Three Days at Wrigley: AKA, My Trip to the Mothership
You might have heard that I went to Wrigley Field in July, especially if you follow Cubs DNA on Twitter. (Which you totally should! We're @CubsDna! We do lots of crazy things there!) What you might not know is that it was my first time at Wrigley since May 16, 2000, when the Dodgers got into a brawl with fans over someone knocking their backup catcher's hat off.
It got the Jomboy treatment and everything!
And I get it... you might be one of those Cubs fans who doesn't want to see the team if they're not winning, hates #CheapRicketts and is about ready to jump ship. Me? I don't get to go to Wrigley every season like a lot of you do, and my wonderful husband Brian went through a lot of trouble to surprise me with a birthday trip to Chicago wherein he got my daughter and me great seats, perfect flights and three glorious days in the most beautiful ballpark in the world. Thanks, hon! I love you!
So with that, here are my experiences and observations from my three days at Wrigley. Join me, won't you?
1. The Cubs were already bad before the trade deadline.
You know that Cubs home losing streak we've been talking about? They started it on July 27, the day I arrived at the ballpark. The late July series against the Reds wasn't just the apex of Hug Watch for Cubs fans, it was an eye opener for me as I sat and watched the team lose every single game I attended for three days running. The starting pitching wasn't spectacular, but it was good enough to keep the Cubs in the games. The problem was that there was no offense. Or the offense showed up late. Or the bullpen gave up late-inning runs. The later part of those games was generally pitiful. The only actual good thing I can say from a Cubs baseball standpoint is that I got to see Bryzzo's last home runs as Cubs, in Wrigley, before they were traded. Otherwise the entire team did a good job reinforcing to me why change was desperately needed.
2. Still, it sucked that Tony, Kris and Javy got traded.
Even though my brain knows it was necessary, my heart and guts hated leaving Chicago knowing that Anthony Rizzo was no longer a Cub. On my first night at the park, I saw his dad wandering around whispering to employees, which a hot dog vendor later told a few of us was him thanking all of them for everything they'd done for him and his family during his son's years with the team. I even tweeted about it, and man did that thing go viral.
I mean, I'm happy for my husband, who's a Yankees fan, and for all my Giants fans friends, but it certainly wasn't the greatest memory when my 12-year old decided she wanted to stick around and watch Tony leave Wrigley for the last time. Ugh. We'll always be able to say we got to see their last games as Cubs, though, so we have that. And who knows... maybe they WILL come back.
3. My suspicions that Tina is, in fact, my long lost sister were entirely confirmed.
YOU GUYS. It's not often you meet someone through this weird, wild thing we call the "Interwebs" that you completely click with, even before you meet in person, and have it be exactly that way when you do finally get together in the same room. Usually it's kind of awkward, and maybe those other people are kind of weird in a way you didn't anticipate, and you maybe wish you could get out of this online friendship but now you're neck-deep in it. Let me tell you something... this is NOT the case with our dear Tina. My first meet-up with my fellow DNA'ers found me screaming and jumping up and down in our hotel lobby before we ran upstairs and did it all over again with her now-adopted niece. It was glorious! (Love you, Teener!) Not only do I owe her for taking off all three days to come hang with us, but she gave us tips (like telling us to go buy bottles of water at the 7-Eleven on Addison so we didn't shell out $6/bottle for #CheapRicketts water inside Wrigley) and took us for Jeni's! I miss Jeni's
Not only that, but Pronk showed up, too! It was the best surprise, even though he totally lied to me like three days earlier when I asked him if he was coming and told me he couldn't get off work and wasn't going to be able to make it and I'm not actually bitter I just sound that way and I'll go ahead and stop now. Besides, Pronk brought me my first Cubs helmet full of Oatly, and honestly--the way to my heart is with ice cream, or at least with a reasonable non-dairy equivalent. So all was forgiven!
(Psst. Tina here: Pronk & I totally went in on the surprise together. I told him to get the Oatly but I had to make up an excuse to not go to Jeni's the first day! Also if he spoiled the surprise, I was going to open up a new chat room and not invite him. It was that hard.)
