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Cubs Mon Feb 14 2011

Missing Wrigley: A Valentine

wrigley flickr.jpg
Photo by Bari D

Some days I miss baseball more than others.

I find myself checking out the CubWorld webcam often this winter to see snow piled high on the corner of Clark and Addison. Sometimes people walk by; sometimes there's a bus. Other times, it's a quiet corner where I find myself gazing longing at the iconic marquee. Waiting for some glimpse of the season's start.

I'm ready for baseball.

I've spent the off-season an anxious mess, watching the trades and the hot stove rumors. I've tweeted, I've blogged, I've bored non-baseball fans to tears over the fates of my favorite players. I've had conversations with strangers on trains just because they were wearing ball caps. (Note: Some strangers are not as friendly as they appear.)

The other day I got incredibly excited to see Wrigley Field -- which rarely happens. Living in Chicago, I've been desensitized to the great ballpark in my backyard. Perhaps it's the binge-drinking college crowd the neighborhood attracts. Maybe it's lack of the designated hitter or the panic that sets in when I realize my commute home will be twice as long on game day.

It wasn't always this way. I know Wrigley Field is a spectacle of unique and timeless baseball history.

I remember seeing Wrigley on television as a child and begging my dad to take me to see a game, though we lived hours away. I wanted to see the great brick wall that seemed much taller in my childhood memories, covered in freshly blooming ivy.

We made the trip and sat in the top row of a 300-level on the first-base side as my dad recounted the great -- and not so great -- history of the Chicago Cubs. I had my first Chicago dog, and though it was July, I'll never forget how cold the lake breeze felt in the ballpark.

Now as a Chicagoan, I'm the one doing the tours.

Whenever someone comes to visit, they always want to see Wrigley Field. As a baseball aficionado (and an even better hostess) I'm happy to oblige.

The tour is always the same:

1. Take their picture in front of the Wrigley marquee. 2. Take their picture in front of the Harry Caray statue. 3. Peek inside the Captain Morgan Club. 4. Purchase a player T-shirt and peanuts from a street vendor. 5. Drink a pregame beer at the Cubby Bear.

But as I approached Wrigleyville on a recent winter day, it seemed soulless and empty.

No one exited the train at Addison; no one waited on the platform.

No one wore a Fukudome "Horry Kow!" T-shirt.

No parents wrangled children carrying mitts to catch foul balls.

No one bothered me for directions.

No empty beer cups or peanut shells on the train.

No one mentioned 1908.

Instead, there was an empty field completely covered with snow, peeking through the gates. The corners were quiet, the rooftops empty. Wrigley Field is just isn't the same without baseball and I felt teased (yet excited) to pass an empty field as I emotionally wait for the return of baseball. It'll be here soon and the North Side will return to normalcy.

Until then, I will sit and anxiously await the first pitch.

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