Monday, April 19, 2010

In Search of the Cubbleupagus and Other Musings on Year One

I spent a bit more time in the ballpark this weekend and took more careful note of my surroundings as I tried to sense how my game experience would be enhanced as the offense didn't score and the bullpen continued to blow leads the Cubs were lucky enough to have.

On Saturday, I stopped in while the Astros took batting practice.  I wandered about the park and noticed that the previously curmudgeony ushers seemed to be universally more friendly.  I didn't interact with all of them, but as I wandered through the aisle separating the field box and terrace box sections, I was greeted more than once by ushers in a friendly manner.  Some asked if I needed assistance finding my seat.  Some asked if I wanted to go down closer to the field while batting practice was in session.  Some just said, "Hope you enjoy the game."  It was a very welcoming atmosphere and closer to what I have experienced from ballpark employees at other ballparks when I have visited, like PNC, Busch and Fenway.

I still hadn't seen a "Game Ambassador" yet, so I thought I may have been mistaken about these Game Ambassadors as additions to the ballpark staff.  I thought maybe the Ricketts had re-named the usher position the way Wal-Mart calls their employees "associates."  I asked one of the ushers and she assured me that the Game Ambassadors were separate positions from ushers and that they are all around the ballpark, inside and out, helping fans and giving away prizes and such.  She thought it was a marvelous idea in action.  I would agree, but after three games, I only have one usher's assurances that they exist as evidence of such mythical creatures.  I feel like the adults on Sesame Street whenever Mr. Snuffleupagus had just ambled away and the only proof was Big Bird mentioning how he had just been right there.  (Wasn't Sesame Street better when adults couldn't see Mr. Snuffleupagus? I think so.)

After a bit, I wandered the park a bit more and took notice of how clean the seating area was.  Normally, unless it is the first game of a series, there is some left over residue left in the seating area from the prior game.  Some stubborn peanut-shells, a conglomeration of sticky substances that have now bonded to the concrete, and even a stray fragment of a napkin or wrapper.  As I wandered through the lower box seats, there was nothing.  It was as clean as a public sidewalk can possibly be.  There were occasional stains that had become part of the concrete, but there was practically nothing that could be swept away or even hosed off.  It was nothing short of a miracle.

As I climbed the stairs through the terrace reserved section, I noticed that a few peanut shells started to appear.  More stains.  More peanut shells.  The state of the rows got more dirty as I climbed.

When I got to the upper deck, I noticed a similar hierarchy of cleanliness.  The first few rows of the upper deck box were pretty darn clean (though nothing compared to the field and club box areas), the upper sections got a little dirtier, and the upper deck reserved was the same level of old residue Cubs fans have come to accept in the ballpark.

I want to stress, that none of the areas can be considered dirty in relation to how they get after a game.  The fact that rats aren't actively running along in the seating area as people file in is a testament to how hard the cleaning crews work to get Wrigley into usable condition again after a game.  However, it appears that particular care has been paid to the most expensive seating areas as far as improving upon previous years' cleanliness standards.

It was getting nearer to game time, so I figured I might as well check out the bathrooms we all heard so much about in the offseason.  I didn't notice much different.  The urinal troughs might have been new, but once a few thousand people have used a bathroom fixture, you have to figure the bloom is off the rose as far as that goes.  The sinks appeared to be the same, which I've always said is problematic because it is really just a different kind of trough and easily mistaken by the drunken asses as a urinal trough.  In fact, there used to be signs designating that it was a sink and not a urinal which are now gone.

There were plenty of fresh urinal cakes, so there's that.  Also they added some hand sanitizers that don't resemble anything you should ever pee on, so at least there is a method to wash your hands that doesn't come with a risk of coming into contact with urine.

I have to say I am extremely underwhelmed by the bathroom renovations.  Maybe they are more pronounced on the lower levels.  I'll have to investigate later.

This is turning out to be a pretty long post, so I'll get into the concessions at a later date.  Mmmm... bison dogs.


Kris said...

Please add urinal cakes to the list of words I hate.

Aisle 424 said...

Should I have instead described them as "moist toilet nuggets?"

adolfo soriano said...

I trust you were at the ballpark; however, those would've been Astros (not Dbacks) taking BP on Saturday.

Aisle 424 said...

Yeah, I don't know where my brain was there. No wonder I can't find the Cubs Ambassadors.

I need an editor.

lao said...

The woman's bathroom had lights this year. it's nice to be able to see what you're sitting on.

Can I be a cubs snuffleupagus?

Post a Comment

The easiest way to comment is to choose the Name/URL option from the Comment As dropdown menu below. You do not need to put in a URL for this option to work.

Sometimes upon submitting the comment, you will get an error saying there is a problem. Submit the comment again and it should work. I am looking into correcting this glitch.