That game, I got to witness my first ever WISDONG in person, too, which gifted Cubs DNA with this beautiful video:
Hey, it's his fault for having PWizzy5 as his Instagram handle!
4. My kid is a world-class autograph seeker.
The age-old tenet of "Take a cute little girl with you to a baseball game and she'll get ALLLLL the autographs" continued to hold true, as my 12-year old walked out of our 3-day trek with no fewer than 7 signatures. We even spotted Dan Winkler in the wild, midday on Wednesday out in front of Wrigley at the fountains. (He and his family were extremely nice and gracious, and it's too bad things didn't work out for him with the Cubs. I wish him luck in the future.) Autographs secured: Ian Happ, Patrick Wisdom, Dillon Maples, Winkler, Rafael Ortega, Sean Doolittle and Ryan Hendrix. That's right... she even went over to the Reds Dark Side. Mind you, I'm not completely opposed to that, but more on that in a sec. Also, Patrick Wisdom is HANDSOME up close, people, and Tina and I were jealous that my daughter got a lot closer to him than either one of us.
5. Wrigley is still beautiful.
Both of the first two days, my kiddo and I walked over to Wrigley and ate our lunch in front of the ballpark. Both times she looked at me and went, "Mom, I can't believe we're just, you know, sitting here eating lunch right by Wrigley Field!" It was her first trip, and she was soaking it all in. We found people like Dan Winkler, and saw Crane Kenney walking by furiously texting someone who was probably #CheapRicketts. She hugged the bricks, we took pictures with all of the statues, and most importantly, we drank in the complete experience at each game. I had to explain beer snakes. We had an enormous nacho helmet (thanks Tina!). We got to have Harry sing the 7th Inning Stretch, even though he's been gone for 23 years. Most important, we did something we don't ever get to do--we got to watch OUR team with OUR fans. It might not be next year or even the year after when we go back again, but I won't wait another 21 years to get back to Wrigley.
(Psst. It's me again. How many times did I tell your kiddo to hold up her sign? Geez. I told ya she'd get on the video board! Too bad her #EXTENDKB sign never got seen except from everyone she passed in the stadium.)
6. My Joey Votto love is real. Trust.
If you do follow us on Twitter, or just follow me, you may have noticed that I tweet about Joey Votto a lot. I mean, a lot. This is not a schtick I've devised to be contrary, or to annoy Cubs Twitter. No, friends... my love for the international treasure that holds down first base for the Cincinnati Reds is entirely real. It's the reason my husband parked our daughter and me near the visitors dugout for a game during our trip--so I could be near Joey. The first player on any team we saw when we walked into Wrigley our first night? Joey. And which player was on the hottest of hot streaks during our entire time in Chicago? You guessed it.
In fact, during the 3-game set Votto hit five home runs while the entire Cubs team only managed six. The Hotness of Joey was so undeniable that the entirety of Cubs DNA started blaming me for it around his second HR of the first game, and I still haven't been able to shake it. It's not my fault Joey Bangs... it just IS. Still, my kiddo made a sign that got his attention and Joey waved at me, and honestly... what more could a Votto fan want?
7. Odds N' Ends
To wrap up, there were a few things I wish I had gotten to do while I was at Wrigley. I didn't manage to connect with Brett Taylor from Bleacher Nation, who was in town doing his annual Blog-A-Thon and wound up wearing a nacho helmet with icky, gross cheese in it and... you know what, maybe that's for the best. I wish I had gotten to witness a Cubs W because Lord knows they have a hard time winning at Oracle Park even when the Giants are bad. And finally I wish this season had turned out better. I do honestly believe it's for the best, and that as cutthroat as Jed has been, the prospects he's picked up are already showing a ton of potential for the future. I'm not gonna say I don't miss the boys, especially Sparkles, but the future looks bright. We just have to get through the rest of 2021 to get there.
A Final P.S.--To that obnoxious Mets fan who kept yapping about how Kris Bryant was going to be on her team by the end of the week: I hope you've enjoyed the season since that game. If I believed in karma, I'd probably write something about that here.
(Psst. It's still your fault, Staci! Love ya tho! Tina & Pronk)