(Good guys win!)
Even though I have lived in Milwaukee most of my life and Chicago isn’t that far away, I had never seen a game at Wrigley Field until this past weekend. It seems like most Brewers fans who have made the trip report the stadium itself is rubbish, but at least it’s in a nice part of town. I vaguely recall going to see bands at the Metro a couple times in my youth, so I wasn’t completely unfamiliar with the area. But that was a long time ago and I had never seen a ballgame at the so-called Friendly Confines.
I approached the experience with a few built-in prejudices. When Cubs fans would show up to Miller Park circa 2007-2010, a good number of them were intolerable, so I figured they would be even more annoying in their natural habitat. I also assumed the facility itself would be an awkward, wretched reminder of why we don’t keep anything around from one hundred years ago.
Perhaps those low expectations were unfair, but in any case they were exceeded spectacularly. I had a grand old time. Our StubHub-facilitated seats were in the second row of the upper deck, which probably maximized the quaint, cozy atmosphere that Cubs fans appreciate. We had a great view of the infamous Bartman seat, which is a real treat if you’re a Cubs disparager.
It felt like Cubs fans were generally more enthusiastic than one would expect for every out of the game. Even an easy fly ball with nobody on got a pretty decent reception.
Although my party was wearing Brewers apparel, no one said a discouraging word to us, which made the Wrigley crowd better behaved than most Cubs fans that show up at Miller Park. (Of course, none of us were wearing Braun merch.) It did sound like there were plenty of Brewers fans in attendance, and I saw several Gallardo jerseys (and one T. Plush shirt).
I have to believe one thing that contributed to the generally pleasant atmosphere – other than both teams being at the bottom of the NL Central – was that it was the first day of the NFL season and the Bears had a home game. My party didn’t consider that when we scheduled this trip a month earlier, but that must have been a factor, since Wrigley was only about half full.
I don’t know if these guys holding up the “No Wave at Wrigley” sign are regulars, but they were new to me and made me smile.
The game itself was a crisply-paced pitchers’ duel, with Gallardo only giving up three hits over seven innings. The whole thing was over in 2:44 and we were on our way. I did have to use the restroom before we left and was reminded…oh yes, I suppose I did remember hearing they still have the trough urinals. I could have been irritated by that, but it would have been pointless. Anyway, it made me feel young again.
To be sure, the most rewarding part of the experience was the Brewers won and kept themselves out of last place for one day. In the end, I was delighted to have my preconceptions about lousy old Wrigley Field contradicted. If only being wrong always felt so right.