View From The Bleachers

January 30, 2013

There’s No Place Like Home

Filed under: Featured,General — Katie Cernek @ 2:00 pm

Imagine yourself behind the steering wheel of a 2010 Lexus ES 330 for a few moments – interstate 90, stretched out as far as the eye can see. Gas pedal to the mat, anxiously anticipating that first, glorious moment of seeing 9 of your favorite men skip over the white chalk line and trot out to their respective places on the field. Nothing can compare to that moment of sheer joy as the pitcher winds up and delivers a perfect strike to begin the game.

Baseball season is right around the corner and the countdown to seeing the Boys of Summer suit up this season is at 60 days. The anticipation is building daily.

While the old adage, “Everybody loves the Cubs,” is a relative statement, it rings true for a large group of people. It seems as though people love the Cubs as a team so much, they lose sight of the glorious structure that supports their love for this team and this sport.

That structure, of course, is Wrigley Field. To some, it is merely the place where the Cubs play half of their regular-season games, while to others it is the closest thing to heaven they will ever see. Heaven, with clear blue skies, perfectly manicured lawns, and deep brown dirt seems to be the perfect place for a ballpark.
Wrigley Field has a charm about it that hits you as soon as you see it from Addison Street. It is filled with rich history and great stories that would entertain a person for a lifetime. When the scoreboard lights up with “Go Cubs, go!” the excitement of going behind the walls of the stadium consumes you.

People say that Disney World is the happiest place on Earth, but I would like to politely disagree with them. Why waste your money on fairytales? Why entertain the false hope of having perfectly combed tresses and consistently flawless makeup, when you could spend it on learning the invaluable life lessons of patience, sportsmanship, and the proper technique for calling somebody out? I can tell you that Disney World is not that place.

Disney is filled with empty promises and stomachaches from consuming too much cotton candy. At least at Wrigley the stomachaches are from hot dogs and nachos.
When Ernie Banks dubbed Wrigley as “The Friendly Confines,” he could not have found a more perfect nickname for it. (That is, as long as you love baseball and do not go around looking for trouble.)
Day games at Wrigley are like nothing else on the planet. The colors and sounds of the game are amplified. The beauty and precision of the crisp foul lines and the groomed dirt of the infield are mesmerizing; it’s like a whole different world inside the ballpark. Everything happening in the outside world is of little consequence for that 2 1/2-3 hour glimpse of heaven. Your joy hangs on every move that your favorite player makes – he better not let you down.
If you are a Cubs fan in need of resorting to the sought-after “happy place” that many folks talk about, you should not have to look far. Wrigley Field is that happy place.  (Unless, of course, your name is Steve Bartman or Milton Bradley.) Walking where legends have walked, sitting where they have hit foul balls and homeruns, and singing “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” during the seventh-inning stretch are incomparable joys that can cure almost dreary day. Wrigley Field is a special place.
The one, most important thing that makes Wrigley Field so special is the special bond it creates with loved ones. Sharing a fifteen-dollar helmet bowl of nachos with a close friend, heckling the opposing left fielder with your younger brother, discussing the likelihood of a go-ahead home run from Reed Johnson with your father, and getting a wink from Anthony Rizzo as he ducks into the dugout cannot be replicated anywhere else.

Wrigley Field is a happy place. There’s no place like home.

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Katie Cernek is a regular contributor to VFTB. She grew up as a Cubs fan in rural Wisconsin and fondly remembers hearing stories of Fergie Jenkins, Billy Williams, Ernie Banks, and Ron Santo. You can find Katie on Twitter @heyitskatiec

  • Josephine (D)

    Actually, I think the stomachaches come from stress and regretting not bringing any Pepto Bismol.

    Just kidding, you guys. =)

    I haven’t been to Wrigley for a good 5 years.  Unfortunately I wasn’t “in to” baseball like I am now, and now that we’ve moved even further from Chicago it stinks.  We have to watch money, so it’s more likely we’ll see a game at Comerica or Progressive, and most likely we’ll catch a AAA game at Fifth Third. 

    I’m graduating this year, and the ceremony is held in Virginia.  Having looked over various teams’ schedules, we’ll probably catch a Nats game unless it sells out(it’s on Memorial Day weekend).  Then I’ve got a beauty pageant in June(yes, I know, but I’m hoping to win money and scholarships).  We could possibly see the Clippers if they’re in town, but again money’s tight.

    I’m hoping that if I get a job soon, we watch money, and if i behave well, that we’ll see the Cubs at least in Cincinnati.  It would be best for me to see a game at Wrigley, but I really just want to see the Cubs period.

    Great American’s beautiful; Progressive’s nice.  I can’t comment on what Comerica’s like at an actual ballgame, since when I was there it was to see Paul McCartney.  But from that experience, Fifth Third is nicer IMO.

