September 29, 2009

Major League Ballpark #29: US Cellular Field

White Sox win
For reasons I can't exactly explain, I wasn't as gung-ho about setting up the Big Dumb Baseball Weekend Road Trip this year as in years past. I must be getting old. But about four months in the season, I decided to finally do something about it. Ideas were kicked around--San Diego, Florida to see the Nats, Detroit--but finally Chicago won out. We did Wrigley in 2005, so this was to see the Pale Hose at their unfortunately named ballpark.

At the time I bought tickets, the White Sox were still very much in contention, but then they lost six games in a row and traded away Jim Thome. Nonetheless, fate smiled on us as this was Jake Peavy's first start for Chicago. Still, we could have bought tickets at walk-up, but we may have been stuck in the upper deck. And I have been told repeatedly to avoid the upper deck at all costs. As such we ended up near the right-field foul pole, with a decent view.

As I've said previously, I am not all that big on the Baseball-Centric Maximized Entertainment Experience™; I just want to watch the game. As such, I liked New Comiskey. They drew a good crowd, all things considered (about 28K), and while there were an awful lot of scoreboard prompts for on-demand cheering, the fans were very much tuned into the game and cheering on their Sox. Food choice variety was decent, and surprisingly cheap. At Don's recommendation, Otis got a quesadilla that was more like a big taco salad for just $2.75. I chose a Chicago-style hot dog and enjoyed it tremendously. Beer was still at big-league prices, though.

As for the game itself, it was tight early on, with Peavy alternately looking awesome and vulnerable. Tied 3-3 after the top of the 5th. The Royals' Dusty Hughes, in his first big-league start, got the first out in the bottom of the 5th. Then, a pitch or two into Konerko's at-bat, he apparently hurt himself and was taken out. His replacement proceeded to walk Konerko, then give up a base hit, another walk, followed by a grand slam to Carlos Quentin. The rout was on, and the Sox ended up winning 13-3. As such a point of order came up: who gets charged with Konerko's walk and that run, since that was the go-ahead run that would determine the losing pitcher? The answer, apparently, was Hughes. It seems grossly unfair to tag him with that loss, but that's the rulebook for you.

Another highlight: the inevitable mascot hunt. 'Round about the third inning, we spotted Southpaw coming down from the kids' area in left-center. We took off to the outfield concourse, but only found him just as he was ducking out a side door. Then he showed up on the field between innings, and climbed into the seats behind home plate. We went around to the home plate side, hoping he would walk all the way up, but he disappeared down a tunnel. We found we were near the guest services desk, and asked there about Southpaw's availability, but they weren't much help. So we're standing there wondering what to do when Otis shouts "THERE HE IS!" and Southpaw barrels out of the elevator bank behind me. So Southpaw has been added to the collection.

Full photo set on Snapfish (registration required) and a few on Flickr. More Chicago stuff after the jump.

  • It was a very good food weekend. We had lunch Saturday at Xoco, Rick Bayless' latest, where we had expensive sandwiches (I had the Cubana) and really good hot chocolate. Before the game, Otis and I had beers at the Berghoff. We met Jough (El Guapo of TOUAMB fame, for those who know) and Amanda for Sunday brunch at Orange, where I had good but enormous cinnamon roll pancakes. And I hit Lou Malnati's just before leaving town. I'm not saying it's better than NY-style pizza, not saying it's worse, but it's damn good. I think it's quite possible to enjoy both, thank you.

    Chicago pizza

  • While we were watching batting practice, Otis told me, "You know, I grew up a Yankee fan, but after following the Cardinals for so long, I think I don't like the DH anymore." I hugged him.

  • Otis & Sarah took off on Sunday, and I spent a fine afternoon at the Field Museum. I'd say it's just as good as DC's own Natural History Museum, maybe even a little better, except that the Smithsonian is FREE thank you. But I enjoyed the evolution exhibit with its dinosaur bones, the recreation of an ancient Egyptian tomb, and the whole pirate exhibit that they've apparently been hyping relentlessly.

  • The Field Museum was right up the street from Soldier Field, where the Bears were playing the Steelers, so the whole area had that crazy-spectacle feel that comes from an NFL game. Remarkable number of Steeler fans in the area, and even more impressive was the number of people who weren't at the game, but seemed content to just be near the game. Inconceivable at a Redskins game, since the Big Jack is basically alone in a sea of parking lots. After leaving the museum, I watched most of the second half at Lou Malnati's, but got out of there before the expected post-game crush. I managed to catch the game-winning field goal in the lobby of the Palmer House Hilton. And yes I cheered for the Bears. When in Rome, as they say.

Posted by Carl at 10:59 AM | Comments (0)

September 25, 2009

Linking Fool Friday

Indeed, the blog has been quiet. Chicago trip report forthcoming.

Just a couple things: Rescission is evil. And working on the grounds crew is harder than you think.

That is all.

Posted by Carl at 01:26 PM | Comments (0)

September 05, 2009

Minor Leaguers

I found a pile of old minor league programs and scorecards in the basement. Here are some players I saw back in the day: Victor Martinez, Joey Votto, Coco Crisp, Shane Victorino, Willie Harris, Jason Werth, and Matt Holliday. I also saw Ryan Howard hit a long home run for the Batavia Muckdogs, but I don't have the scorecard at hand to prove it. The most surprising is probably Victorino, who was playing second base for the Yakima Bears when I saw them play the Everett Aqua Sox. That's the short-season class A Northwest League.

A great many of these are from Class A leagues, mostly the Carolina League from late 90's and early 2000's. I think it's telling that on those teams' rosters, there's an average of ONE recognizable big-league name. Making the big leagues is hard.

Posted by Carl at 11:36 AM | Comments (0)

September 04, 2009

Linking Fool Friday

Your political lesson of the day: Anyone who said George Bush was not their president was a dirty hippie who deserved to be beaten (or harassed and threatened like the Dixie Chicks). Anyone who doesn't want their kids to watch Obama's message to students today is just exercising their parental rights. Got it? Good.

Barney Frank shows how to deal with the crazies. Look, you can oppose government health care plans if you want, but somehow comparing Obama with the armed takeover of most of Europe and the death of millions of Jews... I mean, come on.

Speaking of health-care, good post on the supposed problem of rationing. Note the item on tort reform payouts vs. insurance costs as well.

In this piece on why the Mets' new ballpark sucks is an all-too-rare defense of the late "all-purpose" stadium design. In this day and age of tight government budgets and economizing, you have to wonder why they weren't better defended.

Tony Bourdain weighs in on kids' TV. I agree with most of it, though I don't find the Wonder Pets quite as annoying as he does (in fact, I find myself singing their songs more often than I'd like).

Lastly: Bicycle ticketed for excessive awesomeness.

Posted by Carl at 03:15 PM | Comments (1)