CHICAGO -- When you watch the Cubs play, you can walk out of the Friendly Confines after the game and drown your sorrows and curse Corey Patterson at dozens of bars and restaurants throughout Wrigleyville.There is no Comiskeyville, though. And certainly no U.S. Cellularville.
It's a traditional neighborhood, but it's beginning to change a little as well. Housing prices have soared in the past few years, and I saw a man walking his pet Vietnamese potbellied pig down 35th before Game 1. When trendy yuppie pets move into the neighborhood, you know it's only a matter of time before two Starbucks open kitty-corner from each other.For now, O'Malley's stand remains a neighborhood joint on the corner of 35th and Union, with faded green seats from the old Comiskey Park out front and workers serving up hot dogs and ice cream inside. You won't find pan-seared Chilean sea bass with Champagne grapes, fennel and marscapone, but O'Malley's serves a mean wiener. "The best dogs on the South Side,'' a customer assured me. "No, make it the best hot dogs in the whole city.''
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"It can't be any worse,'' says 76-year-old Frank Anderson, a longtime resident of the area, proudly wearing his Sox cap.Although signs offered World Series parking in various driveways and lots for up to $60 in Bridgeport over the weekend, that price was for spaces substantially on the west side of the Dan Ryan Expressway. They were asking $15 bucks to park in a church lot on the east side, and they weren't doing a lot of business. The streets were mostly empty in the neighborhood before Saturday's game, though a small corner grocery on Indiana was doing a brisk trade in lottery tickets and there was a Checks Cashed business open on the corner of 35th and Indiana. On the other hand, the McDonald's advertised live jazz. Wrigley Field is the heart of Wrigleyville, pumping blood into the ever-more-upscale neighborhood that doesn't so much surround the ballpark as feed off it. Down south, though, Sox fans for the most part spend their money inside Comiskey Park (the way Jerry Reinsdorf likes it) and then go home. People don't explore these neighborhoods unless they live here. Wrigleyville is a wonderful and intoxicating neighborhood, a party with a zip code. Comiskeyville is just real life. Jim Caple is a senior writer at ESPN.com. His first book, "The Devil Wears Pinstripes," is on sale at bookstores nationwide. It can also be ordered through his Web site, Jimcaple.com.