First Stop: Wrigley

Navigating to Wrigley Field
didn’t seem to present too much of a challenge, especially for someone who’s
used to traveling on subway cars nearly every day. And to that end, it wasn’t.
Just five stops up the Red Line from Chicago
St. station, the park proved simple to reach by train.

It was getting on that train that caused all the problems.

A quick breakfast stop and a walk
to the station delayed me a matter of minutes, so soon after leaving my hotel,
I ventured underground for the first time. Everything instantly looked so
familiar — the automated machines eating up cash and spitting out tickets, the
commuters and tourists bustling about, the signs directing me exactly where to
go (and where not to go). So I stepped up, bought my ticket, slipped it into
the card reader and was met with a low buzzing sound. The card wouldn’t take,
so I tried it again. Bzzz. I flipped it around and tried it again. Bzzz.
Backwards now, frontwards, inside out and upside down. Bzzz. Bzzz. Bzzz.

Looking around, I saw that an impatient
line had formed behind me. To my sides, a group of elderly folks went whizzing
past. So I did what any embarrassed tourist would do: I stepped out of line,
regrouped and stepped in again. Success.

My reward for all this was a trip
to Chicago’s
North Side, where the subway (or the ‘L,’ as it’s more rightfully called in
this spot) bursts above ground and offers the first few scenic glimpses of
Wrigley. Still roughly three hours before game time, the car was already littered
with Cubs hats, Cubs jerseys and — you guessed it — Cubs fans. And it’s no
wonder. Wrigley is everything that it seems to be on television, even if the
ivy hasn’t yet grown on the outfield walls. The stadium is as quirky as it gets,
from the rooftop seats to the old-fashioned scoreboard to the massive bleacher
sections spanning the outfield.

With time to kill before the Mets
— and presumably, the Mets fans — arrived, I headed up to the press box, a
sizeable room enclosed in glass. Note to sportswriters: be in shape. While the
league’s other stadiums almost all boast elevators and escalators for members
of the media, Wrigley has steps. And ramps. And then more steps. Huffing and
puffing, I finally made my way to the top, only to be greeted by some of the more
stunning views of Wrigley I had ever seen. A few workers bustled by, but
otherwise the park remained silent. Even so, I suspected that outside of its
walls, Wrigleyville was already buzzing.

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