Opening Day at Wrigley: Of Steamed Buns and Salty Dogs

john-c-reillyIn the movie “Kong: Skull Island,” when Hank Marlow (played by John C. Reilly, who upstages the giant ape at every turn) feasts his glazzies upon Brie Larson for the first time, he intones reverently, "You are more beautiful than a hot dog and a can of beer at Wrigley Field on opening day," his “eyes glowing like state-fair pinwheels,” as the Time Magazine review put it.

That is some kind of beauty.

The Chicago Cubs Opening Day is at hand – the real opening day – the one that takes place here, at Wrigley Field on April 10, in all its unpredictable, numbing cold glory. Get the steamers going, load in the Vienna Beef hot dogs and tap the kegs. It’s here, and it’s magnificent.

Who has not ordered up a few dogs and a few beers (never order one of each!) and made that trek up the basement-like concrete tunnel to behold the impossible green of Wrigley Field, spread before them, the ballplayers tossing balls back and forth, the pitchers and catchers working – and the ball going at a surreal speed (television never captures the true speed of a major league fastball).

It’s heaven on earth – and those salty, snappy hot dogs with a touch of brown mustard and onions rolled from a golf ball-washer style grinder, washed down by a Budweiser that’s almost too cold to hold – that’s what we have in Chicago that’s right and good and untouchable.

Opening Days gives us the promise of more days to come. Right here, among the good-natured, beer-addled fans who made it a point to be here. It’s a shared experience, this Cub fan thing – and what used to be shared misery is now shared joie de vivre, a swagger that will go on throughout the season. There are lots of games ahead, and we’re the best team in the world, and everybody knows it. Order up a few more dogs and a few more beers and then just take your seat and absolutely dig it. Have we not earned it?

The only thing cooler than being in a Field Box on Opening Day when the Cubs take on the L.A. Dodgers would be to have John C. Reilly on one side of you and Bill Murray on the other, a couple of Chicago fellows who recognize how beautiful it can all be.


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