CHICAGO – If you happen to venture down to Clark and Addison over the next 50 hours, take it all in.
These are rare days around Wrigley Field. It’s not just about sentiment, these are indeed unique contests that about to take place in the 102-year old park whether the Cubs win or not.
Game 6 of the National League Championship Series against the Dodgers with a possible game seven are historic for a number of reasons as Wrigleyville prepares for some of its most important baseball games in history.
First of all, Wrigley Field will host the latest Cubs game in the park’s history on Saturday night. October 22nd is the latest the Cubs have ever played a game at the park since moving there in 1916, besting the final game of last year’s NLCS Game 4 loss to the Mets on October 21st.
Just how rare are the stakes on Saturday? Try five.
That is the number of opportunities the Cubs have had to win a playoff series Wrigley Field before Game 6 since it opened back in 1914. Just six games among the thousands played in the park have held the significance that at least Game 6 on Saturday or perhaps a Game 7 on Sunday.
It will be just the third time the team will play at home for a chance to win the National League Championship Series. The other two came on October 14th and 15th, 2003 when the Cubs lost a pair of games to the Florida Marlins. That includes the infamous 8th inning collapse in Game 6 when Florida erased a three-run lead by the home team when the reeled off eight of their own.
The two losses to Florida were apart of a five-game losing streak the team had at Wrigley Field when trying to wrap up a series. Despite appearing in six World Series after moving into the park in 1916, the Cubs only had the chance to win the World Series at home in that stretch.
Oddly enough it was the team’s last World Series game in 1945 when they had their only chance to win a championship at home. The Tigers ruined that potential part on October 10th of that year by scoring five first inning runs en route to a 9-3 victory. The next chance wouldn’t come till the 2003 National League Division Series against the Braves but once again it ended in a loss.
Atlanta beat the Cubs 6-4 in Game 4 at Wrigley Field but the sting of that defeat went away 28 hours later when the team beat the Braves in Game 5 to clinch their first postseason series win since 1908.
Hence the ticket prices for the game are some of the highest in Wrigley Field history. Just standing in the park, according to StubHub.com, will cost you $325 with the cheapest seat as of Friday coming in the upper deck for $401.
Pressure will be high on what is expected to be a chilly yet clear night at the ballpark. Don’t think the Cubs’ players don’t know that.
“They deserve this moment,” said Anthony Rizzo of the Cubs fans who will jam into Wrigley Field this weekend. “”They should enjoy it and just be with us, be with us like they have the whole year.”
Especially against the one man who has had success against the Cubs at home this postseason. In Game 2 of the NLCS, Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw shutout the home team over seven innings in helping his team to a 1-0 win over the Cubs in their only postseason loss at home so far.
He will get the ball in Game 6 and faces Cubs Cy Young Award candidate Kyle Hendricks, who allowed just one run against Kershaw in Game 2 but took the loss.
“We’re excited to get back to Chicago, I know that, and play in front of our hometown crowd,” said catcher David Ross. ” We’re excited but we have a lot of work to do.”
Effort they’ll bring in some rarefied air at Wrigley this weekend.