Cubs fans find friendly confines at NY bar

Cubs fans find friendly confines at NY bar

NEW YORK -- Billed as the only Cubs bar in New York, Kelly's Sports Bar sits on Avenue A in Manhattan right in the heart of the East Village.

The bar is in enemy territory these days, considering the Cubs and Mets are matched up in the National League Championship Series, where New York owns the advantage after handing Chicago a 4-2 loss in Game 1.

Shop for Cubs postseason gear

Game Date Matchup
Gm 1 Oct. 17 NYM 4, CHC 2
Gm 2 Oct. 18 NYM 4, CHC 1
Gm 3 Oct. 20 NYM 5, CHC 2
Gm 4 Oct. 21 NYM 8, CHC 3

Those who arrived even 15 minutes before first pitch Saturday sighed as they approached the entrance. Cubs fans already stood shoulder-to-shoulder inside the compact bar, just as Al Landess, the bar's manager, said they have from the start of Chicago's playoff run with a Wild Card victory over Pittsburgh.

Each one of the bar's nine televisions were tuned into the Cubs game and no one dared ask to change the channel.

When the bar's owner came to the United States from Ireland, he enjoyed spending time in Chicago and Wrigley Field so much that he decided he wanted to start a bar to support Cubs fans. His wife, however, was a huge fan of the NFL's Buffalo Bills and wanted the bar's theme to reflect them. There were a few items of Bills memorabilia -- along with flags on the ceiling of the NHL's Buffalo Sabres and NBA's Chicago Bulls -- but the bar is predominantly coated in Cubs memorabilia.

Daniel Murphy's first-inning solo home run off Jon Lester took the steam out of the crowd, which Landess said he expected would include some Mets fans. If there were any in attendance, they kept celebrations mostly quiet.

"It's just one run," someone shouted from the middle of the bar. "You see what the Royals did today."

Matt Harvey mowed through the Cubs lineup through the first four innings, before the bar finally got something to get excited about in the fifth, when Starlin Castro lined a run-scoring double over the head of Juan Lagares to tie the game.

That prompted Jay Richmond, 54, to break out his rendition of "Hey Hey Holy Mackerel."

"That's 1969 right there," he said, before being reminded how that season ended. Richmond, a diehard Cubs fan, was in town for business from Elgin, Ill., and a friend told him about Kelly's Sports Bar.

The new life in the building did not last, though, as Curtis Granderson singled home the go-ahead run for the Mets in the bottom of the inning. When Travis d'Arnaud blasted a solo homer in the sixth inning to put the Mets up, 3-1, most people stared blankly at the screens.

Kyle Schwarber gave the fans something to cheer about with a mammoth blast in the eighth, but it was not enough. After the Mets sealed their Game 1 victory, many fans headed for the exits.

Statcast: Schwarber's big homer

"[Jake] Arrieta's on the mound tomorrow," Richmond said confidentially.

And he planned to be back.

Jamal Collier is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.