Sunday, July 10, 2005

Headin' Home...

Tina wanted to go look at Notre Dame, if only for the reason she thinks it makes me mad that she might go there (and for the record, it doesn’t. If I can avoid her when we’re living in the same house, I don’t think a 10,000-person campus would provide much of a challenge), and when Mom volunteered me for the job, I jumped at it. Just like any other school, Our Lady’s University has it’s fair share of townies, so I made some arrangements with the globe-trotting St. Joseph alumni who traveled across the street to college.

I’m getting so good at the drive out to South Bend it doesn’t even feel like six hours anymore, partially due to the fact I cover up the clock before departing so I don’t keep checking it. It’s just the checkpoint strategy – get to Youngstown, get to Cleveland, get to Toledo, get to Indiana, get to South Bend. Its five good CD’s and you’re there. Granted, Ohio is still the most boring state in the union, with Indiana giving it a quality run for it’s money, but it’s not too bad. Plus, because Indiana can’t decide what time zone they want to be on/if they want to observe Daylight Savings time, they’re on Central Time right now, meaning it technically only taes five hours to get there, although seven to get back.

When we got there Friday, Tina had a tour scheduled, but I figured they wouldn’t show her anything the combined knowledge of Chad, Susan and I couldn’t do. So Suzi Q met us at Reckers and we started our tour, which maybe could have been aided by a tour guide, considering a lot of our stories conflicted/wouldn’t have been a whole lot of help to anyone wanting to know stuff about the school. Chad joined up with us after he was done and helped us finish up before we had to go meet DK, who was letting us shack up at his house for the weekend.

Tina was a little skeptical of the whole staying at a random person’s house idea because she doesn’t quite understand exactly how much time you spend with a person who lives two doors down the hall. Even though it had been two months since I’d seen any of the trio, it was like we’d never left, which was nice. Susan and I commenced arguing, Chad and I were making fun of stuff and everyone made fun of DK for not having a cell phone. It was nice, and I’m pretty sure that’s how it’ll be with everyone, just like when I came back home. People complain and moan about being away from people, but when you’re good enough friends with someone, you can be away for a while and not lose a step.

Anyway, Friday night we went with Renee and Susan to one of their friend’s from high school’s lake house. I got to play some bastard, more-horseshoes game of CornHole, which I could never master, although I was proud of the sis for going 3-1 in her games. I also got to play some Euchre, but sadly, it led to this conversation on the cell:

Me: Hey buddy, what’s up?
Brendan: Oh, nothing, what are you up to?
Me: Ummm….playing Euchre….
Brendan: ….Whose your partner? I’m your partner!!! Whose your partner?!
Me: …..Susan…..

I’m not sure Brendan will ever talk to me again after that, and rightfully so, as I crossed over to the Dark Side.

Saturday, Chad, DK, Tina and I made the two hour drive to Chi-Town for a two-event day. First, we were going to show up uninvited and unexpected at the lovely Miss Christina Ginardi’s house, then make our way back into town to see Barry Zito pitch against Mark Buehrle at US Cellular New Comiskey Park, or the last stadium built before baseball started making all of their parks gorgeous (see: Camden Yards, Pac Bell, PNC Park…).

We Mapquested Christina’s house, and due to some excellent conspiring by myself and Rina’s friend Annie whom I met on St. Patrick’s Day, we arranged for her to be at the house at one. Well, we didn’t quite compensate for traffic, so we didn’t arrive until 1:30, but the look at X-Tina’s face was still just as we hoped, and made the whole drive worth it. I gave Annie the righteous high five I had promised her and we got a tour of Northbrook, probably one of the nicest neighborhoods you could ever grow up in and home of Glenbrook North High, or the place where Ferris Bueller’s Day Off was filmed.

(Tomorrow, because I’m getting drowsy and don’t want to screw this up, I’m going to write about the Ryan Atwood Experience, in which I will go into detail about Northbrook and why it’s fun to see where people are from. For now, we’re just going to move on. Just know that A) It makes total sense how Christina turned out the way she did and B) I still have not met Mrs. Ginardi, and that’s killing me.)

