Monday, June 30, 2014

Taking a Loss

In the interest of privacy, I don't post pictures of myself or my family on this blog. This time, I wanted to post a recent family photo here, but the system couldn't "read" it. I suppose it's just as well.

Instead, I've posted a picture of a veterans' poppy, in memory one particular U.S. military veteran.

My father died yesterday. The cause isn't clear, but it appears to have been peaceful. He was 71.

As you might expect, something as frivolous as a sports-themed blog is taking a back seat to trying to deal with feelings of loss and emptiness, wondering what could have been done, trying as best I can to stand up for the remaining members of my family, and assisting with funeral arrangements -- including, as you might also guess, writing and delivering a eulogy.

So my intended polemic against the Red Sox for their usual lack of class, Mike Napoli in particular for calling Masahiro Tanaka an "idiot," and the Yankees for their pathetic performance, will have to wait. As will a new round of reaction to the World Cup. As will my trip guides for the Yankees' upcoming roadtrips to Cleveland and Baltimore. As will a tribute to Frank Cashen, who built 2 World Champions with the Baltimore Orioles and another with the Mets, and died earlier today. Most likely, I'll have time to write and post again before this coming Friday morning (July 4).

*

My father was from Newark, New Jersey, and was a classic post-World War II American nerd. Whatever difficulties he had growing up, he was able to overcome them through study, and eventually earned two science degrees at the Newark College of Engineering -- now the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Lucky for my mother, and eventually me, the U.S. Army sent him to the site of "the last war" -- not Vietnam, but Korea. The Army needed engineers, and for a year, from Summer 1967 to Summer 1968, he was on the Demilitarized Zone, waiting for a Red invasion that could have (and still could) come at any time, but never did. Meanwhile, his wife was back home, riding a bus to work in downtown Newark, hearing gunshots. Because of the riot in July 1967, she was in more of a war zone than he was. Both returned home safely.

He did not grow up as a sports fan.That his wife's parents, and later his son, were so wrapped up in the subject mystified him. But, as people who do not start out that way often are, he began to wonder if he might be missing something, and if getting interested might be worth it.

The old Newark Bears, a Yankee farm team and for a quarter of a century a power in the International League, left town after the 1950 season, when he was 7 years old. The Newark Eagles of the Negro Leagues also left town at around that time, victims of poaching from the now-integrated major leagues. He didn't attend a professional baseball game until 1978, when, along with my mother and grandmother, took me to my first game and his, at the old Yankee Stadium. He didn't attend a professional game in his hometown until 2006, when I took him to see the new Newark Bears at Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium on Father's Day. (They got clobbered, and I indulged his desire to leave early.)

By the time I reached high school, he had heard me speak so much of our football team (then very good), that he wanted to see a game. Instead of the competition, or even the intellectual or strategic side of the game, he got wrapped up in the atmosphere: The crowd, the scenery (our stadium is surrounded by an "amphitheater" of trees whose changing leaves look nice in October), the marching band (music was always a passion of his, all kinds of music).

Eventually, he heard the men at his church talking about Rutgers University football so much, he decided he wanted to join them at Rutgers Stadium (now High Point Solutions Stadium), even though he had no official connection to Rutgers, or to any college with a football team. (As far as I can determine, NCE/NJIT has never had one.)

A crowd of 44,000 (now 52,000) is a lot bigger than one of 3,000. The Marching Scarlet Knights, "the Pride of New Jersey," was a considerably better-trained band than even the best high school bands. Having an armored Knight riding a real horse around the field was more impressive to him than a teenager in a Bear costume. And the Revolutionary War cannon that RU students fire off after every score was something that can't be matched in high school football. (My alma mater has one opponent that has a smaller cannon that can be very loud, but it's not the same.)

He told me that he enjoyed the atmosphere. I told him that if it was atmosphere he wanted, he should go to a game at Princeton University, RU's arch-rivals (in sports other than football, as they didn't want to leave the Ivy-League to go "big-time"). Princeton is a spirited but less rowdy town, the fans are better-behaved, and Palmer Stadium and its replacement Powers Field at Princeton University Stadium is a nicer setting. Besides, my mother already preferred Princeton as a town, and wanted me to go to school there. (Despite also being a nerd, I was also quite lazy, and I never gave myself the chance to get accepted at a school like Princeton.) He never did.

