Yes, it’s ‘a Sox thing’
S. Side fans revel in the tailgating scene at Guaranteed Rate
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?”
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.