The Chicago Mancation Trifecta
Three Buddies Plan the Ultimate Sports Weekend
Editor's note: This is the first of 5 weekly articles on Mancations provided by producers of the Dan Patrick Radio show and its host Dan Patrick. Dan and his staff work out of a self-designated “mancave” at the show’s studio in Milford, CT.
A mancation is a necessary part of a man’s life. Men need time away from the grind of work and family responsibilities. A mancation should be done ideally on an annual basis.
Some mancation missions call for a trip to a city to cram as many sporting events a possible into a day or two. For example, fly to NYC and catch a Yankee game in the afternoon and then a Knicks game at night. Or go to San Diego in the fall for a Chargers-Padres day-night double header.
I took that theme one step further a few years ago when I flew to my hometown of Chicago and met a buddy from Arizona and another from Texas. Our goal was to see a Cubs game at 1 pm on Saturday at Wrigley Field, a White Sox game at 7pm on Saturday night at US Cellular Field and finish it off with a Bears game on Sunday afternoon at Soldier Field. This sounds like a daunting endeavor, but with some proper planning it became a memorable mancation.
Step one was to find a centrally-located hotel. In Chicago, we stayed downtown so we could take the L Train to and from the ballparks. This saves time and you can also enjoy a hefty amount of adult beverages with no worries about driving or spending too much money on cabs.
We then purchased tickets in advance through a broker. You don’t want to spend most of your weekend worrying about buying tickets outside the stadium. Be a pro, buy in advance.
As I pursued this mancation adventure, a non-travel issue arose. As a Cubs fan, there is no way I could wear my Ryne Sandberg jersey to Wrigley Field in the afternoon and then keep it on for the White Sox game later that night. The same rule should apply if you tried to attend Yankees and Mets games on the same day. You’d be nuts to wear a Jorge Posada jersey in Shea Stadium. Dress for the weather, not for the teams. And leave the face paint at home.
Wrigley Field is the most legendary of the three ballparks. We sat in bleacher seats, where you should first experience Wrigley. It can get wild, watching the crowd is a lot of fun. The smooth flow of Old Style beer and a game-time temperature of 71 degrees helped soothe our concerns that the Cubs were losing. A great thing about Wrigley is that a Cub win is just icing on the cake. You are getting sun, suds and grub with a few thousand friends. A losing effort by the Cubs can’t put a damper on that.
The night session for the White Sox game took place at US Cellular Field, or what locals call ‘Sox Park’. It was our first time in the revamped ballpark that was once stale and is now homey. On Sunday it was Soldiers Field and the Bears. For three life-long Bears fans, this was the most serious of the three events. We approached the game with an intense focus.
Probably the best part of our Chicago mancation was that we were instantly placed in a sports time machine. The cheering and the jokes that went on throughout the weekend were not much different than those we enjoyed in 1985.
Satisfying food and beverage are requirements on a successful mancation. At Wrigley, get there at least 2 hours before game time and go to The Cubby Bear or Murphy’s Bleachers for an Old Style beer and brat to get a base coat for the day. Post-Wrigley, consider a steakhouse like “Chicago Firehouse,” which is located 20 blocks south of the Loop and not far from Sox Park. If you have the stamina-- and you better if you want this as a true mancation--try Angels & Kings, Old Town Social or The Galway Arms for some late night socializing. Angels was a strong first stop downtown. More martinis were served than beers and the music was good. Old Town almost caused intestinal injury as I recall our group wolfing down a plate of cured Italian meats with our pints of beer. Galway provided the deathblow to our evening with numerous pints of Guinness, which brings me to my next tutorial.
During such a mancation, it’s important to pace yourself. Your goal is to actually see all three games in a weekend with your friends and to remember all of the best moments. Leaving the first game completely hammered might seem like a good time, but it could put an early damper on your trip. You want to lightly re-live your younger days, not try to pretend you are 21 again.
As the executive producer of the Dan Patrick Radio show, Paul Pabst works with other “Dannette” producers on the show.