WRIGLEYVILLE — The Cubs are one win away from their first World Series appearance since 1945 after an 8-4 victory over the Dodgers in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series on Thursday night.
Their first chance to clinch the National League title is Saturday at 7:08 p.m. at Wrigley Field. An if-necessary Game 7 would be Sunday at Wrigley, also at 7:08 p.m.
The NLCS winner will face Cleveland in the World Series, which begins Tuesday.
The Cubs have never won an NLCS, losing in 1984, 1989, 2003 and last year. They had three chances to clinch in both the 1984 and 2003 series against the Padres and Marlins, respectively, and lost all six games.
With the Cubs one W away from a World Series, some fans are daring to picture the long-awaited dream come true.
"This city will go crazy," said Carlos Castaneda, who watched Thursday's game at the Cubby Bear. "It will be awesome."
When asked what it would be like for him as a lifelong Cubs fan, Castaneda, 30, momentarily was at a loss for words.
"It would be, oh man," he started off. "It would feel like Christmas and a birthday and all the holidays rolled together."
Aside from noisy car horns, Wrigleyville was quiet after Thursday's game. Some fans took advantage of the Cubs' big lead to head home before the ninth inning, while others left soon after the final out.
"You definitely feel" the thrill of the 2016 postseason, said James Palmer, 31. "This team is making everybody believe."
Palmer and his wife have spent the last two nights at John Barleycorn in Wrigleyville, driving over an hour from Tinley Park in search of fellow Cubbies. And Palmer wasn't afraid to make new friends, doling out high-fives to fans just as eager as he was to celebrate the Cubs' success.
"That's just what we couldn't find on the South Side," he said."Sox fans are not very friendly," added Rachael Palmer, 31.
The two lifelong Cubs fans moved from Wrigleyville in 2013, but have returned to the neighborhood frequently this postseason. They were thrilled to see Chicago turn around the series after trailing 2-1, tying it up Wednesday with a 10-2 win in Los Angeles.
But they aren't quite ready to predict the Cubs will win it all this year.
"We take it one game at a time, one out at a time, one pitch at a time," Rachael Palmer said. "We're cautiously optimistic."
The Cubs hadn't scored in 21 straight innings until exploding in the fourth inning Wednesday for four runs in the eventual win.
In Wrigleyville, parking restrictions are in place, although the Cubs have played in Los Angeles since Tuesday's Game 3.
Until 4 a.m. Friday, parking is not allowed on the following streets:
• Clark Street from Irving Park Road to School Street
• Sheffield Avenue from Roscoe Street to Irving Park Road
• Addison Street from Halsted Street to Southport Avenue and on the north side from Southport to Ashland Avenue
• Racine Avenue from Belmont Avenue to Grace/Clark
• Irving Park Road from Clark to Seminary Avenue
• Eddy Street from Clark to the alley west of Clark
• Cornelia Avenue from Clark to the alley west of Clark
• Newport Avenue from Clark to the alley west of Clark
Officials are expecting a momentous celebration in Wrigleyville if the Cubs clinch, particularly now that neither team can win the series before it returns to Chicago on Saturday.
The restrictions ensure emergency access to the ballpark, staging of support vehicles and help with crowd control.
Sheffield Avenue from Addison to Waveland Avenue and Waveland from Sheffield to Clark will close to traffic about three hours before games.
Residential parking and tow zone restrictions will be strictly enforced.
Cubs spokesman Julian Green warned fans to be wary of scalpers and counterfeit tickets. He also said the team will not replace tickets if they're lost or stolen.
Pictures of tickets should not be posted online because scammers could try to reprint them.
The tickets, Green noted, are "extremely valuable."
There has been a huge police presence during postseason home games, with clusters of officers grouped along Clark and Addison streets and others in plainclothes or unmarked police vehicles.
Police — typically including Town Hall District Cmdr. Robert Cesario on big game nights — often have blocked off portions of Clark and Addison toward the end of games with large crowds.
The Cubs and Wrigley Field are 95 percent owned by a trust established for the benefit of the family of Joe Ricketts, owner and CEO of DNAinfo.com. Joe Ricketts has no direct involvement in the management of the iconic team.
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