By Laurence W. Holmes–
(CBS) When I got the call that I was credentialed for the National League Divisional Series, I was excited about getting a chance to cover such a premier event. While I’ve been to a bunch of games at Wrigley Field this season, this gave me a chance to spend some extended time in Wrigleyville. With the Cubs up 2-0 in the series after wins Friday and Saturday, I know you can get game coverage anywhere. What I hope to do is let you see some behind-the-scenes stuff and everything surrounding this series and beyond. Here’s what I saw from my weekend.
When I went to pick up my credential Thursday, you could already feel the level of excitement. It had been three weeks since a game of consequence, and now the Cubs finally had an opponent. The neighborhood was awake and ready to roll.
But that’s not to say that there wasn’t some fun to be had at a rival’s expense. I almost walked by this on a light pole on the corner of Waveland and Kenmore.
It made me chuckle. I’m guessing a lot of Cardinals fans won’t like it.
On Thursday, I noticed that the statues all had new jerseys on. Harry, Billy, Ernie and Santo all sported new gear:
Before Game 1, I had a plan. I was doing the show at the Piggery on Irving and Ashland but wanted to get over to Wrigley Field for some pregame atmosphere. I parked on a meter near Halsted and Waveland and walked a couple blocks over. Parking space is limited, but I was shocked at what a spot was going for near the ballpark.
Murphy’s wasn’t the only place looking to make a buck. I saw residents with spots going for $75. I’m not surprised at the amount, but I’m a bit surprised that’s the amount for Game 1 of the NLDS.
Pro tip: With the late start times, I suggest looking for meters if you can handle not being in the building for first pitch. There’s Halsted to the east of the park, Southport to the west. The meters on Southport max out at three hours and end at 10 p.m. So you do the math.
The coolest thing I saw Friday was the interaction current players had with Billy Williams. I just missed snapping a pic of Addison Russell running out and giving Williams a hug before batting practice, but I did catch Kris Bryant.
This Cubs team has a lot of respect for the past but isn’t weighed down by it. It was a cool moment to witness and I can share it with you.
Here’s the view from The Score’s booth at Wrigley.
I had a great chat with Ron Coomer about the atmosphere there after the Javy Baez home run. He told me that the sound coming off the bat made him think the ball was going to land across the street, but he knew the backspin with the wind blowing in might hold it up. After the ball landed in the basket, Coomer told me the whole upper deck was shaking with the reaction from the crowd.
Before Game 2, I was invited inside the video board operations room.
It lets you know how far this franchise has come. It takes a small village of folks to bring you all that information the Cubs use on the screen. I was fascinated by all of the plates they have to spin to make the in-stadium product as good as it’s been. This is their first season inside the building. When the boards debuted in the 2015 season, this crew was across the street handling things remotely. It’s incredible.
On the field, I watched manager Joe Maddon “work the room.” I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: This guy is Winston Wolf from Pulp Fiction. Nothing frazzles him. He always seems in control.
Before Game 2, everyone was still talking about Baez’s homer in Game 1. Willson Contreras did his media scrum on the field instead of inside the clubhouse. I’m not sure if you saw it, but Baez was wearing Jordan cleats. So I asked Contreras about them.
How perfect is that pic with the caption?
I left Wrigley before the start of Game 2. I took Clark Street back south and had to pull over when I saw this sign. Is it mean? Yes. Is it childish? Yes. Is it funny? Yes.
Outside of my pictures of Doug Buffone, this is my most liked picture ever. I’m not sure what that means…
That carnival has come to Wrigley, and it’s justified. As long as the Cubs run continues, I’ll try and share what I see. My hope for you, the Cubs fan, is that my next set of pictures has to do with Game 1 of the NLCS and not Game 5 of the NLDS.
Laurence Holmes hosts the Laurence Holmes Show on 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @LaurenceWHolmes.