Thursday, August 20, 2015

Day 3 - Game 3 - August 6, 2015 San Francisco Giants @ Chicago Cubs

When we last left our protagonists, they were on their way out of South Bend on the heels of a 10-2 victory for the Cubs’ low Single A affiliate. Two games, two Cubs wins. At this point, it was time to quote the very funny Major League, although I do believe this reference went over the boys’ heads.

The plan for Wednesday was to sleep in a bit and be in Chicago around lunchtime. But we ended up having a late breakfast and weren’t particularly hungry when we rolled into Chicago. I wanted to find a place to park, wander around a bit, have lunch at Harry Caray’s and take in the game at Wrigley that night. But anyone who knows Chicago will realize the flaw in my thinking. The restaurant is a good 5-6 miles away from the stadium. And I had just paid for parking. So much for that plan…
Instead we headed towards the stadium, still a good couple of hours before game time. Again, things to consider when planning a trip aside from "no worries, it's a midweek game." Are the defending champs in town? Does that team holdest the slimmest of leads (1/2 game) for the final playoff spot over your team? Is it a giveaway day?
We went to the box office and the cheapest available was standing room only for $27 each. Three tickets to the South Bend game the day before cost me $21 total. I didn’t want to spend all my cash on tickets so I didn’t even try to talk to a scalper, but it probably wouldn't have been any better. After taxes, it wasn’t too far from a good ol’ Ben Franklin. These were by far the most of expensive tickets on the trip, but hey, it’s the big league club. At Wrigley Frickin’ Field!
With the tickets in hand, we browsed a couple of the street vendors and shops. I’d be embarrassed to admit how much I spent on some new Cubs gear for me and the boys, but I have absolutely no regrets. I’ll probably even up my budget for the next trip. Aside from some clothes, I picked up a few postcards. Not to mail, but something I’ll probably display in the mancave. Cheap, professional photography!
I have a Harry Caray autographed 3x5 card that I’ve been looking at framing up somehow. Maybe this postcard and one of the caricature patches?

 I tried numerous times to take photos of these retired number flags but could never get them this good. Might as well have some nice professional ones and maybe frame these up with autographs, too? The only problem is that these predate the Jenkins/Maddux retiring of #31.
Seemingly anytime I looked at the famous marquee, it had some kind of ad. The shot on this postcard was perfect for what I was looking for. Maybe someday I can commission somebody to do a nice artistic rendering of this.

We decided on The Cubbie Bear for lunch, a restaurant on the corner behind the stadium. It was a little late for lunch though it was still pretty crowded. Kind of a basic menu, but we tried a few of the Cubby Bear Favorites, marked with the crossed bats on the menu and passed the plates around so everybody could try everything. I can say now that a Chicago Dog isn’t my thing, but at least I’ve had one now. It wasn’t bad, but when you pay $7 for a hot dog, it should be one that you enjoy. On the other end of the spectrum, I don’t know how anybody from Chicago eats anything but an Italian Beef sandwich. OK, maybe some deep dish pizza thrown in there, but the Italian Beef has got to be the number one seed.
After a quick trip back to the car so we didn’t have to lug the souvenirs around the whole game, we headed back towards the stadium. Lines were already forming at the gates but we didn’t have any seats to rush to so we hung back a bit. I picked up a program and scorecard and even talked myself into the yearbook. I mean, this is the year, right?

The program focused on the young talent.

The scorecard had a shot from Kris Bryant’s walkoff a few weeks ago. That had been just a week or two prior. How's that for timely?

And I can’t wait to actually sit down and go through the yearbook.

Did I mention this game also had a promotional giveaway? A nice, reusable water bottle. Not the most glamorous of promotions but at least it’ll probably get used.

We entered from the right field corner gate and this was the view of the new screen out in left field.
I grew up in the jumbotron era but I can also appreciate the nostalgia of an old ballpark and can see both sides of the debate. I’ve only been to Wrigley twice before (1993 and last season) so it’s not like my memories are forever tarnished by this upgrade. I will say it does look better in person than it shows up on TV.

