Friday, December 9, 2016

How to Be a Devils Fan In St. Louis -- 2016-17 Edition

Tonight, the Devils play the St. Louis Blues at the Prudential Center. Next Thursday night, the teams will play each other again, in St. Louis. Named for W.C. Handy's song "Saint Louis Blues," the Blues are 1 of 3 teams in major league sports to be named after a song.

One of the others is easy: The New Orleans Saints are named for that familiar New Orleans tune "When the Saints Go Marching In." The other? The constant playing of George M. Cohan's "Yankee Doodle Dandy" during the 1st Pennant race of the New York Highlanders in 1904 led to them being nicknamed the Yankees, and Yankees they have been ever since. (Ironically, Cohan was a New York Giants fan.)

As a result of their name, the Blues' solid-color jerseys have always been blue (with gold trim, and occasionally also some red), and their logo has always been a blue note. Their fans use the slogan, "Long Live the Note."

It has lived long: The Blues have never seriously considered moving out of St. Louis, nor have they ever been seriously targeted for being moved, unlike the NFL Cardinals and Rams, and the NBA Hawks, and even the baseball Cardinals were nearly lost in the early 1950s and were targeted again in the late 1950s by cities hedging their bets against losing out on the expansion sweepstakes.

However, that long history works against them when you realize that, in 48 seasons (47 if you don't count the canceled 2004-05), they've never won the Stanley Cup.

Before You Go. While the Gateway City can get brutally hot in the summers, this is December. The website of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is predicting low 40s for Thursday afternoon and low 30s for the evening. The arena is a little bit inland from the river, so wind might not be an issue like it would be if you were going to see an event outdoors at Busch Stadium. Still, you will need a winter coat.

St. Louis is in the Central Time Zone, an hour behind New York. Adjust your timepieces accordingly.

Tickets. While the Cardinals always sell well, even in off years, the Blues averaged 18,315 fans per home game last season. That would have been 1,200 seats over a sellout at the old Saint Louis Arena, but at the Scottrade Center, it's under 96 percent of capacity. So getting tickets for a Blues game might not be all that hard, especially against the Devils, who aren't exactly a regional rival like Chicago, Detroit or Minnesota.

Blues tickets are cheap compared to the Devils, Scum and Philth. Center Ice Premier seats are $229. The Plaza End is the west side, the Blue Chip End is the east side. Plaza Center seats are $95, Plaza End Low rows are $88, Plaza End High rows are $69. Blue Chip Low rows are $59, Blue Chip High rows are $52. The upper level is called the Mezzanine, and Center Low rows are $95, Center Middle rows are $72, End Low rows are $39, and End High rows are $34.

Getting There. The Scottrade Center is 941 miles from the Prudential Center. Knowing this, your first reaction is going to be to fly out there.

If you order tickets from American Airlines now, and you don't mind changing planes in Charlotte, you can get a flight out of Newark Airport to Lambert-St. Louis International Airport for under $900. If you want a nonstop flight, you could get it on United Airlines, but you'd have to fly out at around 5:00 the next morning, and it wouldn't save you any money. (Albert Bond Lambert was a St. Louis golfer and early aviator.)

MetroLink, St. Louis' light rail system, will get you directly from Lambert to downtown. Of course, unless you manage to get a midnight flight back, or are willing to sit in the airport overnight, you should get a hotel. And whatever you do, if you take a taxi out of the airport instead of MetroLink, do not call the dispatcher "a slab of meat with mittens" like Steve Martin did at that same airport in Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

Bus? Greyhound runs 8 buses a day between Port Authority and St. Louis, and only 4 of them are without changes. The average time of these trips is around 24 hours, and costs $250 round-trip, although this can drop to as little as $160 with advanced purchase. The Greyhound terminal is at Union Station, downtown at 430 S. 15th Street.
St. Louis' Union Station

Speaking of Union Station, Amtrak is an even worse option. You'll have to take Amtrak out of New York's Penn Station, not Newark's. You could board the Lake Shore Limited at Penn Station at 3:40 Eastern on Tuesday afternoon, arriving at Union Station in Chicago at 9:45 Central on Wednesday morning, transfer to the Texas Eagle at 1:45 in the afternoon, and be at St. Louis' Union Station at 7:21 that night. If you try to take the same trip the next day, you'll arrive in St. Louis just 2 blocks from the arena, at 1820 Market Street, but about 20 minutes late for puck-drop. So you'd have to leave on Tuesday. The trip would take 26 hours and 36 minutes. Longer than the bus, but cheaper, and you get to be in Chicago for 4 hours, which is cool. It would be $409.
Union Station also includes a hotel and a mall.
Great for those things, but you might not feel like doing them
if you came in via Greyhound or Amtrak.

If you decide to drive, it’s far enough that it will help to get someone to go with you and split the duties, and to trade off driving and sleeping. You’ll need to get on the New Jersey Turnpike, and take Interstate 78 West across New Jersey, and at Harrisburg get on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, which at this point will be both I-70 and I-76. When the two Interstates split outside Pittsburgh, stay on I-70 west. You’ll cross the northern tip of West Virginia, and go all the way across Ohio (through Columbus), Indiana (through Indianapolis) and Illinois. When you cross into Missouri, Exit 9 will be for the Sports Complex.

If you do it right, you should spend about an hour in New Jersey, 5 hours in Pennsylvania, 15 minutes in West Virginia, 3 hours and 45 minutes in Ohio, 2 hours and 30 minutes in Indiana, 2 hours and 30 minutes in Illinois, and 15 minutes in Missouri before you reach the exit for your hotel. That’s going to be nearly 17 hours. Counting rest stops, preferably 6 of them, and accounting for traffic in both New York and St. Louis, it should be about 24 hours.

Once In the City. St. Louis, settled by the French in 1764 and named for Louis IX, the Crusader King, the only monarch of France to have been canonized as a Saint, has a history out of proportion to its size. There's a mere 320,000 within the city limits, about half of what it was in 1950. But, like a lot of cities, especially in the Midwest, the "white flight" went to the suburbs, keeping the population of the metropolitan area roughly the same, in this case 2.9 million. Or, roughly, the population of Brooklyn alone.

Market Street divides the city's north and south street addresses, and on the east-west streets, the numbers increase westward from the Mississippi River. The sales tax in the State of Missouri is 4.225 percent, but it's over double that in St. Louis City: 8.49 percent. And St. Louis City is independent of St. Louis County, a confusion we usually don't have, because nobody outside County courthouses and Manhattan Borough Hall refers to Manhattan Island as "New York County."

Metrolink light rail has a $2.25 base fare, and the Metro buses are $2.00. A Day Pass for the entire system is $7.50. A Weekly Pass is $25. Do yourself a favor: Do not, even on Metrolink, go across the river into East St. Louis, Illinois. The joke is that the crime rate has dropped because there's nothing left to steal.
Going In. The official address of the Scottrade Center is 1401 Clark Avenue, 7 blocks west of Busch Stadium. The stretch of Clark outside the arena is also known as Brett Hull Way. Parking is $27.50. The rink is laid out east-to-west, with the Blues attacking twice toward the west end, a.k.a. the Plaza End. Flags representing the 30 NHL teams crown the center scoreboard. It is served by the Union Station and Civic Center stops on Metrolink.
The arena opened in 1994 as the Kiel Center, in honor of the previous building on the site, and then the Savvis Center, after a company that would go bust in the tech bubble, before Internet stock-trading company Scottrade took over. The building also hosts the Missouri Valley Conference tournament, known as "Arch Madness" instead of "March Madness."
The previous building was built in 1934, as the Municipal Auditorium, and in 1943 was renamed for the late Mayor Henry Kiel, who got it built. St. Louis University played its home basketball games there for its program's entire existence, 1934 to 1991, before moving temporarily to the Arena and then to the Scottrade Center, before opening its new on-campus Chaifetz Arena in 2008.

The NBA's Hawks played there from their 1955 move from Milwaukee until their 1968 move to Atlanta, winning the Western Conference title in 1957, '58, '60 and '61 and the NBA Title in 1958. Elvis Presley sang there on January 1, 1956; March 29, 1957; September 10, 1970; June 28, 1973; and March 22, 1976.

On May 12, 2014, The New York Times printed a story that shows NBA fandom by ZIP Code, according to Facebook likes. Being between several NBA cities but not especially close to any of them (243 miles to Indianapolis, 284 to Memphis, 295 to Chicago, 498 to Oklahoma City), the St. Louis area divides up its fandom among the "cool" teams: The Bulls, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat. However, not far into St. Louis' Illinois suburbs, you begin to get into solid Bulls territory. (As yet, there is no hockey version of this article.) If St. Louis had an NBA team, the city would rank 22nd among league markets.

Food. According to the arena's website:

Scottrade Center features concession stands and portable carts throughout the plaza and mezzanine levels. In addition to traditional fare such as hot dogs, chicken tenders, pizza, nachos, and pretzels, our concession stands offer specialty foods such as pile up hamburgers, foot long specialty hot dogs, bratwursts, wraps, salads and much more.

Full beverage selection includes soft drinks, lemonade, bottled water, iced tea, beer, a wide variety of specialty beers and microbrews, mixed drinks and wine.

Portable carts throughout both concourses feature such favorites as regular hot dogs, deluxe nachos, specialty beers, cotton candy, funnel cakes and Dippin' Dots ice cream. Scottrade Center also features a gluten-free portable stand, offering hot dogs, nachos, beer and other gluten-free snacks...

The Top Shelf is a unique area located on the mezzanine concourse between Sections 326 and 331. A combination food court and sports bar that opens into the seating area, the Top Shelf offers a wide variety of beverages and food, and allows fans to enjoy the atmosphere of a bar without missing all the live action.

Fans can also watch game broadcasts and NHL action around the league as well as other sporting events of interest on the large plasma screen televisions located throughout the Top Shelf. The Top Shelf is open to all ticket holders.

Team History Displays. Alone among the teams that came into the NHL prior to 1970 -- even the California Golden Seals, who became the Cleveland Barons, and were folded into the Minnesota North Stars, have sort-of won one, as the 1999 Dallas Stars -- the Blues have never won the Stanley Cup. With the way the divisions were set up after the 1967 expansion, at first guaranteeing one of the "Second Six" a berth in the Finals for the 1st 3 seasons, the Blues reached the Finals in 1968, 1969 and 1970. This was the 1st head coaching job, and the 1st achievement, for Scotty Bowman, who went on to win more Cups than any other coach, 9 (but none in St. Louis).

