June 23rd, 2012
The off day on Thursday was mostly spent in Madison, trying to recover from a cold. I also had an 11:30 am oil change, but that was the extent of my schedule. I left Madison around 6:00 pm and was parked at Alex and Jess’ place in Chicago at 8:30. We watched game five of the NBA Finals, and then called it a night.
Friday I really didn’t have any plans, and I lounged until 1:00 pm or so, when I decided I should get some lunch. I had been to Hot Doug’s (a local hot dog place) on April 12th, when I was in Chicago for the Brewers-Cubs series. I was craving a Chicago style hot dog, so I figured I should make another visit. The four part picture below explains what went down. Going clockwise from top left:
1) The line wrapping around the building at Hot Doug’s. There were probably 15-20 people in front of those that you are visible in the picture. I think it was about a 45 minute wait.
2) The sausage display case at the counter where you place your order. You can see some racing sausage bobble heads there on the lower right and also a mini wienermobile (my girlfriend Victoria used to be a “hotdogger”).
3) My lunch. On the left you have their “Game of the Week” special, and on Friday it was a Blueberry and merlot venison sausage with blackberry mustard and gouda cheese. The two other sausages are both char-grilled dogs with “everything”, which is mustard, caramelized onions, relish, tomatoes, a pickle, and celery salt. This of course is a Chicago Style hot dog. The venison dog was ok, but a little strange. There were some crunchy bites, and I’m thinking they were the seeds from the blackberry mustard… I hope. with the Vitamin Water my lunch set me back $13.50. All in all it was worth it.
4) What remained when I called it quits. I was more than stuffed. I think this was one of those instances where your eyes are bigger than your stomach.
I drove back to Alex and Jess’ place, rested for about an hour, then left for the game. I jumped on the blue line L-Train at 4:37, transferred to the red line, and arrived at the “Sox-35th” stop. This is what greets you when you get off the train:
The bridge in the picture above provides a nice view of downtown Chicago.
Once I got to the park I walked around and tried to find the best spot for the exterior game number picture. There really isn’t a best spot. You can comment if you want and let me know which one you like better. The first is taken from the first base side of the stadium. I like it because it has the Sox and U.S. Cellular Field graphic, but I dislike it it because of the (ugly) ramps on both sides of said graphic. The second one I like because it’s from around home plate, and you can kind of tell that it’s a baseball stadium… maybe. I dislike it because the U.S. Cellular Field text is barely visible at the very top of the exterior wall.
I went inside after getting the second picture taken, and when I entered the seating bowl on the first base side I saw this:
Lucroy without a cast!!! He’s talking with Roenicke about something, and I’m hoping it’s not about the bat he’s leaning on. I didn’t even notice that until I uploaded this picture just now. I guess if you need both hands… why not? I saw Dillard shagging balls in the outfield and I went over to chat for a bit. When he got close to the wall at one point I shouted in my best Harray Caray voice: “Hey Tim, it’s Ben Rouse”. I thought he didn’t hear it, but then he came walking over (he must’ve turned and looked when I wasn’t paying attention. He said that he did wave towards the press box on Wednesday (like I requested) and now I feel like an idiot for forgetting to watch for him. We didn’t talk for long, but it’s cool that a major leaguer is interested in my mission, and is trying to help spread the word. He told me that he’s telling guys in the clubhouse, “whoever will listen”, he said. Thanks Tim!
This was the view from the left-centerfield bleachers after I got done talking with Dillard. That’s him in the bottom center, just after throwing one back towards the infield. It was really sunny, as you can tell, and I headed to my seat shortly thereafter.