So he stayed a Rutgers fan. He never made the adjustment to the professional game, though, and in hindsight, it’s easy to see why: He preferred that the emphasis be on playing well, not just winning; and he understood the difference between a good atmosphere and mere noise. It was easy for him to imagine his Rutgers fan friends as a small part of a very large family, whereas pro football seems to take pride in being impersonal. And he understood enough to not appreciate the fact that scoreboard direction and sound effects took the place of marching bands at the pro level. George Will said something that Dad would have understood, having had enough regimentation and enough meetings for any one man: “Football combines the two worst features of modern American life: It is violence, punctuated by committee meetings. In addition, it speaks to the increasing specialization of our culture. Who wants to be known as a third down and long yardage pulling guard?” My father had a wide range of interests, and he wouldn’t want himself, or anybody else, to be known as only one thing.

Together, we saw the dedication game at the new Rutgers Stadium in 1994, a win over West Virginia -- and Rutgers hasn't beaten them since. (With both teams moving to new leagues recently, it may be many years before they get another chance.) We saw Donovan McNabb lead Syracuse to a blowout win in a Thursday night ESPN broadcast. We saw Michael Vick lead Virginia Tech to a 70-14 rout. We saw some better moments, to, including a 2005 win over Navy that clinched Rutgers' first "real" appearance in a bowl game. I wasn't there, but he saw what remains RU's signature win, the 2006 win over the University of Louisville.

He also saw the game against Army at MetLife Stadium in 2010, when linebacker Eric LeGrand was paralyzed. I wasn't at that game, but the whole family -- me, him, my mother, my sister, her husband, and her two daughters -- saw a Somerset Patriots game in 2012 where, in a nice move that we did not know would happen, LeGrand was introduced in a pregame ceremony honoring efforts to raise money for spinal cord research.

He indulged my love of baseball, but would tease me a little when the Yankees didn't do well. I reached a point where I stopped taking that personally, but for years I resented it. He kept telling me he wasn't a Mets fan, but, in my teenaged mind, I thought, "What other team would be his?"

The game that stands out with the two of us watching together -- on television, not live -- was on October 19, 1999, Game 6 of the National League Championship Series between the Mets and the Atlanta Braves. The Mets had trailed the series three games to none, but had won two, including Game 5, in 15 innings, in the rain, with a walkoff home run, just like the Yankees had done against the Seattle Mariners in the 1995 American League Division Series -- this time, it was Robin Ventura doing what Jim Leyritz had done.

But in Game 6 in Atlanta, the Mets fell behind 5-0. And yet, they came back to take an 8-7 lead, and 9-8 in the 10th inning. But the Braves refused to give up, too, and kept it going.

Not having any love for the team that represented a region with too many ignorant rednecks, but seeing him every bit as fascinated by the spectacle as I was, I told him, "This game is a classic, and it deserves to end with a hero, not with a goat."

Had Andruw Jones gotten a hit to win the game, and thus the Pennant, with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 11th, I would have been fine with it as a baseball fan (if not wanting either team to enjoy the success that would result from winning it). Instead, Met manager Bobby Valentine brought in Kenny Rogers -- not the country singer, whom my Dad and I both liked a lot. This Kenny Rogers would have pitching success everywhere he went, except New York. (He was the reason the Yankees fell into the 6-0 hole that another postseason homer by Leyritz got us out of in Game 4 of the 1996 World Series, also in Atlanta against the Braves.) And Rogers walked Jones to force home the Pennant-clinching run.

"I don't believe it," I groaned, thinking that the Mets, who seemed to be generating a team-of-destiny thing, couldn't and shouldn't have let their season come to such an ignominious end. "Believe it," he said, with a half-smile and a chuckle. By this point, he had surpassed me as a sports fan in one aspect: He understood the Mets better than I did: 1969 and 1986 being brief interruptions, they would always be the Mets. He certainly wasn't surprised the next year, when the Yankees beat the Mets in the World Series, largely because of baserunning blunders.

