This past Thursday, I was fortunate enough to take in a Cubs baseball game atop one of the famous rooftops grazing Waveland Avenue in Wrigleyville. Much to my dismay, I wasn't allowed to don any White Sox apparel, although the experience quickly allowed me to shove my anti-Cubdom feelings to the side.
Let me first start off by saying that Cub home games are an event. As you transcend from your home or workplace through Wrigleyville, you realize the stronghold that the Cubs have on the entire area. A place that is rather lush and quiet during the offseason transitions into a chaotic frenzy when the season rolls around. Local storefronts and businesses fly Cubs flags and banners while the neighborhood watering holes display decorated billboards with drinks named after Harry Caray and Ernie Banks.
The environment around Wrigley Field is forever eccentric and the optimism is just as high. You'll run into a 70-year-old man sitting on a barstool at Cubby Bear or the Piano Man explaining why this is finally the year that the Cubs bring home the World Series title. He'll preach on and on about how Carlos Zambrano is the best pitcher in all of baseball and that Derrek Lee is the next coming of Christ. Sure, the claims are ridiculous and the biases are earth-shattering, but that is what makes Cubs fans who they are. They deserve credit for actually bestowing enough faith in the impossible.
After buying the traditional pinstriped Chicago Cubs peanuts bag and walking past ten different people trying to sell me "Sox Suck" tees, I finally made my way to 1010 West Waveland Ave. A gray-haired man with a tattered Cubs hat asked for my name before glancing over at his clipboard and crossing it off of the list. "Enjoy the game," he said with a smile.
Only four flights of stairs remained between myself and the uppermost level of the rooftop. Unfortunately, I hadn't been this athletically challenged since high school, so I'll admit that a pit stop was necessary. After inhaling from an oxygen tank a la Michael Sweetney, I was determined to complete my trek up the mountain---which ended with a justified feeling of awe as I looked out on the panoramic view of the Chicago skyline and onto the playing field at Wrigley.
I admired the great views for a good five to ten minutes and pointed out all the historical artifacts to my girlfriend to sound intelligent. I explained the significance of the freshly grown ivy on the outfield walls, the monstrous manual scoreboard in deep centerfield and the interesting sign over Sheffield Avenue that read "AC 00 62 99," the amount of years since the Cubs won the division, the pennant and the World Series respectively.
Then, in the middle of another sentence, my nose caught the airborne smell of grilled hot dogs and polish sausages and I droolingly proclaimed that I would be right back. Turns out, the company that manages the rooftop outings is an avid believer in hospitality and established an all-you-can-eat-and-drink platform for its recipients to enjoy. The menu also consisted of hamburgers, pulled pork sandwiches and barbecue chicken breast, which is all the standard baseball fan needs---All-American food and the national pastime. Hilariously enough, I tried to accomplish the "entree per inning" feat, but I was burned out by the fifth frame.
Ryan Dempster pitched brilliantly, striking out a career-high 12 batters in 8 1/3 innings to pace a 4-0 Cubs victory over the visiting Padres. Greg Maddux took the loss in what very well may be his last ever outing at Wrigley Field, but not before receiving a two-minute long standing ovation after exiting in the fifth inning. What really moved me, though, was the way the stadium erupted as Kerry Wood recorded the final out. Fans chimed along to the tune of "Go Cubs Go" as it blasted out of the stadium speakers. Bystanders sang along while others exiting the park began the "Let's Go Cubs" chant. The enthusiasm for a regular season win was incredible. Granted, I can't stand the Cubs and most of their fans, but the way they support their team really is something.
Contrary to my original beliefs, I really enjoyed myself in Wrigleyville atop the Waveland Avenue rooftop. The unique surroundings attributed to a great environment to take in our national pastime. While hesitant at first to cross into Chicago's North Side, the experience was well worth it. I would highly suggest that any baseball fan make an attempt to see Wrigley Field in their lifetime. It's the second-oldest stadium and the history between its walls is insurmountable.
If this stubborn Sox fan was able to put his alliances aside and have a great time at the ol' ballgame, just imagine what the experience would be like for you.