Chicago: A Tale of Two Teams
PART 1: Winding Through The Windy City
Guaranteed Rate Field has been home to the Chicago White Sox since 1990.
I find the city of Chicago to be an interesting one. Chicago has the third largest population in the United States, but it is the only city in the top ten population wise that isn’t on the coast or in a typically warm weather city. Despite it being a “cold weather” city, Chicago is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the United States
Chicago is also a two team baseball city. Having been host to the National League Cubs since 1876 and the American League White Sox since 1901. The North Siders (Cubs) and the South Siders (White Sox) have been fighting for bragging rights ever since before William McKinley was assassinated. If we’re judging off of who has more World Series championships, you’re going to find a tie. Both organizations have three championships to their name. However, one of the White Sox World Series wins came over the Cubs, in 1906. All time the Cubs do have a higher winning percentage, .513 to the White Sox’s .503 through 2017. (We won’t measure wins since the Cubs were around 25 years sooner)
I mentioned in my original excerpt that I have seen a game at Guaranteed Rate Field (worst name for a stadium in baseball) but not at historic Wrigley Field. I was lucky enough to get a tour of Wrigley Field, though. I am still waiting to go a game at The Friendly Confines. Twice during my childhood, my family took a vacation to Chicago. The second of those vacations came in 2005. My parents knew I wanted to go see games at both Wrigley and then called U.S. Cellular Field. Unfortunately, Cub tickets can be tough to get, and their home games were sold out when we were there. White Sox tickets are a little easier to get, on the other hand.
Let’s get one thing clear before we go any further. Chicago IS a Cubs town. The White Sox have always played second fiddle, even when they’re the class of baseball and the Cubs are a so-so team at best. No one will look at the White Sox of the 2000s and think the word dynasty, but ask a die hard Sox fan about their 2005 team and they’ll probably smile at you. Everything came together for the White Sox in 2005. They led the AL Central wire to wire, finishing at 99-63. The White Sox remained white hot in the playoffs, going 11-1 to win their first World Series since 1917. It was a special year for the White Sox and their fans, but you would have not known it that summer unless you were on the South Side.
Mostly everywhere you went, it was primarily Cubs. Remember, I said the Cubs were so-so at best in 2005. Their 79-83 record put them 20 games behind the White Sox and 4th in the NL Central. You would’ve thought it was a total role reversal. The Cubs finished 6th in attendance, while the world champion White Sox were 17th.
The game we attended at Guaranteed Rate Field (I’m calling it GRF for the rest of this article) was a Saturday night affair between the White Sox and the Boston Red Sox. It was a pretty big series as the Red Sox were the defending champions for the first time since 1919. The game itself did not feature much offense. The Red Sox would win 3-0 behind a two run homer from Manny Ramirez in the 1st and a Jason Varitek solo shot in the 9th. I remember the White Sox threatening a few times, but they could never make the Red Sox pitching crack. Here’s the box score from the game if you so desire to view it. https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CHA/CHA200507230.shtml
PART 2: A “Ballpark”
I’ll just say it. Out of all 11 MLB stadiums I have been to so far, GRF is the worst. It is not close either. GRF lacks personality. It wants to be like its predecessor, Comiskey Park. GRF was even originally called Comiskey Park II. Old Comiskey’s was most known for having colored pinwheels in center field, which would spin and shoot off fireworks after a White Sox home run or win. GRF does this too, but other than that, it is a bland stadium.
Old Comiskey Park’s most prominent feature was the exploding scoreboard, and the White Sox home from 1910-1989
First off, the upper deck is ridiculously steep, at least when I was there. If you’re weren’t careful enough, it may have given you vertigo. It is probably not as steep now since they have done several renovations since. Also, the entire stadium is enclosed. But that probably does not matter since GRF faces away from downtown Chicago. This probably makes it more acceptable that GRF is enclosed, but does not help its case. You won’t get any outstanding sight lines because of this, of course. GRF was built right before retro stadiums started popping up around MLB. Stadiums that have a personality.
Now, I will give GRF a second shot since there have been renovations of some significance since 2005 (HD scoreboards, anyone?) In fact, there have been times the past couple years I have considered a weekend trip to see the Indians play the White Sox. Ticket prices have been cheap on the South Side the last few years, after all. I just have yet to make the trip. But it is a return trip I have considered and will definitely continue to consider. Next time, I will make sure to check out the entire stadium, and find out what sticks out about GRF for the better. Even if that is a food item.