Tonight, the Mets were in Atlanta again. They had a 3-1 lead on the Braves in the bottom of the 8th, but made 3 errors, and lost 5-3.

He would think that not much has changed.

But he always looked forward. Even in his not-that-old age, he still seemed young. He believed there was always something new to do, and that there was always something interesting to find out.

And that's a good lesson from any one person to another, especially from a father to a son.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Nuno, Bullpen Shut Out Red Sox. No, You Don't Have to Get Your Eyes Checked.

Note to self: Have eyes checked. Might need a new prescription for my glasses.

Because I saw that Vidal Nuno started for the Yankees against the Red Sox, and not only did the Yankees win, but shut The Scum out.

Nuno didn't get out of the 6th inning -- no surprise there -- but allowed no runs on 2 hits and 2 walks. He silenced the Sox bats, if not (yet) his critics (myself included).

Dellin Betances didn't allow a run either, which wasn't surprising. Adam Warren and Matt Thornton also pitched, and neither one of them allowed a run, which was incredibly surprising.

Of course, you need runs. The Yankees got 'em. Kelly Johnson hit a home run. So did Brett Gardner. So did Brian McCann. (In case you're keeping track of home runs hit this season, that's Brian McCann 9, Brett Gardner 7, Kelly Johnson 5, Robinson Cano 4.)

Yankees 6, Red Sox 0. WP: Nuno (2-4). No save. LP: Brandon Workman (1-1).

The fact that the Yankees needed "only" 4 pitchers to beat the Red Sox is pretty amazing even if you knew nothing else about the game. So is the fact that no save was necessary.

Okay, enough dispassionate reporting, let's get to the fun, partisan fact:

Six-nil! We beat The Scum six-nil! We beat The Scum six-nil! We beat The Scum six-nil!

The Yankees are now 41-37. In spite of all their difficulties, they're a game and a half behind the Toronto Blue Jays, 45-38. The Baltimore Orioles are 42-37, 1 game back. Which means that, due to a difference in total games played, both the Yankees and the O's are ahead of the Jays in the all-important loss column.

The Red Sox? 36-44, 7 1/2 games back. The Tampa Bay Rays? In the immortal words of Sir Cute One, "Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away, now it looks as though they're here to stay." 33-49, 11 1/2 games back, and we're still in June.

But then, Paul McCartney is 72, which makes him the same age as the average Rays fan. Ha!

Yeah, I know, the ghost of John Lennon is telling me, "Yer a swine!"

*

Anyway, the series continues tonight, with Masahiro "Hero" Tanaka starting against John "Mo" Lester.

Come on you Pinstripes! Beat The Scum again!

*

Days until the U.S. national soccer team plays again: 3, this Tuesday afternoon, at 4:00 PM Eastern Time, vs. Belgium, at Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador. The USMNT lost 1-0 to among-the-favorites Germany, but since Portugal beat Ghana, we advanced to the knockout stage anyway. (A draw between Portugal and Ghana would also have done the trick.)

Days until the Red Bulls play again: 6, next Friday night, at 8:03 PM, away to the Houston Dynamo. Last night, Metro needed a stoppage time goal from Thierry Henry to preserve a 2-2 draw at home to Toronto FC. Yes, that is embarrassing.

Days until the Red Bulls next play a "derby": 18, on Wednesday, July 16, at 7:00 PM, away to the Philadelphia Union, at PPL Park in Chester, Pennsylvania.

Days until Arsenal play again: Officially, not until the new season starts in August. Unofficially, it's this, and I'm just busting about it:

Days until the Arsenal-Red Bulls match at Red Bull Arena: 28, on Saturday, July 26. Just 4 weeks. Just 5 days after that, Red Bull Arena will also host Bayern Munich, perennially and again Champions of Germany, vs. C.D. Chivas of Guadalajara, perhaps the most legendary club of Mexico.

Days until the next Yankees-Red Sox series begins (after this one, that is): 34, on Friday night, August 1, at 7:00 PM, at Fenway Park. Just 5 weeks.
Days until the 2014-15 Premier League season begins: 49, on Saturday, August 16, with Arsenal at home to Southeast London club Crystal Palace. Just 7 weeks.