The game started on time at 7:10, and on paper it was going to be a low-scoring affair. Coming into the game Zack Greinke had a 3.10 earned run average and the White Sox’s starter, Chris Sale, a 2.46 ERA. This was the view from my seat in section 117 as Sale pitched to Aoki in the top of the first. I had bought this seat before the Brewers had agreed to help out, and I was on the aisle. Aisle seats are a blessing and a curse at the same time. The aisle was to my left, meaning that whenever people went up or down the steps they were in my way. If I hadn’t “dodged, ducked, dipped, dived, or dodged” I would’ve missed 25-30 pitches, at least. I wound up missing none (I’m patting myself on the back).
Greinke walked Adam Dunn in the bottom of the first inning, and you could tell some of the balls were close to the zone. Greinke wanted to know where he was missing, and after he retired the side he talked with home plate umpire Mike Winters for a minute. It may look like the umpire is upset, but I think it was a friendly talk, as Greinke had a smile on his face after they were done.
In the second inning Greinke made it seem like his talk was worth it, and he struck out Alex Rios looking to open the frame. This is Greinke about to release the pitch that retired Rios.
The game was an old fashioned pitcher’s duel. Greinke pitched nine scoreless innings, giving up 3 hits, the one walk, and he struck out 4. Sale was almost as impressive, and he lasted eight scoreless, giving up 4 hits, one walk, while fanning 7. The Brewers had a few scoring chances in the first nine innings, but the White Sox never had a runner reach second base. Aramis Ramirez doubled to lead off the bottom of the tenth and was pinch run for by Nyjer Morgan. Hart struck out, but T-Plush advanced to third with only one out when the catcher couldn’t coral a wild pitch. Weeks was at the dish, and on a 2-2 pitch Rickie drove one through the left side of the infield to score Nyjer. As Rickie returned to first base this was the scene:
Orlando Hudson, the White Sox’s third basemen, had dove for the ball, and is still heartbroken that he wasn’t quick enough. I like that Ed Sedar is pointing at Rickie, but his attention is still directed towards the ball in the outfield. I wanted Greinke to come out and pitch the 10th inning, because that happens so infrequently, but Roenicke opted for Axford. Greinke was only at 100 pitches, and was dealing, so I thought there was a decent chance. However, for all I know Roenicke could have asked Greinke if he wanted the 10th inning, and Greinke said no, but I doubt that was the case.
Axford walked the leadoff batter, and I started to squirm. I had been at a 0-0 ballgame that went to extras once before, and I didn’t like the results. In 2006 I was at a Brewers-Reds game at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati. The game was tied at zeros going into extras, and in the 11th inning Adam Dunn hit a walk-off three-run home run to give the Reds a 3-0 win. What’ya know? Adam Dunn was the second batter in the bottom of the 10th. Axford struck Dunn out on a 98 mph fastball and this was his very next pitch:
It was an 80 mph curveball to the White Sox cleanup hitter, Paul Konerko. The result? You ask. How about a 5-4-3 double play to end the game. Here is Cody Ransom getting ready to throw to first after stepping off the second base bag. Second base umpire Angel Campos approves. Final Score: Brewers 1 – White Sox 0.
You might notice that the last two pictures were taken from a different angle. After the top of the tenth I had moved over to the third base side so I could exit quickly and get to the L stop before it got overcrowded. It worked to perfection and the train came as I got up to the platform. When I transferred I also just barely caught the blue line train, and I’m glad I did. A stop or two after I had gotten on a guy and his friend boarded the train. One friend sat behind me, while the other one stood. The friend behind me fell asleep, and eventually his friend tried to wake him, since their stop was approaching. He slapped his friend’s face to no avail, and the standing friend wound up getting off the train at his stop. This is how the guy was sleeping.
After we started moving again another guy really tried to wake him up. He started slapping his cheeks and the back of his head, even prying one of his eyes open at one point. Eventually he came to, and was pissed that his friend deserted him. He said he needed to get off at Logan Square, which wasn’t for a few more stops, so I’m not sure if the friend got off at the wrong stop, or this guy didn’t have the right info. Nonetheless it was a nice capper to my successful day. Now if I can just wake up tomorrow without this cold.
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