Sunday, July 6, 2008

Deathtour~!: New(ish) Comiskey Park, Chicago

A week after baking in the blistering heat of Wrigley, it’s time to hop on the red line and head south to New(ish) Comiskey Park, now called US Cellular Field, and finish off the Windy City for the season. Joining me once again is Jon Dye who was kind enough to let me keep my stuff with him while I took a detour to Cincinnati yesterday. I’ve spent this entire trip in shorts. It’s been that hot. If you added up the number of days I’ve worn shorts in the past 5 years I don’t think it would be more than the number of days I’ve worn shorts in the past 2 weeks. Tonight it’s cooled down but not enough to make me change back to my familiar jeans or grab my sweatshirt. I hope I don’t regret this.

We arrived on the South Side 30 minutes before the first pitch amongst an enthusiastic crowd. The Sox are the less beloved yet more successful franchise of Chicago. They lack the national fan base that the Cubs enjoy and they’re not the media darlings the north-siders are either, but at least they can claim a few World Series crowns in the past 100 years.

The cheapest seats are $21 in the upper deck. That seems a bit steep after visiting Cincinnati where my upper deck seats were only $14 and bleacher seats were $7! So my wallet is $42 lighter when we pass though the gate. Before we head up I want to take a look around at field level but I’m halted by this…

…seriously?! Segregation in 2008! I guess they don’t want us poor schmucks intermingling with the elite of the South Side. More reason to hate Jerry Reinsdorf.

Okay, the game hasn’t started and I’m already regretting sticking with the shorts. To make matters worse the concession we went to was out of hot chocolate. I settled for pizza which was comparable to a decent microwavable pizza.

The only benefit to having upper deck seats tonight is getting to sit where ever we want within the top level seats. After finding some prime seats in the front row of the right field corner and filling out my scorecard I go on a search for another concession stand with hot chocolate. I find one near by. I have a feeling I’ll be coming back for seconds, thirds, fourths and fifths before the game ends.

We’ve got a great view of the outfield promenade from our seats. Looks like a lot of fun down there…

Sox starter Javier Vasquez strikes out the side in the top of the first and the offense scores twice in the bottom half on a home run and 2 doubles. Jon’s unhappy with me since supposedly I’m not doing my job of bringing the home team bad luck. I remind him it’s only the first inning, the A’s have plenty of time to come back.

Vasquez strikes out the side again in the third! He has 7 Ks through three. He’s single-handedly trying to break the curse. As a reminder the home team is 0-6 on this road trip and 2-11 overall.

It looks plenty warmer out there.

At the beginning of the forth inning I decide to walk around the stadium, at least the parts that I can. The concession area is a bit warmer and I need a refill on my drink. Anything to get away from my cold, hard seat. When I get back, the A’s have tied the game up after a hit-batsman and a homerun.

I take another timeout to walk around. I’m absolutely freezing up here, to the point that I’m considering buying a White Sox jacket or sweatshirt. I think better of it after stepping into the team shop and taking a look at the prices. Given the choice between paying $100 for a coat and freezing I’m choosing freezing.

I get back to my seat and it’s 3-2 A’s. Jon (a noted Cubs fan) is happy and I’ve missed every run for the visiting team so far. If the key to the A’s success is that I have to leave my seat, that’s fine with me.

I can’t take this wind anymore. We decide to head to the opposite side of the stadium where the wind will be at our backs. I don’t know why I didn’t think of this sooner.

This has been a fantastic pitching duel so far. After 7 the A’s have 3 runs on only 4 hits. The White Sox have 2 runs on 5 hits. Both Duchscherer for the A’s and Vasquez for the Sox could go the distance. The A’s need insurance runs so I take a powder to the concessions.

About the only interesting feature of the upper level is a photo mural of the White Sox history from the beginning of the previous century to the present day. The Sox have the bizarre distinction of donning my favorite and least favorite classic jerseys. The 1919 “Black Sox” team has my favorite look in baseball. The colors, the logo, the way in which they wore them – it’s a flawless look. Conversely the mid 80s unis are the worst I’ve ever seen. The 80s had a lot of really awful looking uniforms but this is the worst. It’s even worse than the candy corn Astros shirts.

The Classic 1919 team.

The worst uniform in baseball.

The modern look.

At least they’ve gone back to a more classic look with the 30s style emblem and home white with black pinstripes. You can’t go wrong with that. They should never change this look (unless they plan on going back to that 1919 team jersey).

Vasquez puts the A’s down in the ninth. Unless Chicago scores in the bottom of the ninth he’s in the hook for a complete game loss.

Huston Street gives up a single but strikes out the next two batters to end the game. That makes 7 straight for the road team. The odds of watching 7 straight road wins is staggeringly low. It’s like flipping a coin 7 times and having it come up tails every time. It’s an impossible improbability. There’s no way Pittsburgh makes it a complete sweep tomorrow in Milwaukee, is there?

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