Days until Rutgers plays football again: 61, on Thursday, August 28, away to Washington State, at CenturyLink Field, home of the NFL Champion Seattle Seahawks. (It had been listed as August 30, but was moved up.) Just 2 months.

Days until East Brunswick High School plays football again: 68, on Thursday, September 4, home to Woodbridge. Just 11 weeks. It's on a Thursday night, rather than a Friday night, because of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.
 Days until Rutgers makes its Big Ten Conference debut: 77 days, on Saturday, September 13, at 8:00 PM, against old enemy Penn State. Just 11 weeks.

Days until Derek Jeter's last regular-season home game (barring injury): 89, on Thursday, September 25, against the Baltimore Orioles. Under 3 months.

Days until the next North London Derby between Arsenal and Tottenham: 91, on Saturday, September 27, at the Emirates Stadium.

Days until Derek Jeter's last regular-season game (barring injury): 92, on Sunday, September 28, against the Red Sox at Fenway Park.
Days until the Devils play again: 103. The 2014-15 NHL schedule has been released. They open on Thursday, October 9, away to the Philadelphia Flyers. They once again get screwed by Commissioner Gary Bettman and his schedulemakers, this time having to play 4 road games before their home opener, on Saturday, October 18, at 7:00 PM, vs. the San Jose Sharks.

Days until the Devils play another local rival: See the previous answer. The first game against The Scum is Tuesday night, October 21, at the Prudential Center. The first game against the Islanders is Saturday night, November 29, at the Nassau Coliseum. The Devils' last trip to Uniondale, before the Isles move to Brooklyn, is Monday night, December 15.

Days until Game 7 of the 2014 World Series -- the absolute latest you can ever again see Derek Jeter in a competitive game: 123, on Wednesday, October 29. A little over 4 months, and no more Jeter -- not as an active player, anyway.

Days until the next East Brunswick vs. Old Bridge Thanksgiving game: 152, on Thursday morning, November 27, 10:00 AM. A little over 5 months.

Days until New York City FC make their Major League Soccer debut: Unknown, but a new MLS season usually begins on the 2nd Saturday in March, which would be March 14, 2015. That's 259 days. Under 9 months. Whether it will be a home game, and thus at the new Yankee Stadium, is yet to be determined.

Days until the New York Islanders' last game at the Nassau Coliseum: 287, on April 11, 2015, at 7:00 PM, against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Under 10 months.

Days until the Islanders' first home game at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn: Unknown, but an NHL regular season usually begins on the 1st Friday in October, which would be October 2, 2015. That's 461 days. That's under 16 months. Or, to put it another way, "461 Sleeps Till Brooklyn." Until then, even with their 4 straight long-ago Stanley Cups, they're just a Small Club In Hempstead.

Days until the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: 769, on Friday, August 5, 2016. Under 26 months.

How Old Are You Now? 2014 Music Edition

In The Sound of Music, set in 1938, Liesl von Trapp, the oldest child, is said to be "Sixteen Going On Seventeen." This would make her 92 years old today. (She was based on Agethe von Trapp, who was actually a fully-grown 25 at the time, and lived until 2010, age 97.)

Andrew Gold's "Lonely Boy" was born on a summer's day in 1951. This would make him 63 today, and his baby sister 61.

Paul Anka also had a song titled "Lonely Boy," in 1959. Two years earlier, he began his breakout hit "Diana" with "I'm so young and you're so old. This, my darling, I've been told." Apparently, he had a crush on his babysitter (why would he still need a babysitter as a teenager?), but it never got that far; in the song, it did. Paul was 16 in 1957; he's about to turn 73. How old would the babysitter be now, if she's still alive? Probably pushing 80, at least.

In 1955, Boyd Bennett & the Rockets had a hit with "Seventeen." This would make her 76 years old today.

In 1958, Chuck Berry had a hit with "Sweet Little Sixteen." That same year, Johnny Maestro & the Crests had "Sixteen Candles." This would make both girls now 72.

In 1959, Sam Cooke sang "Only Sixteen," in which he played a kid who said that he and his then-girlfriend were that age a year ago (1958). This would make both of those characters 72 as well.

