We got off to that early start today, and I am feeling it hard; it’s 7.15PM Chicago time, so 5.15 PST, but I didn’t sleep much and we just spent all day in very humid, direct sunlight (yes, sunscreen, though my nose and cheeks are a bit pink). I am absolutely exhausted, but I had a great day, so that’s merely a statement of fact and in no way a complaint. Today was fantastic. The Sox got murdered by the Rangers, but I had a great time.
Karen and I started off with a quick cup of coffee and some heavy slathering on of sunscreen, followed by a 55-or-so-minute drive. She lives in Wheaton, IL, for distance reference. Traffic was decent for a Saturday in a busy city; and since we had a parking pass, it was easy to get to where we needed to be. Parking at Guaranteed Rate (hereafter referred to as GR, because I cannot bring myself to keep typing that name) is easy, but also a little overwhelming for a Seattle girl like me. There are staffers who tell you exactly where to go, right down to the space. I kind of like this, it makes it easy and hassle-free. Many people were already there, and they were tailgating; team flags, barbecue grills, beer, games of cornhole, some music. People seemed to be having fun and the mood was light.
We were parked on the right field side, so wandered towards home plate along a sidewalk full of people. Wind had picked up, and it was very warm out. I was looking for a team store, but GR is a very odd field; everything exists within the park, and it can be a trek to get inside. I did pick up a little stuffed Southpaw mascot, and then we got in a line for a special event near home plate. A host kindly directed us towards gate 3, where we stood in the sun a half hour longer than we should have, per the website and a few Sox fans in line with us. A woman near us collapsed just as the gates were actually starting to open. Emergency personnel came to her rescue, and fans in line were gradually shuffled inside, where we were all given dark blue Hawaiian shirts made of a very not-heat-friendly material and White Sox logos and mascot cartoons on them. There were other fans with other versions of this shirt, so we figured they’d done similar promos before.
Home Plate entrance art.
In GR, you have to walk up a winding ramp or go up an escalator to get to the main concourse. I’m not sure what is hiding under the park, but it seemed like an awful long way walking up to get “down” to a main level. Once upstairs, it didn’t seem like we had walked all that way (we opted for walking). The main concourse is nice and airy, though dark, and instead of one big team store, there are several, including a ’47 Brand store; unfortunately I didn’t discover this until I had already made the purchase of a Sox sport tank top (I love ’47 Brand). My disappointment did not last long, however, there was still a lot to see. After I’d gotten and changed into my tank top, Karen picked up a Cuban sandwich that we split, along with a couple of pints of beer interestingly named “Daisy Cutter”. It was hoppy but good in the heat. I would have taken pictures of these things, but we were both tired and starving. They did not last long.
The view from over left field.
The Patio is part of Kraft Cave, and requires a special ticket to get in; but on days like today, you have to sit in the direct sunlight all game long, and your view is obstructed by a fence.
We asked for directions to the Rookies’ Corner, where we got our first timer certificates; as a Cubs fan, Karen had also never been to GR; but she did a very good job of camouflaging herself, even going so far as to buy a Sox shirt at Target. We were virtually invisible in our new environment. We continued walking around center field, and found their player sculptures.
You can see the bottom picture there, the shirts they were giving away. Mariners colors, a little bit.
An old Comiskey shower. It still works, and looked like someone had doused themselves recently.
We continued walking around the main level just to get a feel for the place. It feels sort of closed in, but you’re still very aware that you’re outside. When we had made it back to the area where we’d come in, we continued up the ramp to the 500 level where our seats were. This provided us with a spectacular view of the city.
Everything is sort of contained inside the park on the upper level; Safeco has food and shops and stuff sort of outside the seating area, where you can get views of the city; at GR, you’re routed inside a tunnel with all that stuff, and the seats are on the other side; think the lower levels of Century Link. While it is enclosed, it is a nice respite from the sun, which we were about to get way too much of.
Starting Sox pitcher Derek Holland and his fancy holiday socks. Unfortunately for Chicago, Holland’s pitching was not enough to provide a win. The press box with retired numbers (above) and new digital pinwheels, an homage to Bill Veeck and his “exploding scoreboard”. We did see Jose Abreu hit a home run, so the pinwheels spun and fireworks went amok.
Before we were in our seats, however, Karen procured two more pints of beer, and some off-the-cob elotes, and I got The Heater, the jalepeno dog with coleslaw and sriracha mayo. All were excellent (we split that too). The PA blared ACDC’s “Thunderstruck”, and the it was time to play ball.
Things started off well for the Sox. With Abreu’s two run tater in the first. But Texas resonded with a run of their own in the second after Holland loaded the bases, and then in the 5th with a vengeance; a double plating a run, and then an HR to plate both runners, and the score was 4-2. With the Rangers hitting, Karen and I decided something icy was needed, so we went to get some vodka lemonade slushies that were light on the vodka but heavy on the slushy, and those kept us cool in for another inning or two while the sun jumped from cloud to cloud. Holand was replaced by Chris Beck in the 6th after Roughned Odor took first base, and Beck gave Mike Napoli three pitches he couldn’t hit before one he really, really could.
. With the score 6-2 in the Rangers’ favor, and with the Sox playing the way they did today, Karen and I figured we could take another casual stroll around the field. Neither of us had any stake in this game, and it was just unbearably hot out, we’d both had enough. But not before we witnessed three Italian beef sandwiches racing each other in center field with Southpaw encouraging them…
Another leisurely stroll down the ramps, and back to the 100 level, where we ran into more statues on the other side of a food kiosk called The Frozen Zone (or something similar)…
I don’t know why I took two pictures of Mr Comiskey, but I did. After waiting for people posing with the statues to get some clear shots, we went down the right field ramp to check out Kraft Cave, our destination for tomorrow’s lunch and drinks.
The Cave is a lot like what if The Pen was under the stadium and had better seating and a really bad view of the game. I don’t know how many people reading this might have gone to the Bullpen Pub back before it was Edgar’s, but if you did, the Cave is like that, but larger and nicer; like a sports bar. It is packed with people in their 20s and 30s, all of whom seemed well into their drinks by then. We walked around to get a feel for the place, taking everything in, and then I happened to glance at one of the TVs and notice that the score was a horrifying 10-4 in the 8th in the Rangers’ favor. We had a choice to make; we could either walk back up the ramp and see if the feckless Sox had some life in them to come back from that kind of deficit, or we could get while we were on the street level and go grab dinner before heading home. We chose the latter. We are going back tomorrow, I had seen quite a bit of stuff I wanted to see, and we were sunned and crowded out. Tacos for dinner and a drive through Karen’s neat little neighborhood later, and here I am finishing up this post and ready to get to bed at 9, just as the Mariners are starting another game against the Angels at home.
It was a really good day, but I am losing steam. I’m going to get some rest, and we’ll do it again tomorrow.