The Sears Tower soars above the skyline. The Billy Goat Tavern serves "cheezborgers, cheezborgers" and "no fries, cheeps." And given how packed the streets are with middle-aged women, Oprah's TV studio is nearby. So evidently, this must be Chicago.
But I'm still not sure. After all, I'm the same age as Roger Clemens, and if there is one thing I've learned in my 43 years, it is this: The World Series is never played in Chicago. Dental hygienists conventions, optometrist conventions, tradeshow conventions -- these are what you find in Chicago in October, not the autumn classic.
And yet, damn if it didn't look like that's exactly what was played here Saturday night. The World Series logo was painted on the grass. There were the usual Fox television "celebrities" in the crowd. And Tim McCarver was on the air to belabor every point.
So it must be true. It wasn't a convention of replica jersey wholesalers on the field at Comiskey Park -- those were the White Sox and the Astros, and they really played a World Series game in Chicago. Yes. Whether we believe it or not, THEY PLAYED A WORLD SERIES GAME IN CHICAGO!!!
"It's like I was saying to my wife," White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. "Or maybe it was Joe Crede or Aaron Rowand. I can't remember but it was someone. I said, 'Who would have believed that a bunch of [expletive] like us would be in the World Series?'"
You'll have to excuse A.J.'s language as well as his apparent inability to tell the difference between his wife and his third baseman. This is the sort of moment that leaves a person tongue-tied, profane, confused and absolutely delirious.
"It's great, isn't it?" Houston batting coach Gary Gaetti said. "There was a ballgame worthy of the World Series. You got to see a lot of different faces. And you had pinstripes, too. Maybe not the pinstripes you were used to, but they were pinstripes."
And Gaetti felt that way even though his team lost 5-3. So you can only imagine how Chicago's fans felt.
How long has it been since the World Series was played in Chicago? When the Sox played the Dodgers in 1959, the city was just starting to build the infamous Robert Taylor Homes -- the nation's largest public housing project -- across the highway from Comiskey Park. Now, they've just about finished tearing them all down.
Steve Ramirez was born in 1961, and he's been waiting his entire life for the White Sox to play in the World Series. As he ate dinner near the ballpark with his family, he recalled the time his father promised to take him and his friends to the White Sox game for his birthday. When they got to the ballpark, however, they found that the game was sold out.
"So he took us to see 'Death Wish' instead," Steve said.
'Death Wish'? The Charles Bronson vigilante movie?
"I thought it was a cartoon," Bob Ramirez offered weakly.
Well, that's the way it's been if you were a White Sox fan since the team last won a World Series. You went to the ballpark looking to see a game and you wound up watching a blood-letting. The Black Sox scandal. Disco Demolition Night. The drunk father-son team that attacked the Royals' first base coach. Those awful short pants. This is a team with a long and often ugly history.