Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Game 2 ideal to sample new Cell menu
By Jon Greenberg
CHICAGO -- Opening Day, or at least the home opener, is Christmas for baseball fans. Game 2 is like the day after Boxing Day.
A vendor at U.S. Cellular Field sells hot chocolate on a blustery April 2.
Fans will bundle up and endure bad weather for the first game. But the second game is nothing but another day in Chicago.
I took the train to U.S. Cellular Field for the second game of the White Sox season. It was cold, sporadically sunny and mostly empty. There were few fans on my train and a couple sad scalpers outside the CTA station. One guy offered me "premium cigars."
"You know you want one," he said.
I didn't, but there was plenty of room to light up at the game. Empty crowds are par for the course for Game 2, especially on an April weekday afternoon for a team that doesn't traditionally draw well in midsummer.
Here's the secret about the Cell though: Small crowds make it more enjoyable to catch a game.
The sun warmed up the seats down left field, and lines were sparse. Tickets, I assume, were cheap, given the dynamic pricing model, and no usher hassled me as I moved as close as the second row behind the visitors' dugout. No surly octogenarians like at Wrigley Field.
With few people in the seats, there was more bacon on sticks for the die-hards. Aside from Jose Abreu and Adam Eaton, the meat and grit of the new White Sox lineup, the most talked-about addition to the White Sox this season is bacon.
No, not Gordon "Bacon" Beckham, but rather two strips of thick-cut bacon on a pointy stick for $5.
I'm pleased to announce that ballpark bacon is as good as outside-the-park bacon. The good news is the Sox fry it up fresh, sizzling before your eyes. The bad news is it comes with a pointy wooden stick.
Here's another shocker: Bacon goes well with beer.
Yes, in the interest of participatory journalism, I had a beer at the ballgame.
The Sox added cans of Revolution Brewing Anti-Hero IPA this season, though it's poured into a plastic cup. Revolution is a popular local brewery, and it makes some of my favorite beers. It's one of several craft beer additions to the Sox's Midwest Brews stands around the park.
For $7.25, you get a 12-ounce beer, the same price, crazy as it sounds, as a Big Hurt Beer. I know Frank Thomas is going into the Hall of Fame this season, but ...
On the outside, Anti-Hero is usually $10 for a six-pack, while Big Hurt is $8 for a 12-pack. So you're getting a deal with Revolution, relatively. For comparison's sake, a 16-ounce aluminum bottle of Miller Lite goes for $8 from the vendors.
I wasn't up for other new options like the bacon mac and cheeseburger, chicken waffle sandwich and adobe mango chicken sausage. I couldn't afford the $17 banana split sundae. But they seem like good options for gluttony.
Bacon on a stick at the Cell is as tasty as it sounds.
The Sox are also selling $12 carved turkey and corned beef sandwiches in the next Xfinity Zone bar area down the right-field line. That new dining/drinking option has a modern design and a good setup to watch a different game on TV. Check it out during hockey/basketball playoff time.
After my bacon experience, I wanted to try the new pizza at the Cell. Beggars Pizza, a South Side staple, has replaced DiGiorno's, and its DORP (Deliciousness Over Replacement Pizza) is high to very high. I had never tried Beggars before, and I was pleased with my $5.50 purchase. It wasn't quite as good as D'Agostino's at Wrigley Field (Giordano's has replaced them for this season), but it gets my recommendation.
While you should be used to high prices at a baseball game, I'm not sure I've ever seen a $7 hot chocolate, though it came in a Sox mug. Seems like dynamic pricing at its worst.
But even on a 100-degree day, I'm sure a $7 hot chocolate sold better than the $24.99 "100 Years of Wrigley Field" hat I saw in the New Era store.