Friday, August 18, 2017

Bend the Knee, Mets Fans

Mets fans, as Daenerys Targaryen (played by Emilia Clarke) would say on Game of Thrones, "Bend the knee." You peasants.

As Donald Trump was making himself look like a fool for siding with Confederates and Nazis, the Yankees were making any Met fan who said their team was going to "take back New York" look like fools.

Funny thing: As soon as I decided to stop doing recaps following every game, both blog and vlog, conceding that "the season is over," the Yankees swept The Other Team 4 straight.

On Monday night, at Yankee Stadium, the Mets got home runs from former Yankee Curtis Granderson and Yoenis Cespedes, but the Yankees got them from Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks and Gary Sanchez, to turn a 2-0 Met lead into a 4-2 Yankee victory. Luis Cessa started, Chad Green relieved, David Robertson got the win, and Dellin Betances the save.

On Tuesday night, still in The Bronx, Sonny Gray held the Mets at bay (Flushing Bay? Jason Bay?) for 6 innings, while Sanchez and Jacoby Ellsbury took Jacob deGrom deep. Once again, Aroldis Chapman put what should have been a comfortable win in danger, turning 5-2 Yankees into 5-4 Yankees, but he held on for the win.

On Wednesday night, over at Citi Field, Judge jacked one 457 feet, into the upper deck in left-center. I had to look it up to see if it was the new Met ballpark's longest home run. It wasn't: Giancarlo Stanton hit one 468 feet there in 2015. The Yankees won, 5-3. Jaime Garcia started, Tommy Kahnle got the win in relief, and again Joe Girardi trusted someone other than Chapman to nail down the save, this time Robertson.

And then last night, Sanchez took Steven Matz over the wall. After the game, Matz put it succinctly: "It sucks to suck." Hey, sometimes, you don't suck, you just get beat by a better team. Luis Severino was fantastic, but Bryan Mitchell almost blew it in the 9th, turning 7-1 Yankees into 7-5 Yankees, before Girardi again called on Betances instead of Chapman to close it out.

Sweep. "Take back New York," my Pinstriped ass.

So now the Yankees go from Pity Field to the Wretched Hive of Scum and Villainy itself, Fenway Park, to try to redeem themselves after last weekend's disgusting capitulation against the Boston Red Sox. Here are the projected starters:

* Tonight, 1st pitch scheduled for 7:10 PM: Jordan Montgomery vs. Drew Pomeranz.

* Tomorrow, 7:10: CC Sabathia vs. Chris Sale.

* Sunday, 1:30 -- an afternoon game on TBS, not a night game on ESPN: Sonny Gray vs. Doug Fister.

Long having games in hand on the Sox, at one point as many as 4, the teams have now played the same number of games. The Yankees trail them for the lead in the American League Eastern Division by 4 games, both regularly and in the all-important loss column. There are 42 games to play. Come on you Bombers! Beat The Scum!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Happy 40th Birthday, Thierry Henry!

August 16, 1977, 40 years ago yesterday: A King dies, Elvis Aaron Presley in Memphis, Tennessee.

August 17, 1977, 40 years ago today: A King is born, Thierry Daniel Henry in Les Ulis, outside Paris, France.

On the same day, elsewhere in the Paris suburbs, in Asnières-sur-SeineWilliam Éric Gallas is born. He would be an opponent of Henry's for Chelsea, but a teammate for France, and a team at Arsenal in 1 season, 2006-07. But I would prefer not to talk about him.

I don't know if Elvis Presley ever saw a soccer game. I do know he played high school football, loved to listen to Harry Caray broadcast St. Louis Cardinals baseball on the radio, posed for a photo with Muhammad Ali, and attended the 1st game of the Memphis Southmen of the World Football League in 1974.

He couldn't have known Thierry Henry. I'd like to think he would have appreciated Henry's talent, style, and flamboyant celebrations.


Henry was born in Les Ulis, in Paris' southwestern suburbs. Actually, "suburb" is not the right word. It's a "planned community," what the British call a "new town," and the French a "banlieue." Many of these, including Les Ulis, are loaded with what we call housing projects, and attract the poor, and in France's case immigrants, particularly from former colonies of France, in the Middle East, in Africa, and in the Caribbean. In Henry's case, his father was from the Caribbean island, now nation, of Guadeloupe; his mother, from neighboring Martinique.

But Les Ulis had good soccer facilities, and Thierry was playing at age 7. In 1990, just 13, he was signed by AS Monaco, which plays in France's Ligue 1 despite being in a separate (but tiny) country. Their manager at the time was Arsène Wenger.

Henry made his debut at the start of the 1994-95 season, just after turning 17. Wenger started him on the left wing, even though he suspected he could score more goals as a striker. It would be some time before Wenger would be able to prove it.

In his 2nd season, 1995-96, Henry was named Young French Footballer of the Year. In 1997, with Wenger having moved on to North London club Arsenal, Monaco won the League 1 title, under Jean Tigana, who had been one of the first great black footballers in France. That got Monaco into the UEFA Champions League for 1997-98, and Henry scored 7 goals in the competition, a record for a French club player at the time. He was selected for the France team at the 1998 World Cup, on home soil, and won it, scoring 3 goals in the tournament, more than any player on the team. (Zinedine Zidane famously scored 2 goals in the Final, but only scored in the Final.)
Thierry Henry and David Trezeguet at the 1998 World Cup

That got the attention of Juventus, of Turin, Italy, and they bought him in January 1999. But Italy still played the catenaccio (padlock) game of defense-first, and he did not adjust well. On August 3, 1999, his former manager Wenger brought him to Arsenal for £11 million, an astounding total at the time, particularly for a player not quite 22 years old.

"He was a winger when he came here," Wenger would later say about his decision to finally move him to center forward, to take the place of Arsenal's departed younger French forward, the talented by moody and greedy Nicolas Anelka. "At first, he didn't think he could score goals, but he scored a few."

A few? Thierry Henry ended up scoring more goals for Arsenal than any player in the club's history. That 1st season, 1999-2000, he helped them finish 2nd and reach the UEFA Cup Final, and helped France win Euro 2000. In 2001, he charged forward in the FA Cup Final, but was stopped by a handball by Liverpool's Stéphane Henchoz. Which foreshadowed a later incident in Henry's career. Liverpool won the game 2-1.

In 2002, Henry led Arsenal to "the Double," winning both the Premier League and the FA Cup. Early in the 2002-03 season, he scored a goal against Tottenham, Arsenal's North London arch-rivals, that ended with a kneeslide celebration that was chosen as the pose for his statue outside the club's new Emirates Stadium. Arsenal won the FA Cup again.

But the 2003-04 season was the year. Arsenal went through the entire League season unbeaten, which had never been done in the professional era. Henry scored 30 goals in League play alone, including 4 in a game against Leeds United -- the last of which while being tripped, for what would have been a penalty had he not scored anyway. The fact that Henry did not win the Ballon d'Or (Golden Ball) as world player of the calendar year in either 2003 or 2004 proved that the award has no meaning.

Arsenal would extend its League unbeaten streak to 49 games before finally losing in controversial fashion early in the 2004-05 season, but Henry would help them win the FA Cup again. The 2005-06 season saw Henry elevated to club Captain, and was the last at their old stadium, Highbury, and in that season he broke the club's career goalscoring record (it had been 185 by Ian Wright), scored the goal that made Arsenal the 1st English team ever to beat Real Madrid away, and notched 3 goals in the stadium's final game on May 7, 2006.

No wonder they called him the King of Highbury. After the last goal, he knelt down and kissed the grass. Who else but Thierry Henry could be on his knees and still be called a King? Indeed, one of the neat coincidences of sports history is that the 1st hat trick at the stadium, in 1914, was scored by Harry King, and the last by Thierry Henry -- Henry King and King Henry.
Henry helped Arsenal reach the UEFA Champions League Final in 2006, in Paris, his hometown, but Barcelona, as they so often do, cheated their way to victory. Then, after disappointing results in the 2002 World Cup and Euro 2004, he helped France get back to the World Cup Final in 2006, where they lost to Italy.

After the 2006-07 season, Barcelona bought Henry's contract. He helped them win La Liga in 2009 and 2010, the Copa del Rey (King's Cup, Spain's version of the FA Cup) in 2009, and the UEFA Champions League in 2009, the one trophy he hadn't been able to win at Arsenal.

During qualifying matches for the 2010 World Cup, France needed to beat Ireland to reach the main tournament. With the game tied and in extra time, Henry handled the ball twice, before passing to William Gallas for the winning goal. Never mind that Ireland wouldn't have done well at the World Cup: They felt cheated.

Henry was willing to offer Ireland a replay, which FIFA, the governing body for world soccer, denied. It also announced that Henry wouldn't be punished.

Since then, whenever Arsenal fans accuse other clubs of cheating, this incident is brought up. The differences being: Henry admitted it, and tried to do the right thing thereafter, and it's one incident, and Arsenal had nothing to do with it. Indeed, at the time, he was under contract by the biggest cheaters in club football, Barcelona.

That was soon to change. In 2010, his Barca contract run out, he was brought to America by the New York Red Bulls of Major League Soccer. Due to circumstances that were not totally within my control, I never got to see Joe Montana throw a touchdown pass to Jerry Rice, or Michael Jordan dunk, or Wayne Gretzky score a goal. But, as a season ticket holder at Red Bull Arena, I got to sit 30 feet from Thierry Henry scoring goals.
He bought a loft in SoHo, a couple of doors down from Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz. I joked at the time that the reason the Kardashian sisters opened the New York DASH store where they did was because it was around the corner from Henry's loft, and that those noted daters of black athletes were after him. (As far as I know, this remained a joke, and didn't actually happen.) He loved that he could walk around New York and not be mobbed, which couldn't happen in Paris, London or Barcelona. He could be a regular guy.

