(james benedict brown) on the road

Chicago Cubs v. Cincinnati Reds

Posted in Posts by James Benedict Brown on 20 September, 2007

“So, what soccer team do you support?” asked the young Chicagoan sitting next to me. I had to lower my head as I confessed.

“Er, I don’t really support a team…”

“But you must have been to see a game?”

“Er…”

I may lack certain cultural experiences of my own homeland (and yes, it’s true, not only do I not support a football team, I’ve never been to see a major league match either), but I’m making up for it with some comparable experiences abroad. So that’s how I found myself in section 236 row 21 seat 102 of Wrigley Field on Tuesday night. Wrigley Field is the home of the Chicago Cubs. For those of you as clueless about these things as I am, the Cubs are baseball team. I imagine I don’t need to tell you that baseball is big in America. Cuba is probably the only country in the world where a greater percentage of the population cares about baseball.

Tuesday night saw the second of the three games between the Cubbies and the Cincinnati Reds. I still don’t quite understand why the game is played over three nights (or perhaps it’s just played three times, so as to maximise advertising revenue…?) but at least it allowed me to make some spurious comments to the young lady next to me about how it seemed to be very similar to cricket.

41,118 people can get into Wrigley Field’s tiered stadium, and the game looked to have attracted almost that many spectators. Here are just some of them.

The proprietors of bars and pubs along the adjacent North Sheffield Avenue appear to have come to an amicable agreement with the management of Wrigley Field which has allowed them to construct yet more tiered seats on top of their establishments. These are outside the field, but seem to have a great view of all the action. I’d previously seen these precarious looking structures from the elevated railway that runs behind them; this was the first time I’d ever seen them occupied.

The game has nine innings in which both teams take turns to bat and field. That’s about as far as I’m going to go with my description of the game; if you don’t know the rest you can ask a friendly American or just do as I did, and go with the flow. The Cubs had started badly the night before, before clawing back a respectable win. The large home crowd must have been hoping for the same luck, because the Reds edged into the lead early on. I think…

It’s shameful to admit it, but I realised half way through the game that all my preconceptions about what I would experience in the stadium of a baseball game were formed by The Simpsons. I expected fathers to be out with their sons, enjoying nachos, hot dogs and overpriced beer poured from cans into plastic cups by servers roaming the isles. And they were all there. The trade in Budweiser, Bud Light and Old Style beer was brisk enough for the beer to still be cold when they cups passed from person to person down long rows of seats. Clumps of dollar bills went the other way in perfect safety and the odd beer was bought by neighbouring spectators for this visibly confused tourist.

It’s no longer a secret that from time to time I like to imagine a life for myself on this side of the Atlantic (although not normally on this side of the 49th parallel). I could imagine bringing my offspring to a game just like this, but shivers went down my spine trying to imagine what sort of a father I’d be. After all, could I really inspire the devotion in a team or a sport when I hadn’t even played it? Two seats to my left was a young man out for the night with his wife and two sons. This was his youngest’s first ball game. Most times that a server walked past his hand would rise up – cotton candy for his son, Pepsi for the other, an Old Style for himself. Smiles all round, except when he came back from escorting his son on a toilet break to find out that he’d just missed the Cubs’ strongest rally of the night.

The social wimp that I am, I didn’t stay to the end. The most devoted of the Cubbies’ fans were sticking it out to the bitter end, but a small trickle of people leaving the ground was beginning to strengthen as the ninth innings began. Outside the stadium the hawkers and stall holders continued to try and ply their wares. The arc lighting continued to illuminate the sky behind me for many blocks as I walked north away from the stadium.

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2 Responses

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  1. m & r said, on 20 September, 2007 at 10:11

    or er ! we love the photos really superb sorry about the clothes but its amazing how little one needs. Pleased that all that time watching the simpsons was nt wasted
    ooples m & r

  2. m & r said, on 20 September, 2007 at 10:11

    or er ! we love the photos really superb ,sorry about the clothes but its amazing how little one needs. Pleased that all that time watching the simpsons was nt wasted
    ooples m & r


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