But they got swept all 3 times, by the Montreal Canadiens the 1st 2 times and the Boston Bruins the last. They have not made the Finals since. They have been around for 49 years, and have never won so much as a single game in the Stanley Cup Finals. Indeed, in the 46 years since they last reached the Finals, they have only made it to the NHL's last 4 once, in 2001, and won a grand total of 1 game in the Conference Finals (under any name) since their defenseman Noel Picard tripped up Bobby Orr of the Bruins as he scored the Cup-winner in overtime of Game 4 in 1970.

Despite making the Playoffs in every completed season since 1979-80, they've only won 1 Playoff series since 2002 (in 2012). So while they've usually been good, they've never really been great.

As a result of this, and of that 1967-74 2-Division setup, they can't hang a banner for a Conference Championship, much less a Stanley Cup. They do hang banners for 9 Championships in their Division: 1968 and 1969 in the Western, 1977 and 1981 in the Smythe, 1985 and 1987 in the Norris, and 2000, 2012 and 2015 in the Central. They also hang a banner for winning the President's Trophy, emblematic of the best record in the regular season, in the 1999-2000 season. But that's it.
They hang banners with retired numbers on them, but those don't tell the full story. Their 1st retired number was 3, for defenseman Bob Gassoff, who was killed in a motorcycle accident in 1977, after just 3 seasons with the team.

Three Plager brothers all played for the Blues in the 1970s, all defensemen: Barclay, Bob and Bill. Bill played 4 seasons with them. Bob played 10 seasons with them before being their coach and working in their front office, and still does so. Barclay also played 10 seasons, and coached them for 1 bad season, before being diagnosed with a brain tumor. Fortunately, the Blues retired his Number 8 while he was still alive. Bob's Number 5, while not officially retired, also hangs in the rafters at the Scottrade Center. Bill's Number 23 has not been honored by the club.

Doug Wickenheiser played 4 seasons at center for the Blues, and is best remembered for "the Monday Night Miracle," when his overtime goal against the Calgary Flames forced a Game 7 in the 1986 Campbell Conference Finals, which they then lost anyway. (If you're familiar with Rangers history, this makes Wick the "Pete Stemkowski" of St. Louis, or the "Carlton Fisk.")

He died of cancer in 1999. The Blues wore a special helmet decal with the wick of a candle and the Number 14 during parts of the 1997–98 and 1998–99 seasons. In 1999, a banner with that logo, which became the symbol of The Fourteen Fund, the official Blues charity established in his memory, was placed in the rafters. The emblem was worn by all NHL players in the 1999 All-Star Game. But the number has not been officially retired.

Their other honorees have been more fortunate. From the late 1970s and most of the 1980s, they honored Number 11, left wing Brian Sutter (1 of the 6 NHL-playing Sutter Brothers); and Number 24, center Bernie Federko. From the 1990s, they honored Number 16, right wing Brett Hull; and Number 2, defenseman Al MacInnis. Although Wayne Gretzky only played for the Blues for a few weeks in 1996, they hang a banner with his Number 99 on it, to acknowledge that it's been retired for the entire league. And broadcaster Dan Kelly is honored with a banner, with a shamrock (he was Irish) in place of a number.

The Number 7 hasn't been retired, but, like Syracuse University football with the Number 44, it has been honored for the contributions of more than 1 player who wore it. Shortly into their 1st season, 1967-68, the Blues traded for Ranger center Gordon "Red" Berenson, who'd won the 1965 Stanley Cup with the Montreal Canadiens (but did not, obviously, win a Cup with the Rangers). He became their 1st big star, including scoring 6 goals in a 1968 game against the Flyers.

In 1970, his skills declining, they traded him to the Detroit Red Wings, and handed Number 7 to the player they got for him, center Garry Unger. He played 9 seasons for the Blues, including the bulk of his playing streak of 914 consecutive games, a record that has since been surpassed only by Doug Jarvis. He scored 413 NHL goals, and was the MVP of the 1974 All-Star Game. (He also shares an exact birthday with baseball legend Johnny Bench: December 7, 1947.)

New York native Joe Mullen won the 1989 Cup with the Flames and the 1991 and 1992 Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins, after 5 productive seasons at right wing for the Blues. And Keith Tkachuk played 9 seasons in St. Louis, at all 3 forward positions, and was the last player to wear Number 7 for the Blues. Mullen and Tkachuk are 2 of the only 4 American-born players ever to score at least 500 NHL regular-season goals.

The Number 7 is not given out anymore, but is not officially retired, nor does it hang in the rafters along with the unretired 5 and 14. Instead, a mural honoring Berenson, Unger, Mullen and Tkachuk is in the lower seating bowl.
Gretzky, Federko, Hull, MacInnis, Mullen, Bowman and Kelly have been elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame. Berenson has not, although I suspect they're waiting for him to retire as head coach at the University of Michigan, a post he's held for 32 seasons. They shouldn't hold their breath: Despite having recently turned 76, he shows no signs of wanting, or needing, to retire.

Also elected to the Hall are some of the veterans that the Blues got in the 1967 expansion draft, helping them get into those 3 Finals: Goalies Glenn Hall and Jacques Plante, defensemen Doug Harvey and Al Arbour (who, of course, was elected for what he did as a coach); and left wing Dickie Moore.

Others who played for the Blues and are in the Hall, but are better known for having played for other teams, are goalie Grant Fuhr, defenseman Guy Lapointe, centers Adam Oates and Dale Hawerchuk, and 5 who played for the Devils: Centers Peter Stastny and Doug Gilmour, defenseman Phil Housley, left wing Brendan Shanahan, and the man the Devils got as compensation when the Blues signed Shanny away from us in 1991: Scott Stevens. Emile Francis, the longtime Ranger coach and GM, later held those positions with the Blues, and is in the Hall. Defenseman Chris Pronger, newly inducted to the Hall for a career that included 9 strong seasons with the Blues, may be next to get his number retired, 44.

No members of the Blues played on the Team Canada that beat the Soviet Union in the 1972 Summit Series, although former Blue Red Berenson did. Mark Johnson, Bill Baker and Dave Christian of the 1980 U.S. Olympic team went on to play for the Blues. Glenn Hall and Brett Hull were named to The Hockey News' 100 Greatest Players in 1998.

The St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame is located at Busch Stadium, 7 blocks away at 700 Clark Avenue. It honors 10 Blues figures: Federko, MacInnis, Unger, Berenson, Hull, Sutter, Kelly, Hall, Bowman and Bob Plager. It also includes baseball Cardinals, football Cardinals, Rams, Hawks, University of Missouri sports legends, and local high school stars who made it big elsewhere. There is a Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, but it's all the way across the State in Springfield. Federko is the only Blues player yet inducted.

There are other banners hanging from the rafters of the Scottrade Center. They honor basketball players from Saint Louis University (the school's name is always spelled out, "Saint," never abbreviated to "St."): Number 24, Richard Boushka; Number 34, Anthony Bonner; Number 43, Bob Ferry (longtime NBA player and executive, and father of Danny Ferry); and Number 50, Ed Macauley (who later played for the Celtics and back in St. Louis with the Hawks). They also honor SLU's 1948 NIT title. The arena also has a statue of Brett Hull.
Stuff. The True Blues Authentic Team Store has outlets at the northeast and southwest corners and the east entrance of the Scottrade Center. While there, you can buy pretty much anything you can get at any other team's store.

Unlike the Cardinals, who have had entire forests chopped down to make the paper for the books that have been written about them, books about the Blues are few and far between. In 2014, Darin Wernig's book Gateway City Puckchasers: The History of Hockey in St. Louis was published, detailing not just the Blues but their predecessors: The 1-season experiment of the NHL's St. Louis Eagles (formerly the original Ottawa Senators), but minor-league teams such as the American Hockey League's St. Louis Flyers (1929-53) and the Central Hockey League's St. Louis Braves (1963-67). Until the book comes out, though, you may be out of luck.

Don't expect to find any DVDs about the team, either. still sells an old VHS tape: True Blues: A Video Movie Commemorating Twenty Years of St. Louis Blues Hockey. They've got a lot of guts selling a 1986 VHS tape for $75. This is what happens when a team plays for nearly half a century and never wins a World Championship.

During the Game. A November 19, 2014 article on The Hockey News' website ranked the NHL teams' fan bases, and listed the Blues' fans 19th, saying, "The Blues keep winning, yet struggle to sell out their home rink. What gives?" This is misleading: They get over 18,000 fans a game, so, while not filling the arena, they do fairly well.

Because of their Great Plains/Heartland image, Blues fans like a "family atmosphere." They don't much like New York, but they won't bother Devils, Rangers or Islanders fans just for being Devils, Rangers or Islanders fans. But I wouldn't go onto the streets of St. Louis or into the Scottrade Center wearing Chicago Blackhawks gear. Barring that, they will not directly antagonize you. At least, they won't initiate it. But don’t call them rednecks, hicks, hillbillies or (to borrow a term from British soccer) sheep-shaggers.

As are the other 1967 expansion teams that survive -- Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles -- the Blues are celebrating their 50th Anniversary in the 2016-17 season. However, their game against the Devils will not feature a promotion.

Included is their hosting of the 2017 NHL Winter Classic on January 2, at the Cardinals' Busch Stadium, against their arch-rivals, the Chicago Blackhawks. On December 31, the Blues and Hawks will play an alumni game. Playing for the Blues will be Bernie Federko, Al MacInnis, Keith Tkachuk, the brothers Gino and Paul Cavallini, Chris Pronger, Mike Liut, former Islanders star Pierre Turgeon, Wayne Gretzky (who was a Blue for about 20 minutes in 1996), former Devils assistant coach Adam Oates, and former Devils Peter Stastny, Bryce Salvador and... Martin Brodeur.

The Blackhawks will include former Devils Reid Simpson and 1980 Olympic Jack O'Callahan, , and the man who allowed the John MacLean goals to give the Devils their 1st Playoff berth in 1988, now better known as a broadcaster, Darren Pang.

Charles Glenn is the regular National Anthem singer for the Blues, concluding with, "...and the home... of the... Bluuuues!" There is a "Let's Go Blues" theme song. Their goal song is "Twilight Zone" by 2 Unlimited, and they have a "Power Play Dance." There's an old guy in Section 314 who waves a towel around, and is known only as the Towel Guy.

