Road Trip Report Part 2

The skies over Detroit on Thursday, July 23, were ominous. Weather Channel was predicting rain most of the day, with heavy thunderstorms in the evening. It seemed unlikely to me that we’d get our 1 p.m. game in. But my brother and I decided to venture into the city anyway. Our dinner companion from the previous night recommended a sports bar downtown, HockeyTown Cafe. Since it was right next door to Fox Theater and Comerica Park, it made sense to have breakfast/lunch at Hockeytown then decide from there whether or not a game was going to be played.

And to our good fortune, the skies cleared up for a couple hours and we got the whole game in. In fact, the sun came out and it even got a bit hot. I was glad; we had our best seats at Comerica park, right on the third base line, and it was Christmas in July. Santa threw out the first pitch and led us in singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” The game itself featured the Seattle Mariners and the Detroit Tigers. It was a real pitchers duel. Jarrod Washburn gave up only 2 hits in 7 innings as the Mariners shut down Detroit, 2-1. Detroit made it interesting in the 8th when Curtis Granderson tripled in a run with two outs, but other than that Detroit didn’t do much offensively. After the game, we headed back to Chicagoland, stopping at Steak ‘n Shake along the way (yes, we were on a health food kick). This time, rather than staying in the city, we stayed in the western suburb of Lombard.

I should note that Thursday was also Mark Buehrle’s perfect game versus Tampa Bay. Missed it by that much.

Friday was our first game at Wrigley Field! We weren’t crazy about driving to Wrigley Field, so we hopped on the Pace’s Wrigley Field Express, which departs right from Yorktown Center mall in Lombard. It’s not a short trip (probably 45 minutes in and 1:15 or more out), but it’s better than driving. Our seats for the first game were far up in right field, giving us just as good a look at the houses across the street (and the perpetual drummers out there) as the game. The Cubs’ opponents on the day were the Cincinnati Reds. The Cubs took the game 8-5 with a 4-HR attack. Highlights from the game included my amusement that Wrigley Field serves Milwaukee’s Old Style as its official beer (doesn’t Chicago have its own?) and an appearance by director Robert Zemeckis. After the game, we had dinner at Harry Caray’s in Lombard.

Saturday July 25 was going to be a big day. We had our second game at Wrigley Field (12:05 start) then a quick drive to Milwaukee for an evening (6:05) game. The speed of our return bus the day before gave me doubts we were going to pull it off.

The second game at Wrigley Field also featured the Cubs and the Reds. This game was notable for the appearance of 24‘s own Carlos Bernard… Tony Almeida! Bernard, a notable Cubs fan (look for his Cubs mug in every season of 24) threw out the first pitch and lead the singing of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” Our seats for this game were a bit closer, but the seat on the right had an obstructed view thanks to one of Wrigley’s infamous poles. My brother and I switched seats halfway through. This game was also notable for the appearance of Kevin Hart, making an emergency start for Ted Lily. Hart (who had a good game according to my scorecard) would be traded to the Pirates less than a week later. Cubs won 5-3, but the game wasn’t that close, as Aaron Heilman, as he did so many times with the Mets, made it closer than it needed to be.

As it had the day before, the bus took its sweet time back to Lombard, so we knew we were going to be late to the Brewers-Braves game at in Milwaukee. But, we both wanted to get there for as much as possible because it was Negro League night. After a stop at Burger King, we drove up to Milwaukee, dodging construction all the way, and made it in the 3rd or 4th inning. Fortunately, we didn’t miss any scoring as Yovani Gallardo held the Braves in check. We caught all the scoring, Milwaukee’s infamous Sausage Race, and even got to see the roof closing, as the home team won 4-0.

Before I left on the trip, I had written to my friend Bryan, a Marquette graduate, for ideas about things to do in Milwaukee. One of the things he recommended–Jimmy John’s subs–we actually did in Chicago, but some of the other suggestions came in handy. As recommended, my brother and I spent our Sunday morning walking the campus of that fine Jesuit institution (and saw the Pabst Mansion) before going to Miller Park for our final game. Once again it was Brewers-Braves, only it was Racing Sausage bobble head day too! We had our most luxurious seats of the trip on our last day–boxes behind home plate complete with wait staff. I got some great pictures of former Buccos Nate McLouth and Jason Kendall, and of Prince Fielder, but unfortunately the Brewers’ bullpen didn’t show up as the Braves took it 10-2. At least we had sausages.

After the game, we drove back to the city (I was amazed at how easy it was to get around in Milwaukee–maybe because it was Sunday) and took in another one of Bryan’s recommendations: Mader’s Restaurant. It only seemed fitting to get some German food in Milwaukee. I’m glad for Bryan’s recommendation, because I couldn’t find a Mader’s advertisement anywhere. Maybe the place is so famous it doesn’t need to advertise. 🙂 Anyway, the German food was delicious, but I was denied the opportunity to bring back home some Usinger brats because the official store–right across the street from Mader’s–was closed on Sunday.

After eating, we took the long way back to the hotel by driving through downtown Milwaukee. Again, I was surprised at how empty Milwaukee was on a Sunday.

Not much to report on Monday, as it was get up and speed back to O’Hare to catch our planes. And that’s about it. I may or may not have another post on the trip in me to cover some random stuff. I’ve gone almost 1,800 words on the matter already. 🙂

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