And he was a regular guy. After a 2010 match between the Red Bulls and the Colorado Rapids, Arsenal's MLS "partner club" (both are owned by Stan Kroenke), a Q&A was set up, with about 200 Arsenal fans (myself included) having bought passes to attend. Another such event happened in 2013. Both times, he was very patient, and there was absolutely no sense of "Don't you know who I am?" to him. A big ego is almost a prerequisite to excel in anything, but there's a difference between having a healthy ego and having an excessive ego. 

He led them to the regular-season Eastern Conference title, but they lost in the Quarterfinal of the MLS Cup Playoffs. They reached the Quarterfinal again in 2011. At the start of the next season, the Red Bulls went to London to play in the preseason Emirates Cup. Since club rules state that a player must have at least 10 consecutive years at Arsenal to receive a testimonial match, and Henry left after 8 years, this was the closest he will ever get to a testimonial. But the Red Bulls did win that Cup.

With MLS having a Summer season, he was loaned back to Arsenal in January 2012. With Theo Walcott now wearing his old Number 14, Henry now wore the 12 that he wore with France. In the 3rd Round of the FA Cup, with Arsenal level with Leeds late, he scored to win. The look on his face was exquisite: He later said that he had just scored his 1st goal as an Arsenal fan. He would score in stoppage time in a League game against Sunderland as well, finishing his Arsenal tenure with a club record 228 goals.

He returned to the Red Bulls, and on March 31, 2012, he scored a hat track against the Montreal Impact. I saw the 1st 2 goals, but after every Red Bull goal, a smoke machine was set off, and it gave me a headache, so I went to the first aid station for some aspirin, and only saw the last Henry goal on their monitor.

In 2013, he helped the Red Bulls finish 1st overall in MLS' regular season, earning them their 1st real trophy, the Supporters' Shield. But, again, the Red Bulls were knocked out of the Playoffs in the Quarterfinal.

He played in the friendly with Arsenal on July 26, 2014, which unofficially served as his Red Bulls "testimonial," although the vast majority of the 25,219 fans who filled every seat in the joint were supporting Arsenal. Including myself: Despite fans of other English clubs telling me "Support your local team," it was The Arsenal who led me to my local team, not the other way around.
Thierry Henry and Arsène Wenger,
in preparations for the 2014 Red Bulls-Arsenal match

Tired of playing on artificial turf at many MLS stadiums, he retired after the 2014 season, having gotten the Red Bulls to the Semifinal. After 2 years as a BBC studio analyst, he now works as assistant manager to Roberto Martinez on the Belgium national team, having retired as France's all-time leading goalscorer.
Bon anniversaire, Titi, et merci.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

If I Can Dream

August 16, 1977, 40 years ago today: A King dies, Elvis Aaron Presley in Memphis, Tennessee.

August 17, 1977, 40 years ago tomorrow: A King is born, Thierry Daniel Henry in Les Ulis, outside Paris, France. (I'll have a tribute for him tomorrow.)

I commemorate Elvis. I pass no judgement on how his life spun out of control and ended. I would rather think about the good he did, and the performances he gave.

I don't know if Elvis Presley ever saw a soccer game. I do know he played high school football, loved to listen to Harry Caray broadcast St. Louis Cardinals baseball on the radio, posed for a photo with Muhammad Ali, and attended the 1st game of the Memphis Southmen of the World Football League in 1974.

He couldn't have known Thierry Henry. I'd like to think he would have appreciated Henry's talent, style, and flamboyant celebrations.

The world is a mess right now, and it needs transformation. It was a mess and needed transformation in 1956, when Elvis first hit the national consciousness, and transformed it, perhaps without realizing he was doing it.

It was a mess and needed transformation on June 20, 1968, when Elvis recorded this song, written by Walter Earl Brown. It was far beyond anything he'd done at his 1956-57 debut in terms of social relevance, and it showed that he could be as relevant as the Beatles or Bob Dylan.

After it was played for him, Elvis said, "I'm never going to sing another song I don't believe in. I'm never going to make another picture I don't believe in."

As far as the movies went, he kept his vow. He made only 2 more: Charro, a "revisionist Western" in the style of what Sergio Leone and Sam Peckinpah were doing at the time; and Change of Habit, where he played an inner-city doctor who, perhaps unintentionally, makes a nun played by Mary Tyler Moore consider leaving her order to marry him.

Yes, Elvis played an inner-city doctor. It worked. It was his last feature film, and it's considered one of his good ones.

And it lived up to the ideal of this song. An ideal we need right now. Regardless of politics, I'd like to believe there is no way that Elvis would have put up with the kind of garbage we saw over the last weekend, and are still getting from Donald Trump today. Elvis was a soldier. He was a patriot. And he believed in equality. His generosity was attested to by many people. He knew what it was like to be poor, and unbelieved-in.

He believed in a God of love. And he believed that America should be a nation of equality and ideals, where everyone was welcome.

Sing it, man.

There must be lights burning brighter, somewhere.
Got to be birds flying higher in a sky more blue.
If I can dream of a better land
where all my brothers walk hand in hand
tell me why, oh, why, oh, why can't my dream come true?
Oh, why?

There must be peace and understanding sometime.
Strong winds of promise that will blow away the doubt and fear.
If I can dream of a warmer sun
where hope keeps shining on everyone
tell me why, oh, why, oh, why won't that sun appear?
We're lost in a cloud
with too much rain!
We're trapped in a world
that's troubled with pain!
But as long as a man
has the strength to dream
he can redeem his soul and his life!
Deep in my heart, there's a trembling question.
Still, I am sure that the answer, answer's gonna come, somehow.
Out there in the dark, there's a beckoning candle!
Oh, yeah!
And while I can think
while I can talk
while I can stand
while I can walk
while I can dream
please let my dream come true
right now!
Let it come true right now!

How to Be a Yankee Fan In Detroit -- 2017 Edition

This coming Tuesday, the Yankees travel to Detroit to begin a 3-game series against the Tigers.

Before You Go. The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press (or "Freep") websites, especially their weather pages, should be consulted before you decide whether to go. Michigan is in the Midwestern Snowbelt. However, this being August, cold and snow won't be an issue.

As is currently forecast, rain won't be an issue, and heat might not be, either: Temperatures are projected to be in the low 80s all 3 afternoons, and the high 60s all 3 evenings, with less than 10 percent chance of rain.

Detroit is a border city. The Detroit River, connecting Lakes Huron and Erie, is one of the few places where you can cross from north to south and go from America to Canada. Windsor, Ontario -- the closest thing to a "South Detroit," making that line in the Journey song "Don't Stop Believin'" problematic -- is considerably safer, and, like Detroit itself, has a gambling casino. If you want to visit, you'll need to bring your passport. You can use either the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel or the Ambassador Bridge.

You'll also need to change your money. At the moment, US$1.00 = C$1.27, and C$1.00 = US 78 cents.

Tickets. The Tigers have usually been good since their 2006 American League Pennant season. In spite of this, due to how hard the Bush Recession hit Michigan, attendance had not been all that strong. Until their 2012 Pennant season. But it is coming back: The Tigers are averaging 29,220 fans per game this season, about 69 percent of capacity in a ballpark that officially seats 41,574 (but can be boosted to over 45,000 with standing room).

Infield Boxes are $86, Outfield Boxes are $55, Lower Baseline Boxes (in the outfield corners) are $46, Right Field Grandstands (bleachers) are $33 Upper Boxes are $38, Pavilion (left field bleachers) are $28, Mezzanine (upper right field) are $26, Kaline's Corner (a small right field family section named for the legendary Tiger right fielder) are $24, Bleachers (upper right field) are $26, and the cheapest section, the Jungle Rooftop Bleachers (reminiscent of the apartment buildings across from Wrigley Field, also copied in Philadelphia) are $20.

Getting There. Detroit is 600 land miles from New York. Specifically, it is 616 miles from Times Square to Cadillac Square. Knowing this, your first reaction is going to be to fly out there.

This may be the time to do it. The days of Detroit being "kind of an expensive flight," as George once described it on a 1992 episode of Seinfeld, may be over. If you buy tickets online now, you could get a round-trip nonstop flight to Detroit's Wayne County Metropolitan Airport for under $700.

The airport is 22 miles southwest of downtown. A taxi to downtown will set you back a bundle. There is a bus, SMART (Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation) bus Number 125, that goes directly from the airport to downtown, but it will take an hour and 20 minutes.

The most direct Amtrak route is the Lake Shore Limited, formerly known as the Twentieth Century Limited when the old New York Central Railroad ran it from Grand Central Terminal to Chicago's LaSalle Street Station. It leaves New York's Penn Station at 3:40 every afternoon, and arrives at Union Terminal in Toledo at 5:55 every morning. From there, you have to wait until 6:30 to get on a bus to Detroit's Amtrak station, arriving at 7:35. The station is at 11 W. Baltimore Avenue, at Woodward Avenue, 2 1/2 miles north of Comerica, so walking there is not a good option; the number 16 or 53 bus would take you down Woodward.

In reverse, the train leaves Detroit at 9:30 PM, arrives in Toledo at 10:35, and then you have to hang around there until the Lake Shore Limited comes back at 3:20 AM, arriving back in New York at 6:23 PM. Total cost: $188. A lot cheaper than flying, but a tremendous inflammation in the posterior.

