Summer means baseball and even though it is not quite as exciting as football or hockey, you don’t have to care who wins to have a great time at a game. Since it is a little (lot) slower than other sports there are lots more opportunities to hang out with the ones you are with. In Chicago, baseball means either the Cubs or the White Sox, but only one team gives you the full Chicago experience.
The Place: Wrigley Field, 1060 West Addison Street Chicago, IL
Wrigley, home of the Chicago Cubs, is a great place for a summer afternoon. What the Cubs lack in MLB success, is made up for by Wrigley’s perfect Chicago experience and corked bat scandals. It may be the one sporting arena left on earth that does not feel like a Times Square of advertisements. On a sunny afternoon or a clear night, it radiates classic Chicago summer in all of its perfection. Even the rainy days are fun and the cooler nights a just an excuse to snuggle up with beer and pizza.
You cannot go to Wrigley and not get a Chicago Style Hot Dog. They are the real deal. They have their own stands separate from the concession stands. So that you are prepared to look like a real Chicagoan, here is a crash course in the Chicago dog: It starts with a poppyseed bun, then the hot dog and grilled onions. Next you add yellow mustard, tomato wedges, bright green sweet pickle relish, celery salt and pickled sport peppers. Even though there is ketchup available, it is NOT part of a real Chicago dog. When you make it back to your seat, wait for the Old Style beer man to come around! The two together are worth the wait. It is the laid back version of the perfect wine pairing on a tasting menu.
A game at Wrigley is one of those things you can do with a big group, but it also makes a really great date. It is less work and more fun than a picnic in the park. Any awkward moments can be disguised by watching the game, or pretending to watch at least. And if you don’t know the first thing about baseball no worries. Just cheer when the other people in blue cheer and ask the person you are with some questions so (s)he (probably he) feels like an expert. Either way, it probably won’t matter what is going on. I have not been to a Cubs game where they have won since the glory days of Sammy Sosa. And as it turned out, he was cheating anyway. If you are trying to sit a little closer to your date, but haven’t found the right moment, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during the 7th is your chance to put your arms around the people around you and then maybe forget to take your arm away when the song is over.
Some things to consider: Don’t drive to the game. You will pay a lot for parking and it invites the potential for drunk driving. Take a cab or the El. The Addison red line stop is less than a block from Wrigley. And if you don’t have to think about a car, Wrigley is a really fun place to go out in after a Cubs game. Cubby Bear across the street is also a classic and fun place to grab a drink before the game. The words in “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” are root, root, root for the CUBBIES. And there is NO KETCHUP on a Chicago dog.
For tickets: http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com/index.jsp?c_id=chc&sv=1