Wednesday night's loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers revived memories of last year's brief playoff appearance.
It was a good thing Game 2 start was at 8:30 p.m. because it gave people a longer time to get in the mood.
Fans walked out of Wednesday night's game with a look of dejection, like they lost the seventh game of the World Series, almost like a funeral march. Fans took themselves out of the game. After the fifth inning grand slam off Ryan Dempster.
Expectations are high this year, especially with 100 years hanging over everyone's heads. The Cubs have not won a playoff game since the infamous Bartman game in 2003. But as they say, it's a brand new ball game and fans have gotten over it and now they're confident that Carlos Zambrano tonight will come through.
"I traveled 800 miles to come to Wrigley Field to see the Cubs win the World Series for the first time. So as an eternal optimist, the Cubs fans always are, what's one game in the scheme of things?" said Cubs fan Kyle Ermoian.
"Zambrano has had a couple of rough outings and due for a good one again. I think if they can win tonight, that could spark them through the rest of the series," said Kyle Mills, Cubs fan.
"It's going to be great tonight. Everybody is going to support them and it's going to be a great night," said Sherry Peterson, Cubs fan.
The Cubs do not want to be 0-2 going to Los Angeles Saturday. So many say Thursday night was pretty much a must-win.Game 1 was not exactly the way that most fans were hoping to start the postseason. It pretty much went silent all around the park after the Dodgers' James Loney hit a grand slam, giving L.A. a 4-2 lead. The final score was 7-2.
"It's definitely not the start we were looking for. We were hoping to come out with a win but unfortunately it was not a good day for us," said Cubs fan Brian Sturgis.
"I feel the fans got down and felt myself doing it, too, like, 'Oh, crap, this is what happened last year," said Cheryl Heitzman, fan.
The game began under a beautiful evening sky with Chicago celebrities in abundance, hopeful of a big win. Bill Murray was looking ahead to a dream world series for Chicago.
"I hope the Sox can beat the Angels. I think the Angels will be very tough. I'd like to play the Sox, and we can settle this thing once and for all," he said.
A large group of 1985 Chicago Bears gathered for a fundraiser for the foundation for fallen police officer Michael Ceriale.
"Someone has to be there for these heroes' families if they go, because it's a dangerous city, baby," said former Bear Steve McMichael.
As the city's last Super Bowl champions, some of the 1985 Bears say they believe the Cubs have what it takes to bring the city another championship.
"It's 100 years, it's time. I think all the stars are lined. You know, hopefully they'll be able to do it," said former Bear Emery Moorhead.
Many fans say that their biggest fear is that the Cubs' playoffs this is year will go like last year when they were swept in the first three games.
Carlos Zambrano will be the starting pitcher for the 8:37 p.m. game Thursday in an effort to help the Cubs even it up at 1-1.
Leading up to Game 1
"Got to be the first fan in and excited about this all year. So I'm here for the first playoff victory," said Steve Kahoun.
"I want to walk and strut my way in. You have to do it the Cub way," said Anthony Perfors.
In Wrigleyville, postseason play is not a given. It's why so many were so anxious to soak it all in.
Gone are the days of lining up for open seating in the bleachers. It's all assigned now, but that didn't stop Kelly O'Connor from getting there at noon. It gave him plenty of time to contemplate the competition.
"I'm nervous as a Cubs fan because baseball, in a short series, anything can happen, absolutely anything. I just read here about the Sox and thinking the Sox have as good of shot as anybody. And they probably won fewer games than anybody else," O'Connor said.
If Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti looks familiar, it's because he was born and raised in Chicago and got his baseball start working for the Cubs. Does he have a warm spot in his heart for the Cubbies?
"Well, I left here a long time ago. I left here about 14 years ago. But I love the ballpark and the fans are tremendous, the greatest fans in the world. But again, I'm a Dodger and proud to be a Dodger. And Cubbies broke my heart for a lot of years. Maybe it's my turn," said Colletti.
