All those extra games last postseason, the busy offseason, the World Series hangover, 162 regular-season games, and then that grueling series triumph over the Washington Nationals might have taken a toll on our Chicago Cubs, who looked sluggish in their 6-1 loss and went down three games to none against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the best-of-seven National League championship series. Fans are pretty tired this morning, too.
"It was worth it," says Crissy Johnson as her 8-year-old daughter, Trinity Taylor, nods in agreement.
Their odyssey started at 4:30 a.m. Tuesday in the quiet hamlet of Kuttawa, Kentucky, where they live. They drove an hour and a half across the Illinois border to Carbondale and caught a 7:30 a.m. Amtrak train that dropped them off in Chicago six hours later so they could ride the L train to Wrigley Field for a game that didn't start until 8:01 p.m. and takes longer because of all the television commercials and pitching changes typical of postseason baseball.
"She is a little obsessed with (Cubs' third-baseman) Kris Bryant," Johnson says of Trinity, as the girl hides her head in her hands. "And I understand. I fell in love with Mark Grace in the 1990s."
Trinity wears a Bryant jersey with the No. 17 that Grace made famous during his Cubs career. "I wore this on the first day of school and Aaron said, 'You are my best friend forever,'" Trinity says, explaining that she and Aaron are the only two Cubs fans in a third grade filled with St. Louis Cardinals backers.
"She's not used to seeing all these Cubs fans," Johnson says as the pair blend seamlessly into a sea of Cubbie blue.
When a friend offered tickets to Tuesday's game, Johnson grabbed them, surprised her daughter and posted that video on Facebook. Johnson took off work Tuesday and today from her job doing clerical work for the local sheriff's department. Trinity is "cutting school" on both days. "And we're catching the train at 6:15 in the morning to go back," Johnson says. "Totally worth it."
Kuttawa might be the city that never sleeps, but a Cubs-backing father and son from the hard-working city of Rockford vow that Tuesday's late game won't keep them from work and school.
"I'm home-schooled," says 9-year-old Cannon Warkins.
"It makes it easier for us, but he'll get up at 8 a.m.," promises dad Rob Warkins, who has his own electrical business. "I've got to get up and work. Oh, yeah, I've got to be there by 7:30."
Cannon says he stayed awake until midnight once, on a New Year's Eve. His mom, Leigh, almost made the trip, but she suggested it could be a nice father-son experience for a baseball-crazed kid whose favorite player is Cubs' slugger Anthony Rizzo.
"It's probably a once-in-a-lifetime thing to go to a playoff game at Wrigley Field," Rob Warkins says, explaining how he bought the tickets from a friend who has season tickets. "He made enough money off the tickets he sold last season to pay for his seats for the next two years."
Maybe it's because the Cubs dug themselves into a hole in this National League championship series, maybe it's because the game started so late on a night when people have to get up to go to work and school, or maybe it's because three straight years of playing for a chance to go to the World Series have made Cubs fans jaded, but tickets were selling at face value and even below for Tuesday's game.
For all those fans who haven't given up on the 2017 Cubs, and aren't intimidated by long trips and late nights, the Cubs will take on the Dodgers at 8 tonight at Wrigley Field.