My Personal Opening Day

By Chris Rewers on Sunday, April 18, 2010

Section 215, Row 23, Seat 1

My knees ache for no apparent reason. I've asked my wife, Denise, and my father within the last few days what the cause of the pain could be.

Their answers were identical: "You're getting old."

We're all getting old, but there is not a better tonic for the effects of age than my first trip of the season to Wrigley Field. The two tickets to Saturday's game were a present from Denise for my recent 40th birthday, with the condition that I take her.

I despise the 12:05 starting time. It seems like I am in a constant rush from the moment I wake up - no matter how early. And there is never enough time to enjoy the pregame charms of Wrigley Field and its surrounding neighborhood.

Despite the early start time, there was still a spring in my step as we got on our Red Line train at the Sox-35th stop in the shadows of U.S. Cellular Field. We took our seats and braced for the multitudes that crammed onto our car as we made the downtown stops. I noted a group of college-aged looking guys very underdressed for Saturday's weather conditions. As Bob Brenly pointed out during Sunday's broadcast, you can always tell who the Wrigley rookies are in April. The forecast called for a high temperature in the 50s. But as any Wrigley veteran knows, it's always a bit cooler near the lake and still even cooler inside the ballpark, especially in the shade.

Appropriately, it was Cubs Knit Cap Day. We were lucky enough to be among the first 10,000 adults to pass through the turnstiles and claim our swag. The hats featured a big white C on the front and the Old Style logo on the back. I was amused to see some fans sporting the beer logo on the front and others displaying the logos over their ears.

As we entered the park, I was impressed with how beautiful the grand old yard looked. The banner photos of 2010 Cubs players and manager Lou Piniella around the marquee looked sharp, although Denise paused while admiring the photo of Uncle Lou.

"When is Lou expecting?" she asked.

Good seats, huh buddy?

Denise swore she had purchased upper deck seats. She knows that my favorite seats are in the upper-deck 400 level. Those seats offer a wonderful panoramic perspective of the field, a view of the rooftops and the sights of Waveland or Sheffield, and a glimpse of the lake when the weather is clear.

But it appeared on Saturday that a worse view of the action, on the third-base side, would have to suffice.

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At least, with several TV monitors hanging in front of us, we would have access to replays. Plus, my seat was on the aisle and there were two beer stands nearby.

"You can't even see the scoreboard from here!" Denise exclaimed as we settled into our cold seats in the last row of the lower deck.

"Duh!" I responded.

You couldn't see the left-field corner either.

A cold draft rolled over our shoulders and we were continually brushed against by fans rushing along the concourse directly behind us. In the early stages of the game, I was annoyed by all of the late-comers who blocked my view of the action as they filed into their seats. Denise left me in the bottom of the first to get us some food.

My phone rang in the top of the second.

"Meet me on the (main) concourse behind home plate," Denise said.

"I don't want to miss the game," I said.

"Trust me, you will be happy when you find out why I want to meet you down here," she said.

Fine, I thought.

And indeed I was happy. Denise had scored seat upgrades and they did not cost us a penny. So I will continue the narrative from...

Section 126, Row 8, Seat 1

Denise went to customer service and complained that she was uncomfortable because she was seated next to an overweight man. She never mentioned it to me, but gosh, she is resourceful. After swapping her tickets and meeting me, we were shown to our new seats behind the Houston dugout. Once again, on the aisle. God, I love her!

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We now had a much better and closer view of the action. A middle-aged couple seated next to us was friendly as was a mother and daughter from New York across the aisle. We shared lots of laughs for the remainder of the game.

Denise fetched me a High Plains Bison Cheeseburger from the Sheffield Grill in the right-field corner and we were subjected to "Take Me Out To the Ballgame" by some actor who Denise said was "McLovin'" in a movie called Superbad. Her opinion of McLovin's singing performance was dead-on: "It was McSuckin'!"

As the innings passed we were amused by the number of patrons who were underdressed - girls with tank tops, shorts, and flip flops and guys in T-shirts and running shorts.

"There should be a 'moron clause' on your ticket where management reserves the right to eject you from the park for not using your brain," Denise said.

In the eighth inning, we were visited by Sam Morris, a friendly woman who identified herself as a Wrigley Field Ambassador. She apologized for our displeasure in the 200 level and wanted to make sure that everything was okay.

I told her that all was right, except for what was happening on the field.

"That, I can't help you with!" Sam said with a laugh.

That's great customer service and I also noticed that the ushers were helpful and that the vendors always said, "Thank you very much."

It's as if the Wrigley employees have been Rickettsized.

I intend to send a thank you letter to Cubs management.

As we boarded our Red Line train to take us back home to the South Side, Denise and I could agree that we enjoyed the game, if not the outcome.

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