LA motivated by tough Wrigley Field memories

Dodgers looking to flip script after being eliminated in Chicago in 2016

October 16th, 2017

CHICAGO -- Clinching a National League pennant at home would be epic, especially after a 29-year drought. But if karma counts, it would be fitting for the Dodgers, who were eliminated by the Cubs at Wrigley Field last year, to eliminate the Cubs at Wrigley this year.

After all, you don't easily forget watching a team celebrate at your expense.

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"It was tough," said closer , who has used those Wrigley memories as motivation. "To see how the fans got on us, celebrating, how wild they got. And the following year, we come here and they do the banner and ring ceremony. That's a lot, man.

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"But they're a very good team, the hitting is good. They did it all, they're the world champs, and if we want to be the champ, we have to bring down the champs. We have another shot at them. We respect who they are."

The NLCS presented by Camping World returns to Wrigley Field tonight with the Dodgers holding a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series after 's Game 2 walk-off homer Sunday night. But the Dodgers led the series last year, 2-1, before losing three straight, which is still an open wound.

After falling in Game 6, they had to hang around in a cramped clubhouse for an extra hour while officials scrambled to devise an escape route for the team bus through Wrigleyville streets overrun by partying fans. Some players decided to walk through the mob to find a ride back to the hotel.

Then came the Cubs' home opener this year, the schedule-makers returning the Dodgers to Wrigley Field as the opponent in a chilly April week filled with nutty Cubs mania. After a two-hour rain delay -- during which the Game 6 clincher was replayed on the video board -- some of the Dodgers players watched the Cubs raise a championship banner. Most didn't, however. The next game, the Cubs handed out World Series rings.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said what little was watched of those ceremonies further fueled his club's desire to trade places with the champs.

"Yeah, that was clear with our guys in Spring Training, and up to this point, we've done everything we can to prove that," Roberts said.

Roberts said the focus on dethroning the Cubs plays into a mental approach that has allowed the Dodgers to avoid letting setbacks -- even huge ones, like losing to injury -- break their stride.

"That's the whole mindset of the team, it doesn't affect us," said Roberts, who added that winning the last two seasons despite back injuries to is proof the team is bigger than any one player.

"One hundred percent. But there's a long way to go. This Cubs team, they're not going to quit fighting, competing. Our guys, our focus is on Game 3. It's definitely noted how resilient that club is over there."