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Sports

PEDELTY BOX: Fun at the old ballpark ... any ballpark

I'm going to be heading up to Chicago to take in a Major League Baseball game this weekend.

"But Pedelty," I can hear some of you saying, "I thought you were a Cubs fan? The Cubs are at Coors Field this weekend. Well, assuming it won't be under 19 feet of snow, who knows this spring?

"But surely you have your weekends mixed up or are going to Colorado instead of Chicago, right?"

No, that's not right. I am going to Chicago this weekend for a Major League Baseball game.

And don't call me Shirley.

While a trip to beautiful and historic Wrigley Field to root on the Chicago Cubs is always numero uno in my libro, Cubs fans who only go to Cubs games at Wrigley (or for that matter you White Sox fans who only go to White Sox games at Guaranteed Rate Field or Cardinals fans who only go to Cardinals games at Busch Stadium) are missing out on one of the great joys of being a baseball fan — the variety of at-the-game experiences available.

I'm not a big traveler. I've never been out of the country, although technically I did fly over Canada to get to Alaska once (and again to come home). New England, Florida and the Pacific Northwest are complete strangers to me. I spend the vast, vast, vast majority of my time here in the Land of Lincoln, and for the most part I'm all right with that.

But around Illinois and the surrounding states, I've made it a point to make it to a lot of ballparks.

Aside from a couple of the suburban ones where the teams change names every couple years, I think I've been to pretty much each and every minor league baseball stadium Illinois has to offer.

I've of course seen dozens and dozens of games at Wrigley Field, but also made it a point to see the Cubs play at Old Busch (I was at Mark McGwire's No. 62 game in 1998 and refused to sell my $10 ticket stub — which I've since lost — for $75 after the game to a guy outside the ballpark) and New Busch (one day before the Cubs clinched the division in their world championship season of 2016; dang, that could've been really cool). Last year I made the trek up to Miller Park to see the Cubs, and no matter what ridiculous ticket scheme the Brewers come up with trying to keep Cubs fans out, I plan to go back many more times in the future.

Every few years, though, whether the Cubs are there or not, I make it a point to take in a ballgame at Comiskey ... I mean New Comiskey ... I mean U.S. Cellular ... I mean Guaranteed Rate Field. (It is still Guaranteed Rate Field, right?)

It's a great place to watch a ballgame, though I haven't been there since the final day of the 2013 season, a day I gave Paul Konerko a standing ovation in what I and the rest of the 22,633 fans in attendance suspected might be his final game, but wasn't. So I was due to return to Sox Park, whatever it's called these days.

And since my annual birthday present to former Times Sports intern/lifelong fake nephew William Linn is a trip to a baseball game— including two journeys to Midwest League All-Star Games, a White Sox/Cubs day/night Chicago doubleheader, the aforementioned 2016 trip to St. Louis and last year a journey to Des Moines to watch the Triple-A Iowa Cubs featuring Kyle Schwarber and eat the best barbecue I've ever had in my life — I thought I'd bring him along to watch the White Sox take on the world champion Houston Astros.

Oh, I'll be going to Wrigley in June and likely a few times after that later in the season, but I know I'll have an awesome, stellar, amazing time this weekend rooting for the White Sox ... or the Astros. I haven't decided yet. Probably whichever team William is rooting against. Most of my applause will inevitably be spent on the new Cuban burger I've seen they've added at the ballpark anyway.

Even if it's not your ballpark and your team's not playing, you'll find something to cheer about.

Assuming you're not buried under a foot of snow, that is.

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