Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Detroit 1, Chicago 6

What a game last night (June 8) on a picture-perfect June evening! I was so concerned about the weather because the forecast was quite dire. I had purchased tickets in advance for my small group (six of us), and I was afraid either the game would be washed out, or we would need to sit through intermittent showers while the White Sox played in the rain. Instead, the clouds broke by noon, and it turned out to be a dreadfully beautiful day, albeit a tad warm and humid. It was 76 degrees at first pitch.

I think the three variables that determine whether one has a great time at the ballpark are: (1) weather; (2) fast game; and (3) home team win, in that order (in my opinion). I like hanging out and having a nice time without a jacket and without endless pitching changes that break up the game's rhythm. José Contreras was on fire last night, pitching a one-hitter through eight. The White Sox' only pitching change came between innings, and the game lasted a crisp 2:18. Compare that to the game earlier that afternoon (the first of a day-night doubleheader), which ran a tedious 3:01. Ugh!

Other factors that impact how much fun one has at the old ballpark are fans in one's own section. We smelled the faint whiff of cigar all night but could not locate the perpetrator, so we couldn't ask the usher to ask him to put it out. Since we couldn't find him, it wasn't so bad that it ruined the night for us. Behind us were a quintet of philo-Semites who just loved my White Sox kipah. One wanted to convert to Judaism, and another was very fond of Jewish comedians, especially Larry David. It's fun meeting and talking to friendly strangers at games. We have something in common: rooting for the home team.

In its 19th season, Sox Park still seems new and is a great place to watch a ballgame, especially when compared to that North Side dump Wrigley Field. Yes, it's too bad the Chicago skyline that lies four miles north of the ballpark is not visible from the seats. However, breathtaking views of that skyline are available from the Gate 5 ramp, and plenty of fans take advantage of that photo opportunity.

The White Sox continue to upgrade their taxpayer-funded ballpark. They replaced the black-and-white out-of-town scoreboard with a new full-color video board. Out-of-town scores bounce in the middle of the screen, four at a time, with the White Sox' and opponent's lineups on either side. There's also time and temperature, plus pitch speed and count. Very informative. It's a nice addition to the main video board and the black-and-white stat board. Serious fans must be completely baffled by Wrigley Field's scoreboard that dates from 1938. It has a one-line digital board below it, but that's hardly enough to make up for its deficiencies.

The White Sox enclosed the escalators in Gate 5, although I'm not sure why. What was the point? It would really be great to enclose the 500-level concourse, making it climate-controlled so fans relax indoors during very cold or very hot weather. Of course, the White Sox would enclose the 100-level concourse first. The 300 (club level) concourse is already enclosed.

The ballpark was three-fourths full last night, and still there was plenty of room on the upper-deck (500 level) concourse to walk around and take in the scene. I easily bought a Tollhouse Cookie Sandwich and Diet Pepsi and returned to my seat without worrying about squeezing through crowds of people. It's quite a contrast to the terribly crowded Wrigley Field concourses. How quickly could Wrigley Field be evacuated in an emergency? That dump Wrigley Field has been a serious safety hazard for longer than the Cubs care to admit.

I don't quite understand how the White Sox get away with charging $23 for parking, and from some of those spots it's still a considerable hike to the gates. A family of four could park a mile away and take the #35 bus roundtrip for less than $8. I parked on Aberdeen Street, just outside the White Sox ticket/tow zone. I had some time to kill, so I walked a half-mile to the library and then another half-mile to the ballpark.

To be fair, the Cubs night-game ticket/tow zone extends a mile to the west and north of the ballpark. The eastern and southern borders are closer, but the street parking in those directions is full anyway, so the point is moot. I know I can always find a spot on Aberdeen in Bridgeport. With Lakeview's congestion, parking for a night game is a much dicier proposition.

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