By Mark Nagi
As I get older, the more and more I realize how beneficial life experiences are for the soul.
We weren’t meant to sit on the couch and watch other people do things while we collect dust as the Netflix queue gets a workout.
With that in mind, when the opportunity arises, I like to jump in the Camry or hop on a plane and make some memories.
Typically, my journeys involve sports in some way. Makes sense. I enjoy travel. I like sports. Not much chance of me checking out the Branson (Missouri) Christmas Show, but if there’s a minor league hockey game as part of that package, I’m down.
Recently I made a trip to Chicago to watch the Cubs play in one of baseball’s cathedrals, Wrigley Field.
We got to Chicago the day before the game so that gave us the chance to see some sights. We ate pizza at Giordono’s (I chose the thin crust because Chicago style is horrific – don’t @ me), had some drinks at a hip basement bar and saw a show at Second City. It was a great day and night.
But all the while, I kept looking at my weather app, fearing that Mother Nature was going to ruin our plans to watch the Cubs.
This brought back some bad memories. Back in 1983 I was ten years old, and baseball was everything to me. My Dad and I took a bus down to Yankee Stadium. The pitching matchup was Tom Seaver (future Hall of Famer) against Ron Guidry (a former Cy Young winner). It was the NBC Game of the Week. I looked forward to it for months.
Then the heavens opened. I swear it was raining sideways. We sat in the stadium for hours before they finally called the game. All these years later it ranks up there among my worst childhood experiences (I was blessed to have a good childhood).
On Saturday morning we took an Uber to Wrigleyville and hit The Cubby Bear and Murphy’s, two must visits for Cubs pregame activities. Good thing they have roofs because the heavens did open. Fortunately, this time the rain eventually stopped and after about 90 minutes, the umpires said “Play Ball!”
This was my fourth time at Wrigley Field, and it never disappoints. They’ve made a lot of upgrades over the years. Digital scoreboards and big screens are present, but you still have the old school manual scoreboard in center field. It’s also neat to be in the same place Babe Ruth called his shot decades ago. That history is what baseball has over every other major American sport.
The Cubs were hosting Arizona. Neither team is setting the world on fire these days but the stadium itself is always the draw. Former Vol Yan Gomes was catching for Chicago, so it was good to see some orange. Gomes and the Cubs jumped out to a 4-0 lead, with two homers hit while I was getting a hot dog. The Diamondbacks rallied, sent the game to extras, and Arizona won 7-6.
On the final day we took a river cruise to get an up-close look at Chicago’s beautiful architecture. I spent half the time watching Tottenham secure fourth place in the Premier League, which earns them a spot in the Champions League. If you are a soccer fan you know what I’m talking about.
If you don’t, just know that’s good.
All in all, it was a wonderful trip. I can’t wait for the next time I get to walk into a major league stadium, or an arena, or any other field of play.