Our guide to a baseball summer in the stands
A Chicago Cubs bleacher fan watches batting practice May 9 at Wrigley Field. (Chicago Tribune photo)

A Chicago Cubs bleacher fan watches batting practice May 9 at Wrigley Field. (Chicago Tribune photo)

By Vijay Vemu, Waubonsie Valley
and Monica Bielawiec, Maine South

Baseball season is in full swing, and soon enough summer will be here and you’ll have free time to go to games with your friends. The cheapest seats in the ballpark are usually the bleacher seats. They’re great fun, but you have to do it right. Here’s the guide to being a “bleacher bum.”

When’s the best time to go?

Double check the team’s game schedule to see what time games are. Games can occur in the morning, afternoon or the evening, so plan according to your schedule. It’s often recommended to attend morning or evening games so you can still have the better part of the day free. Afternoon games start at around 3 p.m., so attending those requires the sacrifice of the entire day.

What to bring

Make sure to check the weather before heading out to a game and plan appropriately. If the forecast is predicting sunshine, be prepared with sunscreen, sunglasses and, of course, a baseball cap. If it’s looking to be chilly or rainy, don’t forget to pack a windbreaker or waterproof jacket. Some people even bring blankets for maximum comfort.

Must-have items for any game include money for snacks and souvenirs as well as a camera (your phone) to capture the best moments of the game. You can also bring an autograph book or baseball to be signed by the players, if you plan on getting there early.

What to eat
Italian beef, pizza, “tater totchos” and Merkts cheesy beef sandwich are food options available at U.S. Cellular Field. (Tribune photo)

Italian beef, pizza, “tater totchos” and Merkts cheesy beef sandwich are food options available at U.S. Cellular Field. (Tribune photo)

Food at the ballpark is generally very expensive, so if you don’t want to spend around $20 on a meal, then you should eat at home. But if you feel like eating at the ballpark or around the area, there’s plenty to choose from. Wrigleyville is the best place to eat and walk around with your friends if you support the North Siders. There are restaurants and sports bars all over the place where you can grab a quick bite to eat but they’re usually packed, so get there early. In terms of ballpark food, nachos and hotdogs are standard eats and probably the best way to go.

How early to get there

If you’re a beginner in terms of going to baseball games, it’s recommended to arrive at the ballpark about two hours early. Two hours should provide more than enough wiggle room to find good parking, get through the security checkpoints and find your seats in the stadium. It will also give you enough time to locate the restrooms, grab your first round of baseball snacks and snap a few quick pics with your friends and family. The teams usually begin batting practice about an hour before the game starts, so you may be lucky enough to grab the autographs of your favorite players.

How to ignore that one crazy fan

No matter what sporting event you attend, there are always obnoxious fans. Some of them are hilarious and make the game fun, but others are just really annoying and make you want to move seats. Usually the fan is pretty loud and doesn’t care about your viewing experience whatsoever, so telling them to be quiet won’t go well. Just block them out and try focusing on the game, because that’s what you’re there for.

What to expect

It all depends on which team you go see because the White Sox and Cubs have contrasting dynamics at the moment. The Cubs are the more fun team to watch, as their lineup is full of sluggers and guys who can hit. Jake Arrieta leads the pitching staff, so if you are going to a game when he’s starting, you’re in for a treat. If you’re looking for offense, then go to a Cubs game. If you’re looking for good pitching, then go to a White Sox game. Their pitching staff has exceeded expectations and is on fire at the moment. Sadly, the same can’t be said about their hitting. But both Chicago teams are dominating their leagues right now. Go to either game and you’ll have fun.

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About The Mash

The Mash is the Chicago Tribune's newspaper and website written for teens, by teens. The paper is distributed for free every other Thursday at Chicago-area high schools and is written largely by high school students.

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