How about Greyhound? Yeah, ride a bus for 14 hours to Detroit, there's a great idea. (Rolleyes.) Actually, having done it, I can tell you that it's not that bad. Two Greyhound buses leave Port Authority every day with connections to Detroit. One is at 5:15 PM, and arrives at 7:20 AM, with a 1 hour and 35 minute stopover in Cleveland in the middle of the night (but you won't have to change buses, in case you want to stay on the bus and sleep). The other leaves Port Authority at 10:15 PM, and you will have to change buses in Cleveland, arriving 6:50 AM and leaving 7:50, arriving at 11:25 AM. Despite having to change buses, this one is actually faster, taking 13 hours and 10 minutes, as opposed to the single through bus ride, taking 14 hours and 5 minutes.

Compared to most of Detroit, the bus terminal, at 1001 Howard Street, is relatively new and quite clean. It was just about within walking distance of Tiger Stadium, which really helped me in 1999. It's also not a long walk from Comerica Park, but I wouldn't recommend this. Better to take a cab, especially if you're getting a hotel.

The first bus to leave Detroit after the Thursday afternoon game is at 5:40 PM, and you won't have to change buses, arriving at Port Authority at 7:40 Friday morning. Round-trip fare: $145 if you make an advanced purchase, $2742 if you're buying at Port Authority. So Greyhound is also far cheaper than flying, cheaper than Amtrak, and less of a pain than Amtrak -- especially on this roadtrip.

If you decide to drive, the directions are rather simple, down to (literally) the last mile. You'll need to get into New Jersey, and take Interstate 80 West. You'll be on I-80 for the vast majority of the trip, through New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Ohio. In Ohio, in the western suburbs of Cleveland, I-80 will merge with Interstate 90. I point this out merely to help you avoid confusion, not because I-90 will become important -- though it is for "How to Be a Yankee Fan in Chicago" and some other cities. In Ohio, you'll take I-80's Exit 64, and get onto Interstate 75 North. This will take you into Michigan. Take Exit 50 for Grand River Avenue. Follow the ramp to Woodward Avenue.

If you do it right, you should spend about an hour and a half in New Jersey, 5 hours and 15 minutes in Pennsylvania, 3 hours in Ohio and an hour in Michigan. That’s 10 hours and 45 minutes. Counting rest stops, preferably halfway through Pennsylvania and in the Cleveland suburbs, and accounting for traffic in both New York and Detroit, it should be about 12 hours.

I strongly recommend finding a hotel with a good, secure parking garage, even if you're only staying for one game.

Once In the City. The city, on the river of the same name, was founded in 1701 as Fort Ponchartrain du Detroit du Lac Erie (Day-TWAH, strait of Lake Erie), by Antonie de La Mothe Cadillac, for whom the downtown Cadillac Square and the brand of car was named.

Detroit's centerpoint, in culture and in terms of address numbers, is the Woodward Fountain, where Woodward, Michigan and Gratiot Avenues come together, with Cadillac Square just off to the east. Woodward is the street address divider between East and West.

Since the July 1967 race riot, whose 50th Anniversary was just somberly created, Detroit has become known as a city of poverty, crime, decay, and poor city services, the kind of place where even Batman would fear to tread. The legendary comedian Red Skelton once said, "In Detroit, you can go 10 miles and never leave the scene of the crime." It's no wonder the RoboCop film series was set there.

There was a Nike commercial a few years back, in which young basketball players were seated, yoga-style, in front of a TV screen, on which their "master," a fat black man with a turban and sunglasses who looked nothing like an athlete, was dispensing wisdom. At the end, after the Swoosh logo was shown, the camera went back to one of the students, who asked, "But, Master, what if we behave badly?" And the Master lowered his shades, looked over them, and said, "You go to Detroit."
This was in the early 1990s, when the Pistons had begun to fall from their 1989-90 "Bad Boys" championship teams, and going to Detroit was not a good option in any sport -- indeed, the only Detroit team doing well at the time was, strangely, the Lions, who were then a perennial Playoff team thanks largely to Barry Sanders.

I once saw a T-shirt that read, "I'm so bad, I vacation in Detroit." As I mentioned, I have. (I'm not saying I'm "bad," or a "hard man," just that I went.) Newark had a race riot 2 weeks before Detroit's. In May 1999, I saw Detroit, and I realized just how far back Newark had come, by seeing how far Detroit had not.

In the 1950 Census, Detroit was the 4th-largest city in America, after New York, Chicago and Philadelphia, with over 2 million people just within the city limits. "White flight" after the '67 riot has led to the Detroit metropolitan area having roughly the same number of people it had then, about 5.6 million, but within the city limits the number has dropped from over 2 million to just 672,000. The suburbs are beautiful, but the city itself is a hole, and good men (and a few bad ones) have busted their humps trying to get it back on its feet.

One of the good men who tried was Mike Ilitch, probably the most famous American of Macedonian descent, who ran Little Caesar's Pizza, and owned the Tigers and Red Wings. He rebuilt the city's historic Fox Theater, put Little Caesar's headquarters in the building above it, and had Comerica Park built across the street. He died this past February 10, and, following his example, many others, including Pistons Hall-of-Famer turned major area businessman Dave Bing, who served a term as Mayor, are trying, they really are.

But Governor Rick Snyder, a Tea Party Republican currently under a criminal investigation for allowing the water of Flint to be poisoned, ordered a State takeover of Detroit's finances. Apparently, he didn't learn the lesson of Hugh Carey, New York's Governor in 1975, who found another way to get New York City's finances back on their feet. In Detroit's case, as in every other place in which it's tried, austerity hasn't worked.

As for you, the potential visitor, the fear of crime should not keep you away. As with Yankee Stadium during the depth of New York's crime wave from the late 1970s to the early '90s, the ballpark is probably the safest, best-protected place in town.

In terms of residents, the suburbs are nearly all-white; the city itself, nearly all-black. If there is another city in North America that is so segregated, I'm not aware of it. The sales tax in the State of Michigan is 6 percent, and does not go up in either the County of Wayne or the City of Detroit.

Detroit is a weird city in some ways. It often seems like a cross between a past that was once glorious but now impossible to reach, and a future that never quite happened. (That observation was once made about the remaining structures from New York’s 1964-65 World’s Fair, and the Astrodome in Houston.) Art Deco structures of the 1920s and ‘30s, such as the Penobscot Building (the tallest building outside New York and Chicago when it opened in 1928, the tallest in Michigan until 1977) stand alongside abandoned, boarded-up or chained-up stores.

But alongside or across from them, there are glassy, modern structures such as the Renaissance Center, shown in the photo above: A 5-tower complex that includes, at its center, the 750-foot tallest building in Michigan (the tallest all-hotel skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere), and, in one of its 4 outer towers, the headquarters of General Motors (although the RenCen was originally financed by Ford).

Downtown also has the Detroit People Mover, a monorail system that is part of the suggestion of Detroit trying to get from 1928 to 2028 while jumping over the difficult years in between. Like the Washington and Montreal Metro (subway) systems, the company running it prides itself on the artwork in its stations.
It has a stop called Times Square, but it won’t look anything like the one in New York. It has a stop called Bricktown, but it won’t look anything like Brick Township, the sprawling Jersey Shore suburb off Exits 88 to 91 on the Garden State Parkway. The Grand Circus Park and Broadway Street stations are both 3 blocks from Comerica Park. The DPM also has a stop at Joe Louis Arena, home of the Red Wings. It’s cheap, only 75 cents, and it still uses tokens, although it also accepts cash. Be advised, though, that it stops running at midnight, except on Fridays and Saturdays, when it runs until 2:00 AM. Local bus fare is $1.50.

ZIP Codes in the Detroit area start with the digits 480, 481, 482 and 483, and the Area Code is 313, with 248 (overlaid by 947), 586 and 734 serving the suburbs.

Going In. The closest parking lots to the park are $25, but most nearby lots can be had for as little as $15. This is a far cry from parking at Tiger Stadium, which usually had people boxed in, resulting in tremendous traffic jams both before and after the game (and, every bit as much as the crime and the condition of the stadium, was why the Lions wanted to get out and built the Silverdome). It also involved local kids being willing to "Watch your car, Mister?" for a small fee. Translation: "If you pay me $5.00, I'll make sure nobody damages your car. If you don't pay me, I'll make sure somebody, namely myself, does."

The area around Comerica Park (named for a Midwest-based bank) and Ford Field (home of the NFL's Lions, across Brush Street from Comerica, and named for the automaker), at the northern edge of downtown Detroit, is called Foxtown, after the Fox Theater, which, as I said, Tigers/Wings/Little Caesars owner Mike Ilitch had restored.

The ballpark can be entered at Gate A on Witherell (that's the 1st base stands), Gate B at Witherell & Adams (right field corner), Gate C at Adams & Brush (left field corner), or Gate D on Montcalm (home plate). The official street address is 2100 Woodward Avenue, even though the park is not on Woodward.
Comerica Park, with Ford Field next-door

There are a lot of distractions in the park, from the huge Tiger statues to the Comerica Carousel, near the Big Cat Food Court under the 1st base stands, to the Fly Ball Ferris Wheel, with baseball-shaped compartments, under the 3rd base stands. But, not being a kid (except maybe at heart), you're interested in the baseball, so let’s move on.

The ballpark faces southeast, as did Tiger Stadium. Unlike Tiger Stadium, Comerica is not fully enclosed, so you can see out, and some of Detroit's taller buildings can be seen from the seats behind the plate, including the RenCen and the Penobscot. Much of Detroit’s financial district, including the Penobscot, was built in the 1920s and '30s and, like many of New York's buildings of the same period, were heavily influenced by the Art Deco movement. Some of these structures show just how much of a shame it is that Detroit has so badly fallen apart in the last half-century.
Great view. Detroit looks pretty good from this angle.
Note the Chevrolet sign on top of the batter's eye.