Louie -- obviously, named for the city of St. Louis -- is the team's current mascot. He was introduced on October 10, 2007, and on November 3, 2007, the fans voted on his name on the Blues website. Louie is a Blue Polar Bear (fitting in with the whole hockey-as-winter-sport idea), and wears a Blues jersey with his name on the back and the Number 00.
For years, the Blues played "When the Saints Go Marching In" as their goal song, played live on the organ, not a recorded version. They got rid of it at the start of the 2014-15 season, and the fans were not happy. So it was restored for this season.

After the Game. St. Louis has a bit of a crime problem, but since the arena is right downtown, this will probably not affect you. As I said, leave the home fans alone, and they'll probably leave you alone.

Mike Shannon's Steaks and Seafood, owned by the 1960s Cardinal right fielder and longtime broadcaster, is at 620 Market Street at 7th Street, 2 blocks north of Busch Stadium. Joe Buck's, a restaurant owned by the Cardinals and Fox broadcaster, is at 1000 Clark Avenue, halfway between the arena and the ballpark -- but why would you want to go to a restaurant associated with him?

If you want to be around other New Yorkers/New Jerseyans, Bar Louie is the home of the local Giant fans. 14 Maryland Plaza at Euclid Avenue, on the West Side. MetroLink to Central West End, then a short walk. The local Jet fans’ hangout is BoBecks, but it’s 20 miles south of downtown St. Louis, across the River in Waterloo, Illinois. 1234 Jamie Lane. MetroLink to 5th & Missouri, then switch to 2X bus, then walk a mile south.

If your visit to St. Louis is during the European soccer season, which we are now in, the best place to watch your club is at the Amsterdam Tavern, 3175 Morganford Road, in the Tower Grove South area, about 6 miles southwest of downtown. Bus 30 to Arsenal Street and Morganford Road. (However, don't be fooled by that street name: Fans of London club Arsenal meet at Barrister's, 7923 Forsyth Blvd., about 9 miles west of downtown. MetroLink to Clayton.

Sidelights. St. Louis likes to think of itself as a great sports city, and as "the best baseball town in America." Yeah, right. But check these sites out:

* Site of 1904 World's Fair and St. Louis Arena. The Louisiana Purchase Exposition was held at Forest Park in honor of the centennial of the start of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark heading out from St. Louis to explore the Louisiana Purchase.

It is remembered as the birthplace of the hamburger, the hot dog, iced tea, peanut butter, cotton candy and Cracker Jacks. While they may have all been nationally popularized at that place and at that time, all of these claims of origin are dubious at best, except for Cracker Jacks, which are definitely a St. Louis creation. Equally dubious was the 1904 Olympics, which were essentially a sideshow of the World's Fair; it wasn't until London in 1908 that they became an institution in and of themselves.

Very little of the Fair remains. The Administration Building is now Brookings Hall, a major building of Washington University. The Palace of Fine Art is now the St. Louis Art Museum.

The Arena opened in 1929 across Oakland Avenue from Forest Park. At 14,200 seats, it was then one of the largest arenas outside the Northeast Corridor, and in terms of floor space only the recently-built "old" Madison Square Garden was larger.
The Arena shortly before its demolition

It was the home of several minor league hockey teams until the NHL expansion of 1967 brought in the Blues. In 1977, the Arena had been expanded to 17,188 seats, and with Ralston Purina then being majority owners of the Blues, their "Checkerboard Square" logo was plastered everywhere, and the building was renamed the Checkerdome until 1983. The city's 1st NBA team, the St. Louis Bombers, played there from 1946 to 1950.

It hosted the NCAA Final Four in 1973 (Bill Walton hitting 21 of 22 shots for UCLA over Memphis State) and 1978 (Jack Givens' Kentucky defeating Mike Gminski's Duke). It was the home of the Spirits of St. Louis in the American Basketball Association's last 2 seasons, 1974-75 and 1975-76, before folding with the league, and were not absorbed into the NBA. That team featured Marvin Barnes and future Basketball Hall-of-Famers Maurice Lucas and Moses Malone, all 3 of whom were later named to the ABA All-Time Team. The Spirits were also the 1st major league sports team for whom Bob Costas broadcast.
The Arena was seen as being inadequate for a modern sports team, and the Blues moved out in 1994. It was demolished in 1999, and apartments and a Hampton Inn are on the site today. 5700 Oakland Avenue at Parkview Place. Metrolink to Central West End, then Number 59 bus.

* Busch Stadium. Busch Stadium I (named Sportsman's Park from 1909 to 1952) was well north of downtown. Busch Stadium II (officially named Busch Memorial Stadium) was right downtown, and St. Louis' greatest icon, the Gateway Arch, built right before the stadium was, could be seen over its left-field fence, and the idea was incorporated into the park's design, with an arched roof that gave the stadium a very distinctive look that separated it from the other multipurpose concrete circle/oval stadiums of the 1960s and '70s.

Busch Stadium III has a brick look on the outside that suggests an old factory -- or perhaps a brewery. And the Arch is visible beyond straightaway center field, much more so than it was in the preceding stadium, due to the new one's open outfield.

But there is one other notable structure that can be seen from the park: The Old Courthouse can be seen beyond the left field fence. This was where two of the most infamous court cases in American history began, both later settled unfairly by the U.S. Supreme Court in decisions that were overturned by Constitutional Amendments: Dred Scott v. Sanford, in which a slave sued in 1846 to be declared free after his master took him into a State where slavery had already been abolished; and Minor v. Happersett, in which a woman sued in 1872 to be allowed to vote.

The new Busch Stadium hasn't yet hosted football, but it hosted a soccer game between English clubs Chelsea and Manchester City in the summer of 2013, and a 6-1 U.S. soccer victory over St. Vincent & the Grenadines this past November 13. It will host the NHL Winter Classic on January 2, 2017, between the Blues and their arch-rivals, the Chicago Blackhawks. 700 Clark Avenue at 8th Street.

Busch Memorial Stadium, home of the Cardinals from 1966 to 2005, the NFL Cardinals from 1966 until 1987 when they moved to Arizona, and the Rams for 3 games in 1995 because the new dome wasn't ready, was across Clark Avenue from the new stadium.

While it was never a major venue for football -- unless you count those "Bud Bowl" commercials during Super Bowls, where the arched roof of old Busch was easily recognizable -- there were 6 World Series played there, with the Cardinals winning in 1967 and 1982. But only in 1982 did they clinch there; the Detroit Tigers clinched there in 1968, and the Boston Red Sox did so in 2004, with Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon filmed by the Farrelly Brothers in their improvised rewritten ending to the U.S. version of Fever Pitch, with Major League Baseball giving them permission to film on the field after the game.

Busch Memorial Stadium hosted 7 games by the U.S. national soccer team, and the Stars & Stripes were undefeated, winning 5 and tying 2.

* Edward Jones Dome. Home to the NFL's Rams from 1995 to 2015, it had a St. Louis Football Ring of Fame, but most of the honorees are ex-football Cardinals. The only St. Louis Rams honored on it are Marshall Faulk, coach Dick Vermeil, and team owner Georgia Frontiere, who moved the team out of Los Angeles because she hated the black neighborhood around the L.A. Coliseum, Anaheim was a lousy stadium for football, and St. Louis was her hometown.

It also hosted the 2005 NCAA Final Four, with North Carolina beating Illinois in the Final, and has hosted the Big 12 Conference Football Championship Game. The Dome is at 6th Street & Broadway, 9 blocks north of Busch Stadium. Metrolink to Convention Center.

Now, the Rams have moved back to Los Angeles. It appears that State lines (and possibly also holding one's nose) have come back into play: Cardinals and Blues fans living in Eastern Missouri have gone back to the Kansas City Chiefs, and those living in Southern Illinois have gone back to the Chicago Bears. Don't expect the city ever to get another NFL team. I don't think the sport will be missed much, and most of the people who do miss it aren't willing to have their taxes jacked up to pay for a new domed stadium, when the current one isn't even a quarter of a century old yet.

* Site of Sportsman's Park. From 1866 onward, several ballparks stood on this site, including the one used by the Cardinals, then known as the St. Louis Browns, when they won 4 straight Pennants in the old American Association from 1885 to 1888.

Those Browns were owned by Chris von der Ahe, a German immigrant (as were thousands of people in St. Louis at the time), and he was an outsized personality owning a baseball team decades before George Steinbrenner or Gussie Busch were born. "Der boss president of der Browns," as he called himself in his accent, built one of the first amusement parks, adjacent to the ground, and a beer garden which could be called the first sports bar -- though this is disputed by Bostonians stumping for Michael "Nuf Ced" McGreevy's Third Base Saloon, which also opened in the 1880s. But the ballpark burned down in 1898, and von der Ahe was ruined. The new owners moved the team to Robison Field.

The team's name became the Cardinals with a change in uniform color in 1900, and the American League's Browns arrived in 1902, after spending the AL's first season in Milwaukee. The AL Browns set up shop at the existing Sportsman's Park, and built a new one on the site, the last one, in 1909.

The ballpark was home to St. Louis' 1st 2 NFL teams, the All-Stars, who played only the 1923 season; and the Gunners, who played from 1931 to 1940.

Those Browns remained until 1953, when Bill Veeck realized that Gussie Busch's purchase of the Cards meant the Browns simply couldn't compete. The Cards had moved back to the site in 1920 and by 1926 had set the tone: The Browns were the landlords but legendary losers, while the Cardinals were the tenants but wildly successful. Ten World Series were played in that ballpark, from 1926 to 1964, including the all-St. Louis "Trolley Series" of 1944, when the Browns led the Cards 2 games to 1 but the Cards won the next 3 straight to take it, ruining the Browns' best (and perhaps last) chance to take the city away.

Gussie knew that his Cards -- and the NFL's Cardinals, who played there after moving from Chicago in 1960 -- couldn't stay in a 30,804-seat bandbox tucked away on the North Side with no parking and no freeway access, so he got the city to build him the downtown stadium. Sportsman's Park, the first Busch Stadium, the home of George Sisler, the Gashouse Gang and Stan the Man, was demolished shortly after the Cards left in 1966. The Herbert Hoover Boys Club is now on the site, and, unlike most long-gone ballpark sites, there is a baseball field there.

Oddly, the two teams had different addresses for their offices: The Cards at 3623 Dodier Street, the Browns at 2911 North Grand Blvd. Metrolink to Grand station, transfer to Number 70 bus. Definitely to be visited only in daylight.

