Things have been quiet here, I know. I lost my camera battery for a year, then discovered that my laptop is way too full of photos (have been trying to move them to a USB stick, it’s taking forever), and am trying to get everything squared up for my trip in less than a month. I just transitioned to a new job, and a lot of the time wind up either working through lunch or wanting to get as far away as possible from my desk, which doesn’t do me any favors as far as getting the time to write. Also, I think I have been having WAY too much fun on Twitter with all the good folks there, so this space has fallen by the wayside, which frankly kinda sucks.
But I am leaving for Chicago on June 30th after a day of work, and the following Saturday my friend Karen and I are going to go to a White Sox game. I am lukewarm on the White Sox and most AL and NL Central teams, so I think that is another thing contributing to my apathy on this, but that is neither here nor there. In keeping with my self-driven tradition of trying to research where I’m going, I’m finally getting around to stadium previews. So let’s do this, shall we?
One of the first things I always look at is food, of course, and Chicago is a well-known food mecca. The one thing you’re going to notice first on the food drop down on the White Sox home page is the amount of cylindrical meat products on the docket, followed by the descriptor “Polish”. This is to be expected, and I’d be disappointed if it was anything else. They also have tacos, burgers, Cuban sandwiches, and a lot of places that are helpfully named after their locations; Batter’s Eye Brewhouse, Batter’s Box Beer, Dick Allen’s Rooftop Dogs (and Polish, natch). Of particular interest to me is Southside Sandwiches in multiple sections that serves an Italian beef sandwich; though I can’t decide if I would rather have this particular Chicago delicacy at a place other than a ballpark. Beltin’ Bill Melton’s Brats and Sausage has something called “The Heater”, a picture of which (along with a bunch of other information that I literally just found on Google) can be found here. A jalepeno dog with coleslaw and sriracha mayo? I think I’m in love!
I allow myself two beers per game on these visits, mostly so I can remain alert and actually enjoy the game and see the things I want to see most. I am hoping to try some Chicago or Midwest-specific beers, though The Pen at Safeco is currently under Coors’ control, and we have a lot of Leinenkugel already. Guaranteed Rate apparently has quite a few places to stop for “assorted craft beers”, so I will be looking around for something I can’t get here. At the link posted above, there is also a space called Craft Kave that serves some ridiculously crazy looking burgers and a good selection of porters and stouts, my beer preference (though very few things beat a good Manny’s on a hot day). Further reading over the link above shows that I literally could have just posted the link and not done so much writing on my own. Bacon on a stick in the 500-level? Yes, PLEASE. Seriously, if you’re going to a Sox game, click that link and spend some time checking it out, the author has provided photos and in-depth descriptions of what to have and where to go. Also, I think I may need to grab a bite to eat soon here myself; just reading all of this is making me hungry!
Another thing I like to check out is various stadium art or landmarks. A few of these don’t appear to be accessible unless you’re on one of the fancier levels of the park. This is pretty par for the course, we have a lot of cool stuff to see at Safeco at the Terrace level that you just can’t see unless you’re ticketed there. There is a sculpture park over center field, much like at Camden. Should be easy to get to, as it looks like GR does feature a walkaround main deck.
Minnie Minoso sculpture, courtesy Daily Herald, used without permission.
GR also has a first timer’s certificate place called the Rookie’s Corner over section 154, and if you don’t think I’m going to make a beeline for that area, you’d be wrong. At Camden, I was the oldest person in line, but I didn’t care; that Orioles certificate is on my wall in a frame at home. It’s little stuff like that that make a visit to any stadium a little more fun. Also on that level is a Comiskey Park shower. Why? No idea; but it’s a point of interest, and I’m going to take a picture of it. There is the old ballpark homeplate and something called Loretta’s Lounge around the right outfield area. The old homeplate is the place where that was when Comiskey was still standing. It is currently out very close to an area used for parking. Reminds me of how Sick’s Stadium home plate is still out in front of Lowe’s on Rainier Ave here in Seattle. Very cool.
Guaranteed Rate (not for nothing, that is just a terrible name though) also takes an odd approach to their decks. Safeco has 100, 200, 300, GR has 100, 300, 500; which made me think we were sitting up higher for the first game on July 1st than we actually are. I went for cheaper when I got our StubHub tickets, and wound up sitting in approximately the same place Daniel and I are sitting this year; Section 331. Only in Chicago, it’s 535 (soooo close to the bacon in section 529) the view is about the same. I am hoping to get some nice height-advantage pictures up there. Sections go from home plate “clockwise” down the third baseline and back around. Every stadium has a learning curve, and GR will be no exception. My issue right now is that I’m not sure if we are going to wind up at one or two White Sox games yet. The tempation to spend a lot of time at the park is great, but Karen and I haven’t seen each other since the 90s, and Chicago is a big place with lots of other things to do (and unfortunately, South Side, my focus on this trip is mainly Cubs-oriented).
So that’s that. I hope to have a lot more to bring back with me after the game on July 1st, which is Hawaiian Shirt Night (I love lucking out on a promo night with these trips), and many more tales to tell. Most of the trip will be ballpark-focused. There is even the possiblity that one of the nearby minor league teams might be in the vicinity that week, so maybe I’ll get to go check one of those out as well. But Karen is also keen on taking me to Hamilton and I am interested in the Chicago Art Institute, and maybe some other fun, if I can squeeze it in. This is going to be my last baseball trip for a while, probably; at least a couple of years. So I want to make sure I get in as much fun as possible while I can.
Now, I have about an hour and change before the Mariners try to sweep up the Tampa Rays.