After playing over 80 years in famed Comiskey Park, the White Sox of the south side have played the last 20 years in this ballpark which has changed names about as many times as Gregg has asked Brent to help him move (a lot). Its current moniker is Guaranteed Rate Field and before even entering we agreed that name would likely be the worst part of the whole ballpark. (That, and the fact that the White Sox play there; curse you, AJ Pierzynski and the entire 2005 ALCS). Brent thinks he’s super creative and that “The Griff” (G.R.F.) could easily catch on, and while he may be right, by the time it catches on the name will have changed another four times. At any RATE (see what we did there?), in the end we were right. If you can get past the name and the home team, it’s not a bad place to take in some baseball, we GUARANTEE it! Okay, that’s enough.
First, let’s quickly get some nit-picky negatives about this ballpark out of the way. We’ve already established the name is just as awful as Edison International Field of Anaheim, and that the White Sox are not a likable team, plain and simple. Additionally, we discovered that this ballpark does not accept mobile tickets with a bar code (later we found they do accept mobile tickets with a QR code…go figure). To us, we still can’t get over this. It’s 2018 and you actually have one, single designated box office window for people who need their mobile ticket printed? Unreal. It didn’t help that we’d walked 11 miles around Chicago prior to the game and were more than ready to just sit down. Nonetheless, “The Griff” needs to figure this out…promptly.
The only other negative we see in this ballpark is its lack of character. The seating layout is good enough, the access for public transportation and the interstate couldn’t be better, and the ballpark is easy to navigate. But, in a city with some of the most exquisite architecture in the world, the design and aesthetic elements of this 20-year-old ballpark are bland at best. Where is there even a hint of the art deco, modern, postmodern, gothic, or baroque styles found all over downtown? We just see this as a missed opportunity when the best they could muster is a set of circus pinwheels in center field as an homage to the originals at the Old Comiskey.
Now, on to the good! It helps that the White Sox are awful this year and the crowd was expectedly sparse for a Wednesday night affair (albeit the final home game of the season), but we sat about 20 rows behind home plate for $25. That’s a plus. It also happened to be $1 hot dog nights…all. night. long! Again, huge plus. Gregg was adventurous enough to put ketchup on these hot dogs (adventurous because he usually eats like a 6-year-old). Meanwhile, Brent will have bad breath until the end of the trip because he can’t load up enough on the raw onions. Six hot dogs. $6. Magic.
Keeping with the food theme, we collect a souvenir cup from each ballpark we visit and the White Sox cup highlighting the great Hawk Harrelson did not disappoint. #he gone #youcanputitontheboardyes. Additionally, there were two fantastic areas in this ballpark, available to fans at no extra charge. The first is called the Fan Deck in straight away center. It sits perched up just on top of the batter’s eye, but offers a unique perspective from high above yet very close to the field. The second area is called the Craft Kave (spelled with a backwards “K” for obvious baseball reasons). This is an open air bar and eatery on the other side of the home run fence in right field. Very cool spot as you are a chain link fence away from the right fielder! Oh, and they serve craft beers, so yay.
Lastly, we must acknowledge the above average multimedia at this ballpark. It, like so many, puts our home field at the Big A to shame. Rotating trivia tidbits for a batter within one single at-bat are the norm (even if they are inaccurate at times), a thorough “This Date in History” montage is presented in the middle innings, and a barrage of statistics are thrown at you including “night game” and “current count” splits which keeps your eyes wandering to the video boards frequently for all the right reasons.
As for the game itself, it was a laugher. A bullpen game for the woeful White Sox saw the visiting Indians collect 10 runs, 13 hits, and 5 walks through just 6 innings. Bieber pitched well for the Tribe and the final score was 10-2. We did leave just a pinch early after our long day, but not before throwing back some Fro-Yo for good measure. If you’re in Chicago for one baseball game, it would be a crime if you didn’t go to Wrigley Field. But, on the whole, this ballpark on the south side offers the baseball fan a solid experience. Just do yourself a favor and print your ticket at home.