* Site of Robison Field. Home of the Cardinals from 1898 to 1920, it was the last mostly-wooden ballpark in the major leagues. Moving out was the best thing the Cards could have done, as -- hard to believe, considering what happened to them over the next quarter-century -- they were the town's joke club, while the Browns were the more-regarded team. It was torn down in 1926 to make way for Beaumont High School, which still stands on the site.

3836 Natural Bridge Avenue, at Vandeventer Avenue. Six blocks north and two blocks west of the site of Sportsman's Park. Again: Do not visit at night.

* St. Louis Walk of Fame. Honoring famous people from the St. Louis area, including from across the river in southern Illinois, these plaques run from 6150 to 6699 Delmar Blvd. Of the 128 current honorees, 25 are connected to sports: Cardinals figures Rickey, Hornsby, Dean, Musial, Schoendienst, Gibson, Brock, Ozzie Smith, Caray, Garagiola, Buck and Costas; the Browns' Sisler; the Negro Leagues' Bell; St. Louis native and New York baseball legend Berra; football Cardinals Dierdorf and Jackie Smith (as yet, no Rams); Hawks Pettit and Macauley (as yet, no Blues); boxers Henry Armstrong and Archie Moore; tennis stars Dwight Davis and Jimmy Connors; track legend Jackie Joyner-Kersee; and bowler Dick Weber. Metrolink to Delmar station.

At 6504 Delmar is Blueberry Hill, the rock-and-roll-themed restaurant where St. Louis' own Chuck Berry, 89 years young, still plays about once a month. He, of course, has a plaque on the Walk of Fame, as does his pianist Johnnie Johnson.

They are 2 of the 15 musical personalities on the Walk, including both Ike and Tina Turner, ragtime inventor Scott Joplin, jazz superstars Josephine Baker and Miles Davis, and opera singer Robert McFerrin, father of "Don't Worry Be Happy" singer Bobby McFerrin.

Elvis also sang at the Missouri Theater on October 21, 22 and 23, 1955, at the intersection of N. Grand Blvd. and Lucas Avenue, a block away from he Fox Theatre. Parking is on the site now.

In addition to the preceding, Elvis sang in Eastern Missouri in 1955 at the National Guard Armory in Sikeston on January 21 and September 7; at the Armory in Poplar Bluff on March 9; at the B&B Club in Gobler on April 8 and September 28; and at the Arena Building in Cape Girardeau on July 20. 

* Gateway Arch.  Built on the traditional founding site of the city, on the Mississippi River, on February 14, 1764, the Arch, 630 feet high with its legs 630 feet apart at ground level, represents an old city. But it is, surprisingly, not an especially old landmark, opening to the public in 1967.

An underground visitors' center leads to a tram that takes you to the top, which is higher than any actual building in town, and serves as St. Louis' "observation deck." Like the Empire State Building, it has lights cast on it at night in honor of various occasions. Admission is $10. 200 Washington Avenue at Market Street, access via Walnut Street.

The Arch is treated as the tallest "building" in the State of Missouri, but the tallest real building in town is One Metropolitan Square, built at Broadway & Olive Street in 1989: 593 feet tall. Ordinary, by New York's standards.

* Brewery. The world's second-largest brewery is the Anheuser-Busch plant on U.S. Routes 1 & 9, across from Newark Liberty International Airport. The largest is A-B's corporate headquarters, south of downtown. Public tours of the brewery are available. 1 Busch Place, Broadway and Arsenal Street. Number 30 or 73 bus.

* Museum of Transportation. A rail spur of the old Missouri Pacific Railroad (or "Mopac," later absorbed by the Union Pacific) enabled this museum to open in 1944. It houses trains, cars, boats, and even planes. From a New York Tri-State Area perspective it has one of the last 2 surviving New York Central steam locomotives, one of the last 2 surviving Delaware, Lackawanna & Western steam locomotives, an Erie Lackawanna diesel locomotive, and the 1960 DiDia 150, a.k.a. the "Dream Car" made famous by New York singing legend Bobby Darin.

3015 Barrett Station Road in Keyes Summit (though St. Louis is still the mailing address), west of downtown. Bus 58X to Big Bend & Barrett Station Roads, then a 15-minute walk north on Barrett Station.

* Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site. The closest the St. Louis area comes to having a Presidential Library, this park was built on land owned by the family of Julia Dent, the wife of the Union General and 18th President who is on the $50 bill.

7400 Grant Road, Grantwood Village, St. Louis County, southwest of downtown. It's tough to reach by public transportation: You'd have to take Metrolink to Shrewsbury station, transfer to the Number 21 bus, ride it to Walton and Grant Roads, and walk a little over a mile down Grant Road.

The Democratic Party had its 1876 Convention at the Merchants Exchange Building, at 3rd Street between Chestnut and Pine Streets, nominating Governor Samuel J. Tilden of New York for President. The building stood there from 1875 to 1958.

The St. Louis Exposition and Music Hall stood from 1883 to 1907, and was the site of the Conventions for the Democrats in 1888 (renominating Grover Cleveland) and 1904 (nominating Alton Parker), and the Republicans in 1896 (nominating William McKinley). It stood at the southeast corner of 13th and Olive Streets.

The St. Louis Coliseum stood from 1908 and 1953, at the southwest corner of Washington Blvd. and Jefferson Avenue. The Democrats held their 1916 Convention there, renominating Woodrow Wilson. It also staged boxing.

The Washington University Field House has hosted Presidential Debates in 1992 (George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Ross Perot), 2000 (George W. Bush and Al Gore) and 2004 (George W. and John Kerry). 330 N. Big Bend Blvd. Metrolink to University City-Big Bend.

According to the best source I can find, there have been 7 TV shows set in St. Louis. The only recent one is Defiance, a postapocalyptic show now entering its 2nd season, for which a damaged Arch is a landmark. So if you're looking for locations in the city that have been on TV, guess what, the Arch itself and Busch Stadium are your best bets.


St. Louis has a history out of proportion to its size, and Cardinal fans like to think of their town as the best baseball town in America. You are under no obligation to agree, but it is one of the best baseball cities, and every fan who can get out there should.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

How to Be a New York Basketball Fan In the Bay Area -- 2016-17 Edition

The New York Knicks will have their work cut out for them next Thursday night, playing in Oakland against the Golden State Warriors, 2015 NBA Champions and back-to-back Western Conference Champions. The Brooklyn Nets will visit on February 25.

Don't worry: The problem will be the team, for the players, not for the fans thereof. The creatures who plow into the Oakland Coliseum for Raiders games are a lot calmer inside the Oracle Arena for Warriors games, even with their newfound title swagger.

Before You Go. The San Francisco Bay Area has inconsistent weather. San Francisco, in particular, partly because it's bounded by water on three sides, is the one city I know of that has baseball weather in football season and football weather in baseball season. Or, as Mark Twain, who worked for a San Francisco newspaper during the Civil War, put it, "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco." The game will be indoors, but you won't be indoors on the entire trip.

The website of the Oakland Tribune and, the website of the San Francisco Chronicle, are predicting low 60s for daylight on Thursday, and mid-40s for the evening. Bring a jacket.

As with the rest of California, Oakland is in the Pacific Time Zone, 3 hours behind New York. Adjust your timepieces accordingly.

Tickets. The Warriors averaged 19,596 fans per game last season, a sellout every game. And, since we can now call them a perennial championship contender, tickets might be hard to come by.

Tickets in the Lower Level, the 100 sections, are sold only to season-ticket holders between the baskets, and are $100 behind them. In the Club Level, the 200 sections, they're $96 between the baskets and $77 behind.

Getting There. It’s over 2,900 miles from Midtown Manhattan to the Oakland Coliseum complex. This is the longest Knicks or Nets roadtrip there is, and will remain so, unless Adam Silver or some future Commissioner decides to put a franchise in London. In other words, if you're going, you're flying.

You think I'm kidding? Even if you get someone to go with you, and you take turns, one drives while the other one sleeps, and you pack 2 days' worth of food, and you use the side of the Interstate as a toilet, and you don’t get pulled over for speeding, you’ll still need over 2 full days. Each way.

But, if you really, really want to drive... Get onto Interstate 80 West in New Jersey, and – though incredibly long, it's also incredibly simple – you’ll stay on I-80 for almost its entire length, which is 2,900 miles from Ridgefield Park, just beyond the New Jersey end of the George Washington Bridge, to the San Francisco end of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.

Getting off I-80, you'll need Exit 8A for I-880, the Nimitz Freeway – the 1997-rebuilt version of the double-decked expressway that collapsed, killing 42 people, during the Loma Prieta Earthquake that struck during the 1989 World Series between the 2 Bay Area teams. From I-880, you'll take Exit 37, turning left onto Zhone Way (no, that's not a typo), which becomes 66th Avenue, and then turn right onto Coliseum Way.

Not counting rest stops, you should be in New Jersey for an hour and a half, Pennsylvania for 5:15, Ohio for 4 hours, Indiana for 2:30, Illinois for 2:45, Iowa for 5 hours, Nebraska for 7:45, Wyoming for 6:45, Utah for 3:15, Nevada for 6:45, and California for 3:15. That’s almost 49 hours, and with rest stops, and city traffic at each end, we’re talking 3 full days.

That's still faster than Greyhound and Amtrak. Greyhound does stop in Oakland, at 2103 San Pablo Avenue at Castro Street. But the trip averages about 80 hours, depending on the run, and will require you to change buses 2, 3, 4 or even 5 times. And you'd have to leave no later than Thursday morning to get there by Sunday gametime. Round-trip fare is $550, but it can drop to $458 with advanced purchase.

On Amtrak, you would leave Penn Station on the Lake Shore Limited at 3:40 PM on Monday, arrive at Union Station in Chicago at 9:45 AM Central Time on Tuesday, and switch to the California Zephyr at 2:00 PM, arriving at Emeryville, California at 4:10 PM Pacific Time on Thursday. Round-trip fare: $464. Then you'd have to get to downtown Oakland on the Number 26 bus, which would take almost an hour.

Amtrak service has been restored to downtown Oakland, at 245 2nd Street, in Jack London Square. Unfortunately, it’s a half-mile walk to the nearest BART station, at Lake Merritt (8th & Oak). For A's and Raiders games, the station at the Coliseum site, which is part of the BART station there, might be better. 700 73rd Street. And yet, for either of these stations, you'd still have to transfer at Emeryville to an Amtrak Coast Starlight train.