Unlike Tiger Stadium, whose overhanging upper deck in right field and close left-center power alley made it a hitter's park, Comerica favors pitchers. Outfield distances are as follows: Left, 345 feet; left-center, 370; center, 420; right-center, 365; right, 330.

Actually, the dimensions are not all that different from Tiger Stadium, but the lack of an outfield upper deck means not only is there no batter-aiding overhang, but air can circulate better, and when the wind comes in off the Detroit River, it makes it tough to hit one out.

There is a dispute as to who hit Comerica's longest home run. According to the Tigers themselves, J.D. Martinez hit it, 467 feet on July 22, 2015. However, the Chicago White Sox -- admittedly a team that has been trying to beat the Tigers' brains out for 117 years, and vice versa, and now a Division rival, too -- claim that Adam Dunn hit one there on August 4, 2013, going 475 feet.

It's not clear who hit the longest homer at Tiger Stadium: It's been credited to Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Norm Cash, Harmon Killebrew, Frank Howard, Kirk Gibson and Cecil Fielder. Before he was a Yankee, Reggie Jackson hit one off Dock Ellis in the 1971 All-Star Game that hit the transformer on a light tower on the right field roof. After he was a Yankee, Reggie was with the California Angels, playing the Tigers in a 1984 NBC Game of the Week, and finally cleared that roof.

The field is natural grass. In the early 20th Century, most ballparks would have a strip of dirt between home plate and the pitcher's mound, known as a "keyhole." Comerica Park added this feature, and so did the home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, now known as Chase Field.

In center field, the Tigers have the Chevrolet Fountain, a takeoff on the fountain in Kansas City, and honoring the automobile industry's contributions to the city that got it nickname "The Motor City" and "Motown." For a while, in solidarity, the Chrysler and Ford logos flanked the Chevy ad on top, but have since been removed.

During Christmas Week 2013, Comerica Park hosted the Hockeytown Winter Festival, in connection with the NHL Winter Classic to be held nearby at Michigan Stadium on New Year's Day. Events included public ice skating and college hockey games. This past July 19, Comerica hosted European soccer giants, as Paris Saint-Germain defeated AS Roma 5-3 on penalties after a 1-1 draw.

Food. When I visited Tiger Stadium in its final season, 1999, it had great food, including the very best ballpark hot dog I've ever had. Since they were owned by Little Caesars mogul Ilitch, and before that were owned by Domino's Pizza boss Tom Monaghan, food is taken very seriously by the club. This is, after all, Big Ten Country, where college football tailgate parties are practically a sacrament.

Their big feature is the Big Cat Food Court, under the 1st base stands, featuring Little Caesars, naturally; Sliders, a stand featuring that Midwest staple, the Coney dog (a hot dog with chili and onions, though they're not that popular at the actual Coney Island); the Brushfire Grill, with barbecue specialties; a stand selling "Chicago Style Hot Dogs," with the little pickle slice, the tomato slice, and the celery salt (and, no, I don't know why Detroit's ballpark would sell a Chicago-themed item); Asian Tiger, with Chinese food and sushi; a Mexican food stand; and "Lemons & Ears," which sells lemonade and "elephant ears," a Midwestern variation on that Middle Atlantic States standard, funnel cake.

According to a recent Thrillist article on the best food at each MLB park, the best thing to eat at Comerica Park is bacon on a stick, and the best thing to drink there is beer, both available at Michigan Craft Beer behind Section 104.

The Tigers also have numerous in-park restaurants, but, like the ones at Yankee Stadium II, you can only get in with certain tickets. But if you go to a Detroit Tigers home game and you don't find something good to eat, you're not trying hard enough.

Team History Displays. The main concourse features a Walk of Fame, showing great moments in Detroit baseball history, from the 1887 National League Champion Detroit Wolverines, through the Pennants the Tigers won with Ty Cobb in 1907-08-09, to the Hank Greenberg years of 1934-45, to the amazing 1968 "Year of the Tiger," to the "Bless You Boys" of 1984, and the 2006 and 2012 Pennants.

Along the left-center-field wall are statues of the 5 Tiger players who have had their uniform numbers retired: 2, Charlie Gehringer, 2nd base, 1924-42; 5, Greenberg, 1st base, 1933-46; 6, Al Kaline, right field, 1953-74 and broadcaster 1975-2002; 16, Hal Newhouser, pitcher, 1939-53; and 23, Willie Horton, left field, 1963-77 (and grew up in Detroit). There is also a statue of Cobb, center field, 1905-26, who played before uniform numbers were worn (though I once saw film of him at an old-timers' game, wearing a Tiger uniform, Number 25). Their names and their numbers are on a wall in left field.
It's a little odd that Kaline's statue shows him catching a ball.
Guys with 3,000 hits usually don't have their fielding remembered.

Not with those statues, but rather at the 1st base entrance, is a statue of the late Ernie Harwell, the broadcaster whose very voice meant "the Detroit Tigers" from 1960 to 2002. His name is on a matching wall in right field, along with those of 1979-95 manager Sparky Anderson, Number 11 retired; and the names of Tigers who, while their numbers have not been retired by the team, are, like the preceding (with Horton the lone exception) also in the Baseball Hall of Fame: Sam Crawford, right field, 1903-17; Hugh Jennings, manager, 1907-20; Harry Heilmann, right field, 1914–29 and broadcaster 1934-50; Henry "Heinie" Manush, left field, 1923–27; Gordon "Mickey" Cochrane, catcher 1934-37, manager 1934-38; and George Kell, 3rd base, 1946–52 and broadcaster 1959-96. Jackie Robinson's universally retired Number 42 is also with these names. These walls, in left-center and right-center, serve as Detroit's answer to Yankee Stadium's Monument Park.

Not included, although he is in the Hall of Fame, is 1934-37 left fielder Leon "Goose" Goslin. He, Greenberg and Gehringer, in those early days of the FBI, were nicknamed the G-Men.

The 1st great Tiger announcer was Edwin "Ty" Tyson, who announced from 1927 to 1953. Unlike Harwell, he has not been honored on these walls or received the Hall of Fame's Ford Frick Award for broadcasters.

The Tigers have removed from circulation, but not officially retired, Number 47, worn by Jack Morris, pitcher, 1977-90. For a while, they kept 1 and 3 out of circulation. 1 was worn by 1, Lou Whitaker, 2nd base, 1977-95; 3, by Cochrane, Dick McAuliffe (2nd base, 1960-73), and Alan Trammell (shortstop, 1977-96 and manager 2003-05). They have since been requested and given out. Ironically, 3 is now worn by the 2nd baseman, Ian Kinsler; and 1 by the shortstop, Jose Iglesias.

National Avenue ran outside the 3rd base stands at Tiger Stadium, and was renamed Cochrane Avenue. Cherry Street, behind the left field stands, was renamed Kaline Drive. Those names are maintained, even though Tiger Stadium has been torn down.

Since the 1st All-Star Game was held in 1933, right at the dawn of a golden age for the Tigers, Gehringer was their only player selected for it. In 1999, Cobb was named to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team. That same year, he, Crawford, Heilmann, Cochrane, Gehringer, Greenberg, Goslin, and Kaline were named to The Sporting News' 100 Greatest Baseball Players. In 2006, Tiger fans, surprisingly, chose Cobb rather than Kaline as their representative in the DHL Hometown Heroes poll.

Stuff. The Tigers have 5 team stores located throughout the ballpark. Stuffed tigers are a natural to sell, and jerseys, jackets, T-shirts and caps abound. You can also buy DVDs of the official World Series highlight films of 1945, 1968 and 1984 (they come in 1 disc, with the 1935 edition preceding the start of official films sponsored by MLB which started in 1943) and The Essential Games of the Detroit Tigers.

Unlike the "Essential Games" series for the old Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium, instead of 6 games, there's only 4, and, due to the limitations on what Major League Baseball Productions has, they only go back to 1968. Despite it not being "The Essential Games of Tiger Stadium," they still limit it to home games.

Thus the 1984 clincher, Game 5 at Tiger Stadium, is included; 1968's Game 5 at Tiger Stadium, the only home game the Tigers won in that Series, is included; but the Game 7s of 1945 (at Wrigley Field) and 1968 (at Busch Stadium) are not. They do, however, include the Tiger Stadium finale in 1999 and Game 4 of the 2006 American League Championship Series, which was won by Magglio Ordonez hitting a walkoff homer to cap a series sweep.

The Bonus Features include highlights from the 1971 All-Star Game (Reggie's home run off Dock), the 1976 "Mark Fidrych Game" in which "the Bird" beat the Yankees on ABC Monday Night Baseball; the Comerica Park opener in 2000; a tribute to Trammell and Whitaker; a big moment from the career of Curtis Granderson, now a Met, a former Tiger and a former Yankee; and a brief Tiger Stadium retrospective.

Books about the Tigers are plentiful. In 1989, then-manager Sparky Anderson collaborated with legendary Detroit sportswriter Joe Falls on The Detroit Tigers: An Illustrated History, probably the best single-volume history of the ballclub.

Charles C. Avison wrote Detroit: City of Champions, telling of how the city produced champion after champion in the Great Depression and World War II: The Tigers winning Pennants in 1934, '35, '40 and '45; the Lions debuting in 1934 and winning the NFL Championship in 1935; the Red Wings winning the Stanley Cup in 1936, '37 and '43; and Alabama-born, Detroit-trained Joe Louis winning the Heavyweight Championship of the World in 1937 and keeping it until his first retirement in 1948. Back then, Detroit was a city where anything was possible.

