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Baseball Tue Jun 21 2011
Our own Jenny Zelle was in her usual seat at U.S. Cellular Field last night, rooting on the White Sox as they hosted the first of three games against the Cubs. Last year she attended about 50 Sox games, and she's been to 20 already this season.
But what she saw at the park last night was different: a highly unusual level of drunken "madness" in many fans that was at best embarrassing and at worst dangerous for fans just trying to watch a baseball game in peace.
She emailed us this story:
We entered the park right after the gates opened and things were pretty mellow until the game started, when all the already immensely drunk people poured in.
Our section (along the 1st base line, right field) does not have a lot of [season-ticket holders], so we often get out-of-town fans -- we had a lot, and they were all either wasted when they came in, or were hammered by the 7th.
There was exactly one sober Cubs fan in our section and he was horrified at the behavior of his fellow fans. Of course, he was in from Pittsburgh and had brought two friends with him, they were all stunned at the level of intoxication from the start of the game. [My husband] Jeff and I spent a lot of time assuring them the park was never like it was tonight.
There was a large group of Cubs fans sitting across the aisle from us that were dangerously drunk when they came in. A number of beer vendors refused to serve them, but they kept getting beers.
Three of the guys were running up and down the stairs, chasing women and vendors. At least 10 people (that I saw or spoke with) texted or went to security to report them, including a couple of Cubs fans, but they weren't tossed until late in the game as they kept changing seats.
I went to have a cigarette and saw a group of male Cubs fans repeatedly surround women and "woof" and make sexual noises at them as they tried to make their way up the ramp. I ran and got security, I'm not sure what happened to them, I didn't stick around to see it.
I also saw security toss two Cubs fans out of the bullpen bar. I asked them how it was going and they said "It's been like this all night."
Two sets of parents in our section removed themselves and their children by the 7th as the atmosphere felt "unsafe" and "uncomfortable" to them.
There were a lot of Sox fans that were annoying (getting up with the ball in play, grrr), but not one, not a single Sox fan responded to any of the Cubs fans taunts. I was pretty proud of them, everyone kept their cool in a carnival-gone-wrong atmosphere. Sox security was also pretty calm, as were the guest services people.
I think the park handled it well, but I don't know the extent of what went on. In Ozzie's press conference, he said it felt like another game to him but that he'd heard about a bunch of fights and that security probably would not agree with him.
Just icky. Hoping Wednesday is better, the park felt wrong last night.
I followed up today with a few questions:
Q: This vaguely predatory drunkenness you describe does not sound fun. Did it seem outright sinister or was it just playfully dumb antics?
Jenny: That scared the shit out of me. I ran for security. I am tiny, so to me, it seemed menacing, but I wasn't being surrounded. I have *never* seen anything like that before. I just couldn't believe I was seeing that at Comiskey. I don't personally know any Cubs fans even remotely that vile. The guys chasing vendors sucked too.
Q: Were they young men in their 20s and 30s?
Jenny: Mid- to late-20s. And by the way, a friend in Section 534 just told me some drunken Cubs fans got hauled out of the upper deck too. ... There was tons of stuff being thrown off the upper deck, which we normally don't see. ... This really was the roughest crosstown crowd I have seen yet. Maybe Cubs fans know nothing is happening this season and took out their frustration? Sox staff clearly worked hard to keep things under control. It was just soooo drunk. I was so embarrassed by what I saw.