The first time and last time that I visited Wrigley Field was in 2009 and it was the reason that my passion for baseball reawakened. It was in this city, in this park that I realized everything that is special about baseball and why it mattered so much to me. I’ve spent the last 7+ years seeing as many games as I could in as many parks as possible but I felt that this was the year to return to the Friendly Confines. I needed to see the Chicago Cubs in the midst of their historic run, and I wasn’t disappointed.
As my trip on the L Train to Addison took much less time that I expected, I had a bit of extra time to wander the stadium and surroundings. While it’s nowhere near as fancy as the newer ballparks with their wide concourses and extensive food options, Wrigleyville seeps with history. It’s an areas that lives and breathes baseball.
When I bought my ticket for this game I was a bit worried since the price was lower than other seats is this section. After doing a bit of research I was even more worried since like Fenway some sections of the stands have obstructed views. While the upper deck support beam was just to the right of me, I had a wonderful view of the field with only a bit of the foul area of the field blocked off.
The one thing that I most excited about for this game was getting to see Jake Arrieta start at home. As one of the most dominant pitchers of the last few years, he is unstoppable at home. Today he didn’t seem to be in complete control of his game, having gotten into a couple of jams. Somehow at the end of the 6th, he had no earned runs and 11 strikeouts. Only a superior flamethrower can put up numbers like that on an off day.
As far as the Cubs themselves, they were as impressive as their record going into this game (44-20). While Matt Szczur’s homer in the 1st got them off on the right foot, they spent the rest of the game scraping together 4 more runs through a mixture of walks, singles and line drives. They played like a team with solid fundamentals and executed perfectly. Even without Kris Bryant & Jason Heyward in their lineup, their play was still cohesive and deep.
Addison Russell impressed me as he battled with Pirate pitching and earned 3 walks as a result. He may be sporting .230 average but if this is common behaviour from the shortstop, then his value to the team is immeasurable. Driving up the oppositions pitch count is dirty and important play.
With a packed house, the energy at the game was solid and obviously the Cubs fans know their baseball. They were on their feet a number of times to support their team, even as early as the 4th. The relationship between the fans and the team is palpable and has an obvious impact on the energy of the game. My only complaint? The Chicago Cubs song at the end of the game to celebrate the win is terrible, but definitely no worse than the awful Blue Jays song.