While the Cubs were in Washington taking part in a thrilling winner-take-all Game 5, Wrigleyville wasn’t nearly its usual electric self — until the final out secured the team’s third straight trip to the National League Championship Series.
The streets around Wrigley Field were mostly empty until the Cubs won and the team’s faithful poured outside to reprise their raucous celebrations from a title-winning 2016 postseason.
“I’m shaking,” Jessica Castrejon said outside the Cubby Bear after the win. “It’s like last year all over again. Baseball is taking over my life.”
Castrejon was wearing her “lucky earring” that she wore during last year’s playoffs.
“I lost the other one, but I still have this one on.”
In its inaugural postseason, crowds filled about half the Park at Wrigley, directly next to the ballpark and Clark Street.
Juan Rudek, 64, was at the Park with his friends from Georgia. He plugged his ears and closed his eyes during a tense moment in the Nationals’ one-run 8th inning.
“I call it depression,” Rudek said. “I’m going to get a heart attack. I told him to grab some pills.”
Rudek, a Cubs fan since he was a toddler, said he watched the Cubs playoff games in Wrigleyville last year, but has liked this year’s atmosphere better to this point even if there aren’t as many people.
A block down Clark Street, it was the same story at Wrigley bars.
David Strauss and his family own Sluggers Sports Bar, 3540 N. Clark, where Strauss says the same number of fans are showing up as last year’s NLDS against the San Francisco Giants.
But the crowds have understandably been smaller than during last year’s NCLS and World Series, when the Cubs won their first title since 1908.
“The only difference obviously is the fact that they [bleeping] won last year,” Strauss said. “A lot of people are just kind of waiting in the weeds until the next series.”
Strauss’s dad opened the bar in 1985, after which Chicago teams have won 12 major sports championships.
“We’re spoiled now,” the 35-year-old Strauss said. “We saw the same thing happen with the Bulls in the early 90s and then the Hawks.”
Authorities still prepared for large crowds. Chicago Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said last week that there were additional officers patrolling the neighborhood during all NLDS games, though Clark and Addison Streets weren’t shut down as they were during last year’s run.
The NLCS is slated to start Saturday in Los Angeles, with the North Siders returning home Tuesday.