A Haven for the Diehard Sox Fan
  Home > Features > Road Trip! > Chicago 2003

Road Trip to Chicago

June 16-18, 2003

U.S. Cellular Field

I had to travel to Chicago for a week for work, and I was delighted when I saw that the Red Sox would be in town the same week. I'd love to be able to visit Wrigley Field some day, so it was too bad the Cubs were on the road that week, but I had no trouble missing out on that for the chance to see three Red Sox games. On my way in to the city from the airport, I stopped at Wrigley Field to at least look at it. It's the second-oldest park, built only two years after Fenway. Like Fenway, it's tucked in the streets of a residential neighborhood. I walked around the perimeter of the park, and got a kick out of the rooftop seating on the buildings across the street. I knew people watched from up there, and that some were charging for the privilege, but I was amused to see real, permanent, bleacher-type seats. I checked out one of the souvenir stores across the street that had a large sign in the window reading, "We still love you, Sammy," referring to Sammy Sosa, who had been caught using a corked bat earlier in the season.

In class on Monday, I found out our instructor was a White Sox fan. He mentioned the game to the class as something interesting to do that night, since all Mondays are half-price. When I added that Pedro Martinez would be pitching, a couple of the other students decided they would go, too.

I went straight back to my hotel, changed into my Pedro shirt, and got to the ballpark shortly after the gates opened. It was half-price night, so I got a good lower-deck seat, behind home plate on the first base side, for a steal at only $14.50. The new Comiskey Park, renamed U.S. Cellular Field for the 2003 season, was the first of the new ballparks built in the 1990's, and I'd always heard that it was less attractive than the others of its era. But I liked it better than some of the other new parks I've been to, like Camden Yards and Turner Field. It was clean and spruced up in anticipation of hosting the All-Star Game the following month, but for me the reason I rank it above some of the other new ballparks was the lack of over-commercialization and gimmicky things like face painters and guys on stilts. It seemed to be basically about the baseball, and the fans I sat next to the first two nights were pretty knowledgeable.

Pedro Martinez was making the start Monday night, but it was only his second start back after a stint on the D.L. He had only gone three innings in the previous game, and Grady Little had announced that he would only throw about 75 pitches tonight. The Red Sox got the game off to a good start in the top of the first. Bill Mueller reached on an error (on a close play), took third on Nomar Garciaparra's single, and scored on Manny Ramirez's sac fly (in another close play. The White Sox fans were not happy.) There was a family of Cubs fans sitting behind me, and every time ex-Cub Mueller came up, they'd moan, "Why'd we let him go?"

Pedro cruised through the first four innings, allowing only a single in the first inning, an infield hit in the third, and another single in the fourth (although that batter was gunned down by Manny as he tried to stretch it into a double). And he was doing it with a very low pitch count, using only 42 pitches for the first four innings. At that rate, he might be able to go seven, or six at the least, I hoped. That should be enough time for the offense to put some runs together. Manny hit a solo homer in the third, to give the Red Sox a 2-0 lead, but I'd feel better handing the game over to the bullpen with a more sizeable lead. Other than the amazing comeback win in Milwaukee, they had lacked the offensive magic on the road that they always seemed to have at home.

In the fifth, Pedro issued a walk and three singles, scoring a run and leaving two on with two outs and Frank Thomas at the plate. With a 2-2 count, Thomas fouled off pitch after pitch. The 11-pitch at-bat was a classic duel between batter and pitcher, and ended up with a beautiful called strike three. "That's why he's The Best Pitcher on the Planet," I smiled. "He always gets that strikeout." Unfortunately the 11 pitches he threw to Frank Thomas were more than he had used in three other innings that night, and now pushed him over the 70 mark. Ryan Rupe came out for the sixth, and promptly served up a three-run homer to Joe Crede, ruining another Pedro start. The Red Sox only got one more hit the rest of the way and lost, 4-2.

For more pictures, please go on to...

Page 1           Page 2           Page 3

HomeDepartmentsFeaturesArchivesMore InfoInteractSearch Road TripsRedSoxDiehard.comRandom page
E-mail the webmasterPost to Message Board
This page and all photos copyright © 2003-2004 by Kristen D. Cornette.