Ted Butterman can get a little lonely in October. But not this year.
"I hold my vacation place in advance because you never know," Butterman, Cubs Dixieland Band, said.
Butterman and his quintet were more than happy to stay on the job as the Cubs stay in the hunt.
"We've played 'em all since 1982, and I think this is the most exciting to me," he said.
"When people were talking about the Cubs being in first place in the beginning of the year, I snickered. I was one of them. I've heard it before. But this is the first time where they really looked like a winning team," said Jerry Pritikin, bleacher preacher. The streets around Wrigley were relatively quiet in the early afternoon. A few faithful gather early, to catch a glimpse of warm ups or chase an autograph.
"I saw Aramis Ramirez walking out of his hummer. And I wanted to get his autograph, but he didn't come over," said Russel Yeates, 8.
Making it to a game was especially meaningful for one group of ladies from Chesterton, Indiana, that includes a woman who just beat back cancer.
"I just kept thinking, I got to make it to the World Series some way or another. I'm so excited to be here, you don't understand," said Marie Gough.
On Tuesday, Cubs manager Lou Piniella led the team in a workout. While the players worked out on the field, workers got the stadium ready for the first game of the playoffs.
On Wednesday around 5:30 a.m., Cub fans packed Harry Carey's. They were hoping to win some free playoff tickets while, of course, enjoying a hot breakfast and a cold beverage.
"An omelet and a beer, you got to do it. The breakfast of champions," said Manny Rizo, Cubs fan.
Fans were optimistic about ending the Cubs' 100-year drought.
"We're going to the World Series, we're going straight to the World Series," said Vince Hallom, Cubs fan.
The Cubs first have to get past the L.A. Dodgers before they can head to the World Series.
"I like our chances with Dempster and being at home. Especially with my sick day today, I think Dempster can make me feel a little better tonight," said Tom Kelly, Cubs fan.
Some Cubs fans were happy the White Sox are in the playoffs, too.
"It's so exciting. It's real exciting to see the sox there, too. But this is the year. I think this is the one," said Sandy O'Kane, Cubs fan. "I'm a little more Cubs' fan. I think they both have a really good shot. Cubs look great."
There were some street closures scheduled around Wrigley Field Wednesday and Thursday nights. Addison Street will be closed from Racine Avenue to North Wilton Avenue. Sheffield Avenue will be closed from Waveland Avenue to Addison Street. Clark will be closed from Waveland Avenue to Cornelia Avenue.
There is also a parking ban that goes into effect Wednesday around Wrigley Field. The city suggested fans take public transportation.
Commuters fought their way through the congestion around the ballpark on the city's North Side Wednesday.
Fans started arriving before noon, knowing that Wrigleyville was the place to be as October baseball opened in Chicago.
"I live for it, absolutely, Cubs. There's nothing better. It's all about the Cubs," said Cub fan Kevin Barmantje.
At the Cubby Bear bar, where they promised to curtail late-inning beer sales on series-clinching game nights, the excitement built as sports radio broadcasters and people from everywhere soaked it in.
"The Cubs are gonna do it for you," said Laura Bailey, Colorado.
The CTA put on extra Red and Yellow line trains for Wednesday and Thursday night, as well as all home games this month. There were also extra buses to the Friendly Confines on the bus routes for Halsted, Clark, Addison and the Wrigley Field Express from DeVry University.
There was also a pronounced police presence that befits a playoff atmosphere.
"I think the community has kind of gotten used to it, first of all Wrigleyville being a residential community. It's one of the only ballparks in a residential community in our country. So our concern, of course, is not only for the fans, but it's for the people in the neighborhoods, too," said Dep. Chief Bruce Rottner, Chicago Police.
And some Wrigley neighbors were confident their team will win and fans will only enhance their neighborhood's charm.
"The noise is pretty exciting. You know something good is going on. The crowds are very nice. And they keep the neighborhood really clean. The Cubs are committed to being good neighbors. I really enjoy being here," said Nolen Levine, Cubs fan.