Imagine that you've been coming to this stadium the whole year, uncertain of what the team holds. Then, all of a sudden, things start to fall in place. The Dodgers picked up Casey Blake to shore-up third base. The big deadline trade nets the future Hall of Famer Manny Ramirez. All of a sudden, the Dodgers are the powerhouse of the National League West.
Fast-forward three months. As I stepped into Dodger Stadium at 5:45 PM (the game starts at 7:00 PM), I realized that this was the place to be. I had never experienced a Dodgers playoff game before in my life, and boy, this had to be one of the most exciting days of my life.
The stadium in its beauty was filled to capacity. As I walked through the turnstiles with the ushers scanning my tickets, I'm handed a white Dodgers rally towel. I had seen in previous postseasons teams that gave these out to their fans to use to cheer on the home team.
I go to sit down in my seat in the loge section 139 (if you guys want to see my view, go to the Dodgers website and click on seating. You will get a view of where I was sitting or you can just look at the picture for this article) and I realize:
THIS IS GAME THREE. I AM ABOUT TO WITNESS HISTORY!!!
Not only was this my first playoff game, it was also an important one for the Dodgers. The Dodgers hadn't won a playoff series in over 20 years and had only won one game before taking the two from Chicago. Don't mind the fact that the Cubs are the N.L. Central champions with the best record in the National League.
I experienced Manny's first game and the atmosphere was electric. The game was sold out. This playoff game trumped that by 100 percent. Every seat was packed. There were a total of 56,000 fans watching the Dodgers battle the Cubs. Every seat was taken. No one went home early. The crowd threw its support behind Hiroki Kuroda, who managed to wiggle his way out of jams.
With every two-strike count, the crowd would stand on its feet. The crowed roared and groaned as one collective unit. I have never seen Dodger fans more excited.
Fast-forward to the ninth inning. The Cubs are facing our electric closer, Jonathan Broxton. This guy was throwing like a beast. His fastball and wicked slider were mowing down hitters left and right.
When the Dodgers recorded two outs in the ninth, the atmosphere became insane. With each called strike on Alfonso Soriano, fans were jumping up and down, high-fiving each other, and screaming their lungs out. When Soriano could not check his swing, Dodger Stadium erupted into utter bliss.
Even when the game was over, there were fans who stuck around to cheer on the Dodgers as they celebrated. Bit by bit, players began to emerge from the dugout, soaked in champagne. They sprayed water (that sends a better message than champagne) on the fans on the field level.
Russell Martin and Matt Kemp jumped on to the deck in the left field pavilion to high five Dodger fans. This was a sight to remember. Joe Torre came out to thank the loyal Dodgers fans that stayed to soak up the moment.
As I pulled out of the parking lot, I can't recall how many fans I high-fived on the way out. We all had the same joyous feelings of this magical season. Everyone was saying that all we needed was eight more wins to go, and we would be set! It took me an hour to get out of the stadium, but Dodgers fans were blowing their horns, as the Dodgers proved that records don't matter.
The Dodgers were not favorites to win. ESPN had picked the Cubs to win the series 3-2. Take that ESPN.
The Dodgers had finally won a playoff series in 20 years. It was quite fitting that the Dodgers would make it this far during their 50th anniversary. The Dodgers will be taking an extended rest before they face the Phillies in the NLCS.
I bought my ticket for Game Three. I love the playoffs and even more so when the Dodgers are competing for the opportunity to go to the World Series.
One last note. I wonder how it feels to go down the Five freeway.