Sports Travel

Wrigley Field Turns Astros Fan Into A Cubbie

(Eli Winter/YJI)
CHICAGO, Illinois, U.S.A. – The feeling was one of exhilaration, anticipation, giddiness, awe, camaraderie.
I’ve only felt it once before in my life (and, being Jewish, the other time involved a bar mitzvah, and, thank God, not a bris). 

“What could make Eli feel this way?” you think. “Marriage? The Astros winning the World Series? Mitt Romney barely losing the upcoming Presidential election?”
No, actually, a Cubs game.
Just walking past Wrigley Field you get a sense of history. There are echoes of the Curse of the Billy Goat dooming the Cubs to baseball futility since 1945, of the bizarre College of Coaches used by the Cubs in 1960 (eight men – more than one opinion) and then you hear the first strains of a tune by the Chicago Cubs Dixieland Band.
This particular game, however, played July 18 against the Miami Marlins, was unique from the outset.
Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis threw out first pitches, and then had a pizza delivered to the mound. Perhaps said pizza gave them an adrenaline rush, as hearing the Cubs’ starting lineup was much different from hearing, say, the Astros.’
Each player’s name was randomly peppered with some “facts” about them. For example, Darwin Barney “likes taking long walks on the beach, completely naked.”

From “David Duh-JEE-zus” to “Jeff SaMARDzi-zi-zi-zi-zi-ja,” their introductions were so convincing I only realized mid-game that the Wrigley Field announcer doesn’t call the rest of the game that way.

Historic Wrigley Field offers fans a view of Chicago beyond the scoreboard. (Eli Winter/YJI)

A Jose Reyes homer to right in the third inning initially swung the game towards the Marlins. Cubs fans weren’t happy, berating Carlos Lee, newly acquired Marlins left-fielder (from, guess who … the Astros), and telling him, “YOU NEED WEIGHT WATCHERS, CARLOS!” over and over and over.
Fortunately, the next inning showed Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro doing the same towards the opposite field.
For those of you poor, poor souls who haven’t experienced a Cubs game, seeing a Cub hit a homer is akin to discovering water when you’re stranded in a desert – you become crazy, giddily, uninhibitedly, happy. Even those who are just there “to see a good game” or are neutral to the Cubs and its opponent get caught up in the thrill ride for the next couple of innings.
Recently inducted Hall of Famer Ron Santo claimed to be the biggest Cubs fan ever, but it’s difficult to judge that based on the sheer exhilaration of seeing just one Cubby home run.
Then, imagine what four more runs can do to you. If you imagined “more of the same,” you’d be correct.
Nine Jeff Samardzija strikeouts add to the fun, assuming you’re a Cubs fan. If you’re a Marlin, tough luck. So does the feeling of open air at Wrigley, which has neither a dome nor a retractable roof.
Then it started raining.
Oh, the rain. Fortunately we were shielded by the roof above our heads, as our seats – luckily close to the action – were still farther back than most. But the crowd started to file out and in the top of the eighth inning, we did the same.

I’ve been in the middle of hurricanes, folks, but Midwest rain seems worse, at least outside. The rain itself wasn’t the worst I’ve seen, though it was bad. The lightning, though, was unusually strong.
Chicagoans proceeded to jump for joy the next morning as they had a brief respite from the drought afflicting the continental United States, and then said Chicagoans slipped on the sidewalks, still wet from the storm.
I was getting rather anxious waiting for the ‘L’ train, which is basically a subway with rails that sometimes run elevated above ground. Then us Cubbies became sardines as we tried to wedge
ourselves into the narrow doors and hope we wouldn’t fall over.
Speaking of falling over on subways, I did just that. A lot. I’ve only ridden Houston’s Metro train once or twice before, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. I then found that I have the worst time keeping my balance of anyone on the face of the Earth.
It’s safe to say that while riding the subway I looked the part of the Hapless Tourist we so often see – very often in my family – while on vacation.
In short: seeing a White Sox game will never be that much fun.
Eli Winter is a Junior Reporter from Texas for Youth Journalism International.