Even as late as 1968, in the middle of the golden age of muscle cars and Motown Records, it still seemed like the 1967 riot might be a brief setback to a great city. Earlier this year, George Cantor published The Tigers of '68: Baseball's Last Real Champions, the title based on the fact that 1968 was the last season before Divisional Play began. In contrast, by the time the Tigers won it all again in 1984, Detroit was unquestionably a city of the past, falling apart, torn by racial strife and poverty, and surpassed as an automotive center by Germany and Japan. And, as it did during the Depression, The War, and after the riot, Detroit once again needed a winner. Mark Pattison, David Raglin, Gary Gillette and Richard L. Shook recently published Detroit Tigers 1984: What a Start! What a Finish! (based on the fact that the Tigers won 35 of their first 40 and then won the World Series in 5 games).

Ernie Harwell published several books, including Tuned to Baseball (1984) and Ernie Harwell: Stories from My Life In Baseball (2001). While neither book is solely about his experiences with the Tigers, the man was a born storyteller. He also collaborated with Jim Hawkins on Al Kaline: The Biography of a Tigers Icon, telling the story of the most beloved athlete in Detroit history -- ahead of Ty Cobb, Gordie Howe, Steve Yzerman, Isiah Thomas and every Lions player.

Charles C. Alexander's Ty Cobb, published in 1984, remains the best biography of the Georgia Peach. He recently collaborated with historian Rick Huhn on The Chalmers Race, about Cobb's 1910 duel with Cleveland star Napoleon Lajoie for the AL batting title, and thus for a brand-new Chalmers 30 car (roughly the equivalent of winning a Lexus today).

Both My Life In Baseball: The True Record, which Cobb wrote with Al Stump, and Cobb: A Biography, which Stump left to be published after his own death, should be discounted as full of tall tales. With the assistance of the Cobb family, including Ty's granddaughter, Charles Leerhsen has since written Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty, which certainly doesn't suggest the George Peach as a candidate for sainthood -- his attack of a heckler at the Yankees' Hilltop Park in 1912, which would have gotten him destroyed on social media in 2012, is discussed -- but also debunks the nastier myths.

In contrast to Cobb's memoir, Hank Greenberg: The Story of My Life is a fair self-assessment, and John Rosengren's recent Hank Greenberg: The Hero of Heroes tells the complete tale, including a comparison of Greenberg's injury-shortened career with more recent, drug-aided sluggers. Elden Auker, who was one of the last surviving 1930s players published the memoir Sleeper Cars and Flannel Uniforms in 2001, and it's one of the best books ever written by a former player. Jim Hawkins wrote Al Kaline: The Biography of a Tigers Icon.

During the Game. You do not have to worry about wearing Yankee gear in Comerica Park. Maybe if it was a Pistons game and you were wearing Chicago Bulls stuff. Or if it was a Lions game and you were wearing Chicago Bears or Green Bay Packers stuff. Or if it was a Red Wings game and you were wearing Chicago Blackhawks or (due to their nasty late 1990s, early 2000s matchups) Colorado Avalanche stuff. But for a Tigers game, you can wear just about any opposing team's cap, jersey, jacket, whatever, and no one will give you a hard time based on that.

A recent Thrillist article ranked Tiger fans as the 12th "most intolerable" out of MLB's 30 teams, putting them about in the middle of the pack:

The fellas are in their Cabrera jerseys (every penny towards that salary counts) and about 18 beers deep, while the ladies have their curled hair and temporary Tigers cheek tattoos (and ladies-fit Verlander jerseys) and are about nine Atwater Dirty Blondes deep. Some things are up in the air, like whether one of the guys will fight some meathead who rode the bus up from The Old Shillelagh for staring at his girlfriend (which he was), or some opposing fan who questioned Alan Trammell’s hall-of-fame credentials. One thing is not up in the air: they’ll be safely back in Wyandotte before the night is over.

That's a bit unkind: On my visit, I had absolutely no problem with any Tiger fans, and, while mainly suburban, they had enough street-sense to be properly balanced between edgy and decent. Then again, that was at Tiger Stadium, on the edge of the Corktown ghetto; downtown at Comerica Park, things might now be different, and calmer.

All Saturday home games are Tigers Alumni Saturdays, with a player from the team's past holding a Q&A session for fans at the Big Cat Court. This Yankees-Tigers series is in midweek, so that won't be an issue. None of the games in it will feature a promotion.

Mike Ilitch died shortly before the Tigers left for Spring Training, and they are wearing memorial patches on their uniforms.
The Tigers hold auditions for National Anthem singers, instead of having a regular singer. Their mascot is Paws the Tiger, and not only is he one of the less ridiculous mascots in the major leagues, but he's a better dancer than the Phillie Phanatic.
Whenever the Tigers score a run, the sound of a tiger growling is played through the public address system. It's a bit more intimidating than the really loud variation on the "Westminster chimes" that gets played at Yankee Stadium. But it's been a long time since "Tiger Rag" (a.k.a. "Hold That Tiger" -- first recorded by the Original Dixieland Jass Band 100 years ago, on August 17, 1917) was played at Detroit baseball games.

The Yankees inadvertently contributed to the Tigers' version of the Angels' "Rally Monkey." In a June 2006 Yanks-Tigers game at Comerica, Tigers pitcher Nate Robertson (not to be confused with former Knick Nate Robinson) was featured on FSN Detroit's "Sounds of the Game," in which the TV station puts a microphone on a coach, or a player not in the game. To get the fans going, Nate began to stuff Big League Chew (co-invented by former Yankee pitcher Jim Bouton) into his mouth, hoping to spark a late-inning rally. The trend caught on, with Jeremy Bonderman, Zach Miner and Justin Verlander all chewing from time to time.

The Tigers came back to tie the game, and the phrase "It's Gum Time" has become a new rallying cry for the team, along with 1935's "Hold That Tiger," 1968's "Sock It to 'em Tigers" and 1984's "Bless You, Boys."

The Tigers do not have a regular song to play in the 7th inning stretch after "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." However, when they take the field, "Detroit Rock City" by KISS is played. And, following a Tiger win, they play "Lifelong Tiger Fan Blues," written by actor Jeff Daniels, who grew up in suburban Chelsea, Michigan, and attended Central Michigan University.

While Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" is played at Red Wings games, it is not played at Tiger games -- which became somewhat appropriate during the 2012 World Series, because Journey's lead singer, Steve Perry, is a Californian and a San Francisco Giants fan, and the Giants swept the Tigers in 4 straight.

Perry wrote the part about the "city boy, born and raised in South Detroit" about a Detroit-born roadie for the band. As for the messed-up geography, he's said, "I tried 'North Detroit,' I tried 'East' and 'West,' and it didn't sing, but 'South Detroit' sounded so beautiful. I loved the way it sounded, only to find out later it's actually Canada."

After the Game. With Detroit's rough reputation, I would recommend not hanging around downtown after a night game. If you want a postgame drink or meal, you're better off sticking to your hotel.

You may have heard of Detroit's classic sports bar, the Lindell Athletic Club, better known as the Lindell AC. USA Today once called it the Number 1 sports bar in America. The late Lions star and actor Alex Karras had a part-ownership, and it got him in trouble with gambling that led to his suspension for the 1963 season. Shortly thereafter, it moved from its original 1949 location to its more familiar one, at Cass & Michigan Avenues. The owners gave out free drinks the night the Tigers clinched the 1968 Pennant.

In 1969, former Yankee player and future Yankee manager Billy Martin, then managing the Minnesota Twins, saw his pitcher Dave Boswell sucker-punch 3rd baseman Bob Allison there, and Martin knocked Boswell out, leading to his own firing. Ironically, Martin's next managing job was with the Tigers. It was Lindell owner James "Jimmy B" Butsicaris who recommended to Billy that he sign speedy center fielder Ron LeFlore, then doing time for armed robbery at Michigan's infamous Jackson State Penitentiary. (LeVar Burton starred in the film One in a Million: The Ron LeFlore Story, and Billy played himself.)

Sadly, it's gone: The move of the Tigers out of Tiger Stadium hurt the bar, and it closed in 2002. The Stanley Cup, which the Wings had won a few months earlier, was a guest of honor at the closing ceremony. Another famous Tiger Stadium bar, Hoot Robinson's, which I visited in 1999, is also gone. For a while, it was replaced by an equally divey music venue called the UFO Factory, but that's gone now, too. The building is still there, called McShane's, and considerably less divey. But one of the old legends survives: Nemo's, at 1384 Michigan Avenue at 8th Street.

Giants gather at the Town Pump Tavern, 100 W. Montcalm Street at Park Avenue, 2 blocks from Comerica Park. Harry's Detroit Bar is also said to be a Giants' fan haven. It's right over the Fisher Freeway overpass from Comerica and the Town Pump, at 2482 Clifford Street, near the famous Cass Tech High School. Be warned, though, that over the freeway is not an area to traverse at night.

Expatriate Jet fans are said to gather at Cobo Joe's Smokehouse BBQ & Sports Bar, 422 W. Congress Street at Cass Avenue, across from the Joe Louis Arena/Cobo Hall complex. Cheli's Chili Bar is owned by hockey legend and Detroit native Chris Chelios, at 47 E. Adams Avenue, across Witherell from Comerica and thus a short walk from Ford Field. 

If your visit to Detroit is during the European soccer season, which has now begun again, most of the better choices to watch games are in the suburbs. Thomas Magee's is the home pub of the Detroit branch of the U.S. national team fan group, the American Outlaws. 1408 East Fisher Service Drive, in the Lafayette Park neighborhood, a 5-minute walk from Comerica Park and Ford Field. SMART Bus 34 to Gratiot and Russell.

