August 24, 2019

White Sox Opening Day: Bloody Marys, Banana Splits and Unexpected Blasts

April 2, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

March 31, 2014

The Chicago White Sox opened the 2014 season by beating the Minnesota Twins, 5-3, at U.S. Cellular Field on Monday in a game played under sunny skies but a cloudy outlook.

The Sox got power from two primary sources, one expected and one that was quite a surprise.

Chris Sale delivered the electricity on the mound, with the southpaw performing as the ace he has long been, lasting seven and-a-third innings with eight strikeouts and charged with three runs.

On the offensive side few people outside of the De Aza family would have guessed the South Siders would get two home runs and three RBI from Sox leftfielder Alejandro De Aza who hit a two-run shot in the second and a solo effort in the sixth.

De Aza is a good player but please know he hit just 17 homers last year and nine the season before that so his sudden Cabreraness is a welcome stunner.

Forty eight hours before the Sox took the field for the first time for real, the money for a dramatic 2014 debut would have been on venerable first baseman Paul Konerko who is entering his final season as a player and is being counted on for veteran leadership, and the occasional dramatic dinger, before riding off into the South Side sunset.  But a day before the opener it was announced that Konerko would not start on Monday, and while he received a passionate standing ovation during pregame announcements and his name was chanted late in the game, the 38-year-old future Hall of Really Gooder remained on the bench the whole afternoon.

This may turn out to be one of the best moves Sox skipper Robin Ventura makes all season.

Instead of Paulie getting the start, the Sox said, “why wait?” and plugged in Jose Abreu, the newly-signed Cuban sensation who wears #79 which means he’s a bit eccentric but, of greater importance, he also appears to be pretty good.  Abreu hit the ball hard all day long, with “pops” off his bat heard all over U.S. Cellular Field, delivering hits in his first two at-bats giving him a career average of 1.000 which we knew wouldn’t last but looked really cool on the scoreboard for some fleeting moments.

If Sale pitches like Sale and Abreu hits like Konerko than the 2014 Chicago White Sox will certainly be better than the 2013 Chicago White Sox which means they will lose no more than 98 games.  We guarantee it.

Or maybe they’ll win no less than 98 games.   No, not too likely, but if you can’t be optimistic on Opening Day than you’re about as fun as a guy who won’t try a 12-dollar Bloody Mary.  Those expensive but filling and satisfying drinks are on the U.S. Cellular Field menu and we tried one long before the first pitch and, to get our 12 bucks worth, made them include all the fixings: celery, asparagus, a pickle, salami, cheese, the souvenir Sox glass, and a promise to wake us up if we passed out before the seventh inning stretch.

Another new menu item that two in our group went for was the Bacon mac and cheeseburger which is exactly what it sounds like and got rave reviews but when we tried to get one during the game the line was so long we missed the entire third inning so ended up buying the old staple of Italian sausage and crinkle fries.  We were happy.

The Cell’s menu also features a variety of other dining and drinking adventures in this year’s lineup including bacon on a stick, which we wanted but couldn’t find, and a banana split sundae served in a batting helmet, which our wallet could afford at $17 but our stomach was not up for following the Bloody Mary.

The pork chop sandwich, chicken and waffle sandwich and cinnamon bites are also in our feasting future this summer on the South Side and the hope is they’ll all be consumed as the Sox surprise everyone, including most of the 37,422 in attendance on Monday, and make a run at the title in an American League Central which has charm but refuses to intimidate.

The attendance at the Cell was announced as a sellout but there were plenty of empty seats throughout and with Chicago’s cold winter blast due to return and temporarily take over again following Monday’s beautiful flurry of spring which was sunny and in the 60s, the Sox will continue to have attendance challenges throughout April no matter how they play and how tasty the bacon and ice cream are.

But if the new kid, the crafty lefty and the old warhorse can provide a spark, the bacon could be crunchy and the bananas might be ripe all summer long.

It’s spring.  It’s Opening Day.  It’s food in a helmet and a belch in the air.  It’s hope for the White Sox.  It’s the beauty of the now.

Oh yeah, it also cost, all told, about $120 per person in our group for one day of baseball splendor.

We got to thinking, about the sixth inning as De Aza circled the bases again and the cash kept running out of our hands, that baseball used to be an every day diversion but with prices as they are now a day at the ballpark is becoming more like a vacation, more like something you save for, plan for and hope the weather is right for.

And if it doesn’t go well, next time you’ll just watch on TV.

But are the bananas, bacon and bloodies nearly as scrumptious when you’re home alone?

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