The first game of the season is always a fun time and tonight was no exception. I got some $1 tickets from the University (face value $2, yay bulk discount!) and took my son with me to the series opener against the Milwaukee Brewers. It was a mad rush to get everything done at lab before getting home and eating a quick pre-dinner so we wouldn’t have to donate a kidney to a rich guy in order to eat at Wrigley Field. Here are some pictures and highlights from our first trip to Wrigley this season, and it won’t be the last. Unfortunately I don’t have season tickets like Anno does, but I can still luck into some good deals, hehe.
We got to the ballpark about an hour before first pitch and got the free winter hat giveaway. It was actually a quality made hat, not a cheap crappy hat like they usually give out as a promotion. We were unfortunately too late to sneak down and snag an autograph from the visiting Aramis Ramirez, but we might get another chance on Thursday in the series finale.
We got to our seats in Section 216, and as luck would have it, we found ourselves behind a stupid pole. This is one of the bajillion reasons why I think they should move the most important parts of Wrigley Field out (like the scoreboard, the bricks etc) and blow the place up and rebuild, but since they weren’t going to do that anytime soon, my son and I started a game of “avoid the seat Nazis” after the top of the first inning.
We did have time to get a souvenir soda. We noticed that 1. the beer prices had gone over $7 a pop and 2. so had soda prices, but only by a quarter. Still, having taken the cheap route, we ended up spending less than $20 (including tickets and transportation) on today’s trip. It is possible to go to Wrigley Field on a budget!
The first pitches by some random people nobody cared about were thrown out, and then Randy Hundley came in and tossed his own strike. That was really nice to see; he also sang the stretch later on.
Luckily for Randy, he didn’t have to battle with the Wrigley Seagulls as the grounds crew did earlier. I guess the guys shagging fly balls in the outfield had gum or sunflower seeds or something and had spat them out, which might be why the gulls were congregating out there in Marlon Byrd‘s spot.
The Brewers scored first, somewhat appropriately on a sacrifice fly by Aramis Ramirez. I thought Chris Volstad was okay on the mound although he gave up several hard hit balls, including a home run by Rickie Weeks. He was pinch-hit for by Blake DeWitt in the fifth, who tied the game at three with a sac fly of his own.
One thing that kind of bugged me was that Aramis didn’t get the warmest reception from the crowd. I get that he wasn’t the most cordial of players and his defense sucked (he also committed an error in this game but the run would’ve scored anyway), but he was the linchpin of the offense for 8+ seasons and had many huge hits which allowed the Cubs to get into the playoffs three times while contending in at least two other years. Even Mark DeRosa got a strong ovation and while he was a valuable player, he wasn’t Aramis Ramirez. I don’t get Cubs fans sometimes.
Ryan Braun got jeered quite a bit though. Some Cubs fan was yelling “overrated” every time he was at-bat, but Braun did get the last laugh with a pretty good day at the plate. Braun struck out twice though so maybe it got to him.
There were a couple of deep drives that I thought Alfonso Soriano could have gotten to, but he either forgot to dive or run or something. I think between him and an aging Byrd, that left side of the outfield is going to let a lot of balls through because of slow legs and bad reads. I don’t think those were a result of laziness so much as hesitation and bad jumps, but it was definitely disappointing especially considering the great catch he made in Jeff Samardzija‘s start on Sunday. Speaking of Samardzija, it was awesome when he came up as a pinch-runner for Steve Clevenger at the end of the game. I bet if someone had put a ball in play, Samardzija would have caught up to Geovany Soto to score the tying run. Ah well.
The Cubs strung together enough hits but the bullpen didn’t do them any favors. I recall being exasperated at Lendy Castillo for refusing to throw strikes and also hitting a batter. The bullpen coughed up four runs, but the Brewers offense isn’t exactly horrible even missing Prince Fielder. As for the power outage, Darwin Barney (seriously, it happened…I remember thinking “hey that’s a deep flyout…wait why is he still running?”) and Bryan LaHair both homered, although with no men on base. David DeJesus provided the requisite TOOTBLAN and got unlucky on a couple outfield assist attempts, the first one because of a goofy bounce in front of home plate and the second after it seemed like he completely lost his footing while trying to uncork a throw to the plate. Ian Stewart sparked a ninth inning rally but it ultimately fell short.
Despite the loss, we had a great time at the game. It was a beautiful evening, not too cold. We got to move all over the park as we kept trying to find better views. At one point we were directly under the broadcast booth. We were in various seats in the 200s, 400s and 500s as the evening went on. When the kiddo got tired we decided to leave, but then the Cubs decided to score a few runs so we watched the end on the TVs in the concourse before bugging out to the Red Line.
Here are some other random pictures from the day…
Thanks to Soto and DeJesus, we also got a free Qdoba burrito. Keep hitting in the fifth inning, boys. In every inning for that matter.