Another possibility is the Red Fox English Pub. Definitely not to be confused with the now-defunct Machus Red Fox restaurant, where Jimmy Hoffa was last publicly seen. This one is at 100 S. Main Street in Royal Oak, about 14 miles northwest of downtown. Bus 498 to Woodward & 11 Mile.

Sidelights. For all its problems, Detroit is a great city, not just a great baseball city or even a great sports city. Check out the following – but do it in daylight:
Tiger Stadium, in its Navin Field configuration, 1912-1937

* Site of Tiger Stadium. The 1st ballpark on the site was called Bennett Park, after Charlie Bennett, a catcher for the NL's Detroit Wolverines, who didn't play there. Bennett Park opened in 1896, for the Detroit team in the Western League, which became the American League in 1901. However, the team we know as the Tigers (so named because the orange stripes on their socks evoked not just tigers but the teams at New Jersey's Princeton University, also called the Tigers) are officially dated from 1901.
After the 1911 season, the wooden Bennett Park was demolished, and replaced with a concrete and steel structure, opening on April 20, 1912 (the same day as Fenway Park in Boston) and named Navin Field, after Tiger owner Frank Navin. He died in 1935, and his co-owner, Walter Briggs, expanded the place to its more familiar configuration in 1938, renaming it Briggs Stadium. In 1961, new owner John Fetzer renamed it Tiger Stadium.
Michigan & Trumbull, a.k.a. The Corner

The Tigers played there from 1912 to 1999, and the NFL's Lions did so from 1938 to 1974. The Tigers won the World Series while playing there in 1935, 1945, 1968 and 1984; the Lions won the NFL Championship while playing there in 1952, 1953 and 1957. (The '52 Championship Game was played in Cleveland against the Browns; the '53 and '57 editions, also against the Browns, at Tiger Stadum.) In addition, early NFL teams the Detroit Heralds played there in 1920 and '21, and the Detroit Panthers in 1926.
After the Tigers left, Tiger Stadium (with CGI help, adding the 3rd deck) stood in for the pre-renovation Yankee Stadium in Billy Crystal's film 61* during filming in 2000. Demolition was completed in 2009, and construction is about to begin on the site, for a new headquarters for the Detroit Police Athletic League. The field has been maintained, and will host high school and college baseball when construction is finished.
May 2015. The batter is Tiger legend Willie Horton.

Northwest corner of Michigan Avenue and Trumbull Street, 1 mile west of Cadillac Square down Michigan Avenue (U.S. Route 12). Number 29 bus from downtown.

* Recreation Park site. Before there were the Tigers, there were the Detroit Wolverines, who, like the teams at the University of Michigan, were so named because Michigan is the Wolverine State. Michigan's 1st Major League Baseball team, they played from 1881 to 1888 at Recreation Park.
The won the National League Pennant in 1887, with 1st baseman Dan Brouthers, 3rd baseman Jim "Deacon" White, right fielder Sam Thompson and center fielder Ned Hanlon, all of whom are in the Baseball Hall of Fame -- although Hanlon is mainly in for what he did later, as manager of NL Pennant winners with the 1894, '95 and '96 Baltimore Orioles and the 1899 and 1900 Brooklyn Superbas (forerunners of the Dodgers).

But they folded just a year later, because they couldn't make enough money. Detroit had not yet become the center of the automobile industry -- there wasn't one. It was still too small a city to support a major league team.

Recreation Park was demolished in 1894. The reason is that the new "Detroits" of the Western League began play that year, in a ballpark near Belle Isle, rather than take up residence at Recreation Park. In 1896, they built Bennett Park at Michigan and Trumbull. The Western League became the American League in 1901, the Detroits became the Detroit Tigers, and Bennett Park was reconfigured into Navin Field/ Briggs Stadium/Tiger Stadium in 1912.

The Children's Hospital of Michigan is now on the site of Recreation Park, with a plaque in what had been left field. 3901 Beaubien Street, although the location was formerly given as "Brady and Brush." About a mile and a half north of Cadillac Square, and a mile north of Comerica Park. Bus 31 to Mack & Beaubien.

* Ford Field.  Home to the NFL's Detroit Lions since 2002, it has mainly seen horrible football, although the Lions did make the Playoffs in 2011, just 2 years after going 2-14 and 3 after the only 0-16 season in NFL history. They made the Playoffs again in 2014 and 2016. (But the Lions have still won only 1 Playoff game, in 1991, since their 1957 title.)
Note Comerica Park next-door.

Ford Field hosted Super Bowl XL in 2006, with Detroit native Jerome Bettis leading the Pittsburgh Steelers over the Seattle Seahawks and then retiring on top. It's also hosted the only Final Four ever held in the State of Michigan, in 2009 (the "home-court advantage" didn't help Michigan State, as they lost to North Carolina); the Frozen Four in 2010; and the U.S. soccer team's win over Canada on June 7, 2011.

2000 Brush Street, across Brush from Comerica Park, also bounded by Beacon, St. Antoine and Montcalm Streets.

* Joe Louis Arena and Cobo Center. Opening in 1979, while Louis was still alive, the 20,000-seat Arena was considered very modern at the time. That is no longer the case, as it has been replaced following years of complaints that it was inadequate, due to its infamous steps and what happens to them when it snows in Detroit.
The Arena, with the PeopleMover tracks in front

The Red Wings have come a long way from the building's early days, when they were nicknamed the Dead Things, winning 4 Stanley Cups in 6 trips to the Finals between 1995 and 2009. It was considered one of the loudest arenas in the NHL: In 1992, a writer for Hockey Digest compared it to Chicago Stadium, the now-demolished home of their arch-rivals, the Chicago Blackhawks, and said that, if the visiting team scores 2 early goals, the Chicago fans quiet down, but Detroit fans stay loud throughout the game regardless.

The Joe hosted college hockey, including the Great Lakes Invitational, in the week between Christmas and New Year's. Michigan Tech is the host, with Michigan and Michigan State usually participating, and a 4th team in rotation. (Comerica Park hosted it in 2013, since the NHL Winter Classic of January 1, 2014 was being held there between the Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs.) It hosted the Frozen Four in 1977 and 1979.

The Joe also hosted the 1980 Republican Convention -- right, the GOP meeting, and nominating union-buster Ronald Reagan no less, in a majority-black, heavily union city, in an arena named for a boxer who struck a blow for racial equality. (Then again, in 2012, the Democrats met in conservative Charlotte.)

The Joe was built next-door to Cobo Center, which was named for Albert E. Cobo, Mayor from 1950 to 1957. Its centerpiece, a building originally known as Cobo Hall, has been Detroit's major convention center since its opening in 1960, and, following the rejection of a plan to demolish it and put a new Pistons-Red Wings arena on the site, it recently underwent a renovation and expansion.

It includes a 12,000-seat arena that was home to the Pistons from 1961 to 1978, the Michigan Stags of the World Hockey Association in the 1974-75 season, and a convention complex that includes the city's famed annual auto show.
Cobo Hall, also fronted by the PeopleMover tracks

It is known for some legendary rock concerts, including the KISS album Alive! and area native Bob Seger's Live Bullet. Unfortunately, it may be best known for the January 6, 1994 attack on Nancy Kerrigan during a practice session for the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, which were being held at The Joe. 600 Civic Center Drive at Jefferson Avenue. Each arena has its own station on the Detroit People Mover.

* Little Caesars Arena. Scheduled to open on September 23, with a Red Wings exhibition game, the new Detroit arena will seat 20,000, and is already being nicknamed "The Baddest Bowl in the NHL." It will be home to the Wings, the Pistons, and the Great Lakes Invitational.
It will rotate with the Xcel Energy Center as host of the Big Ten hockey tournament, and has already been lined up to host 2018 NCAA Tournament basketball games. 2645 Woodward Avenue at Henry Street, across Interstate 75 (the Fisher Freeway) from Comerica Park and Ford Field.

* Site of Olympia Stadium. From the outside, it looked more like a big brick movie theater, complete with the Art Deco marquee out front. But "The Old Red Barn" was home to the Red Wings from 1927 to 1979, during which time they won the Stanley Cup in 1936, '37, '43, '50, '52, '54 and '55.
In 1950, they hosted Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, and Pete Babando's overtime winner defeated the Rangers. In '54, they had another overtime Game 7 winner, as "Tough Tony" Leswick hit a shot that deflected off Doug Harvey, the great defenseman of the Montreal Canadiens. (In hockey, the shooter is still credited; in soccer, this would have been officially listed as an "own goal" on Harvey.)

The Olympia was also home to the Pistons from 1957 to 1961; the Falcons in the NBA's inaugural season of 1946-47; the Frozen Four in 1977 and 1979; and the site of some great prizefights, including Jake LaMotta's 1942 win over Sugar Ray Robinson – the only fight Robinson would lose in his career until 1952, and the only one of the 6 fights he had with LaMotta that LaMotta won.

Elvis Presley did 2 shows there early in his career, an afternoon and an evening show on March 31, 1957. (If you think that's a lot for one day, he did 3 shows at the Fox Theater on May 25, 1956.) He returned to the Olympia on September 11, 1970; April 6, 1972; September 29 and October 4, 1974; and April 22, 1977.

The Beatles played there on September 6, 1964 and August 13, 1966. However, it was in the Detroit area -- specifically, on the University of Michigan's radio station in Ann Arbor -- that a disc jockey started the 1969 rumor that Paul McCartney was dead. In a 1989 interview, Paul said, "'Paul is dead'? I didn't believe that one for a minute."

