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Crosstown Classic on the Southside: Cubs at White Sox

28 June 2009 No Comment

On Saturday I had planned on a doubleheader day. First up was the Crosstown Classic at U.S. Cellular Field. Second was the SuperLiga match between the Chicago Fire and Tigres UANL (a Mexican club team) at Toyota Park.

However, since the first pitch of the Chicago Cubs at Chicago White Sox game was scheduled for 3:10 pm and kickoff for the soccer match was at 7 pm, I could not afford much of a delay in the baseball game. Thus, I had to drive since Interstate-55 basically connected both stadiums.

Parking & Tailgating at U.S. Cellular Field
On Saturday morning, my neighbor told me he was planning to tailgate with a few of his friends before the game. Since I was already planning to drive I told him I would meet him around 2 pm. I wanted to arrive at the ballpark early anyway, since last year, when I attended the Cubs at White Sox game on Friday afternoon I had to park 5 blocks away from the ballpark and still pay $22. This time I arrived at U.S. Cellular Field around 1:45 pm and paid the normal $23 to park in Parking Lot L – much closer.

My friend was tailgating in Parking Lot G which is on the corner of 35 St. and Normal Ave. – a decent walk from where I parked but would allow me to check out the secondary ticket market while I walked over there. I did not see many scalpers with tickets on my walk and the box office had just sold out. Ticket Buying Tip: Even though a game may be sold out ahead of time, sometimes the box office will have tickets available before the game. If ticket prices are too high on the street be sure to check out the box office before purchasing tickets from a scalper.

This was the first time I tailgated at U.S. Cellular Field since last season at the the American League Central one-game tiebreaker. I hardly ever tailgate outside of U.S. Cellular Field since 1) I normally take the train and 2) I do not know anyone who tailgates on the Southside. There is nothing special to tailgating at U.S. Cellular Field.

Obtaining Tickets
Historically, the main scalping area around U.S. Cellular Field is on the corner of 35 St. and Normal Ave. at the 35th Street Red Hot (a hot dog stand). Since we were also tailgating on this corner, I left the tailgate to find an extra ticket (after, of course, asking the fans around our tailgate if they had an extra ticket). Chicago Police were swarming the corner so there were no scalpers in front of the stand. However, I walked another block or two west and found a few scalpers. The first guy wanted $80 each for his upper deck reserved tickets. I said no. A second guy wanted $50 once I told them I wanted to pay face value. We eventually agreed on $40 for a $33 ticket – around the same price I would have paid if buying from Ticketmaster months before the game.

The Game
With Friday afternoon’s Crosstown Classic only lasting 2 hours and 26 minutes, I was hoping today’s game would end by 6 pm – allowing me time to get to Toyota Park for the SuperLiga match. This proved not to be the case though. The game featured six lead changes and six ties in what had to have been one of the most back and forth games I have attended this season.

Bullpen Sports Bar
With the game tied at seven runs apiece after the eighth inning, I decided to walk down to the Bullpen Sports Bar for two reasons. First and foremost, the Bullpen Sports Bar was on the side of the stadium where I had parked my car. It was approaching 6:30 pm and the only way I could make it to the Chicago Fire game was if the game ended in the ninth inning and I could run to my car beating traffic out of the U.S. Cellular Field parking lots.

Second, if the game was tied after nine innings, I could buy beer from the bar and watch extra innings as I would no longer be attending the Fire game.

I got to the sports bar in time for the bottom of the 9th inning as the Cubs went down 1-2-3 in the top of the 9th. With two outs, Josh Fields on second base, Jayson Nix at the plate and Gordon Beckham on deck, I was convinced I would be settling in for an evening of extra inning baseball. I even told Nicole I would be home earlier than I thought. Even after Nix walked, I still thought I would be watching extra innings.

However, the next thing I knew Gordon Beckham hit a ball that headed towards the sports bar, dropped in for a single and allowed Josh Fields to score the winning run. I looked at the time – 6:40 pm. Could I make it to Toyota Park in 25 minutes (soccer matches usually start a few minutes late)? I decided yes and ran out of the Bullpen Sports Bar and through the parking lot to my car.

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