It was the first time an NLCS has been played at Wrigley in nine years, and fans were buzzing with excitement. It may not have turned out how fans wanted, but those who gathered in Wrigleyville wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else.
"You just gotta relax and remember how lucky you are that the Cubs are in the playoffs," said Alan Busch.
The Mets' Daniel Murphy homered in his record-tying fifth consecutive game in the postseason and Jacob deGrom pitched seven strong innings to lead the Mets over the Cubs 5-2 Tuesday night for a 3-0 lead in The Methe NL Championship Series.
Yoenis Cespedes and David Wright each had three hits for the Mets. Cespedes scored the go-ahead run on a two-out wild pitch by Trevor Cahill on a strikeout of Michael Conforto in the sixth inning.
Kyle Schwarber had the towel-waving crowd shaking 101-year old Wrigley Field to its foundation in the first inning with his club-record fifth homer of the postseason. Jorge Soler also had them roaring with his solo drive in the fourth. But Joe Maddon's Cubs have just five runs in this series.
Barring an epic comeback, a World Series drought that dates to 1908 will continue. Only one other team has won a playoff series after dropping the first three games.
Theo Epstein's Red Sox came back against the New York Yankees in the 2004 AL Championship Series and ultimately ended one long championship curse. Now, the team he constructed in Chicago, that stirred the imaginations of long-suffering fans, finds itself in a similar spot.
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One Wrigleyville bar has renamed itself "Pink Flamingos" in honor of Joe Maddon, who has two pet flamingos, for the month of October. But its real name is Merkle's after Fred Merkle, a former New York Giant who earned the nickname "Bonehead" Merkle for his mistake at the end of the game that ultimately sent the Cubs to the 1908 World Series, the last time they won. His home run was nullified because he failed to touch a base, like a turn of the century Steve Bartman.
"We spend a lot of time telling the story to people when they come into the bar because everyone's not familiar with it, but every time the Cubs play the Mets people are a little more familiar with the story it seems," says Russ Bishop, of Merkle's.
Merkle played in an era before Ernie Banks or even Babe Ruth, and the bar is filled with historical pictures of old time players. Merkle also played for the team which is arguably the predecessor to the New York Mets.
With its new name honoring the Cubs new and already-beloved manager, Merkle's is also donating money to charity for every specialty Maddon drink they sell this month.
"We're just trying to do what Joe kinda does, just trying to shake things up in Wrigleyville," Bishop says.
TRYING FOR TICKETS
The Busch family of Madison, Wis., fifth-generation Cubs fans, won their four seats at Tuesday's game in the ticket lottery.
"We got lottery tickets," said Allan Busch. "We had to go online Friday morning at 12 noon and try to get tickets and we were able to get four seats in the bleachers."
Other hopeful fans lined up early at the Wrigley Field Box office, hoping to score one of a handful of tickets released at the last minute by the team.
"I'm willing to get a single ticket, so I'm hoping that helps me," said Jill Ruzevick.
"We'd love to go to the game but we're not looking to pay ridiculous secondary prices," said Juan Garcia.
Thanks to the Mets, secondary prices aren't quite as ridiculous as they were before the series started. StubHub and licensed ticket brokers say for Tuesday's game the market has dropped by 50 percent, with standing room tickets going for about $150 and box seats for about $600.
"There are a lot of tickets out there, so sellers are trying to unload their tickets," says Noelle Schmitt of StubHub.
The Cubs say thieves still thrive in markets like this and warn fans to stay away from scalpers online and near Wrigley Field. Over 100 counterfeit tickets were seized at the gates during the NLDS. The team says fans need to check all tickets for the watermark.
"The valid tickets, the watermark is scattered throughout the back of the ticket underneath the copy," says Cubs spokesman Julian Green.
If you do have tickets, do not take a picture of them and put them on social media as there is technology that can scan that bar code.
PARKING RESTRICTIONS AND SAFETY
After the Cubs clinched the series with the St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago police corralled fans pouring out of Wrigley Field away from the bars on Clark Street.
The fire marshal shut down two businesses for overcrowding. Bar owners weren't necessarily happy, but fans should expect a similar game plan after Tuesday night's game.
The Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications asked fans to be mindful of the community surrounding Wrigley Field and to celebrate the playoff series safely.
OEMC officials reminded fans of full-day parking restrictions in the city's Wrigleyville neighborhood on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
-Clark from Belmont to Irving Park Road, both sides of the street
-Sheffield from Belmont to Irving Park Road, both sides of the street
-Addison from Halsted to Southport, both sides of the street
-Racine Ave. from Grace to Belmont, both sides of the street
-Cornelia Ave. from Halsted to Sheffield, both sides of the street
-Wilton Ave. from Cornelia to Addison, both sides of the street
Fans who need to hail taxis should head to the corner of West Addison Street and North Racine Avenue or to the corner of Addison and North Halsted Street. Limos and car services should pick up passengers along West Irving Park Road between North Clark Street and North Seminary Avenue.
The Cubs are offering free remote parking at 3900 North Rockwell Street during the postseason. Free shuttle service is available to and from Wrigley Field, which begins 3.5 hours before the game begins and ends about one hour after the game ends.
OEMC officials also recommended using public transportation to get to and from the game. Fans can use the Red Line to get to the Addison and Sheridan stations, which are closest to Wrigley Field. The CTA will provide extra service on the #80 Irving Park and #152 Addison route. Fans may also take the #8 Halsted and #22 Clark buses. Each night there is a playoff game, Yellow Line shuttle buses will operate until 12 a.m. from Howard, officials said.
Fans can get the latest CTA updates online at www.transitchicago.com or by phone at 1-888-YOUR-CTA. The latest Metra updates can be found online at www.metrarail.com or by phone at 836-7000. The Regional Transportation Authority's Trip Planner is also a good resource. Visit www.rtachicago.org for more information.
Chicago police said open alcohol is prohibited on the street and sidewalk. Fines can reach $1,000. In case of extreme weather, fans can subscribe to alerts at www.notifychicago.org.
Officials also said if anyone sees anything suspicious, they should report it. Call 911 for emergencies or 855-RPRT- 2S4 (855-777-8274), the toll-free number for "If You See Something, Say Something" in Chicago, for non-emergencies.
CUBS NLCS SCHEDULE:
NLCS Game 1 - Saturday, Oct. 17
Cubs 1, Mets 4
NLCS Game 2 - Sunday, Oct. 18
Cubs 1, Mets 4 - Mets lead series 2-0
NLCS Game 3 - Tuesday, Oct. 20 @ 7:07 p.m. CT
Mets @ Cubs
NLCS Game 4 - Wednesday, Oct. 21 @ 7:07 p.m. CT
Mets @ Cubs
NLCS Game 5* - Thursday, Oct. 22 @ 7:07 p.m. CT
Mets @ Cubs
NLCS Game 6* - Saturday, Oct. 24
Cubs @ Mets
NLCS Game 7* - Sunday, Oct. 25
Cubs @ Mets
The Associated Press contributed to this report.