I had been to a Cubs' game before. My husband, you will recall, is such a fan that he once almost stopped speaking to my little sister after she did a freelance assignment for a FamousGuideBook and described Wrigley Field as the place where "the Cubs were always losing." Trips to Chicago have entered into marital negotiations on many occasions. My most vivid memory of Wrigley Field includes sitting in the blazing sun on scorching hot bleachers while nursing a squirming baby, trying to corral an active toddler, entertaining a couple of bored little kids, and wishing I had the strength to slap a husband who kept saying, plaintively, "How come you aren't watching the game?" The bleacher seats at Wrigley are indeed bleachers, which means no armrests for a nursing mother. And every time anyone hit a ball towards us, I would fear for my life in the crazy melee of drunken men scrambling for the ball. Yes, I admired their determination to grab any ball hit by the opposing team and toss it scornfully back, but I did worry that one of my small children might get crushed in the fray.
This visit to Wrigley Field was much easier. My kids are old enough to either watch the game or read books during slow innings. And thanks to a friend at the Tribune, we had seats just behind third base. Well, actually, that is where I thought our seats were. That is what I told the nice man in the red jacket who was trying to help me find my seat again after I went to the restroom during the fifth inning and got lost. Did you know that the way the restrooms at Wrigley Field are designed you go in one entrance and come out somewhere totally different? And it is important, if you leave your seat during a game to carry your ticket stub with you or at least remember where you were sitting, which in my case turned out to be right near first base. Because saying to one of those nice people in red jackets, "I am sitting near my husband. He's the one in the Cubs' t-shirt" does not get you very far.
It had been twenty years since my very first visit to Wrigley Field, and I did notice all kinds of changes. Maybe it's just because we were in the Tribune seats instead of on the bleachers, but the fans seemed quieter, better dressed. Less rowdy. A big disappointment. Some of them were drinking bottled spring water instead of beer. What is up with that? Fans do still watch from the rooftops of buildings, but it looks like many landlords have installed stadium seating and I suspect that they are charging money for the seats. So the famous free seats are no longer free. And some of the fans were talking on cell phones. During the game! Do they have no respect for the game? Fans still sing during the seventh inning stretch, but Harry Carey is dead. The ivy is still on the brick walls of the outfield, but there are lights now. Lights in Wrigley Field! No respect for tradition at all.
But the most shocking change of all came in the ninth inning when the Chicago Cubs, the underdogs, the perennial losers, actually won the game. Now that was just wrong.