Baseball, philosophy, video games, snarky anti-Bush rants, and all other various and sundry topics. Not necessarily in that order.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Wrigley Field, Or, To Hell and Back

OH, Wrigley Field, how we long to sing your praises, you shrine of baseball you, which houses that holiest of baseball teams, the Cubs, and their holy trinity of Wood, Prior and Zambrano, who will most surely deliver us from evil into a World Series berth, once Wood wins more than 14 a year, that is, which is Sure To Happen, because we have been so Faithful.....

BARF. You might think Barf sums up Wrigley Field and its legion of delusional acolytes, but PISS is a better descriptor. For Wrigley truly is The Urinal of Baseball.

Wrigley, how do I hate thee? Let me count the ways...

Ticket prices would already be bad enough, the 2nd highest in the MLB, if it weren't for the added punch in the nuts of the Cubs scalping their own tickets for more than face value! What with the thousand dollar premiums these set-aside tickets command, prices would easily average the highest in the majors.

Oh, but let's be fair here. The Cubs offer 6 "Value" dates for which obstructed view UD seats go for $6. Those wonderful souls. I mean, they only have 40 "Prime" dates and 35 "Regular" dates. But you have to pay a premium for "prime games," right? Half the season, that is...

So let's say you actually find some tickets, win the lottery or something, and go to a game. What can you expect while there? Why, it's baseball's grand "way back" machine, in which intrusive advertisements do not exist, all the views are wonderful, and that old-timey feel just seeps into your bones. Right?


I will admit, the field itself looks pretty nice, and the views from about 40% of the seats are good. But man, you ever sit in one of those under-the-overhang seats in the LD where 30% of your view is of wonderful, old-timey Steel Pole, and you have to crane your neck at about an 80 degree angle for 3 hours, while your back is ground to a fine powder by the torture device seats, and you'll have a new appreciation for molded plastic and no-pole concrete construction. And nothing gives you that old time feeling of childhood better than staring at someone's head for 3 hours, just like when you were 5 years old. The ~1.5 degree pitch of the grandstand assures you of this.

If you ever get caught in a rain delay, kiss your hard earned money blown on scalped tickets goodbye - Wrigley Field has by far the worst grounds crew in baseball, at least that I've ever seen. I mean, people, it's a frickin' tarp. How hard could it be? Yes, I know these people need jobs too, but seriously... Just yesterday a game was cancelled and rescheduled for a doubleheader because of spotty showers which abated completely by 4 PM. Last year, they were so inefficient covering the field, a game against the Sox was called in the 5th, followed by 6 hours of sunny, perfect conditions.

It's still worth it, the faithful say. You can never appreciate a ballpark until you accept those quirks and idiosyncrasies. Or until a chunk of conrete burrows into your skull.

And what's not to love about the concourse which runs beneath the grandstand? As you try to exit the park after a game, there is no better feeling than rubbing elbows, armpits, stomachs, and external genitalia with thousands of the other faithful as you try to cram your way out one of the three tiny exits onto the street. And you haven't had a beer spilt on you until you've experienced it in the dank underground cavern of the Wrigley concourse. And you haven't gone to the bathroom until you've peed in a trough facing a 400 pound drunkard in a Cubbie mini-tee. Or heck, peeing into the sink is a fun diversion if the line for a half-foot wide trough berth extends out the door. That is, if the bathroom isn't closed due to flooding or overcrowding. In that happy event, relieving yourself on a neighboring building is the pee du jour.

Wrigley Field is located conveniently in a neighborhood once known as Lakeview, now known as "Wrigleyville." Oh, it's big fun to try and drive, eat, stroll along public ways, or generally live in this area, especially on game days/nights.

Cubs Fans are part of the Wrigley experience as well.

What is a day at the ballpark without seeing 5 year olds exposed to rowdy and randy fratboys shouting obscenities to nubile betube-topped scatterbrains fresh from a gray-market Girls Gone Wild video? And now that Sammy has flown the coop to Baltimore, the chants of "Beer Man!" and "What Just Happened?" are all the more audible. It's a veritable symphony of remedial baseball education.

All right, enough of this. I could go on for days. Let's get to the ratings.

Seat comfort: 2 - Designed in an age when Hobbits roamed the Earth, these seats are a surefire ticket to a chiropractic appointment. The grandstands have a very low pitch, making for a nice close-up view of the back of someone's head if they're over 4'10".
Concessions: 3 - Average food at high prices. The Foot long Chili Dog is a pretty good deal.
Scoreboard: 4 - It is kind of neat looking. Thank you Bill Veeck! Not enough info, however.
P.A. system: 4 - What there is sounds perfectly nice.
Ticket Prices: 2 - One way or another, the Tribune Company will f$*% you a new one - they scalp their own tickets. Don't drop the Soap in the restroom! UD is not awful, pricewise, but everything else is.
Exterior Architecture: 3 - Blah, blah and more blah. There's a lighted sign, but that's about it.
Arch.: 3 - Profoundly uncomfortable, this is a torture chamber for all the senses. Only a passable field shape and that wonderful "old timey" feel brings this up a few ticks.
Access: 2 - A hellish labyrinth of human flesh. Parking is obscenely difficult. Drunken yahoos trip you up at every step. Only decent CTA access brings this up a tick.
Ushers: 5 - Actually, some of the nicest 90 year-olds you'll ever meet.
Trading up: 2 - Too many vacant-eyed lemmings to even consider.

Points out of 50: 30