It was the neighborhood, not the building, that was falling apart: Lincoln Cavalieri, its general manager in its last years, once said, "If an atom bomb landed, I'd want to be in Olympia." It was not a nuclear attack, but an ordinary demolition crew, that took it down in 1987. The Olympia Armory, home of the Michigan National Guard, is now on the site. 5920 Grand River Avenue, corner of McGraw Street, on the Northwest Side. Number 21 bus.

* University of Detroit Stadium. Also known as Titan Stadium, this was the Lions' 1st home, from 1934 to 1937, until what became Tiger Stadium was double-decked. The Lions played and won the 1935 NFL Championship Game there, beating the Giants.
The previous NFL team in the city, the Detroit Wolverines, play there in their lone season, 1928. Built in 1922 and seating 25,000, the University's suspension of its football program in 1964 doomed it, and it was demolished in 1971. The school, now known as the University of Detroit Mercy (it's a Catholic school), has since put a new, multipurpose, artificial turf field on the site. 3801 McNichols Road at Birchcrest Drive. 016 Bus.

* Silverdome. Originally Pontiac Metropolitan Stadium, this stadium was home to the Lions from 1975 to 2001 (after which they moved back downtown to Ford Field), and very nearly became home to the Tigers as well, before owner John Fetzer decided to commit himself to Tiger Stadium.

Heisman-winning running backs Billy Sims and Barry Sanders ran wild for the Lions here, but the closest they got to a Super Bowl was reaching the NFC Championship Game in January 1992 – unless you count hosting Super Bowl XVI, 10 years earlier, the beginning of the San Francisco 49er dynasty led by Bill Walsh and Joe Montana.

The Pistons, playing here from 1978 to 1988, had a little more luck, reaching the NBA Finals in their last year there. It seated 80,000 for football, set an NBA attendance record (since broken) of 61,983 between the Pistons and Boston Celtics in 1988, and 93,682 for a Mass by Pope John Paul II in 1987. In 1994, it hosted 4 World Cup matches, including 1 by the U.S. and 1 by eventual winner Brazil. It hosted a U.S. soccer draw with Russia in 1992. Elvis had his biggest crowd ever at the Silverdome, 60,500, on New Year's Eve, December 31, 1975.
Without the Lions and Pistons, it hosted a Don King-promoted boxing card in January 2011, and in August 2010 hosted a friendly between Italian soccer giant A.C. Milan and leading Greek club Panathinaikos – appropriate, considering the area's ethnic makeup.

In 2013, the roof was deflated as an energy-saving measure, with talk of a new roof being installed in the event of a new tenant, possibly an MLS expansion franchise for Detroit. But that didn't happen. The building's current owners have auctioned off the fixtures, and are planning on demolishing it this year, with the area becoming part of a Oakland County, Michigan mixed-use development.

1200 Featherstone Road, Pontiac. Getting there by public transportation is a pain: The Number 465 bus takes an hour and 25 minutes, and then you gotta walk a mile down Featherstone from Oakland Community College. So if you didn't drive in (or rent a car at the airport), unless you have to see everything on this list, or if you're a Lions fan living in New York who has to see it one more time, or if you're a soccer nut on a pilgrimage to all World Cup sites, I'd suggest skipping it.

In addition to the preceding, Elvis sang in Michigan at Wings Stadium (a minor-league hockey arena, now named Wings Event Center) in Kalamazoo on October 21, 1976 and April 26, 1977; the University of Michigan’s Crisler Arena on April 24, 1977; and the Saginaw County Event Center (now the Dow Event Center) in Saginaw on April 25 and May 3, 1977.

* The Palace. The Pistons moved here in 1988, won the 1989, 1990 and 2004 NBA Championships here, and almost won another in 2005. The Detroit Shock won 3 WNBA Championships here, and, as a result, every time a title is won, the address changes: Currently, it's "Six Championship Drive, Auburn Hills, MI 48326."
However, the Shock moved to Tulsa in 2010, and the Pistons just moved to Little Caesars Arena, so the address will never become "Seven Championship Drive." What will happen to the arena now is not clear.

Unfortunately, the 22,000-seat building's best-known event isn't a Pistons title, a Shock title or a rock concert, but the November 19, 2004 fight between the Pistons and the Indiana Pacers that spilled into the stands, becoming known as "the Malice at the Palace." Even the WNBA had a rare brawl there, between the Shock and the Los Angeles Sparks in 2008.

The original address was 3777 Lapeer Road, at Harmon Road, Auburn Hills, off I-75. Don't even think about trying to reach it by public transportation: You'd need 2 buses and then a half-hour walk.

* Mack Park. The Negro Leagues' Detroit Stars played here from 1920 to 1929, featuring center fielder Norman "Turkey" Stearnes and pitcher Andy Cooper, who would both be posthumously elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. A senior citizens' complex, the Fairview Apartments, is on the site now. 3568 Fairview Street at Mack Avenue, about 5 miles east of downtown. Bus 7 will get you within a 15-minute walk.

* Hamtramck Stadium. After Mack Park burned down in 1929, they moved into this nearby facility for the 1930 season. Pronounced "Ham-TRAM-ick," this city is actually completely surrounded by Detroit. But between the Mack Park fire and the start of the Great Depression at the end of the year, the Stars' fate was sealed.

New teams with the name would occasionally be revived. At its peak, Hamtramck Stadium seated over 8,000 people. However, the decline of the Negro Leagues and the "industrial leagues" in the 1950s doomed it to high school use, it hasn't been used at all since 2012, and its sideline wings have been removed, reducing its capacity to 1,500. Nevertheless, it is 1 of 12 Negro League ballparks still standing. 3201 Dan Street.

When the Dodge Brothers (who later sold the car company bearing their name to Chrysler) opened an auto plant in Hamtramck in 1914, it became a hub for Polish immigration. However, the Polish population of the city has dropped from 90 percent in 1970 to 22 percent today. And Arabs and South Asians have moved in, making it Michigan's most internationally diverse city.

Nevertheless, if you want the best kielbasa, kapusta, golumpkis and paczkis this side of the Oder, this is the place to go. Hamtramck Town Shopping Center, Joseph Campau Street and Hewitt Street.

Detroit City FC plays in the 4th tier of American soccer, at Keyworth Stadium in Hamtramck, a 7,000-seat high school football stadium, 5 1/2 miles north of downtown. All of these Hamtramck locations can be reached via the Number 10 bus.
Keyworth Stadium

Detroit is the largest metropolitan area in North America without a Major League Soccer team, although there is a drive to get an expansion team. Currently, the closest MLS team to Detroit is the Columbus Crew, 204 miles away. However, the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry may complicate the rooting interests.

* Motown Historical Museum. As always, I'm going to include some non-sports items. Detroit is generally known for 3 good things: Sports, music and cars. The Motown Historical Museum is the former Motown Records studio, which company founder Berry Gordy Jr. labeled "Hitsville, U.S.A." His sister, Esther Gordy Edwards, now runs it, and it features records and costumes of performers such as the Supremes, the Temptations and the Four Tops. 2648 W. Grand Blvd., on the North Side. Number 16 bus.

* Henry Ford Museum. The centerpiece of the nation’s foremost automotive-themed museum is a replica of Independence Hall in Philadelphia. Henry Ford himself established the museum: “I am collecting the history of our people as written into things their hands made and used... When we are through, we shall have reproduced American life as lived, and that, I think, is the best way of preserving at least a part of our history and tradition.”

It contains the fascinating, including early cars and bicycles, Henry Ford's 1st car (his 1896 "Quadricycle"), Igor Sikorsky's prototype for the helicopter, the bus Rosa Parks was riding in when she refused to give up her seat to start the 1955-56 Montgomery Bus Boycott, and a Buckminster Fuller "Dymaxion house."

It also contains the macabre, with the chair Abraham Lincoln was supposedly sitting in when he was assassinated at Ford's Theater in Washington (the theater owner was no relation to Henry); and the chair, and the rest of the car as well, that John F. Kennedy was definitely sitting in when he was assassinated, the 1961 Lincoln Continental convertible limousine he was riding in through downtown Dallas.

Next door to the museum is Greenfield Village, which Ford imagined as a kind of historical park, a more modern version of Colonial Williamsburg – that is, celebrating what was, in 1929 when it opened, considered modern American life, including a reconstruction of the Menlo Park, New Jersey laboratory of his good friend Thomas Edison. Ford and Edison were both friends of rubber magnate Henry Firestone (whose tires certainly made Ford’s cars easier to make), and Firestone's family farm is reconstructed on the site.

Please note that I am not excusing Henry Ford's control-freak attitude toward his employees' private lives, nor his despicable anti-Semitism, nor his failed union-busting in the 1930s. To be fair, he did give his black auto workers the same pay and benefits as his white ones.

But I am recommending the museum. It's a tribute to the role of technology, including the automobile, in American life, not to the man himself. Oakwood Blvd. and Village Road. Number 200 bus to Michigan Avenue and Oakwood Blvd., then a short walk down Oakwood.

* Greektown Historic District. Although Detroit is famed for its Irish (Corktown, including the site of Tiger Stadium) and Italian communities, and has the largest Arab-American community of any major city, its best-known ethnic neighborhoods are Greektown and the Polish community of Hamtramck. New York's Astoria, Queens has nothing on Detroit's Greektown, which not only has some of the country's finest Greek restaurants, but also the Greektown Casino, which is at 555 E. Lafayette Street, at Beaubien Street. Greektown Station on the People Mover.

* Mariners' Church. On my 1999 visit to Detroit, I discovered this church by accident, walking past it without realizing it was there until I saw the historical marker. Every March, it holds a Blessing of the Fleet for every person and ship going to sea. Every November, it holds a Great Lakes Memorial Service for those who have lost their lives at sea within the past year.