Getting back, the California Zephyr leaves Emeryville at 9:10 AM, arrives in Chicago at 2:50 PM 2 days later, and the Lake Shore Limited leaves at 9:30 PM and arrives in New York at 6:23 PM the next day. So we're talking a Monday to the next week's Tuesday operation by train.

Newark to San Francisco is, at this time, not a cheap flight: Round-trip, non-stop, will cost about $1,000 on United Airlines. There is an Oakland International Airport, but it's actually a more expensive flight. And you'd have to change twice on the way to Oakland.

So you're better off flying into San Francisco International Airport, and then taking BART into either San Francisco or Oakland. BART from SFO to downtown San Francisco takes 30 minutes, to Oakland City Center 42 minutes. It's $8.65 to San Fran, $8.95 to Oakland. Oakland Airport to City Center is 37 minutes, $7.85

Once In the City. Founded in 1852 and named after oak trees in the area, Oakland is a city of a little over 400,000 people. But if you count the "Oakland area" of the San Francisco Bay Area as being the Counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Merced, San Joaquin, Solano, Stanislaus, Sutter and Yolo (not "YOLO"), it comes to 4,723,778 people -- almost as much as the San Francisco side of the area, counting the Counties of Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara (including San Jose), Santa Cruz and Sonoma: 4,855,538.

So anyone who says, "Oakland is a small market," or, "The East Bay is a small market," is wrong: The Oakland part of the Bay Area has more people than the metro areas of every major league city except New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Philadelphia, Detroit, Washington, Miami, Atlanta and San Diego.
Most Oakland street addresses aren't divided into north-south, or east-west.  The city does have numbered streets, starting with 1st Street on the bayfront and increasing as you move northeast. One of the BART stops in the city is called "12th Street Oakland City Center," and it's at 12th & Broadway, so if you're looking at a centerpoint for the city, that's as good as any.

Sales tax in California is 7.5 percent, and rises to 9 percent in Alameda County, including the City of Oakland.

Going In. The Oakland Coliseum complex is 6 1/2 miles from downtown Oakland, 18 miles from downtown San Francisco, and 35 miles from downtown San JoseThe Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) subway line has a Coliseum stop, which can be accessed from nearly every city in the Bay Area.

It takes 10 minutes to ride Green (Daly City to Fremont), Blue (Daly City to Dublin/Pleasanton) or Orange (Richmond to Fremont) Line from downtown Oakland to the Coliseum stop, and it will cost $1.90 each way -- cheaper than New York's Subway. It takes 21 minutes to ride either the Green or Blue Line from downtown San Francisco to the Coliseum stop, and it will cost $4.15 each way -- a lot more expensive New York, but very efficient.
From downtown Oakland, it will take about 10 minutes on the Fremont Line, and cost $1.85, cheaper than New York's (because, in this case, you would be staying not just on the Oakland side of the Bay but wholly within the City of Oakland).

The official address of the Coliseum, including the Arena, is 7000 Coliseum Way. If you’re driving in (either having come all the way across the country by car, or from your hotel in a rental), there are 4 major lots, and going clockwise from the north of the stadium they are A, B, C and D, each corresponding with an entry gate at the stadium. Parking is $20 for A's games, $30 for the Warriors, and $35 for the Raiders. Tailgating is encouraged, but must be done in either the A or B lots, and beer kegs and glass containers are prohibited.

If you’re coming from the BART station, there will be a walkway over San Leandro Street, which may remind you of the walkway from the Willets Point station into the parking lot of Shea Stadium and its successor Citi Field. (Hopefully, it won't be as creepy as the Meadowlands' walkway over Route 120 from the Giants Stadium side of the parking lot to the Arena.) That will drop you off at the due east side of the Coliseum, dead center field.

The complex includes the stadium that has been home to the A’s since 1968 and to the NFL’s Oakland Raiders from 1966 to 1981 and again since 1995; and the Oracle Arena, a somewhat-renovated version of the Oakland Coliseum Arena, home to the NBA’s Golden State Warriors on and off since 1966, and continuously since 1971 except for a one-year hiatus in San Jose while it was being renovated, 1996-97. Various defunct soccer teams played at the Coliseum, and the Bay Area’s former NHL team, the Oakland Seals/California Golden Seals, played at the arena from 1967 to 1976.

The Coliseum faces east, away from San Francisco, and is 6 miles northwest of downtown Oakland. From the outside, it won’t look like much, mainly because it was mostly built below ground. Above ground, you’ll be seeing only the upper deck. If you come in by BART, you'll almost certainly be coming in from the east.
The Oakland Coliseum Arena opened on November 9, 1966, and became home to the Warriors in 1971 -- at which point they changed their name from "San Francisco Warriors" to "Golden State Warriors," as if representing the entire State of California had enabled the "California Angels" to take Los Angeles away from the Dodgers, and it didn't take L.A. away from the Lakers, either.
The arena also hosted the Oakland Oaks, who won the American Basketball Association title in 1969; the Oakland Seals, later the California Golden Seals (didn't work for them, either), from 1967 to 1976; the Golden Bay Earthquakes of the Major Indoor Soccer League; and select basketball games for the University of California from 1966 to 1999. It's also been a major concert venue, and hosted the Bay Area's own, the Grateful Dead, more times than any other building: 66. Elvis Presley sang at the Coliseum Arena on November 10, 1970 and November 11, 1972.

In 1996-97, the arena was gutted to expand it from 15,000 to 19,000 seats. (The Warriors spent that season in San Jose.) This transformed it from a 1960s arena that was too small by the 1990s into one that was ready for an early 21st Century sports crowd. It was renamed The Arena in Oakland in 1997 and the Oracle Arena in 2005. The Warriors plan to move into a new arena in San Francisco for the 2019-20 season, named the Chase Center.

The court runs east-to-west, and that ceiling might remind you of Madison Square Garden.
Food. San Francisco, due to being a waterfront city and a transportation and freight hub, has a reputation as one of America’s best food cities. Oakland benefits from this. According to the Oracle Arena website:

Oracle Arena is proud to partner with Levy Restaurants to create an incredibly diverse menu of food and beverage options with something for everyone. Whether it's our award-winning cuisine, quality presentation, genuine hospitality or attention to every detail, our goal is to make sure your dining experience is a winning one. We look forward to creating a memorable experience for you and your guests.
Check out how our chefs have re-invented the fan food experience with the Dungeness Crab sandwich on ACME torpedo roll or the selections of Kinders BBQ, Saags Italian sausage and Kielbasa.  Our Bahn Mi cart features fantastic sandwich selections including a ginger garlic tofu sandwich or a Vietnamese BBQ Pork Bahn Mi.  Right next door you can dig into a Fried Chicken Po’Boy sandwich and finish it all up with fresh squeezed lemonade.
For more traditional fare, try our burger of the month or build your own monster dog at the Mod Dog Cart.  Pair it with an order of Slam Dunk Nachos to complete your dining experience.  You can hang out in the Timeout Taproom for a fresh microbrew or head over to Jamba Juice and grab a smoothie.  Whatever you’re craving, you’ll find something to get your taste buds in the game! 
On the lighter side, there is a wide variety of tasty salads from wheat berry with grilled vegetable dressing to the golden beet salad with quinoa, orange segments, shallots, pistachios & an orange miso dressing.
If your seats have access to one of our sideline clubs you will have exclusive access to our Wok locations featuring Ribs, egg rolls, BBQ pork buns and more!  Grab a Bud or Stella and a seat and enjoy.  Finish it all off with a cup of frozen yogurt with all the toppings. 
We provide a seamless guest experience and offer a wide range of food items for your every need. Some of our fan favorites include:  California Cheddar Bacon Burger, made to order Caesar Salads, Dungeness Crab Sandwiches, Hummus Wraps, Pizza and our famous Slam Dunk Nachos. The menu doesn’t stop there; we offer a full bar with only Premium top shelf liquors and dessert to satisfy that sweet tooth.
Team History Displays. Until this new NBA season began, the Warriors had their banner for the 1 title they'd won in the Bay Area flanked by the 2 they'd won in Philadelphia, and those, in turn, flanked by their retired numbers. Now, they have the NBA Championship banners in sequence: Philadelphia 1946-47, Philadelphia 1955-56, Golden State 1974-75, Golden State 2014-15. They do not, however, hang banners for their Conference titles in which they lost the NBA Finals, in 1948, 1964 and 1967; or for their other Division title, in 1976.

The numerical sequence of their retired numbers also works well, as the 3 lowest retired numbers, hung to the left of the title banners, are of players who played in Philadelphia, and made the 1962 move across the continent: 13, center Wilt Cahmberlain; 14, forward Tom Meschery; and 16, guard Al Attles. All of them played on the 1964 team that reached the Finals, and all of them played in the 1967 Finals -- although, in Wilt's case, it was against the Warriors for the new Philadelphia team, the 76ers.

The numbers to the right of the title banners are: 17, guard Chris Mullin, a star of the 1980s and '90s (and, as New Yorkers, you may note that he is now head coach at St. John's, where he played for Lou Carnesecca); 24, forward Rick Barry, the Roselle Park, New Jersey native who bridged the "San Francisco" and "Golden State" eras, winning an ABA title with the Oakland Oaks and an NBA title with the Warriors in the same building; and 42, center Nate Thurmond, who reached the Finals with them in 1964 and 1967, but was gone by 1975.
Chamberlain, Barry, Thurmond and Mullin are in the Basketball Hall of Fame. So is Jamaal Wilkes, a member of the 1975 team (he was named Keith Wilkes at the time) who also won titles with the Lakers. So is Šarūnas Marčiulionis, the Lithuanian legend who reluctantly starred with the Soviet national team, and wore 13 with the Warriors before it was retired for Wilt.

The Warriors do not honor players who played the bulk of their careers with them in Philadelphia, such as 1947 original Joe Fulks, the NBA's 1st-ever scoring leader; and 1956 titlists Neil Johnston, Paul Arizin, Tom Gola and Guy Rodgers. All 4 of those are in the Hall of Fame.

Arizin and Fulks were named to the NBA's 25th Anniversary Team in 1971. Chamberlain was named to the 35th Anniversary Team in 1980. Arizin, Chamberlain, Thurmond and Barry were named to the NBA's 50th Anniversary 50 Greatest Players in 1996. And Barry, Warren Jabali (formerly named Warren Armstrong) and Doug Moe were named to the ABA All-Time Team.

The Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame (BASHOF) is unusual in that its exhibits are spread over several locations. But, among the Warriors inductees, Mullin alone is honored at the Arena. Barry, Thurmond and Attles are honored at the Coliseum, and Meschery at San Francisco International Airport, at Gate 88. Frank Mieuli, their 1st owner in the Bay Area, and Mitch Richmond have been elected, but their plaques have not yet been placed. Chamberlain has not yet been honored.

Stuff. The Warriors have 3 Adidas Team Stores inside Oracle Arena, opening the 3rd, outside Section 105, in time for last season's NBA Finals. The previous ones are near the Plaza next to the Box Office, and on the Main Concourse outside Section 102.

As you might guess, the Warriors' title brought out celebratory books. Bay Area News Group (BANG), which publishes the San Jose Mercury News, published Golden Boys: The Golden State Warriors' Historic 2015 Championship Season. KCI Sports Publishing came out with Striking Gold - Golden State Warriors NBA ChampionsFor a discussion of their 1975 title season, and any other part of their history, you may have to settle for the Warriors' edition in the NBA's A History of Hoops series, written by Nate Frisch, with poor timing: Just 5 months later, and it would have been published with the new championship. An official DVD highlight package was released by the NBA.

During the Game. A November 13, 2014 article on DailyRotoHelp, ranked the NBA teams' fan bases, and listed the Warriors' fans 7th, in the top quartile of the league. This was written before the run to last year's title, and it called them "a loud, exciting bunch of fans."

This is not a Raider game. Nor is this a baseball Giant game where you might be wearing Dodger gear. This is a Warrior game, and even if you were wearing Laker gear (and you're not), you'd almost certainly be safe. Like A's fans, Warriors fans are blue-collar, but much more laid-back than the pirate, biker and Darth Vader wannabes who dress up to go to Raider games.

Still: In spite of your New York (and possibly Brooklyn) origins, and their team name, don't yell out the iconic (and ad-libbed) line from the classic New York film The Warriors: "Warr-i-ors! Come out and play-ay!"

The Warriors -- a.k.a. The W's in print and The Dubs when spoken -- do not have a mascot. They do have cheerleaders. They do not have a regular National Anthem singer, but during the 2015 Playoffs, they had a good-luck charm in 10-year-old San Jose kid Nayah Damasen: They won every Playoff game at which he sang it.

Their December 15 game against the Knicks will be Jewish Heritage Night (makes sense, especially if Woody Allen makes the trip), and they will also be giving out Warriors Splash Towels. For their February 25 game against the Nets, it will be Slate Night, when the Warriors wear their "slate"-colored uniforms.

The band Stroke 9 recorded a theme song, "Dem Dubs Doh" (Them Dubs, Though), to the tune of Jack Jones' legendary theme from The Love Boat. However, the best fan chant you're going to here is the rather generic, "Let's go, Warriors!" I suppose it could be worse: "GSW" stands for "Golden State Warriors," but it also stands for "gunshot wound."

After the Game. Oakland has a bit of a rough reputation, but, again, Dubs fans are not Raider fans. The Coliseum complex being a pair of islands in a sea of parking, not in any neighborhood, will help. Don't antagonize anyone, and you'll be fine.

If you want to go out for a postgame meal or drinks, be advised that some sections of town are crime-ridden. And, in this case, wearing out-of-town team gear might not be a good idea. It’s probably best to stay within the area from the 12th Street/Oakland City Center BART station and Jack London Square, center of the city’s nightlife, or to take to BART and cross the Bay to San Francisco.

There are three bars in the Lower Nob Hill neighborhood of San Francisco that are worth mentioning. Aces, at 998 Sutter Street & Hyde Street in San Francisco’s Lower Nob Hill neighborhood, is said to have a Yankee sign out front and a Yankee Fan as the main bartender. It’s also the home port of Mets, NFL Giants, Knicks and Rangers fans in the Bay Area.

R Bar, at 1176 Sutter & Polk Street, is the local Jets fan hangout. The Wreck Room, at 1390 California Street at Hyde Street, has also been cited as a Jet fans' bar. And Greens Sports Bar, at 2239 Polk at Green Street, is also said to be a Yankee-friendly bar. And a recent Thrillist article, citing the best sports bar in each State, named the Kezar Pub, at 770 Stanyan Street across from the eponymous stadium, as the best one in California.

The Kezar Pub is also rated as one of the best bars to watch European soccer games. If you visit the Bay Area during that sport's season (which is in progress), these San Francisco bars are also recommended, due to their early openings: Maggie McGarry's, 1353 Grant Avenue, Bus 30; The Mad Dog in the Fog, 530 Haight Street, MUNI N Line or Bus 6; and Danny Coyle's, 668 Haight Street, MUNI N Line or Bus 6.

Sidelights. The San Francisco Bay Area, including the East Bay (which includes Oakland), has a very rich sports history. Here are some of the highlights, aside from the Oakland Coliseum complex:

* Emeryville Park. Also known as Oaks Park, this was the home of the Pacific Coast League’s Oakland Oaks from 1913 until 1955. The Oaks won Pennants there in 1927, ’48, ’50 and ’54.

Most notable of these was the 1948 Pennant, won by a group of players who had nearly all played in the majors and were considered old, and were known as the Nine Old Men (a name often given to the U.S. Supreme Court). These old men included former Yankee 1st baseman Nick Etten, the previous year’s World Series hero Cookie Lavagetto of the Brooklyn Dodgers (an Oakland native), Hall of Fame catcher Ernie Lombardi (another Oakland native), and one very young player, a 20-year-old 2nd baseman from Berkeley named Billy Martin. Their manager? Casey Stengel. Impressed by Casey’s feat of managing the Nine Old Men to a Pennant in a league that was pretty much major league quality, and by his previously having managed the minor-league version of the Milwaukee Brewers to an American Association Pennant, Yankee owners Dan Topping and Del Webb hired Casey to manage in 1949. Casey told Billy that if he ever got the chance to bring him east, he would, and he was as good as his word.

Pixar Studios has built property on the site. 45th Street, San Pablo Avenue, Park Avenue and Watts Street, Emeryville, near the Amtrak station. Number 72 bus from Jack London Square.

* Seals Stadium. Home of the PCL’s San Francisco Seals from 1931 to 1957, the Mission Reds from 1931 to 1937, and the Giants in 1958 and ’59, it was the first home professional field of the DiMaggio brothers: First Vince, then Joe, and finally Dom all played for the Seals in the 1930s. The Seals won Pennants there in 1931, ’35, ’43, ’44, ’45, ’46 and ’57 (their last season). It seated just 18,500, expanded to 22,900 for the Giants, and was never going to be more than a stopgap facility until the Giants’ larger park could be built. It was demolished right after the 1959 season, and the site now has a Safeway grocery store.

Bryant Street, 16th Street, Potrero Avenue and Alameda Street, in the Mission District. Hard to reach by public transport: The Number 10 bus goes down Townsend Street and Rhode Island Avenue until reaching 16th, but then it’s an 8-block walk. The Number 27 can be picked up at 5th & Harrison Streets, and will go right there.

* Candlestick Park. Home of the Giants from 1960 to 1999, the NFL 49ers since 1970, and the Raiders in the 1961 season, this may have been the most-maligned sports facility in North American history. Its seaside location (Candlestick Point) has led to spectators being stricken by wind (a.k.a. The Hawk), cold, and even fog. It was open to the Bay until 1971, including the 1962 World Series between the Yankees and the Giants, and was then enclosed to expand it from 42,000 to 69,000 seats for the Niners. It also got artificial turf for the 1970 season, one of the first stadiums to have it – though, to the city’s credit, it was also the 1st NFL stadium and 2nd MLB stadium (after Comiskey Park in Chicago) to switch back to real grass.

The Giants only won 2 Pennants there, and never a World Series. But the 49ers have won 5 Super Bowls while playing there, with 3 of their 6 NFC Championship Games won as the home team. The NFL Giants did beat the 49ers in the 1990 NFC Championship Game, scoring no touchdowns but winning 15-13 thanks to 5 Matt Bahr field goals. The Beatles played their last “real concert” ever at the ‘Stick on August 29, 1966 – only 25,000 people came out, a total probably driven down by the stadium’s reputation and John Lennon’s comments about religion on that tour.

The Giants got out, and the 49ers have now done the same, with their new stadium opening last year. The last sporting event was a U.S. national soccer team win over Azerbaijan earlier this year, the 4th game the Stars & Stripes played there (2 wins, 2 losses). It has now been demolished, and good riddance.

Best way to the site by public transport isn’t a good one: The KT light rail at 4th & King Streets, at the CalTrain terminal, to 3rd & Gilman Streets, and then it’s almost a mile’s walk down Jagerson Avenue. So unless you’re driving/renting a car, or you’re a sports history buff who HAS to see the place, I wouldn’t suggest making time for it.

In spite of the Raiders' return, the 49ers are more popular -- according to a 2014 Atlantic Monthly article, even in Alameda County. This is also true for the Giants, more popular in Alameda County than the A's. The Raiders remain more popular in the Los Angeles area, a holdover from their 1982-94 layover, and also a consequence of L.A. not having had a team since.

* AT&T Park. Home of the Giants since 2000, it has been better for them than Candlestick -- aesthetically, competitively, financially, you name it. Winning 3 World Series since it opened, it's been home to The Freak (Tim Lincecum) and The Steroid Freak (Barry Bonds).

It's hosted some college football games, and a February 10, 2006 win by the U.S. soccer team over Japan. 24 Willie Mays Plaza, at 3rd & King Streets.

* Kezar Stadium. The 49ers played here from their 1946 founding until 1970, the Raiders spent their inaugural 1960 season here, and previous pro teams in the city also played at this facility at the southeastern corner of Golden Gate Park, a mere 10-minute walk from the fabled corner of Haight & Ashbury Streets. High school football, including the annual City Championship played on Thanksgiving Day, used to be held here as well. Bob St. Clair, who played there in high school, college (University of San Francisco) and the NFL in a Hall of Fame career with the 49ers, has compared it to Chicago’s Wrigley Field as a “neighborhood stadium.” After the 49ers left, it became a major concert venue.

The original 60,000-seat structure was built in 1925, and was torn down in 1989 (a few months before the earthquake, so there’s no way to know what the quake would have done to it), and was replaced in 1990 with a 9,000-seat stadium, much more suitable for high school sports. The original Kezar, named for one of the city’s pioneering families, had a cameo in the Clint Eastwood film Dirty Harry. Frederick & Stanyan Streets, Kezar Drive and Arguello Blvd. MUNI light rail N train.

