We left the environs of the Corn Crib (“Presented by Illinois Corn Farmers”) in Normal, Illinois (I just love writing that name!) to head northeast to Chicago. The drive was flat (did I mention corn?) but pleasant. Tom pointed out that, despite all that corn, there were almost no cattle. Presumably it is grown for ethanol or corn syrup or other corn-basedproducts.
We stopped on the way to the motel at the ticket office at US cellular Field (from the best stadium name to the worst in one short drive!) to inquire about tickets, and especially about their policy in the event the game is rained out. We were fortunate to deal with Jimmy C, who assured us that there would be no problem with the refund in such event. When I told him that the Cardinals were not so generous, he said yes, they do that, just like the Cubs. He went on to say that he hated the Cubs and all Cubs fans. “They haven’t done nothin’for 112 years, but they want everyone to kiss their ass.” Classic Chicago. He gave us envelopes to leave tickets for my daughter and her wife (who are in Chicago this week for work) at will call and then he left the window. We filled out the envelopes and took them to will call, which was closed, and when we came back to Jimmy C’s window, he slid two T-shirts through the opening with a smile and a fist bump through the glass. The day was off to a good start.
US Cellular was built across the street from the old Comiskey Park (at that time the oldest big league park in use – now it is Fenway). The “new” one is now 25 years old. I could have sworn it wasn’t more than ten.
On the way to the motel, we experienced thunder and lightning like neither of us had ever seen. The West may have mountains, but the Midwest knows thunder and lightning. At one point the thunder was so close and so loud that it literally shook the truck.
We had some time before the game and concluded the only proper way to fill it was to go to the nearest Dairy Queen for a Blizzard. The young man there was friendly and helpful and turned out to be a very knowledgeable baseball fan who was intrigued with our adventure. A long-time Cardinals fan, he nevertheless knew that the Big Unit went into the Hall of Fame last year, when he left the Mariners (to Houston) and so on. We fans are everywhere!
Two curiosities about the Sox field: their dugout is on the third base side. I haven’t paid real close attention, but I don’t think I’ve seen that elsewhere. Also, there are two circles that look like on deck circles, but they’re very close to the lines, one on the first base side and one on the third base side. They were not used in any way during the game. Can anyone explain this?
The food here was more recently priced than we’ve seen thus far. I waited till Chicago to have a bratwurst and I was not disappointed. Piled high with sauerkraut and onions, garnished with some mysterious red sauce (which didn’t add much) and mustard, it was just right. Q pronounced the vegeburger acceptable, which ain’t bad for a ballpark.
The game itself was unremarkable except that it was rained out – initially just delayed – in the middle of the seventh inning. I knew a game was official after five (or is it four and one half if the home team is ahead?) but I thought it had to be complete innings if the home team was trailing. Apparently not so. If James Shields hadn’t given up a home run in the top of the fifth and if the rain had come a bit sooner and if the bottom half of the fifth didn’t need to be played, the Sox might have won. But they didn’t.
An interesting tidbit: number one daughter-in-law Miriam pointed out that the Tigers catcher, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, in addition to having a ring from his place with the Red Sox when they won the World Series in ’13, also has the distinction of having, at 14 letters, the longest surname in the history of Major League Baseball. It is an Italian name meaning “jump over the thicket.” Go figure. Naturally, his teammates call him “Salty.”
We also had the thrill, while waiting in the Sox administrative lobby on the ground floor for the rain to stop (we couldn’t have gone ten feet without getting totally soaked), of seeing Bo Jackson, former Royals and White Sox great, walk right past us. I saw him play in Oakland many years ago and he may be the greatest athlete I’ve ever seen.
Finally, I understand there may have been difficulties for some in viewing the T shirt that I challenged you to interpret. I apologize for any technical problems – I’m new to this blogging business. As you can see from the comments, the answer is “Keep the Change,” the picture being of the grip for the circle change up that some pitchers throw. My nephew Todd was first with the correct answer. May I suggest to our friends at Baseballism, who put out the shirt, that “Be the Change” would be more exhortatory and uplifting and would also nicely meld my interests in both baseball and Mercy Corps, for which “Be the Change” is their slogan.