With the city drunk on Cubs fever, the Cleveland Indians expect to face hostile conditions when storied Wrigley Field hosts its first World Series game since 1945 on Friday.
But Indians manager Terry Francona said the potential for an unreceptive atmosphere shouldn’t intimidate his club. Francona said Thursday that the makeup of the Indians, a group flush with veterans and and confident young stars, should help the team manage itself in the potentially Unfriendly Confines in Game 3 of the 2016 World Series. Josh Tomlin faces the Cubs Kyle Hendricks in the contest, which begins at 7:08 p.m. CST.
“It will be a tremendous atmosphere,” Francona said. “I don’t think there’s going to be a ton of people cheering for us. But then that’s where it comes in the feeling in the clubhouse because it is going to be us against the world (Friday), but us is pretty good. We have a good feeling. Everybody in there protects everybody else and takes care of everybody else.”
Wrigley Field promises to offer a surreal setting on Friday.
The Cubs have never played a game this late in the calendar year and they haven’t been to this far in the postseason for several generations.
Fans were lined up for the Cubby Bear as early as 5 a.m. and other local watering holes reached full capacity 4-5 hours before first pitch with patrons paying ridiculous cover charges just to be able to watch the game live from Wrigleyville.
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Still, Cleveland isn’t unprepared for insane playing conditions. The Indians won their only game at always electric Fenway Park in the American League Division Series and then emerged victorious in two of three games at the insanely loud Rogers Centre in front of crowds of 49,507 and 48,800. Veteran first baseman Mike Napoli said he hoped the Indians might face the Cubs in the World Series just so he could experience Wrigley Field in October.
“It's a park you want to come to and play,” Napoli said. “I watched when they clinched to go to the World Series and how crazy it was and seeing the fans in the streets where they had to have police escorts. You could just see the crowd just part ways.
“So it's going to be fun. It's something that I wanted to be a part of, and thought that it would be an unbelievable World Series.”