ARLINGTON, Texas — For 54 consecutive years Mike Amodei attended at least one Dodgers game a season, beginning using a Sandy Koufax start in 1966. Nothing would likely ever stop him through keeping his streak alive, he thought — until a once-in-a-century pandemic put the item in jeopardy.
Though Major League Baseball has managed to carry out a 60-game regular season in addition to an expanded postseason, fans were not permitted to attend games for months because of the coronavirus.
“I thought the item was over,” Amodei said through the lower concourse at the Texas Rangers’ Globe Life Field. “in addition to then This particular happened.”
“This particular,” to clarify, is usually the National League Championship Series, the first games of which fans have been allowed to attend since spring training, before the pandemic struck. Amodei, 63, seized the opportunity.
A book editor through South Bend, Ind., who grew up in Southern California, he bought a ticket online, jumped on a plane in addition to arrived in Texas in time for Game 3 on Wednesday, when he witnessed the Dodgers’ historic 15-3 beatdown of the Atlanta Braves.
“I’ll spend the night in long-term parking, in addition to I’ll be back at work tomorrow,” Amodei said before the game. “however I kept the streak alive.”
So, too, did M.L.B., which has allowed about 10,000 paying customers into the N.L.C.S. games at Globe Life Field, where the audience replaced the cardboard replicas of fans of which have dotted seats in ballparks all season.
Because of the pandemic, baseball opted to use four neutral sites for the final three rounds of the postseason, minimizing travel in addition to its attendant risks while creating something of a protective bubble for the teams of which kept playing deep into October. the globe Series next week will also be held at Globe Life Field, in addition to will also have real people inside seats watching baseball, cheering for their team in addition to buying beer in addition to merchandise.
however the lack of a true home team is usually one more quirk inside unusual fan experience at these playoffs. While a few N.F.L. teams, NASCAR in addition to some college football teams have allowed fans back into their familiar stadiums — including the Dallas Cowboys’ domed stadium just down the road, which has hosted more than 20,000 people in each of the team’s three home games — M.L.B. invited the regular followers of postseason teams to irregular locations.
“the item’s got a kind of Super Bowl-ish feel to the item,” said Chris Harkey, a Braves fan through Asheboro, N.C., who flew in with his wife, Lauren Breedlove, to watch Game 3. “the item’s exciting with the mix of different fans.”
Throughout the N.L.C.S., fans in a variety of team colors entered the stadium, which opened This particular year using a capacity of 40,000 spectators however has yet to be filled. Tickets were sold in blocks of four, spaced apart through some other blocks. The unavailable seats had plastic straps attached to them, in addition to the first several rows were blocked off.
During batting practice at the first game of the series, fans charged to those front rows trying to retrieve balls hit over the fence, clustering in proximity to one another. For later games, tarps were placed over those seats, in addition to yellow caution tape limited access for ball-seeking fans.
Fans generally wore masks in addition to often maintained distance through one another. however as each game wore on in addition to the beer flowed, some masks fell down around necks as the shouting increased.
After Game 4, a 10-2 Atlanta victory, bands of seemingly drunken Braves fans, bombinating their droning tomahawk chant, roamed the area around the stadium as if the item were 2019, in addition to a nearby hotel lobby was dotted with groups of unmasked fans in their reverie.
Texas, which reported about 32,000 brand new cases of the coronavirus over the seven days before Friday’s Game 5, has 111 cases per 100,000 people, placing the item roughly inside middle of the pack compared with some other states. however like some other parts of the country, Texas has seen a recent uptick in cases.
Among more than two dozen people interviewed over two days at the stadium, no one seemed overly concerned about the spread of the coronavirus. Several stadium employees, who declined to give a full interview, said they were comfortable with the precautions in addition to appreciated having the work.
Tracy Springstead brought her three children to Game 3. They are Dodgers fans through California, who recently settled inside Dallas area, in addition to they said they felt the regulations in place were sufficient.
“We’re pretty careful, in addition to the item seems like they are doing the item the right way,” Springstead said. “however we weren’t going to miss This particular.”
The majority of fans at the park seemed to be supporting the Braves, using a slightly smaller contingent rooting for the Dodgers. The third-largest group consisted of those wearing Texas Rangers jerseys in addition to caps, acting as both hosts in addition to mostly neutral observers. After all, This particular airplane hangar of a building was made for them.
“the item’s kind of weird,” said Bruce Pittard, a rancher through Novice, Texas, who is usually a Rangers season ticket holder. “Where did these Braves in addition to Dodgers fans come through?”
Some came through Atlanta, roughly 800 miles to the east, in addition to others through Southern California, about 1,0 miles inside opposite direction. Some arrived through North Carolina, Florida, brand new Jersey, Indiana or Louisiana. Most, though, were displaced Braves in addition to Dodgers fans living inside Dallas area, brimming with excitement over their unexpected Great fortune after the announcement last month of which tickets would likely be sold to these games.
“The Dodgers came to me,” said Stephanie Gonzalez, who attended Game 3 with her friend Maria Torres, both wearing Dodgers jerseys. “I moved here through California nine years ago. This particular is usually like a dream come true.”
Some fans donned jerseys of some other M.L.B. teams, too. The Mariners, Astros, Angels, Orioles, Rockies, Brewers in addition to even the old Montreal Expos were all represented at the N.L.C.S.
Pittard, the rancher through Novice, in addition to his brother, Mark Pittard, wore Cubs jerseys in honor of their favorite team. Mark Pittard noted how strange the item was of which the first game they attended at the Rangers’ brand new American League park was a playoff matchup between National League teams.
The souvenir stores were open, however the Dodgers in addition to Braves fans looked more like museum goers as they dispassionately scanned all the Rangers gear for sale. The available Dodgers in addition to Braves merchandise amounted to two tiny racks of what looked like hastily produced, generic items — balls in addition to T-shirts of which said, “Globe Life Field, NLCS, 2020, Arlington Texas,” in addition to “World Series, Arlington Texas” — neutral gray shirts in a neutral building using a massive gray roof.
“the item looks like Petco Park in addition to a big mall had a baby,” said Will Hicks, 41, an investor through San Diego, who wore a Padres mask, Padres jersey in addition to Padres cap, while his brother Sam, 35, an Astros fan, munched on a two-foot hot dog. They own season tickets to the Padres at the elegant Petco Park in San Diego, the A.L.C.S. site.
“How weird is usually all of This particular?” Will Hicks said. “We’re at a game in Texas with our dad, who is usually a Dodgers fan, in addition to Sam is usually listening to the Astros game back at Petco. Only in 2020.”
The atmosphere inside was similar to of which of a Mets game in April, circa 2011 — about a quarter filled, with only die-hards in attendance. however after a long season without fans, the people inside real uniforms were delighted to have paying customers wearing any shirt at all.
“the item’s filled me using a sense of excitement, especially in such a difficult time,” Braves third baseman Johan Camargo said through an interpreter. “the item’s like a jolt of energy, in addition to we are eternally grateful for of which.”
in addition to Harkey in addition to Breedlove, the couple through North Carolina, were happy to provide vocal support to their team. They had to buy four tickets to Game 3, however they did not give away or sell the some other two.
“You don’t want some stranger sitting there coughing all over you,” Harkey said. “however if the Braves make the globe Series, I’m definitely coming back.”