Sox addiction

We're just guessing, but there might be a sudden spike in absenteeism in offices around the city, now that baseball season is in full swing. If you're headed to U.S. Cellular Field (don't worry, we won't blow your cover), follow these guidelines to make the most of your time in the hosting 'hood, Bridgeport.

Drink it down
An afternoon at the ballpark without beer is like a day football stands without, well, beer. But getting a buzz at The Cell costs only slightly less than the combined annual salary of Kansas City's bullpen. Fortunately, budget-minded fans can now head to Mitchell's Tap, which opened in the former Puffer's space in October, for a pre-game warm-up. Look out for game-day specials throughout the season. With a selection of 35 beers, four flat-screen TVs and a sunny patio, it's the type of place that might tempt you to skip the stadium altogether.

Bring it back
There was much weeping and gnashing of teeth when Bridgeport institution Jimbo's Lounge closed its doors last year under threat of eviction. Sox fans will be happy to know that the Cell-adjacent watering hole has returned from the dead--at least temporarily. While the bar's ultimate fate is in the hands of the courts, the owners have opted to keep the taps flowing to the bitter end. Will today's re-opening be a new chapter or just a postscript? No one knows, but it's worth stopping by either way.

Eat it up
The Bridgeport dining scene is a potpourri of cultures and cuisines, most fairly cheap and available for carry-out. Can't wait for a ballpark frank? Swing by the walk-up counter at Morrie O'Malley's and grab a few $2 hot dogs. Looking for something a little spicier? Hit up Ramova Grill, a classic 70-year-old lunch counter specializing in hearty cups of chili ($2.50). If you're not the bolt-and-run type, sit down to a plate of penne in pesto cream sauce ($11) at Franco's Ristorante.

Take it outside
Is there a greater sports tradition than the party in the parking lot? Tailgating is encouraged at the Cell, but you should know the guidelines before packing your cooler. Only lots A-G and L are open for tailgating, and only for two hours before game time. Alcohol and cookouts are par for the course, but keep it small--no kegs or full-sized grills. As for the atmosphere, frequent tailgater Andrew Reilly of Logan Square advises, "Meet your neighbors, trade recipes [and] play games, but most importantly, be prepared to talk White Sox baseball."

Talk it over
Baseball thrives on trivia. The stands are packed with know-it-alls ready to bombard you with tidbits about Minnie Minoso's last at-bat at age 57 or Ron Karkovice's 1990 inside-the-park home run against the Twins. Come prepared with your own obscure knowledge. For instance, everyone knows about the Cubs and their goat, but did you know that the Sox also labored under a decades-long curse? Before the 1963 season, Chicago traded all-star shortstop Luis Aparicio to Baltimore. Unhappy with the deal, Aparicio told the media that the White Sox wouldn't win the pennant for another 40 years. "The Curse of Looie" was as good as its word, but when it expired, it expired in a big way.

Ira Brooker is a metromix special contributor.metromix@tribune.comOriginally published April 2, 2007.

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