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From Wednesday to Friday, the Orr clan took a trip to Chicago to root on our beloved Phillies at Wrigley Field. I did not know what to expect about Chicago, but I woke up to a pleasant surprise. It is a beautiful city and a great baseball town.
One of the passangers on our plane was Neil Hartman, an anchor for Comcast Sportsnet. Lately, I've been running into famous people. A few days before my vacation, I spotted Ryan Howard at a local Dairy Queen. He wasn't the only All Star caliber player I saw within a weeks span. Hours after arriving in Chicago, I saw two Phillies in the city.
We ate lunch at the Cheesecake Factory in downtown Chicago, where there is an outdoor amphitheatre. A band played some of Motown's best as somebody danced on the pavilion. It was Jimmy Rollins. I did not want to bother him, but one of my family members approached him. After a quick photo, Jimmy left. But, five tables over from me sat Shane Victorino.
Like Rollins, I didn't want to bother Victorino since players are always swarmed with fans. Victorino was having a drink with his "friend" (I think it was Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster, but it was hard to tell since he was wearing dark sunglasses). We passed him quickly to wish him luck, and Shane put his hand out to shake. Shane couldn't have been nicer so we snapped a quick picture.
It wasn't even a full day and the trip to the Windy Cindy was already well worth it.
After the Phillies took the first two games of the series, we headed to Wrigley Field on Thursday, hoping for a sweep. We got that, but the experience at Wrigley Field made the sweep even more special.
Wrigley has a completely different feel than Citizens Bank Park. Opening in 1914 and being the last stadium to install lights, Wrigley is filled with a ton of history, which is felt when entering the stadium. From the moment you enter Wrigleyville, the town which the ballpark is located, it is like a time machine pulled you back.
The view of the field is breathtaking, especially during the day when the sun brightly shines on the field. There are a few obstructed views, but you can get a glimpse of the action in any seat, including the ones on top of nearby buildings. The diamond is in perfect condition and the ivy can't get any greener. No scoreboard in any other stadium compares to the old fashioned one that sits in center field at Wrigley.
There aren't a lot of concession stands. There aren't any flashy scoreboards to pump up the crowd. The seventh inning stretch is a tradition that nobody can miss.
Being at Wrigley isn't the same Wrigley that appears on television. If you already have an opinion about the Friendly Confines but have never been there, a visit may create a new opinion. It is very hard to put the Wrigley experience into words. It's that awesome.
Philadelphia was well represented in Chicago. Left and right, there were Phillies fans. Philadelphians have a natural bond and stick together. If sporting Phillies gear while wandering the streets of Chicago, another fan is guaranteed to say "Go Phils!" In my section, I was lucky to be surrounded by many Phillies fans. Also, I could always count on the Phillies faithful to pose with brooms after the game.
While Shane Victorino was showered with a beer, Cubs fans received a bad rap by the national media. However, I must say that the Cubs fans were very respectful. Many of the fans were very upset with the incident that took place. According to several Cubs fans, the Bleacher Bums are where all the bad-loads are. If anything, the beer incident proved that those type of things happen everywhere.
In a way, Cubs fans remind me of Phillies fans in that they are very knowledgeable, loyal, passionate, and patient toward their team. In addition, they aren't afraid to be heard. Like a Phillies fan, they wore their colors with pride, sporting Cubbie blue no matter where they were at. I wasn't in White Sox territory, but I did find that some of the White Sox fans rooted both ways. But, the White Sox fans didn't show their colors like the Cubs fans did.
What I especially liked about Chicago was that everybody knows how the Cubs are doing this year. Sometimes in Philadelphia, football overshadows baseball. In Chicago, baseball comes first. Even the non-fans can talk about the team in a very knowledgeable manner.
I would definitely recommend taking a trip to Chicago. It is a beautiful, clean, and safe city with lots of things to do. Visit the Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower). See the stunning view of Lake Michigan, grab a bite at Gino's Pizza, shop on the Magnificent Mile, or go to one of the many museums. But more importantly, visit Wrigley Field, even if the Phillies aren't playing the Cubs.