And So It Begins
So the day I’ve been waiting for all year is coming on Monday – the “new” Wrigley Field Bleachers are open for business. For now, only Left Field and Center Field will be open – June 11th is the alleged date for Right Field. But that’s OK. Now it’s back to watching batting practice, heckling visiting outfielders, and shagging home run balls. All stuff that many memories have been made about over the past few years for Evan and I. In my brief stint in “the bowl” (what they call the area that isn’t the bleachers), I ran into one of the security guys that recognized me from the bleachers. His comment – “pretty soon we’ll be back where we belong”. Funny stuff I thought.
So since I’m headed back to the bleachers on Monday, I thought a brief review of bleacher rules might be in order. Feel free to share this with those that are coming to visit for the first time as violation of these rules can make you subject to much heckling – more so as the innings go on. It’s also important to note that you won’t find these rules printed anywhere – you just have to figure them out, which you do in VERY short order if you spend some time out there.
Enough introduction – here we go…
- Throwing the balls back – this one is pretty key, and I’ve seen it get pretty ugly if it’s not followed, especially if the Cubs are losing. Bottom line here is that if the opposing team hits a homerun (God forbid), it’s OK to hold the ball up because you are a stud for catching it, but that you MUST throw it back onto the field. If you don’t, you are subject to like 50 years of some Haitian curse involving a goat (OK, I made that part up). But seriously, if you do not throw the ball back, it DOES get ugly out there. Not just a few boos – I’m talking stuff getting thrown at you. And the level of ugliness rises exponentially with how bad the Cubs are losing. If they are winning, you might limp out. If they are losing, God help you.
(Quick Story) – During my first year as a season ticket holder, Evan and I were in the first row of the bleachers watching the Cubs/Cardinals game on a cold April evening. Matt Holiday hits a home run right freakin’ at me. Since I don’t want to pull a “Bartman”, I don’t lean forward and the ball basically hits me. Evan picks it up off the bench, holds it up proudly, and tosses that evil ball back onto the field. A VERY proud Daddy moment for me – I still get teary eyed thinking about it. It should also be noted that one of my cousins was watching the game and promptly texted “Nice Catch” to me. Feel the love
- NO WAVE – For the love of Christ, please do not EVER do “The Wave” at Wrigley – especially in the bleachers. It happens every year, and it’s always some drunk person, likely from the opposing team, that thinks it would be cute to start the wave in the bleachers. Please note – the bleachers ARE not and NEVER will be “cute” – so strike that from your head now. If you want to do the wave, go to LA or something – just don’t spill your sushi while doing it. Anyone with a clue about the bleachers always puts their head down in shame when this starts. Very sad – just don’t do it.
- Hydration = Beer – Unless, of course, you aren’t old enough – the you get a pass. On those hot July afternoons where it’s 90F with 100% humidity, keep the Bud Lights flowing. I’m not suggesting that this is medically sound advice – it’s just what happens out there. I’m always impressed at the number of beer cups people have stacked up by the end of the game. And no, beer is NOT cheap in the bleachers. $8.50 at last check. Good value eh? 🙂
- Keep Batting Practice Balls – This rule applies even to those hit by and tossed up by the opposing team. Batting practice balls do not hold the same evil Haitian goat curse that live game home run balls hold. In fact, if you are out there for batting practice, the goal is to collect as many balls as you can. You should end the year with close to a bushel if you do you work right. So don’t piss off the rest of us and throw the balls back, because if you do, they’ll stop tossing them up and that’s not cool. Don’t be “that guy”.
- Give it to the Kid – If you are over 12, you get to keep one ball – period. All others collected should be handed to the countless kids that you’ll find around (especially on weekends). Don’t be the douche that leans over in front of the 8 year old to get a ball, then holds it up proudly and runs back to your girlfriend. That’s not cool. Hand it over to the kid – it’ll make his/her day and likely much longer than that.
- Heckle the Outfielders – I don’t care if you just read an article about the opposing centerfielder where he donated $1M to charity – during the game, he’s an idiot and whatever other names you can think of. He can’t throw, he sucks, can’t hit, made a bad play (even if he caught it – that was luck), and his mother likely hates him. Do NOT, however, go after his family – that’s just not cool. You can call him pretty much whatever you want – just lay off the family. That will earn you a conversation with security for sure.
- Pictures – Taking pictures by the outfield wall is cool – everyone likes to do it. Just don’t do it during an inning. There is plenty of time between innings to do that. And remember – the security person isn’t a photographer. He make take the picture, but you aren’t likely to win any prizes for it.
- Standing – In between innings – cool. During the inning – NOT cool. Only exception to this is towards the end of the 9th inning – then all bets are off.
- Swearing – This used to be pretty commonplace in the bleachers, and some folks still think it’s cool. Security, and people in general, are pretty liberal about it, but keep in mind who is around you. If it’s bachelor party, no biggie. If it’s a middle school group, dial down the “F bombs” please. I’d like to say this one should be obvious, but you’d be surprised.
So that’s about all I can think of, which means I’m probably missing a few. Who knew that sitting in the bleachers came with so many “restrictions”. 🙂