* Frank Youell Field. This was another stopgap facility, used by the Raiders from 1962 to 1965, a 22,000-seat stadium that was named after an Oakland undertaker – perhaps fitting, although the Raiders didn’t yet have that image. Interestingly from a New York perspective, the first game here was between the Raiders and the forerunners of the Jets, the New York Titans.

It was demolished in 1969. A new field of the same name was built on the site for Laney College. East 8th Street, 5th Avenue, East 10th Street and the Oakland Estuary. Lake Merritt BART station.

* Cow Palace. The more familiar name of the Grand National Livestock Pavilion, this big barn just south of the City Line in Daly City has hosted just about everything, from livestock shows and rodeos to the 1956 and 1964 Republican National Conventions, nominating Dwight D. Eisenhower and Barry Goldwater, respectively, for President. (Yes, the Republicans came here, not the "hippie" Democrats, although they did hold their 1984 Convention downtown at the George Moscone Convention Center, 747 Howard Street at 4th Street, nominating Walter Mondale.)
The '64 Convention is where New York’s Governor Nelson Rockefeller refused to be booed off the podium when he dared to speak out against the John Birch Society – the Tea Party idiots of their time – and when Senator Goldwater was nominated, telling them, "I would remind you, my fellow Republicans, that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And I would remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue." (Personally, I think that extremism in the defense of liberty is no defense of liberty.)

Built in 1941, it is one of the oldest remaining former NBA and NHL sites, having hosted the NBA’s Warriors (then calling themselves the San Francisco Warriors) from 1962 to 1971, the NHL’s San Jose Sharks from their 1991 debut until their current arena could open in 1993, and several minor-league hockey teams.

The 1960 NCAA Final Four was held here, culminating in Ohio State, led by Jerry Lucas and John Havlicek (with future coaching legend Bobby Knight as the 6th man) beating local heroes and defending National Champions California, led by Darrell Imhoff.

The Beatles played here on August 19, 1964 and August 31, 1965, and Elvis sang here on November 13, 1970 and November 28 & 29, 1976. It was the site of Neil Young’s 1978 concert that produced the live album Live Rust and the concert film Rust Never Sleeps, and the 1986 Conspiracy of Hope benefit with Joan Baez, Lou Reed, Sting and U2. The acoustics of the place, and the loss of such legendary venues as the Fillmore West and the Winterland Ballroom, make it the Bay Area’s holiest active rock and roll site. 2600 Geneva Avenue at Santos Street, in Daly City. 8X bus.

From their 1962 arrival until moving to Oakland in 1971, the Warriors played several home games at the War Memorial Gymnasium at the University of San Francisco (better known as the USF Memorial Gym). It opened in 1958, thanks to the revenues from USF's 1955 and 1956 National Championships led by future Boston Celtics stars Bill Russell and K.C. Jones. But it only seats 5,300, so it was never a viable permanent home for an NBA team. 2335 Golden Gate Avenue at Roselyn Terrace. Bus 31.
USF's Memorial Gym

In addition to the preceding, Elvis sang at the Auditorium Arena (now the Kaiser Convention Center, near the Laney College campus in Oakland) early in his career, on June 3, 1956 and again on October 27, 1957; and the San Francisco Civic Auditorium (now the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, 99 Grove Street at Polk Street) on October 26, 1957. This is also where the 1920 Democratic Convention was held, nominating James M. Cox, who lost to Warren Harding.

While Fresno is nearly 200 miles southeast, it's closer to San Francisco than it is to Los Angeles. Elvis sang at Fresno's Selland Arena on April 25, 1973 and May 12, 1974. 700 M Street at Ventura Street.

* SAP Center at San Jose. Formerly the San Jose Arena and the HP Pavilion, this building has hosted the NHL’s San Jose Sharks since 1993. The Warriors played here in 1996-97, while their Oakland arena was being renovated. If you’re a fan of the TV show The West Wing, this was the convention center where the ticket of Matt Santos and Leo McGarry was nominated. 525 W. Santa Clara Street at Autumn Street, across from the Amtrak & CalTrain station.

* Avaya Stadium. The brand-new home of Major League Soccer's San Jose Earthquakes, it is soccer-specific and seats 18,000 people. 1123 Coleman Avenue & Newhall Drive; 41 miles from downtown Oakland, 46 from downtown San Francisco, 3 1/2 from downtown San Jose. ACE (Altamont Commuter Express) to Great America-Santa Clara.

This is actually the 3rd version of the San Jose Earthquakes. The 1st one played in the original North American Soccer League from 1974 to 1984, at Spartan Stadium. This has been home to San Jose State University sports since 1933, it hosted both the old Earthquakes, of the original North American Soccer League, from 1974 to 1984. It's hosted 3 games of the U.S. national team, most recently a 2007 loss to China, and games of the 1999 Women's World Cup.

1251 S. 10th Street, San Jose. San Jose Municipal Stadium, home of the Triple-A San Jose Giants, is a block away at 588 E. Alma Avenue. From either downtown San Francisco or downtown Oakland, take BART to Fremont terminal, then 181 bus to 2nd & Santa Clara, then 68 bus to Monterey & Alma.

The 2nd version of the Quakes played at Spartan Stadium from 1996 to 2005, but ran into financial trouble, and got moved to become the Houston Dynamo. The 3rd version was started in 2008, and until 2014 played at Buck Shaw Stadium, now called Stevens Stadium, in Santa Clara, on the campus of Santa Clara University. Also accessible by the Santa Clara ACE statin.

* Levi's Stadium. The new home of the 49ers, whose naming rights were bought by the San Francisco-based clothing company that popularized blue jeans all over the world, opened last year at 4701 Great America Parkway at Old Glory Lane in Santa Clara, next to California’s Great America park, outside San Jose. ACE to Great America-Santa Clara.

The NHL hosted a Stadium Series outdoor hockey game there this past February, with the Sharks losing to their arch-rivals, the Los Angeles Kings. On February 7, 2016, it will host Super Bowl 50. (The Roman numeral L will not be used, even though they used V for 5 and X for 10 -- I for the 1st one was only used retroactively. It really should have been in the city/metro area of Super Bowl I, but the NFL is not currently satisfied with Los Angeles' facilities, either the Coliseum or the Rose Bowl.) And with the 49ers having gotten to 2 recent NFC Championship Games, winning 1, the chance is not bad at all for the 49ers becoming the first team ever to play a Super Bowl in their own house.

* Stanford Stadium. This is the home field of Stanford University in Palo Alto, down the Peninsula from San Francisco. Originally built in 1921, it was home to many great quarterbacks, from early 49ers signal-caller Frankie Albert to 1971 Heisman winner Jim Plunkett to John Elway. It hosted Super Bowl XIX in 1985, won by the 49ers over the Miami Dolphins – 1 of only 2 Super Bowls that ended up having had a team that could have been called a home team. (The other was XIV, the Los Angeles Rams losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers at the Rose Bowl.)

It also hosted San Francisco's games of the 1994 World Cup, a game of the 1999 Women's World Cup, and the soccer games of the 1984 Olympics, even though most of the events of those Olympics were down the coast in Los Angeles. It hosted 10 games by the U.S. national team, totaling 4 wins, 2 losses, 2 draws.

The original 85,000-seat structure was demolished and replaced with a new 50,000-seat stadium in 2006. Arboretum Road & Galvez Street. Caltrain to Palo Alto, 36 miles from downtown Oakland, 35 from downtown San Francisco, 19 from downtown San Jose.

No President has ever been born, or has ever grown up, in the San Francisco Bay Area. But Herbert Hoover, 1929-33, was part of the 1st class at Stanford, from 1891 to 1895, and he and his wife, Lou Henry Hoover, maintained a home there from 1920 until her death in 1944, at which point he moved to the Waldorf Towers in New York. The house is now the official residence of the president -- of Stanford. It is not open to the public. 623 Mirada Avenue, across the campus from the stadium.

Stanford runs a think tank named for the 31st President, the Hoover Insitution, and exhibits inside the Hoover Tower on campus. 550 Serra Mall.

* California Memorial Stadium. Home of Stanford's arch-rivals, the University of California, at its main campus in Berkeley in the East Bay. (The school is generally known as "Cal" for sports, and "Berkeley" for most other purposes.) Its location in the Berkeley Hills makes it one of the nicest settings in college football.

But it's also, quite literally, on the Hayward Fault, a branch of the San Andreas Fault, so if "The Big One" had hit during a Cal home game, 72,000 people would have been screwed. With this in mind, the University renovated the stadium, making it safer and ready for 63,000 fans in 2012. So, like their arch-rivals Stanford, they now have a new stadium on the site of the old one.

The old stadium hosted 1 NFL game, and it was a very notable one: Due to a scheduling conflict with the A’s, the Raiders played a 1973 game there with the Miami Dolphins, and ended the Dolphins’ winning streak that included the entire 1972 season and Super Bowl VII. 76 Canyon Road, Berkeley. Downtown Berkeley stop on BART; 5 1/2 miles from downtown Oakland, 14 from downtown San Francisco, 48 from downtown San Jose.

Yankee Legend Joe DiMaggio, who grew up in San Francisco and later divided his time between there and South Florida, is buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma, on the Peninsula. 1500 Mission Road & Lawndale Blvd. BART to South San Francisco, then about a 1-mile walk.

The Fillmore Auditorium was at Fillmore Street and Geary Boulevard, and it still stands and hosts live music. Bus 38L. Winterland Ballroom, home of the final concerts of The Band (filmed as The Last Waltz) and the Sex Pistols, was around the corner from the Fillmore at Post & Steiner Streets. And the legendary corner of Haight & Ashbury Streets can be reached via the 30 Bus, taking it to Haight and Masonic Avenue and walking 1 block west.

Oakland isn’t much of a museum city, especially compared with San Francisco across the Bay. But the Oakland Museum of California (10th & Oak, Lake Merritt BART) and the Chabot Space & Science Center (10000 Skyline Blvd., not accessible by BART) may be worth a look.

San Francisco, like New York, has a Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), at 151 3rd Street, downtown. The California Palace of the Legion of Honor is probably the city’s most famous museum, in Lincoln Park at the northwestern corner of the city, near the Presidio and the Golden Gate Bridge. (Any of you who are Trekkies, the Presidio is a now-closed military base that, in the Star Trek Universe, is the seat of Starfleet Command and Starfleet Academy.)

