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Cubs ready for raucous Wrigley atmosphere

CHICAGO -- David Ross has been in Chicago one year, but he is already feeling the playoff atmosphere in Chicago. On his walk to the ballpark, Ross had fans stop him and clap in the street.

It's been seven years since the city of Chicago last saw playoff baseball at Wrigley Field, when the Cubs fell in the first round of the playoffs. And understandably, they are excited for the players.

:: NLDS: Cubs vs. Cardinals -- Tune-in info ::

When the Cubs host the Cardinals in Game 3 of the National League Division Series on Monday at 6 p.m. ET on TBS, it will return and the atmosphere that permeates into a vibrant neighborhood is sure to bring in a crowd.

And players and coaches are excited for what will be an even busier and louder atmosphere than before.

"Well, to imagine it being crazier is difficult because we're kind of like that almost nightly," said Cubs manager Joe Maddon. "We don't get to really observe what's going on outside the walls, but I know that it's pretty raucous regardless. You can only fit so many people in here, and they're always -- our fans are always the same way."

Added Monday's starter, Jake Arrieta: "I think the postseason environment is really the one adjustment probably versus the regular season. There's a lot of added variables there. But you know, pitching in Wrigley, being able to do that, first playoff game here in a long time -- it's going to be hard to not be amped up and ready to go tomorrow night."

But this season's roster is young -- with five rookies -- and has yet to experience an atmosphere like the one anticipated on Monday. Only a handful of players have been around to see an atmosphere so loud, and fewer have been able to go further into the postseason.

Before their victory in the NL Wild Card Game, the Cubs had last won a playoff game in 2003, when more than half of the roster was in high school.

"It's going to be fun," said rookie Addison Russell. "There's going to be a lot of hype. There's going to be a lot of crowd chanting and stuff. I'm looking forward to it."

Added 26-year-old Anthony Rizzo: "I have no idea [what the experience will be like]. I'm excited for it. We've got the whole city rallying around us. Keep winning, we can get the whole nation rallying around us."

Wrigley Field, which holds 41,072 fans, has sold all tickets days in advance of the playoffs. Even when they weren't at home, playing at Pittsburgh, fans stormed the streets outside the ballpark.

"These fans have been waiting for this for a long time, so, you know, it's just going to be nice -- it's going to be a boost, if anything," Arrieta said. "Tomorrow night, pitching in front of the city of Chicago here at Wrigley. I think it's only going to benefit us."

Greg Garno is an associate reporter for MLB
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