The White Sox rolled out new menu items, including a Cuban burger that received glowing reviews from some, and showed off other changes around Guaranteed Rate Field during a media tour on Tuesday. Here are five observations:
1. The team renovated the visitor’s clubhouse, outfitting lockers with outlets for players to plug in their devices and expanding kitchen space for the opposing team’s chef – all part of Major League Baseball and the union’s efforts to upgrade player amenities.
But doesn’t that fly in the face of the old-school rule that you make your opponent as uncomfortable as possible?
“We joked around and I said, ‘Hey, paint it pink and green for all I care,’ ” park operations senior director Jonathan Vasquez said. But, as Vasquez and other Sox officials noted, the home team still has better accommodations.
Several reporters and photographers sampled the snacks — including an open-faced Italian sausage patty sandwich on Texas toast called the “South Side Horseshoe” and three varieties of Johnsonville sausage sandwiches whose names play off pitching terms (the “Slurve,” “Change Up” and “Cutter) — and here are some of their hot takes (if you’ll excuse the pun).
On the sliced-ham-and-shredded-pork Cuban burger: “Perfect ratio of ham to pork, which is key to a good burger.” … “The Cuban burger is amazing.”
On “The Slurve,” a cheddar bratwurst with caramelized onions and spicy mustard: “Good smoky grilled flavor to it.” … “Little disappointed. … Too much onion, too much bread, too much mustard. Too much going on besides the sausage.”
On the empanada: “The queso cheese is really good.”
On “The Cutter,” a southwestern chorizo with guacamole and cotija cheese: “For a chorizo it’s kind of bland.”
3. The team installed a virtual reality batting cage in the Chicago Sports Depot, near Gate 5, and only a few MLB ballparks have them. Each batter will have 90 seconds to hit as many home runs as they can as far as they can.
Smooth and easy swings, recommends director of digital communications Brad Boron, and if you do hit a 500-footer, “don’t flip the bat. It’s an expensive sensor.”
4. On game days, fans will notice some small changes around the G-Rate. Like all ballparks, the 30-foot-high safety netting has been extended to the outfield end of both dugouts, or from section 122 to 142.
After several injuries to fans on foul balls in recent seasons, it became necessary to widen the protective netting, and really, it’s hardly noticeable.
Meanwhile, the LED ribbon has extended to run the entire length of the grandstand, which means the retired numbers that resided behind home plate had to be moved to the first- and third-base lines.
5. It’s a shame the Revolution Brewing #SoxSocial Tap Room wasn’t ready for prime time when the Sox hosted the media tour. The team is riding the wave of craft beers at baseball stadiums, as well as its partnership with Revolution Brewing — adding up to 50 different craft beers — reflects that.