The Palace of Fine Arts isn't just an art museum, it has a theater that hosted one of the 1976 Presidential Debates between Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter -- the one where Ford said, "There is no Soviet domination in Eastern Europe." 3301 Lyon Street. Bus 30.

And don't forget to take a ride on one of them cable cars I’ve been hearing so dang much about.

While San Francisco has been the setting for lots of TV shows (from Ironside and The Streets of San Francisco in the 1970s, to Full House and Dharma & Greg in the 1990s), Oakland, being much less glamorous, has had only one that I know of: Hangin' With Mr. Cooper, comedian Mark Curry's show about a former basketball player who returns to his old high school to teach.

In contrast, lots of movies have been shot in Oakland, including a pair of baseball-themed movies shot at the Coliseum: Moneyball, based on Michael Lewis' book about the early 2000s A's, with Brad Pitt as general manager Billy Beane; and the 1994 remake of Angels In the Outfield, filmed there because a recent earthquake had damaged the real-life Angels' Anaheim Stadium, and it couldn't be repaired in time for filming.

Oakland's status as a Navy city has allowed some nautical-themed films to be filmed there, including the 1934 pirate classic Treasure Island, various versions of The Sea Wolf, the World War I film Hell's Angels (predating the Oakland-based motorcycle gang founded in 1948 and taking the name), the World War II film Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home -- with the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, away at sea, having the USS Ranger stand in for it. Movies set in San Francisco often have Oakland-filmed scenes, including Pal Joey, Mahogany, Basic Instinct, and the James Bond film A View to a Kill. The Jim Belushi film The Principal and Janet Jackson's gang-themed debut, Poetic Justice, were Oakland all the way. Robin Williams, a San Francisco native, filmed scenes from Mrs. Doubtfire and Flubber in Oakland. And the aforementioned George Lucas made his first film, THX-1138, in Oakland in 1970.

The Fan, about a fan's obsession with a Giants player, filmed at Candlestick Park. So did Experiment In Terror, Freebie and the Bean, and Contagion.


So, if you can afford it, go on out and join your fellow Knick or Net fans in going coast-to-coast, and take on the defending World Champions, the Golden State Warriors. They should inspire your team. After all, the Knicks (in the NBA) and the Nets (in the ABA) also haven't won a league title since the mid-1970s. If the Warriors can do it, there is hope!

Chapman Signed: Worst-Case Scenario Avoided, But...

When Yankee general manager Brian Cashman stupidly ran his fire sale, trading away Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, Carlos Beltran and Ivan Nova for the already-failed Adam Warren and a bunch of "prospects," this was the worst-case scenario:

1. The Yankees would fail to make the Playoffs.

2. With Chapman, the Chicago Cubs would not only make the Playoffs, but do well.

3. With Miller, the Cleveland Indians would not only make the Playoffs, but do well.

4. With Beltran, the Texas Rangers would not only make the Playoffs, but do well.

5. The Yankees would not be able to Chapman, by then a free agent, in the off-season.

6. A good team -- probably the arch-enemy, the Boston Red Sox -- would sign Chapman, and would go on to success in 2017.

7. All those "prospects" would fail to pan out.

Number 1 happened. Number 2 happened: The Cubs won the National League Pennant and the World Series. Number 3 happened: The Indians won the American League Pennant, and nearly beat the Cubs in the World Series. Number 4 happened: The Rangers won the AL Western Division, although they probably would have even without Beltran; their side of the trade was about going for the whole thing, and they didn't get it.

But now, the Yankees have brought Chapman back, thus avoiding Number 5 and Number 6.

It's been suggested that the Chapman retrieval was in response to the Red Sox trading for Chris Sale, ace of the Chicago White Sox. But it seems that the retrieval was already in progress before anybody knew the Sale trade would happen.

Now, Yankee fans who think they know better -- notice that, this time, I'm not making it "Yankee Fans," Capital Y, Capital F -- are saying they knew all along that this would happen, and that Cashman is a "genius": He got the prospects he wanted, turning a lousy farm system into a great farm system, and he got Chapman back anyway.

Here's what such stupidity overlooks:

1. Cashman traded away Chapman and Miller. The Yankees were 7 1/2 games out of the AL Eastern Division lead when the Chapman trade was made. After a win, they dropped 4 straight. There were at least 6 games that the Yankees lost that could have been won if Chapman, or Miller, or both, had been there to hold the lead. The Yankees missed the 2nd Wild Card berth by 5 games.

2. The "prospects" the Yankees got won't deliver until at least roster callups in September 2018 -- if then. And even if they do, that won't help the Yankees win the 2017 World Series, and they wouldn't be eligible for the 2018 postseason anyway.

3. The Yankees' top 5 farm teams all made the Playoffs. Their top 2 farm teams played better than .620 ball over the course of the season. The Yankees already had a very good farm system.

The bottom line is this: When you have a chance at the Playoffs, and your farm system is as well-stocked as the Yankees' already were, you do not trade the immediate future for the distant future. You go for it.

The Cubs did. So did the Indians. And they won the Pennants and played each other in the World Series.

Say what you want about the Mets, who did stupidly let Daniel Murphy get away to the other good team in the NL Eastern Division, the Washington Nationals; but they have done whatever they could to keep Yoenis Cespedes, and he is still with them. The Mets went for it in 2015 and 2016. They failed, but they did try. And they are going for it again in 2017.

Brian Cashman is maneuvering to save money in 2017 and 2018, and to win in 2019 and beyond.

This is moronic. We are the New York Yankees. We have the resources to go for it every season. If we don't, we are betraying our fans.

It would be one thing if the Yankees were in the position the Mets were in going into, say, the 2013 season: Broke, with the other team in town so far ahead of us it wasn't funny. It would have been perfectly acceptable to sacrifice 2 bad seasons for 5 to 10 good shots at a title. This is what they did, and, to a degree, it has worked, and it can still end up working better for them. (It won't, because they're the Mets, but that's a post for another day.)

But the Yankees are the Yankees. If the old George Steinbrenner were running things, he would, rightly, consider the current situation unacceptable. Indeed, he would have fired Joe Girardi no later than after the 2013 season, and Cashman would have been replaced by now, too. For cause.

Cashman has avoided the worst-case scenario.

But that's like saying, "Mom, Dad, I know I wrecked the car and put my kid brother in the hospital, but my smartphone that I was texting on while driving still works!"

Take the keys away. Take the phone away, too. Cashman out. Competent GM in.


Days until The Arsenal play again: 2, Saturday morning at 10:00 (afternoon at 3:00, their time), at home at the Emirates Stadium, in a Premier League match against those thugs from Staffordshire club Stoke City. Arsenal beat Swiss club FC Basel on Tuesday, to finish top of their Champions League Group.

Days until the New Jersey Devils play another local rival: 3. Their 1st game this season with the New York Rangers, a.k.a. The Scum, will be this Sunday night, at 7:00, at Madison Square Garden. Their 1st game this season with the Philadelphia Flyers, a.k.a. The Philth, will be on Thursday night, December 22, at the Prudential Center. By a quirk in the schedule, the New York Islanders, a team they usually play several times a season, don't show up on the slate until Saturday night, February 18, 2017, at the Prudential Center.

Days until the New York Red Bulls play again: 76, on February 22, 2017, in the 1st leg of the CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinal, home to the Vancouver Whitecaps. The 2nd leg will be on March 2. The winner will face the winner of the Quarterfinal between 2 Mexican teams: Mexico City-based Pumas de la UNAM, and Monterrey-area team Tigres UANL. The 2017 MLS schedule has not yet been released. If schedule patterns hold, the 1st League game of the new season will be on Sunday, March 5, 2017, which is 8days from now.

Days until the Red Bulls next play a "derby": Unknown. We may not see the 2017 MLS schedule for weeks, so we don't know when we'll next play New York City FC, the Philadelphia Union, D.C. United or the New England Revolution.

Days until the U.S. national soccer team plays again: 106, on Friday, March 24, 2017, home to Honduras, at a venue and time TBA, in a CONCACAF Qualifying Match for the 2018 World Cup. It will be the team's 1st match in the 2nd run as manager for Bruce Arena, now that Jurgen Klinsmann has finally been fired.

Days until the Yankees' 2017 season opener: 115, on Sunday, April 2, at 8:00 PM, away to the Tampa Bay Rays. Under 4 months.

Days until the Yankees' 2017 home opener: 123, on Monday, April 10, at 1:00 PM, home to the Rays.

Days until the next Yankees-Red Sox series: 138, on Tuesday, April 25, 2017, at 7:00 PM, at Fenway Park.

Days until the next North London Derby: 142, on Saturday, April 29, 2017, at White Hart Lane. Under 5 months. It could be moved to the next day, Sunday, April 30, to accommodate the TV networks. It is also possible that Arsenal could face Tottenham again sooner than that, through an FA Cup pairing.

Days until Rutgers University plays football again: 268, on Saturday, September 2, 2017, home to the University of Washington.

Days until East Brunswick High School plays football again: Unknown, as the 2017 schedule hasn't been released yet. If history is any guide, it will be on Friday night, September 15, which would be 281 days from now. 

Days until the next election for Governor of New Jersey: 334, on Tuesday, November 7, 2017. Under 11 months.

Days until the next Rutgers-Penn State football game: 338, on Saturday, November 11, 2017, at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania.

Days until the next East Brunswick-Old Bridge Thanksgiving game: 350, on Thursday morning, November 23, 2017, at 10:00, and thank God it's at home at Jay Doyle's grove, rather than at the purple shit pit on Route 9.

Days until the next World Cup kicks off in Russia: 553, on June 14, 2018. A little over a year and a half, or 18 months. Now that Klinsmann has been fired, our chances have improved, but did he already ruin them?

Days until the next Congressional election: 698, on November 6, 2018. Under 2 years, or 23 months.

Days until the Baseball Hall of Fame vote is announced, electing Mariano Rivera: 774, on January 9, 2019. A little over 2 years, or 25 months.

Days until the Baseball Hall of Fame vote is announced, electing Derek Jeter: 1,126, on January 8, 2020. A little over 3 years, or 37 months.

Days until the next Summer Olympics begins in Tokyo, Japan: 1,324, on July 24, 2020. A little over 3 1/2 years, or 43 1/2 months.

Days until the next Presidential election: 1,457, on November 3, 2020. Under 4 years, or 47 months.