In 1960, Johnny Burnette had a hit with "You're Sixteen." ("You're sixteen, you're beautiful, and you're mine.") This would make her 70. In 1973, Ringo Starr covered the song -- his version's girl would now be 57.

In 1961, Neil Sedaka sang "Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen." This would make her now 69.

In 1963, Chuck Berry wrote "Memphis," in which a man tells a long-distance phone operator to "get in touch with my Marie." At the end of the song, we find out that "Marie is only six years old" and is his daughter, taken away by his estranged wife -- or perhaps his sister, and the singer is a little boy now living with "my uncle"; either way, Marie is not his girlfriend. Johnny Rivers had a much bigger hit with the song the next year. If Marie was 6 in 1963, she's 57 now.

In 1963, in the Beatles' song "I Saw Her Standing There," Paul McCartney sang, "Well, she was just 17, you know what I mean!" Assuming that this had just happened, she would now be 68.

The Who's rock opera Quadrophenia takes place (according to the film version) in 1965. Presuming that Jimmy Cooper was then 17, making him a few years younger than the bandmembers, he'd be 66 now.

In 1967, the Beatles recorded "She's Leaving Home," after seeing a newspaper story about a 17-year-old girl that had gone missing. A lot of rock and roll legends, particularly the weirder ones, are made up or at least exaggerated. Not only is this story true, but it has an amazing backstory that Paul McCartney had completely forgotten. She went on to have quite an interesting life: She's practically a female British version of Forrest Gump (but with intelligence, if not a whole lot of sense). Anyway, she's now 64 -- the same age that, on another Sgt. Pepper song, Paul asks his fictional girlfriend if, at that point, she would still need him and feed him. (Paul himself is 72, Ringo is about to turn 74, and, of course, John Lennon and George Harrison are dead, but, were they still alive, would be 73 and 71, respectively.)

In 1970, Alice Cooper had a hit with "I'm Eighteen." Which means the character he played in the song is now 62. Alice, real name Vincent Furnier, is 66.

In 1971, in her song "Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves," Cher sang, "I was 16, he was 21." Assuming that the events in the song had just happened (they probably hadn't), she's now 59, he's 64.

In 1973, Billy Joel released "Captain Jack," delivered in a second-person narration: "Well, you're 21, and still, your mother makes your bed, and that's too long." Assuming the song takes place in the present day (which is certainly possible, as "you go to the Village in your tie-dyed jeans"), and assuming Captain Jack did not "make you die tonight," "you" are now 62.

In 1975, Harry Chapin released a song titled "She Is Always Seventeen." The song begins with John F. Kennedy's Inaugural Address in 1961. If she was 17 then, that means she's 70 now.

In 1976, in his song "Rock and Roll Never Forgets," Bob Seger sang, "Well, now Sweet Sixteen's turning 31." Which means she's now 69. This would match Seger's actual age.

In 1977, in his song "Running On Empty," Jackson Browne sang, "In '65, I was 17" and, "In '69, I was 21." This matches Browne's actual age: He was born in 1948. Which means he's now 66.

In 1977, KISS had a hit song titled "Christine Sixteen." Which means she's now 53.
In 1980, Steely Dan had a hit with "Hey Nineteen." She would also now be 53.

In 1982, Stevie Nicks had a hit song titled "Edge of 17." If the character was about to turn 17 then, she's 49 now, approaching the edge of 50.

In 1983, the Stray Cats had a hit song titled "She's Sexy & 17." Which means she's now 48.
In 1983, Prince released a song titled "Sister." "I was 16, but that's no excuse. My sister was 32, lovely and loose." If you don't know this song, yes, it's about what that line is suggesting it's about. The little brother would now be 47, and the sister 63.

In 1985, Bryan Adams had a hit with "Summer of '69." That's how it's listed, with the apostrophe. So if the number was actually referring to a particular sex act, and he thought he could sneak it under the censors' radar, then it could have taken place at almost any time. He was actually 9 years old in the Summer of 1969, but if the character was actually 16 then, he'd now be 64.

