General

How to get ready for October in Wrigleyville

Cubs

From the Saturday, Sept. 26, editions of The Daily Journal (Kankakee, Ill.) and The Times (Ottawa, Ill.) …

By Dave Wischnowsky

The WISCH LIST

It’s not October yet. But we can see it from here.

And for Chicago Cubs fans, there’s nothing more tantalizing than the thought of seeing the ivy turn red at Wrigley Field – while the team is actually still playing in front of it.

Now, whether that happens this fall with postseason games at the corner of Clark and Addison remains to be seen. But if the playoffs indeed do happen at Wrigley, the scene around the ballpark – if not inside it – almost has to be seen by any Cubs fan worth his or her pinstripes.

And if you’re among the die-hards that want to get a taste of October in Wrigleyville next month, here are my tips on how you can best do it.

Tickets

When the Cubs made their epic (and tragic) 2003 postseason run, I was fortunate to have press passes to all six home games – Bartman’s included. This year, thanks to my season-ticket package, I’m blessed to have a seat in the bleachers for at least one game per round.

But even if you don’t have already an “in” at Wrigley, you can still get in to Wrigley in October. The best chance is by visiting chicago.cubs.mlb.com/ticketing and registering for an opportunity to purchase postseason tickets. If that doesn’t work, other options do remain, including StubHub, Craigslist and Wrigleyville scalpers – most of whom prowl around the bleachers entrance or along Addison west of the ballpark.

Be prepared: Sticker prices likely will be shocking.

Parking

It’s not particularly easy to find parking in Wrigleyville even when the Cubs aren’t in town. When they are, it’s famously difficult. There are many private parking options in small lots and alleys off of Addison, but prices will no doubt be jacked sky-high during the postseason.

Your best options for less-expensive parking near the ballpark are trying to snag a spot at the Green Lot (1126 W. Grace St.) or the Irving Lot (1052 Irving Park Rd.). You also can park at the Remote Lot (3900 N. Rockwell), free during the season, and take the shuttle service to Wrigley.

And, of course, to avoid parking altogether, you can take Metra and CTA trains to get to Chicago and then Wrigley. Use the Regional Transit Authority trip planner at goroo.com to get easy directions from anywhere.

Partying

I don’t know if Wrigleyville offers more bars per square mile than any neighborhood in America. But if it doesn’t, it has to be close. As a result, there’s a plethora of options for you to watch postseason baseball with a beer in hand.

Hands down, the best bar in the neighborhood is Murphy’s Bleachers (3655 N. Sheffield), which is always packed prior to games but usually clears a bit after the first pitch. For a little more breathing room, the most spacious bars around Wrigley are Old Crow Smokehouse (3506 N. Clark), John Barleycorn (3524 N. Clark), Moe’s Cantina (3518 N. Clark) and The Cubby Bear (1059 W. Addison). Finally, two under-the-radar options are The Gingerman (3740 N. Clark) and 60-year-old Nisei Lounge (3439 N. Sheffield), billed as Wrigleyville’s oldest bar.

People-Watching

While we can’t yet say whether this is “The Year,” it’s already been one heck of “A Year.” And should the Cubs advance into the deeper rounds of the postseason, Wrigleyville will get truly crazy.

From a 7-foot-tall man dressed in ivy to a Storm Trooper with a Cubs logo on his chest to the giddy mass of humanity ringing Wrigley during the NLCS, I’ve never seen any sports scene like the one I did in October 2003.

I hope to see it again – and you should too.