So after we dropped Rina off, we headed back into town for the White Sox/A’s game. I’m going to call the stadium Comiskey from here on out, even though it has a proper name, but I refuse to acknowledge it. The South Side of Chicago was absolutely packed, as the White Sox were leading the majors with 57 wins, staff ace Mark Buehrle was pitching, and not only was it a Saturday night, but it was a fireworks night.

If you think traffic is bad at PNC, it’s got nothing on Comiskey. I swear, they go out of their way to make things more difficult for you. Granted, taking the El and forgetting about the whole car/parking thing would have been a great choice, it wasn’t really one afforded to us, and we paid for it. They send you in a circle the entire way around the park, charge you out the nose for parking and then make entering the ballpark the most awkward thing ever. Exiting was just as bad, as they refused to open up the escalators, which sucks when you’re in the 500 level, as all the other ticket prices were really, really inflated and since the Sox were doing well, we weren’t going to be scalping any for much cheaper.

The game itself was pretty boring as far as match-ups between two quality teams and two top-notch pitchers go. The A’s stung Buehrle early for two runs, then eventually blew it open in the last third of the game. Zito was sensational, keeping the White Sox on their heels except for the one inning where Scott Podsednik led off and caused his usual havoc on the base paths. That was easily the best moment of the game, as Podsednik led the world with 41 stolen bases going into the game and singled up the middle to get on with nobody out.

Zito then threw over three times before pitching to the next batter, completely flustered by the All-Star standing on first base. The crowd booed mercilessly after the 2nd and 3rd toss, and poor Barry got flustered for his only time in the game, walking Iguchi and putting two on with nobody out. I was sad I didn’t get to see Scott steal, but with Frank Thomas up and the crowd going absolutely nuts, Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen ordered the double steal and Podsednik stole third instead of second, which got the crowd rocking even more. It almost exploded when The Big Hurt sent a towering shot out to center, but it fell short of the fence and into Mark Kotsay’s glove, counting only as a sac fly. Zito got out of the jam, the White Sox didn’t threaten the rest of the way and we got out of there at the end of the 8th in order to avoid traffic, which we managed.

All-in-all, a fantastic little weekend trip that let me see five of my best friends from out at school, along with my favorite Northwestern student (although I only know two, it’s still quite the honor, I’d like to think). Tina liked the school, although she has no idea what she’s going to be doing, which is about where you should be in the summer before your senior year of high school. I was pretty sure I was deciding between Kentucky and North Carolina, and by March, I was making the choice between Miami and Notre Dame, so it’s not a short process.

Random Stuff From The Trip/Couple of Fun Links

• If I ever run a city, I’m going to nickel and dime every commuter. Fifty-cents here, a buck here. No one would realize what they were paying until they’d spent ten bucks on one round trip. It’s a fantastic plan, I’m pretty sure.

• The White Sox had this lengthy video dedicated to the guy they thought would be their closer, Shingo Takatsu, linked up with a gong and big “Mr. Zero” stuff scrolling below the upper deck. Sadly, Shingo sucked and has an ERA of 4.94, but since somebody took the time to make it up, the AL Central leaders diligently use it.

• I understand that maybe they wanted the stadium to face the lake, you can’t really see it. Instead, why not spin it 180 degrees and get a fantastic shot of the Chicago skyline?

• Little Known Fact: The stairs that Ed Rooney stands on when Ferris picks up Sloane is actually the Performing Arts Center, not the main steps. Who knew?

• Yeah, that’s right: Christina’s school has a performing arts center. And two pools. I’m not sure if that, or the fact Brendan’s is set up like a college campus, is weirder.

• Some radio station in the Chicago area was just playing Eagles songs on our way home. Thirty minutes of no commercials and no DJ’s, just Eagles songs. Best station ever.

• As Matt Daymut put it, one of the many perils of being a shepherd.

• Here’s what Page 2 thought of US Cellular a couple years back, as it’s not a bad stadium really, just logistically flawed.

Ricky Gervais is the man, as if “Freelove Freeway” didn’t prove that.

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