Yes, it’s ‘a Sox thing’

S. Side fans revel in the tail­gat­ing scene at Guar­an­teed Rate

Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - CITY SERIES - By Teddy Green­stein

Cubs fans can munch on fancy tacos at Big Star, knock down blue shots at the Cubby Bear and take their hacks at Slug­gers.

The quin­tes­sen­tial White Sox pregame takes place out in the open, in park­ing lots that carry the whiff of hot dogs, do­mes­tic beer and, occasional­ly, Seth Ro­gen’s fa­vorite “medic­i­nal” herb.

Sum­mer tail­gat­ing is a Sox thing … es­pe­cially on a 73-de­gree af­ter­noon. Here are a few sto­ries from Lot C, kitty cor­ner to Guar­an­teed Rate Field.

“Wrigley is not the same”

When Jim and Sharon Mu­lyk ar­rived at 2:10 p.m. Satur­day, they were an­noyed by the sight of blue shirts. They asked the park­ing-lot at­ten­dant if they could set up their tail­gate in a Cubs-free zone. Her re­sponse gave them a chuckle: Don’t worry. Cubs fans don’t know how to park.

Truth be told, the Mu­lyks knew they couldn’t gripe. Two of the four mem­bers of their party were Cubs fans in full re­galia.

“We crouched down in the back seat,” said Matt Rothbart, of Joliet. “Tinted win­dows.”

Sharon bought the Cubs-Sox tick­ets for her hus­band and Rothbart as a birth­day gift. They ar­rived early from Plain­field to revel in the fla­vor of the ball­park they call Comiskey.

They ar­rived early, she said, “be­cause we didn’t want to be at IIT. We wanted to be in the lot and able to chill be­fore the game.”

Said Jim: “We sit, re­lax, have some drinks. Wrigley is not the same.”

They brought Jimmy John’s sand­wiches, played Yahtzee with gi­ant dice and snacked on some­thing novel — dark choco­late hum­mus, scoop­ing it with Gra­ham crack­ers. (P.S. It tastes like choco­late pud­ding.)

Sharon wore an A.J. Pierzyn­ski No. 12 jer­sey.

“Did you say he’s here?” she asked.

“He used to wink at her be­hind home plate,” Jim said, grin­ning. “Now there’s a re­strain­ing or­der.”

“I stay in my el­e­ment”

Ask Mar­lon John­son where he’s from and you get a sim­ple re­ply: “South Side.”

He has been to Wrigley Field a time or two but “prob­a­bly won’t ever go again. It’s kind of old­fash­ioned. There’s no park­ing lot, you can’t tail­gate and the Cubs fans are re­ally ob­nox­ious. I stay in my el­e­ment.”

That el­e­ment in­volves bring­ing a flat-top grill to the game and mak­ing rib-eye and T-bone steaks, sal­mon, mixed vegeta­bles and gar­lic bread.

Sit­ting with three friends at a por­ta­ble ta­ble and wear­ing a black baseball cap back­ward, John­son said the tail­gat­ing scene adds to his ex­pe­ri­ence.

“There’s a lot of park­ing,” he said, “and it’s right by the sta­dium. Very con­ve­nient.”

He was just steps away from the ball­park he calls “The Cell.” Why that name?

“They won a cham­pi­onship at the Cell,” he replied.

“You can’t do this at a bar”

No mat­ter how Satur­day night’s game turned out, Andy Gonzalez could not lose. He showed up in a Dodgers jer­sey.

“I’m a sports fan,” said Gonzalez, a Los An­ge­les na­tive who lives in Plain­field. “I get the whole ri­valry but I like be­ing in the mid­dle.”

Gonzalez treated Satur­day’s game like a re­union for friends and fam­ily, invit­ing about 60 peo­ple and hir­ing a full-ser­vice taco chef for $600. Hold­ing a bot­tle of Modelo Es­pe­cial, Gonzalez of­fered a tour of his tented area that had a mix of fans.

“I’m an Oak­land Raiders sea­son ticket holder,” he said, “and half the fun is tail­gat­ing. At Wrigley the at­mos­phere is out­stand­ing, but there it’s the bar scene and here it’s tail­gat­ing. You get the fam­ily in­volved, get your own food. You can’t do this at a bar.” “There’s not the ten­sion”

Some­times the tail­gate isn’t the pre­cur­sor to the event. It is the event.

Leo Dres­den, Dan Grenda and Kyle Kubasak showed up Satur­day with­out tick­ets. Dres­den went to the box of­fice to buy stand­ing-room access but was not about to cough up the $100 per ticket.

“Armed rob­bery!” he said. The group also brought Jimmy John’s and drank Bud Light, ex­plain­ing that they were out of Coors Light.

Grenda looks and sounds like a clas­sic Chicago sports fan.

He used a koozie with a logo for “The Score.”

Kubasak, of Oak Lawn, wore a T-shirt that read: “Choke: Of­fi­cial Soft Drink of the Cubs.”

The group was a lit­tle an­noyed to have Cubs fans to their left and right.

Grenda said he fa­vored the vibe at tail­gates at Sol­dier Field.

“It’s bet­ter there be­cause it’s all Bears fans,” he said. “There’s not the ten­sion, you know?”

ERIN HOOLEY/CHICAGO TRIBUNE PHO­TOS

Kyle Kubasak, left, and Dan Grenda tail­gate be­fore the game be­tween the White Sox and Cubs on Satur­day night at Guar­an­teed Rate Field.

Mar­lon John­son en­joys as steak as he tail­gates be­fore the game.

Dan Quin­nert, left, and Lu­cas Duffy play a bag-toss­ing game be­fore the game.

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