Column: Line Drives — Wrigley remains magical to visit

[This is my column in the July 17 issue of The Commercial Review.]

I’ve been to my fair share of baseball games.

Some of them were in support of one team — whether on the road or at home — and others were in support of both teams.

I’ve even attended games without a rooting interest. In those cases, I most likely just wanted to see the ballpark.

Such was the case Saturday when I went to Milwaukee to watch the Brewers play the defending National League champion St. Louis Cardinals.

Then, I turned around the next day and went to Wrigley Field to watch the Cubs play host to my favorite team, the Atlanta Braves.

I went to the game in Milwaukee just to see Miller Park so I could cross it off my list in pursuit of visiting all 30 Major League stadiums. I have a lot of work to do, however, as Miller Park was my fifth, and the next day Wrigley became my sixth.

Miller Park, as I’ve come to find with all six stadiums I have visited, is a beautiful structure. It is home to the only fan-shaped convertible roof, which actually came into good use in the fifth inning when it started to rain.

Since I was indifferent to both teams on the field, it was nice to just sit back and watch my favorite sport.

The Cardinals jumped out to a six-run lead after three innings and went on to win 10-2. The victory put St. Louis in a tie with Milwaukee for first place in the NL Central. The tie didn’t last long, though, as the Brewers won 11-2 the next day to retake the division lead before the all-star break.

The next day at Wrigley, I was donning my Atlanta Braves gear in the friendly confines of Chicago’s north side.

My cousin dropped me off at the stadium for the game, and it was everything I wished it could have been. With the temperature in the low 80s and not a cloud in the sky, it was a perfect day for a baseball game.

Atlanta struck for three runs in the second inning and four in the fifth for an early 7-0 lead. The Cubs clawed their way back, scoring two in each of the sixth and seventh innings and getting within three, 10-7, after the eighth.

But Craig Kimbrel, arguably the best closer in the game, came in to pitch the bottom of the ninth for the Braves and slammed the door on the Chicago rally.

It was the first time I got to be in attendance for a game Atlanta won. The Braves are now 1-4 when I am in the ballpark.
What made seeing the Braves win even more special was the fact I got to see Kimbrel pitch in person. I went to a weekend series in April 2013 in Detroit, and Kimbrel didn’t get the chance to throw because the Braves were never in a situation in which he was needed.

When Atlanta got out to the early lead, I tweeted that I wasn’t going to get to see him yet again.

As nice as it would have been to see the Braves crush the Cubs, I was wishing Chicago would rally.

Lo and behold, the Cubs did, and the franchise leader in career saves was needed after all.

As for Wrigley Field, it lived up to my expectations.

It looked every bit like it was built in 1914.

But the age of the stadium didn’t take away from the lore surrounding it.

It’s Wrigley Field, one of two remaining stadiums to reach its 100th year.

The iconic ivy is a sight to see, for even the most casual of baseball fans.

Like Boston’s Fenway Park, Wrigley still utilizes a manual scoreboard, which was fun to see change throughout the course of the game.

The giant edifice, high above the bleachers in center field, made the feeling of being in such an old stadium more authentic.

Another thing that adds to the aura is the lack of a true video board.

The stadium makes it feel like you’re taking a step back in time.

It’s a must-see stadium for every baseball fan.

Wrigley Field truly is a magical place.

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