*

Probably the best-known song in which a character's age is mentioned in the lyrics, but not the title, is "It Was a Very Good Year," first recorded by the Kingston Trio in 1961, with the best-known version being the one in 1965 by Frank Sinatra.

In the song, the singer remembers the very good years he had when he was 17, 21 and 35. But the singer does not specifically say how old he is now, only that, "Now, the days are short. I'm in the autumn of the year." (Sinatra titled the album for which he recorded it September of My Years.)

Frank Sinatra was born on December 12, 1915. So if he was playing himself in the song...

* He was 17 for nearly all of 1933. I seriously doubt that Depression year was a good year for an Italian teenage boy in Hoboken, New Jersey.

* He was 21 for nearly all of 1937. It might have been better, but he didn't become famous as a singer until 1940 or so.

* He was 35 for nearly all of 1951. That was actually a horrible year for Sinatra: His 2nd wife, the fabulous (in more ways than one) actress Ava Gardner, left him, and his own career was going badly. He began to lose his voice due to psychosomatic stress.

But the days did not turn out to be short for him, at least not at that point. September of My Years actually boosted his career, and at 50 he became bigger than ever before. He continued to perform before adoring crowds until 1994, when it became clear to the public that his health had started to fail. He died on May 14, 1998, age 82.

If you were 13 and screaming over Sinatra outside the Paramount Theater in Times Square in 1944, you're now 83.

If you were 13 and screaming over Elvis Presley when he went national in 1956, you're now 71.

If you were 13 when the Beatles arrived in America in early 1964 (if so, surely, you were screaming over them), you're now 63.

And, if, like me, you were 13 in 1983 when Michael Jackson changed from Motown kid to an Elvis-sized phenomenon in his own right, you're now 44.

Sometime in the next few days, I'll do this for some legendary TV characters, too.

Friday, June 27, 2014

How to Be a Yankee Fan In Minnesota -- 2014 Edition

After a short but intense 5-game homestand against The Scum and the Strays, the Yankees will head out onto the road for the remainder of the first half of the season, to play the Minnesota Twins in Minneapolis, the Cleveland Indians, and the Baltimore Orioles.

Then comes the All-Star Break, and the All-Star Game will also be in Minnesota this year. This will be the 3rd time the Twins have hosted, and in the 3rd different ballpark: 1965 at Metropolitan Stadium, 1985 at the Metrodome, and 2014 at Target Field.

In the photo above, you can see Target Field.  Behind that, the Target Center. (The Target store company is headquartered in Minneapolis.) Behind that, downtown Minneapolis. And, in the upper-left corner, the Metrodome.

By a weird twist, when my twin nieces were born, 7 summers ago, the Yankees were playing, you guessed it, the Twins. The Yankees won. Nevertheless, the girls have become Yankee Fans.

I’ll teach them the irony of it all, but, personally, I have nothing against the Minnesota ballclub. I used to, but then they got out of the (George Carlin word)ing Metrodome.

I know, I sometimes curse on this page, but these “How to Be a Yankee/New York Fan In…” pages are meant to be family-friendly.

Before You Go. It's a little soon to post the weather forecast, but, since the Twins do not play in the Metrodome anymore, you should consult the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and St. Paul Pioneer Press websites for their forecasts. Seeing as how this will be early July, including the 4th, the legend of cold Minnesota winters that last from October to early May will not apply in this series.

Minnesota is in the Central Time Zone, 1 hour behind New York. Adjust your timepieces accordingly.

Tickets. The Twins’ success of the last 2000s (but not, as yet, the 2010s) and the building of Target Field led to an average per-game attendance of 39,112 in 2011, pretty much a sellout every night, in spite of their not having a very good season (mainly due to injuries). But last season, the novelty of the new park had worn off, and they averaged 30,588, and they're averaging 27,042 so far this season. So getting tickets shouldn't be a big problem. Still, I advise getting them ahead of time.

The Twins use "demand-based pricing." For games against the Yankees, and for regional rivals like the Milwaukee Brewers and the Chicago White Sox, prices are higher because the demand is greater. Here are the listings for the Yankee games: Diamond Box, $68; Field Box, $56; Home Plate Terrace, $54; Skyline View, $29; Field View, $26; LF Bleachers (the U.S. Bank Home Run Porch), $30; RF Bleachers (Grandstand), $32. In other words, despite the Twins’ history of frugal (or even blatantly cheap) ownership, it’ll be expensive.

