You had two choices for seats today at Wrigley Field on the lower deck. Sit in left-field terrace reserved and hear the muffled rumble of an unfinished video board accompanied by jack hammers in D minor. Or freeze to death in the glow of a beer company ad in right field, while listening to the sounds of the ballpark warp inside a foggy northwesterly wind on a 46-degree day.
My seats were upstairs, but a lack of crowd ensured I'd have the section of my choice for the entire game. Within reason, of course. The box seats are still seemingly guarded by World War II vets who learned their jobs guarding POWs in Belgium. There's still no sneaking past the 100 level seats until the eighth inning. Then, it's a free-for-all on an unattended day like Wednesday.
But where to sit?
Left field is completely troughless and Port-O-Potty central. However, this being their first day in service, I found them quite pleasant as far a port-a-johns go. I'm curious to see their condition after a weekend series.
But if like me, you leave the ballpark for addictive reasons half way through every game, most of the local hustlers and homeless who are usually spread out around the bleachers have been relegated to the left field corner in front of the firehouse. I went out there for a butt and couldn't find a moment's peace between toothless Beverly (remind me to tell you a story about her if we meet), the bucket boys who have needed $125 for a permit for three years, and a dude dressed as a half bear. (See pic).
Left field also has no view of the video board. Not that I care, I'd rather it not be there at all -- that's just my personal preference, I know most of you like it. But if it is there, might as well see it. You can play the "Ball Under the Hat Game!"
See a giant Billy Williams inaudibly talking.
And it's all delicately underscored by jackhammers.
But at least left was warmer than right field! It was so blustery over there, I felt as if Mother Nature was stabbing me in the face with an icicle!
As the bleacher saying goes. "Right Field Sucks, Left Field Sucks."
But it's all better than the upper deck where my seats were, and where I imagine it was colder and windier than anywhere, judging by the throngs of fans that came downstairs.
Allow me to editorialize for a moment. Sure, Opening Day was a bit of a fiasco, and the port-o-potty solution isn't a great look for the old girl. Wrigley Field is in no way shape or form ready to host a Major League baseball game as we've evolved to expect it. But there has been many a day in Cubs history when the weather wasn't fit to play in at Wrigley and they played anyway. The weather alone is challenging in April without construction. Let's face it, folks: Winter can last until June here.
Jackhammers? Portable johns? We got this!
Playing through construction and harsh conditions proves the Cubs and their fans uniquely resilient. They're not willing to give up a sacred place like Wrigley, even for a year in saccharine Miller Park or the other half's Cell, even if it means some modern discomfort. There were news trucks from every affiliate lined up to get the Porto-O-Potty story to fill their minute of commercially bought airtime, but what did you expect? For construction to be over? Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?
Germans? Forget it, he's rolling.
There will be no time so transformative for Wrigley Field and the surrounding neighborhood as now. We are the "lucky ones" who get to see it both ways. For example, mine is the last generation that grew up with no internet. I always felt that was lucky. To see the before and the strange new after is fascinating. I feel the same about this ballpark transformation, provided of course the Cubs follow through with their plans and don't do some slapdash job like so many prefab condos that went up in the 2000s. Because....
The sound is actually horrible right now. They need to hire me or someone else to fix it. I couldn't tell if Anthony Rizzo's walk up music was "Good Vibrations" or "Never Gonna Give You Up," or some demonic mixture of the two, complete with a creepy bobblehead music video. Either way, Tom Ricketts probably has a better sound system in his car.
Speaking of walkup music. I wish they put the titles of the songs on the video board, because Starlin Castro and Arismendy Alcantara's jams are pumpin'. I'd love to know what they are so i can lose my spring training beer belly dancing to Castro's walkup song.
I wish I could report more on walkup music, but it's inaudible from many places in the ballpark.
Now, here's some advice about tickets. This month, there ought to be plenty of seats, so come find one you like. Just like the pitchers, look at the flags and sit on the other side of the plate. Stubhub's got them for as little as $8 next week against the Reds.
If you're a traditionalist the right-field corner is exactly what you remember with real 1950s bathrooms and the Captain Morgan Club. You'll hardly notice a difference!
The left field corner is the "Iraq" Jason Hammel referred to, and then apologized for, in a recent tweet.
But Wednesday, left field, even though you are sitting next to a construction zone, was the better place to watch baseball because of a lack of arctic wind in your face. Especially because the Cubs won the game. That always helps warm you from the inside out.
One more brief editorial. Beer has gone up in price again. To which I ask, "Where does it end?"
I guess you have to pay for those port-o-potties somehow.