    From what I remember of Wrigley, and the way Mom talks about it(she used to live in Chicago), I think there’s a special charm because it’s old.  There’s almost a magic about it, even though the Cubs have had more ups and downs than a rollercoaster.  There’s…just something to love, I think. =)

    BTW if Anthony Rizzo winked at me, I’d probably have a heart attach or choke on my hot dog.  =P

  • HLCBSL691

    I never got a stomachache from cotton candy at Disney. I got a stomachache from a hot dog there once though! Clearly, you have never been to Casey’s Corner in Magic Kingdom. It is a baseball themed hot dog place. Disney is not the happiest place on earth. It is the most magical place on Earth. The only time I ever felt what you described at Wrigley was the 2007 and 2008 seasons when we were winning, and it seemed like those years would finally be the year. And how come you didn’t mention anything about Campana?

  • Eddie Von White


  • Chuck

    I just got done watching the Bulls eviscerate and castrate the Bucks and I have to say that I really like this team.  A lot.  There is something to be said about having a team full of professional players and a real coach.  This team has top-end talent, depth, toughness, and a coach that knows what he is doing.  If Rose is anywhere near 100% when he comes back, look out Eastern Conference.  I believe this team has the chops to play with any team over a 7-game series.  The only team that would really worry me is the Heat because they would have the best player on the court in LeBron.  The Bulls advantage is that they have 7 out of the top 10 players in that matchup.

  • HLCBSL691

    We’re only 2.5 games behind them for the first seed, so far we are up 1-0 on them for the season series.

  • Gymjok

    “The one, most important thing that makes Wrigley Field so special is the special bond it creates with loved ones.”
    Many years ago the Cubs had “Ladies Day”.
    The ladies would get in for free. Since money was tight, that’s the days my Mom would take me to the game on the bus along with sisters and Aunts and maybe Grandma. Back then you could bring your own food and drinks into Wrigley. So on the bus we’d tote the PB&J sandwiches,peanuts and koolaid,etc. Good times.
    My Mom has dementia now, but we still talk about when we used to go to Wrigley Field.
    She still remembers.

  • Eddie Von White

    That is a moving story. I think every kid should have that kind of experience. Here you are decades later fondly remembering the family bond that took place at Wrigley.

    BTW – you can still take in your own food and water. We always take a mother lode of peanuts, sandwiches, twizzlers, cookies, and whatever else we can lug along. We also take in our own water. The ushers and gate keepers are friendly and will chat you up as they “search” through your goodies.  As the drunkards around you get liquored up, you gain leverage and barter power with all those treats. Sometimes you can trade up for a souvenir.

  • Chuck

    Wrigley is the closest to nirvana that I have ever been.  We see a lot of I-Cubs games and Sec Taylor has a similar vibe.  Lots of friendly fans.  Hardly anyone gets really obnoxious and tons of kids at the ballpark.  With $5 general admission tickets, it is cheaper to go to the ballpark than go to the movies.  The good tickets are not even $20.

  • Verncrowe5

    And to think the temperature rise earlier this week already got me excited for opening day, now I have to read this story. At least the cold front today has brought me back to realization that we are not as close as I’d like. Great read!

  • Eddie Von White

    The Addison Street view of Wrigley has been stuck in my mind ever since I read this yesterday.  I well remember in my youth the first time I beheld that sight, and then the sense of awe as I watched the Cubbies run out to play their positions.

    I do remember the first time I went to Disneyland, but not very well. 

  • Chuck

    My only memory of Disneyland was the stifling, oppressive, and ever-present heat and humidity.

  • Chuck

    I kept on looking around for the giant dog that was breathing on me.

  • Doc Raker

    Katie- the Lexus ES 330 doesn’t have enough leg room for me, how about one of the L length sedans? Like a Grand Marquis, Caprice Classic, Audi A8L, something with a little leg room and one of those fancy XM radio’s so I can tune into MLB radio. Then we cruise to spring training,  drop Seymour off at the Subway for some sodium laced processed meats on our way to Don and Charlie’s for a nice steak and chewy cab. Good times spring training is.

  • Troutguy28

    Disney rules! If only the spring facility had moved to Florida a few years ago. It would be like sensory overload, the Cubs and a giant mouse!

  • HLCBSL691

    Uh. no. The Braves hold Spring Training at Disney World.

  • Jerry in Wisconsin

    We already have enough problems with a goat, and now you want to add a giant mouse?

  • HLCBSL691

    Every team already has a Mickey statue from the All-Star game that was in Anaheim a few years ago.

  • jswanson

    I thought that would be a slam f-ing bro dunk.  Curious.  

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