This is part 4 of a series. You can start at the beginning here.
The only flight I could get to Los Angeles was with a stop in San Francisco, but fortunately I had a day in between games. I would be staying with my friend Janis Nelson (yes, the same Janis Nelson who won the ticket lottery for me) and her husband Jim Ruxin in Brentwood. I did some research about getting to Dodgers Stadium by public transportation and decided that for the first time in my life, I would NOT rent a car in L.A. The plan was to depend on Uber, some busses and the kindness of friends to shuttle me around. I was also offered a parking spot that was a 10-minute walk away from the Stadium by a former student of mine, Geoff Booth. This would enable me to avoid dealing with the horrific parking lot situation at the stadium and allow for a quick exit afterward.
I had 2 tickets for each of the games, and Richie had decided he couldn’t make the trip, so I invited different people to come to each of the games.
Game 3, Cubs at Dodgers, Dodgers Stadium
For the first game, Janis would be my companion. She and I set out early and using Waze managed to get to the ballpark nice and early. We met up with Geoff, who zapped us into the parking lot in the building where he lives, and gave me the zapper to use for the duration of the 3 games. After parking, Janis and I walked down the hill, passing the bumper to bumper traffic and into the ballpark.
Dodgers Stadium is not much to look at from the outside, but it’s beautiful inside. Architecturally, it’s a relic of mid-century style, which is when it was built. It reminds me of the pavilions at the New York World’s Fair. I had been here once before, but that was way back in the ‘70s when I was still in college and spent a summer in L.A. That was also a Cubs game.
The games were all scheduled at 5:00 Pacific time, which made it inconvenient for people to get there in time, so many seats were empty until as late as the 3rd inning.
Our seats were pretty good—upper deck, but just to the right of home plate. You could pretty much call the pitches from that angle. Janis is an equal opportunity fan. She loves baseball, and cheers for certain players or good plays from either team. She was kind of rooting for the Dodgers, but kind of rooting for the Cubs as well. We were surrounded by Cubs fans. It was like we were in the visitor’s section, but as the game got going, it seemed like there were a great number of Cubs fans all over the park.
The Cubs had Arrieta on the mound, and he looked pretty shaky from the start. As Richie would say, “Jake wasn’t Jake.” By the time he left the game in the 6th, he had given up 4 runs. On the other hand, Rich Hill, pitching for the Dodgers seemed to be unhittable. Or was it just the Cubs who couldn’t hit? Madden tried changing up the batting order a bit to get the bats going, but moving Rizzo to cleanup and benching Heyward didn’t seem to help–they were helpless to get a timely hit. It was the second game in a row where the Cubs were shut out. Worse yet, the Dodgers were now winning the series 2-1, with 2 more games in L.A. They could theoretically close the Cubs out without going back to Chicago.
After the final out, Janis turned to me and said, “Don’t worry. They’ll win tomorrow.”
Final score, Dodgers 6, Cubs 0.
Game 4, Cubs at Dodgers, Dodgers Stadium
The next day, my companion would be my brother Larry, who lives in the Valley. I had to go to meeting in West Hollywood early in the day, and the plan was that I would Uber to the meeting, then take the bus clear across Los Angeles to Echo Park, and then I would meet Larry at Geoff’s parking spot. All went as planned, except I got to Echo Park way earlier than I expected. I ended up having lunch at a great little Mexican place, and had a couple of margaritas to start my ballgame buzz.
I walked around the neighborhood to kill some time, and made a few necessary phone calls (Yes, I still had work to do).
Finally, it was time to walk up the hill to meet Larry. We parked his car and headed into the stadium. Larry is also a Cubs fan, and once again, we were surrounded by Cubs fans. The seats were right near the ones we had been in the night before, only a few rows closer. This was a must-win game and you could feel the tension among the Cubs fans. Going down 3-1 would not be good.
Obviously, the Cubs felt the same way, as their incredibly cold bats came alive in the 4th inning, scoring 4 runs after having gone 21 innings without scoring a single run. Most importantly, Anthony Rizzo snapped out of his slump, with a homer and 3 RBIs. And it only got better from there.
Final score, Cubs 10 Dodgers 2, with the series now tied at 2 apiece.
Larry dropped me off at a restaurant in Westwood, where I met the wonderful Anne Thompson for a drink and great conversation that veered from baseball to Oscars to our differing opinions on specific films. Anne would be leaving in the morning for the Morelia Film Festival in Mexico, one of my personal favorites. But I couldn’t be jealous. I had at least two more playoff games to go to.
With that result in the books, I now knew that there would be at least a Game 6 in Chicago, so I immediately contacted the Chicago Film Festival to change my flight from NY-Chicago on Saturday to LA-Chicago on Friday. After a bit of back and forth, it was all set up, with a plane change in Phoenix.
Before going to bed, I also went to the Cleveland Indians web site to see what the situation was for World Series tickets. I was already resigned to skipping the first two games if the Cubs made it that far, but if there was to be a Game 6 or 7, hmmm. On the web site, it appeared that tickets had not yet gone on sale. There apparently would not be a lottery. So, I signed up for the newsletter so I would get a heads up about when those tickets would become available.
Game 5, Cubs at Dodgers, Dodgers Stadium
First thing in the morning, I went back to the Indians web site, and much to my shock, the tickets had gone on sale that morning, and everything was sold out. I was on west coast time, so I missed it. Oh well.
I had brunch with my friend and former Emerging Pictures colleague Myrna Moncayo, and then spent the rest of the day getting caught up on work.
My companion for this final L.A. game was Ed Rugoff, someone I’ve known for a long time, but only recently became friends with. Ed seems to be a Cubs fan by marriage—his wife is from the Chicago area. I took an Uber over to his house and we drove to the ballpark together, again parking in Geoff’s space.
With the series now tied, this was another critical game. Going back to Chicago one-up would be particularly positive, given that all the media was pointing to the fact that the Cubs would be facing Kershaw again in the 6th game.
Our seats were in the right field corner in the upper deck, and there seemed to be even more Cubs fans around us than there had been for the prior two games. We started chanting “Let’s Go Cubbies” to the irritation of some Dodgers fans around us.
Even more irritating for Dodgers fans, and much to our pleasure, the Cubs scored a run in the first inning. Rizzo was really back! But our elation was tempered by the fact that we probably could have and should have scored more than a single run.
The Dodgers tied it up the in 4th and we prepared ourselves for another low scoring game. Lester was sailing along, and while the Cubs kept threatening, there were no timely hits. Finally, in the top of the 6th, Addison Russell blasted a 2-run homer, and the Cubs were in the lead again. It was comforting to be ahead, but a 2-run lead did not seem like enough. The Dodgers threatened several times and there were a number of contested calls, most of which seemed to go the Cubs way.
Then came the top of the 8th. A combination of sloppy play by the Dodgers and clutch hitting by the Cubs created a monster inning, after which the Cubs were leading 8-1. We were ecstatic. Hard to believe the Cubs bullpen could blow that kind of lead. In the meantime, the stadium started to empty out. From our seats, we could see a sea of red lights from the bumper to bumper traffic trying to get out of the parking lot.
The Dodgers tried to make some noise over the final two innings, but ultimately fell short.
Final score, Cubs 8, Dodgers 4.
We celebrated with the Cubs fans around us and sang “Go Cubs Go.”
Back to Chicago
This series continues here.