excited, we could've just peed. Erin was stunned at the announcement. We hurried to our seats to dry them off with an entire purse full of Dunkin Donuts napkins (please note that they apparently stopped serving Dunkin last season. Do not walk around the entire stadium twice looking for a Dunkin like we did). We watched in anticipation as the grounds crew worked to prepare the field.
Finally, the game got underway. The pitching match up was the Tigers' Jackson versus Chicago's Floyd. The innings went rather quickly. The organ player was fantastic. He/she played everything under the sun. A sampling of the tunes we sang along to were by Justin Timberlake, Pink, and Journey. The playing was so good that we were able to identify the songs immediately.
The White Sox struck first in the bottom of the second inning when Jim Thome led off with a solo home run. Fireworks exploded and the pinwheels on the scoreboard lit up. This was much better than the tomato (that's supposedly an adequate replacement for Shea's awesome apple) that currently resides in center field in Citi Field. How's a tomato supposed to collapse on top of Carlos Beltran?? Shea's apple in a top hat was a way more efficient potential weapon. Anyway, we digress... South Paw made his appearance shortly after. Naturally, we were on that like white on rice. As soon as we spotted him making his way toward our section, we bolted. This was after the nice lady behind us hit Lisa on the shoulder and shouted, "Go get him! There he is!" Apparently, she too, knew our love for mascots. Maybe she reads our blog...we ran, muscles aching from being stiff in the rain, flip flops barely gripping our blackened, soaked feet, until we reached him. A member of the Chevy Pride crew was kind enough to take our picture with him. She didn't even cut our heads off, which is always a plus. South Paw farted during the picture taking process. We suppose this means he's got "personality." The pinwheels from the scoreboard are the buttons on his uniform. We don't actually know what South Paw is supposed to be, but like the Phillie Phanatic, he was quite fuzzy and delightful.
Finally, the bottom of the 6th arrived. Lisa and I accompanied Erin to the Fundamentals Zone (oh, so now we're allowed to go there) where the contest would be take place. We left Matt in charge of taking a picture of the jumbotron when Erin was displayed. Erin didn't win the trip to Cancun, but she did win a signed ball by White Sox pitcher, Gavin Floyd. We initially thought it was Jim Thome and this really excited us because we figured that we would earn a lot of money by posting it on e-Bay. But then we found out that it was Floyd...if anyone wants it, email us. We're charging $100. After celebrating Erin's mini-celebrity status, we booked it to the train so that we could get home in time to shower and change for the comedy show at Second City. When we left, the White Sox were winning 2-0. We found out later that the Tigers had staged a comeback, but still lost 4-3. Before rushing to Second City, we introduced South Paw to his new family. All in all, we liked the ball park. We can't figure out why people warned us that we might be disappointed. The food was yummy yummy in our tummies, the White Sox have a cool green mascot, and a working shower in center field. What more can you ask for? The next day would be our Wrigley Field trip. We couldn't wait.
Gene Kelly said it best when he said, "We're freezing in the rain, just freezing in the rain. What a glorious feeling, we're just oh so happy again. I'm laughing at clouds so dark up above. The sun's in my heart and we're ready for some baseball!"
Side note: We did spot Alyssa Milano merchandise in the stores at US Cellular Field, but we're pleased to report that the intelligent female fans of the White Sox were not spotted wearing any of it.