We walked around the concourse to the left field side. Everybody was standing watching batting practice but we found a couple of seats and took the gratuitous selfie. Actually we did at all of the games but I forgot to post the first two. At least in this one, you can see some of the swagged out gear. I’m on the left in my brand new South Bend Cubs hat. My younger son is in the middle with my old Cubs hat and free sunglasses from South Bend on his head. My older son is on the right, in his new (backwards) Cubs hat with the old 60’s era Cubs bear head and South Bend batting practice pullover.
The infamous Bartman seat. I’m actually a little surprised that it’s still there. I've got nothing against the guy and think 99% of fans would have done the same thing in his position. Lots of Giants fan were asking the ushers which one it was and having their picture taken reaching over the rail. If it wasn’t my team, I probably wouldn’t be as annoyed…
Coming out from under the bleachers was part of the youth movement. From left to right we have Kris Bryant, Addison Russell and Matt Szczur. (Trailing behind is little Kyle Schwarber?)

Just kidding obviously, but here is Kyle Schwarber practicing his pitching.
And speaking of Schwarber, I did find my other altered jersey photo. Those of you who read my first recap (Cubs @ Pirates) may remember the kid who changed his Jose Tabata jersey to a Michael Morse jersey.
Fast forward two days, and this gentleman has moved past former #12 Alfonso Soriano and upgraded to Schwarber. Who did it better?

And here is the new scoreboard out in right field with the game’s starting lineups.

By the time Dexter Fowler came up to lead off the bottom of the first, these were the seats we gravitated towards. Not bad for “standing room only” right? We were ready to move at any point but nobody ever came to claim their seats. If these were my tickets, I would be there 100% of the time.

If you’re not tired of Schwarber yet, he came up big in the bottom of the second with a three run bomb to give the Cubs a 5-0. Here he is rounding third, getting the low five from third base coach Jones and base runners Addison Russell and Jason Hammel waiting at home to congratulate him.

That would be the end of scoring for the Cubs for the day but that was all they needed, hanging on for a 5-4 victory.
Cubs fan, comedian/actor Joel Murray came in to sing the 7th inning stretch. We couldn’t see the booth from where we were sitting but here he is on the big screen.

Another postgame, on field celebration set to the tune of Go Cubs, Go! I love it!

A few final pictures to wrap it up. Scoreboard shot with the Win Flag flying.

This win put the Cubs a half game ahead of the Giants in the wild card race.

And some notable figures from the game on the other scoreboard.

Full from lunch/dinner, we didn't partake in too much stadium food. However, we did dig into the full sized batting helmet full of chili cheese nachos!
Things are going well! The Cubs are now 3-0 all-time in games I’ve attended at Wrigley Field and this game started the 9 game run for the MLB Cubs, their longest winning streak since 2008. Speaking of 3-0, the Cubs/Cubs affiliates have won all three games of the road trip thus far. Referring back to the video at the beginning of this post:

Off to Des Moines for the Triple A Iowa Cubs! Let’s keep it going!


  1. The Cubby Bear is not the place to go if you want good food - certainly not a dog not a beef sandwich. Next time you are in town I'll take you to where the good ones are. Trust me, they get much better than that place.

  2. Yeah, listen to JediJeff. There are some great places to eat in Chicago if you're looking for authentic Chicago food. I, personally, wouldn't put the Cubby Bear on that list.

    I'm glad to see the helmet nachos are back. When I was up there in May we couldn't find them anywhere, but we did find way too many port-a-potties on the concourse.

  3. I figured a place right next to the stadium was not going to be a hidden hotspot, but shouldn't be too bad if it managed to stay in business. I was pretty sure I was going to Harry Caray's so I didn't do any research.

    I had to ask for the helmet nachos and they were all the way at the last food place in right field. I'm pretty sure I read about them on your blog, Tom. But we also had them last year at Target Field and now have a Cubs helmet to match my 2014 All-Star helmet since the Twins hosted last year.

    1. There was no last food place in right field back in the early spring. It was all boarded up with plywood. So jealous about the helmet nachos.