I was lucky enough to go to Game 3 of the NLCS last night.
My father-in-law texted me on Saturday, told me that he had an extra ticket, and thus ended my ability to ever complain about my in-laws.
As far as a normal baseball game goes, the game itself was pretty nondescript. The Dodgers hit a couple of homers and the Cubs couldn’t score, which reminds me of, nevermind. But of course, this was not a normal baseball game. This was the Dodgers, who haven’t been ahead in an NLCS since ’88 and the Cubs, who need no further explaining as to their plight.
If you’re reading this, you already know that the Dodgers won, but to give you an idea of the stakes going into the game, the Dodgers were a roughly 2 to 1 underdog to win the series going in and are now roughly a 3 to 2 favorite to win the series after Game 3. Everybody in the stadium last night knew it was a big game. Not to mention that the Cubs were throwing Arrieta out there, someone who no-hit the Dodgers last season. By the way, class move by the Dodgers to send him the mound
from that game.
What I will remember from the game, other than the excitement I felt when the Dodgers pulled ahead and then got those home runs from Grandal and Turner, was how depressed the Cubs fans got. Aside from this one crazy drunk Cubs fan a few rows away from me, the Cubs fans were a nice bunch. They high-fived each other and smiled when Arrieta got out of a couple early jams, but other than that, they were pretty mild mannered.
No, I remember thinking that whoever scored first was going to win the game. Not because of bullpens or any reasons related to the players on the field, but because of the sense of dread that so quickly embodies both sets of fans when the you know what starts hitting the fan.
When the Cubs had second and third with one out after a passed ball in the second inning, every Dodgers fan was completely silent. And I mean silent, like Rudy Giuliani getting stumped by Chuck Todd silent. Rich Hill got the Dodgers out of the inning and then in the 3rd, the tables turned on the Cubs. Corey Seager singled in a run and the Cubs fans went silent. The next inning the Cubs went down in order and in the bottom half of the inning, Grandal hit a two-run blast to make it 3-0 and that was the last we heard from the Cubs and their fans for the entire night (except for the crazy drunk fan, who was in a Soler t-shirt for some odd reason).
Those poor Cubs fans. There was this married couple sitting in front of me looked to be in their late-30s. They were in Cubs garb and couldn’t have been nicer. After the husband returned from the concession stands with two beers and I pretended one of them was for me by sticking my hand out and thanking him, he actually offered me some of his peanuts. This poor soul though, let me tell you. He was distraught. From the fourth inning on, he just sat there looking despondent. His wife rubbed his back as she tried to literally throw some good mojo out there to her Cubbies and you couldn’t have felt worse for them. Obviously I was dying for the Dodgers to win, but I didn’t want this couple to have to go through what they were going through. The thing is, you couldn’t help but feel that the dread oozing out of them was rubbing off on the Cubs.
I’ve been in that state. The Dodgers, ever since ’88, have given us nothing but heartache. And believe me, I don’t want to jinx it now, but something just feels different as a Dodgers fan this year. Maybe it’s because so much has gone wrong with the injury-plagued season that expectations were lessened. Maybe it’s because Dave Roberts has experience lifting up a depressed franchise, albeit one with an unapologetically annoying fan base in Red Sox nation. Maybe it’s because we have guys like Kershaw and Adrian Gonzalez leading this team, two veterans who are professionals in every sense of the word. Maybe it’s because this team looks like it actually enjoys playing together. I don’t know what it is, but something feels different. I have confidence going into Game 4 despite a 20-year old on the mound. I can feel it. Unless we give up the first run.