The most famous of these ceremonies was for the 29 men lost on the iron ore freighter SS Edmund Fitzgerald in Lake Superior on November 10, 1975. Built and homeported in Detroit, the Big Fitz was commemorated by Gordon Lightfoot in his 1976 song "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald." In that song, Lightfoot mistakenly, but poetically, called the church "The Maritime Sailors' Cathedral." (Edmund Fitzgerald himself was the president of Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, which invested in the ship's construction, because it was heavily invested in the ore industry.)

170 E. Jefferson Avenue, at Randolph Street, across from the Renaissance Center. If you're going to visit the church, be careful, because Randolph Street empties into the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel.

* Spirit of Detroit. In front of the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center, the city hall named for the 1974-93 Mayor, stands a marble monument with a bronze statue of a kneeling man, the seals of the City of Detroit and Wayne County, and a Biblical inscription, from 2nd Corinthians 3:17: "Now the Lord is that spirit, and where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."

In his left hand, the 26-foot-high kneeling figure holds a gilt bronze sphere emanating rays, to symbolize God. The people in the figure's right hand are a family group. The statue was dedicated in 1958, 4 years after the Municipal Center opened.

In recent years, a large jersey has been placed over it when the Tigers, Pistons or Wings have been in their sport's finals. (As yet, this has never been done for the Lions, who haven't been to an NFL Championship Game since 1957, 9 seasons before they started calling it the Super Bowl.) 2 Woodward Avenue at Jefferson Avenue.
The Spirit of Detroit, wearing a Tigers jersey in honor
of the 2012 World Series

* Monument to Joe Louis. Erected in 1986, on a traffic island at the intersection of Woodward & Jefferson, it is a 24-foot-long arm with a fisted hand suspended by a 24-foot-high pyramidal framework. Since it is a monument to Louis, the great black heavyweight champion, the arm and fist are black bronze.
The Louis Monument, with the Spirit of Detroit behind it

* Colleges. The University of Michigan is 44 miles west of downtown Detroit, in Ann Arbor. It is possible to reach it from Detroit by bus, but it will take 2 hours: You can take the 851 bus to the airport, and transfer there to the 787.

Gerald Ford was President from August 9, 1974 to January 20, 1977, and was a graduate of (and an All-American football player at) Michigan in the 1930s. His Presidential Library, and a School of Public Policy named for him, are on the Ann Arbor campus, at 1000 Beal Avenue. However, he is the only President whose Library and Museum are separated, and his Presidential Museum is in his hometown of Grand Rapids, at 303 Pearl Street NW, 158 miles northwest of Detroit. You'll need Greyhound if you want to visit Grand Rapids.

Michigan Stadium is at 1201 S. Main Street at Stadium Blvd. "The Big House" has hosted UM football since 1927. Its peak attendance is 115,109 for Michigan's 2013 win over Notre Dame. In 2014, it set new records for highest U.S. attendance for soccer (109,318 for Manchester United beating Real Madrid in the International Champions Cup), and for highest attendance anywhere on the planet for hockey (105,491 for the NHL Winter Classic, the Toronto Maple Leafs beating the Detroit Red Wings).

Adjacent is Crisler Arena, named for Herbert "Fritz" Crisler, the UM football coach from 1938 to 1947, who, in another connection between Princeton University sports and the State of Michigan, had previously coached Princeton's Tigers, and brought his "winged" helmet design with him, making Michigan's "maize and blue" helmets among the most famous in college football. Elvis sang at Crisler Arena on April 24, 1977.

The other UM sports facilities, including Yost Arena (hockey) and Fisher Stadium (named for Ray Fisher, who pitched for the Yankees in the 1910s before they got good and then coached at Michigan, including Charlie Gehringer), are adjacent.

Michigan State University is 88 miles northwest of Detroit, in East Lansing, adjacent to Lansing, the State capital. Greyhound runs 4 buses a day from Detroit to East Lansing, at 8:00 AM, 12:10 PM, 2:20 PM and 7:40 PM, and it takes about 2 hours. Two buses go back to Detroit, at 3:40 and 5:55 PM. $38 round-trip.

Spartan Stadium, formerly Macklin Field, is at 325 W. Shaw Lane at Red Cedar Road, which is named for the river that bisects the MSU campus. Jenison Field House (the old basketball arena, where Magic Johnson starred on their 1979 National Champions), Breslin Events Center (their new arena), and Munn Arena (hockey) are a short walk away, at Kalamazoo Street & Birch Road.

Many of Detroit's sports legends were from Michigan, but the truly big ones weren't, and thus aren't laid to rest anywhere near it. Ty Cobb is buried in his hometown of Royston, Georgia, 93 miles northeast of Atlanta. Hank Greenberg was from The Bronx, but lived in Beverly Hills in retirement, and is buried nearby in Culver City, California.

The 2 greatest Lions were both from Dallas. In fact, they were high school teammates. Bobby Layne is buried Lubbock, while Doak Walker married a woman from Colorado (Olympic skier Gladys "Skeeter" Walker), retired there, and his ashes were scattered over Rocky Mountain National Park. And Gordie Howe, upon his death last year, was cremated, and his ashes and his wife's were placed inside his statue at the SaskTel Centre, the arena in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, not far from his hometown of Floral.

Al Kaline, Barry Sanders, Isiah Thomas and Steve Yzerman are still alive as of this writing, but none of them is from anywhere near Detroit: Baltimore, Wichita, Chicago and Ottawa, respectively.

Home Improvement.  The 1991-99 ABC sitcom is easily the best-known TV show to have been set in Detroit, with Tool Time's studio being in the city and the Taylors' house in the suburbs, possibly Bloomfield Hills. But, as far as I know, there were no location shots, not even in the episode in which the Taylors got to see the Lions' Thanksgiving game from a Silverdome skybox.

So if you're looking for the Taylors' house, you're not going to find it -- if there was ever a house, not just a studio set, it was likely in or around Los Angeles. Other shows set in Detroit have included Martin, Freaks and Geeks, Sister, Sister, and 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter.

Several films have been set, but not necessarily filmed, in Detroit. Axel Foley, Eddie Murphy's character in the Beverly Hills Cop films, was a Detroit police detective, but most of the film, including the Detroit scenes, was shot in Los Angeles. While RoboCop was set in Detroit, it was filmed in Dallas. (And you thought "Dallas sucks" was just a sports chant.)

Billy Crystal's movie about the 1961 home run record chase, 61*, used Tiger Stadium as a stand-in (with computer-generated help) for the original Yankee Stadium (since the 1973-76 renovation left it looking very little like it did in 1961). Other recent movies set in Detroit include Eminem's Roman à clef 8 Mile, and Clint Eastwood's retired autoworker vs. gangs film Gran Torino.

* Jimmy Hoffa. No, I don't know where Hoffa is buried. All I know for sure is that, when they demolished Giants Stadium in 2010, they found no human remains on the site. Hoffa, who was born in Indiana but lived most of his life in and around Detroit, was last seen alive on July 30, 1975, sitting in his car in the parking lot of Machus' Red Fox.

A fine-dining establishment open from 1965 to 1996, the building is still there, occupied by an Italian restaurant named Andiamo's. 6676 Telegraph Road (U.S. Route 24) at Country Club Drive, Bloomfield, 22 miles northwest of Cadillac Square. As with most sites in Detroit's outer suburbs, getting there by public transportation is a hassle: In this case, you'd need 3 buses.

* Windsor. Across the Detroit River is Windsor, Ontario. Most Americans know it for Caesar's Windsor, one of 4 casinos in the area. Like its namesakes in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, it has a Roman theme. It may be only 2 miles from downtown Detroit, but because it's in Canada, where they have things like sensible gun laws and national health care, it may feel like the other side of the world (if not Rome itself). And, because it's in Canada, you'll need a passport.

377 Riverside Drive East. There is bus service available -- less for Michiganders wanting to gamble, more for Windsorites wanting to go to Red Wings games and concerts -- and you can contact Transit Windsor at

The Wings' first home was actually in Windsor: They played their first season, 1926-27, at the Border Cities Arena, which still stands, and is now named Windsor Arena. Like a lot of old arenas (this one was built in 1924), it looks like a barn, and so is nicknamed The Barn. It seats only 4,400 people in its current configuration.

Its long-term tenants, the University of Windsor hockey team and the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League, now play elsewhere. The City of Windsor has approved a plan to tear it down and build the new building for Catholic Central High School on the site. For the moment, though, it still sands, at 334 Wyandotte Street East, at McDougall Street.
The University of Windsor Lancers haven't been very successful in sports. Their greatest achievement is their football team winning the Yates Cup, for the championship of Ontario University Athletics, in 1975. The Yates Cup was founded in 1898, and is the oldest football trophy in North America.

Since 2008, the Spitfires have played at the WFCU Centre. No, that's not named for a radio station: Canadian radio stations' call letters always begun with a C. (This includes CKLW, Windsor, 800 on the AM dial, or "The Big 8.") The naming rights are held by the Windsor Family Credit Union. The Spitfires won the Memorial Cup, the championship of Canadian junior hockey, while playing there, in 2009 and '10, and one of the streets bordering is named Memorial Cu Way.
The Lancers also play hockey and basketball there. The Windsor Express play in the National Basketball League of Canada there. 8787 McHugh Street, 8 miles from downtown Detroit and 7 miles east of downtown Windsor. Bus 2 from there.


A visit to Detroit does not have to be a scary experience. These people love baseball. They don't like the Yankees, but they love baseball, and their city should be able to show you a good time.