Recently, I enjoyed a road trip around the Midwest of the United States, ending my trip in one of my favourite cities, Chicago.
While there, I watched games at both Wrigley Field and Guaranteed Rate Field, taking in the Padres vs Cubs game on Thursday 27 April and the Rays vs White Sox game on Friday 28 April.
In this article, I will share my experiences of attending games at both ballparks.
Wrigley Field is an iconic baseball stadium. I’ve been to Chicago a few times over the years, but never when the Cubs have been playing, so it was great to be able to co-ordinate my trip so that I could attend a game at one of the most famous stadiums in the sport at a time when the Cubs have a good line-up featuring Dansby Swanson, Seiya Suzuki and Trey Mancini, among others. And the game was against the Padres too, which was even better, as it meant I also got to see Xander Bogaerts, Juan Soto, Manny Machado and a post-suspension Fernando Tatis Jr.all play as well.
Looking at the weather report the morning of the game got my hopes up even more – clear skies, the sun was out and it was forecast to be 16℃ at game time. Perfect baseball weather then in my mind.
Before that though, I had found out via Bat Flips & Nerds’ new Discord channel that two of my fellow contributors, Cubs fan Sean Guest and BFN Podcast co-host Rob Noverraz, were also going to be at the game, and plans were made to meet up with both at Murphy’s Bleachers bar opposite the north-east corner of the stadium prior to the game.
Having got the red line train up to Addison station, and secured a beef sandwich from Chicago institution Al’s Italian Beef to take into the game with me, I headed over and met up with Sean – I’ve never met any of my fellow contributors in-person before, and so, it was great to put a face to a name and spend some time discussing baseball and the wonderful city we were in with a compatriot.
After having a wander around the bowels of the stadium pre-game, I took my seat in the grandstand with a good view of both third base and home plate.
At first, I thought I had been clever – I was sat in the shade, and so, I wasn’t going to boil in the Chicago sun. However, being in the shade meant that it was a lot chillier than it had been when I was walking around outside of the stadium. In fairness though, I was messaging Sean, who was sat out in the sun in the bleachers, during the game, and he said it was “scorching”. Oh, to have swapped seats with him, at least for a little bit.
As for the game itself, it was a really good one to take in as a neutral; Machado got a home run for the Padres, while Eric Hosmer, Nelson Velazquez and Dansby Swanson also homered for the Cubs, resulting in a 5-2 win for the home team. It was also really cool to be in the middle of what was a very respectably-sized crowd for a game played on a Thursday afternoon while they first sang ‘Take Me Out To The Ballgame’ during the seventh inning stretch led by a recording of long-time Cubs announcer Harry Caray on the video board and then the Cubs victory song at the end of the game.
After the game, I then made my way down to the bottom of the grandstand to take some photos at field level and found out that, following the 2016 World Series win, all of Wrigley Field’s ushers and stadium crew had been gifted with championship rings as the organisation’s way of saying ‘thank you’ to them for all their efforts. Upon finding out it was my first game at Wrigley Field, one of the ushers, Mary, insisted upon me having my photo taken with her championship ring. She didn’t have to do it, but allowing me to have my picture taken with a team-issued World Series ring was a lovely gesture after what had already been a very good game.
All-in-all then, a great gameday experience at one of baseball’s most iconic venues.
Guaranteed Rate Field
The night after, I then attended a game at the home of the Chicago White Sox versus the Tampa Bay Rays.
Given the Rays had made a fantastic start to the season, setting a record by winning their first 13 games, I was looking forward to seeing them play, alongside a White Sox team that featured Andrew Benintendi, Eloy Jimenez and former Oakland Athletic Elvis Andrus (sadly, Tim Anderson, who I was really looking forward to seeing play live, had been injured a couple of weeks earlier and was on assignment at the White Sox’s Triple-A affiliate).
Much like the Cubs-Padres game, the teams did not disappoint either, with Andrew Vaughn and Jake Burger both hitting home runs for the White Sox in the first two innings, before Isaac Paredes hit a crucial homer in the top of the ninth inning to win the game 3-2 for the Rays. The home runs punctuated what had been a good game characterised by good play by both teams on both sides of the bat.
Following the game, the White Sox then put on what was a very good fireworks display for the remaining fans in attendance in spite of the loss, which added to the experience and took the edge off what had been a very chilly night game.
Two good games then, which made me very glad that I had been able to visit both major league ballparks in the Windy City. Based on my experience though, I stand by my headline; it was too cold to be playing baseball!
I hope you enjoyed this article, and, if it wasn’t clear already, I highly recommend visiting Chicago and taking in a baseball game at one or both stadiums if you can.
Keep an eye out in the coming days too for an article from Cubs contributor Sean Guest, who will be writing about his return to Wrigley Field for a week of games following a pandemic-enforced absence of over three years.
Featured image – Author’s own
When not watching other teams play, Brett is the A’s contributor for Bat Flips & Nerds, and can be found on Twitter @BrettChatsSport.