The Friendly Confines are so much more

August 3, 2009

by Matt Kane

I just read on the official web site of the Minnesota Twins that there are approximately 242 days until Target Field opens in 2010.

Baseball fans in Minnesota have been dreaming about watching their beloved Twins play home games under the bright sunshine on Sunday afternoons and under the starry nights during the week for years, and at least we have a target in sight as to when that day will come.

I too look forward to that day, but, so far this season, I have been fortunate to have gotten a much-needed shot of outdoor Major League Baseball. As I wrote earlier in the month, a bunch of buddies and I drove down I-35 to watch the Twins in Kansas City at the end of June, and, more recently, my new bride, Kim, and I visited the Windy City and ventured north to Wrigleyville to watch the lovable Cubs in action.

All I can say is that I hope Target Field will make me as proud to be a baseball fan as Kauffman Stadium and Wrigley Field did.

When it comes to discussing baseball stadiums, Wrigley Field is always near the top of everybody’s list of must-sees. I had been to the Friendly Confines before, about a dozen-or-so years ago (before the Cubs were contenders), and I thought the place was neat, but my latest visit had me mesmerized.

If you haven’t been to Wrigley Field in a while, than you must make plans. Way back, when we were first planning our honeymoon, I had to convince Kim that there is much more to going to a Cubs game at Wrigley Field than just watching a baseball game. But even I found out there was a whole lot more to it than I was imagining.

First of all, the best way to get to Wrigleyville is to take the ‘L’ train. It seemed like half of the fans heading to the ball game Kim and I attended were on the same train as we were. Just about everyone aboard (including us newlyweds) was wearing some type of Cubs gear. And the train doesn’t just drop you off near the ball park, it drops you off right at the stadium. Walk off the subway platform, and, bam, there is Wrigley Field.

Then, in preparation for the game and to get in the right mood to cheer for the Cubs, everybody heads to one of the local establishments for a cold beverage. Kim and I opted for The Cubbie Bear.

One of my buddies got Kim and I seats about 20 rows off the field just behind home plate, so we could see it all right in front of us. The brick wall that curves around behind the plate, the ivy in the outfield, the classic scoreboard in center field, and all the Cubs players in their sharp, blue-pin-striped uniforms.

I’m not a huge Cubs fan, but I found out that, when I’m at Wrigley Field, I am a Cubs fan.

Derek Lee and Aramis Ramirez homered for the Cubs, who beat the Reds 8-5, and we took part in the famous seventh-inning stretch. I even showed off the vocal chords to help the crowd sing “Go Cubs, Go,” which, I’m guessing, is sung after every home victory.

To avoid the rush to the L, Kim and I decided to visit Harry Caray’s Tavern, where the party continued until we decided we had better get back to the city. The entire day in Wrigleyville was awesome.

I think even Kim, who only knew Major League baseball from her visits to the Metrodome, was surprised at how fun a ball game can be in the right atmosphere. Hopefully, some of that atmosphere will be found at Target Field.

You know, I’ve heard Fenway Park has a good atmosphere, too. Hmmm, maybe it’s time to start planning our first anniversary trip.