There's no mention of the Twins setting off fireworks on the 4th (Friday, probably because it's an afternoon game, a 2:10 PM Central time start). But, as it's the 75th Anniversary of Lou Gehrig Day, they're giving away Gehrig bobbleheads to the first 10,000 fans.

Getting There. It’s 1,199 road miles from Times Square in New York to Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis (the spot where Mary Tyler Moore threw her hat in the air in the opening sequence of her 1970-77 CBS sitcom), and 1,204 miles from Yankee Stadium to Target Field. Knowing this, your first reaction is going to be to fly out there.

But it’s kind of an expensive flight. Even if you order early, chances are you’ll have to pay at least $950 round-trip for a flight from Newark to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. And you'll have to change planes in Chicago – or even Dallas (which would piss off not just the New York Giants football fan that you might be, but also the Minnesota Vikings fans you may be flying to Minneapolis with). But when you do get there, the Number 55 light rail takes you from the airport to downtown in under an hour, so at least that is convenient.

Bus? Not a good idea. Greyhound runs 3 buses a day between Port Authority and Minneapolis, all with at least one transfer, in Chicago and possibly elsewhere as well. The total time, depending on the number of stops, is between 26 and 31 hours, and costs $507 round-trip, although it can be dropped to $449 with advanced purchase. The Greyhound terminal is at 950 Hawthorne Avenue, at 9th Street North, just 3 blocks from Nicollet Mall, 2 from the Target Center arena, and from there just across the 7th Street overpass over Interstate 394 from Target Field.

Train? An even worse idea. Amtrak will make you leave Penn Station on the Lake Shore Limited at 3:40 PM Eastern Time, arrive at Union Station in Chicago at 9:45 AM Central Time, and then the Empire Builder, their Chicago-to-Seattle run, will leave at 2:15 PM and arrive in St. Paul (not Minneapolis) at 10:31 PM. From there, 730 Transfer Road, you’d have to take the Number 16 or 50 bus to downtown Minneapolis. And it’s $692 round-trip.

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 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. From this point onward, you won’t need to think about I-80 until you head home; I-90 is now the key, through the rest of Ohio and Indiana.

Just outside Chicago, I-80 will split off from I-90, which you will keep, until it merges with Interstate 94. For the moment, though, you will ignore I-94. Stay on I-90 through Illinois, until reaching Madison, Wisconsin, where you will once again merge with I-94. Now, I-94 is what you want, taking it into Minnesota and the Twin Cities, with Exit 233A being your exit for downtown Minneapolis.

If you do it right, you should spend about an hour and a half in New Jersey, 5 hours and 15 minutes in Pennsylvania, 4 hours in Ohio, 2 and a half hours in Indiana, an hour and a half in Illinois, 2 and a half hours in Wisconsin, and half an hour in Minnesota. That’s 17 hours and 45 minutes. Counting rest stops, preferably halfway through Pennsylvania and just after you enter both Ohio and Indiana, outside Chicago and halfway across Wisconsin, and accounting for traffic in New York, the Chicago suburbs and the Twin Cities, it should be no more than 23 hours, which would save you time on both Greyhound and Amtrak, if not on flying.

Once In the City. The team's original ballpark was in the suburb of Bloomington, on the Minneapolis side of the Mississippi River, but roughly equidistant from the downtowns of both Minneapolis and St. Paul. (Not quite: Minneapolis' City Hall is 9.6 miles away, St. Paul's is 11.1 miles.) The team is called "Minnesota," because they didn't want to slight either city. It is called the "Twins" because Minneapolis and St. Paul are the "Twin Cities."

Well, these "twins" are not identical: They have different mindsets, and, manifesting in several ways that included both having Triple-A teams until the MLB team arrived, have been known to feud as much as San Francisco and Oakland, Dallas and Fort Worth, Baltimore and Washington, if not as much as Manhattan and Brooklyn. Minneapolis has about 390,000 people, St. Paul 285,000, and the combined metropolitan area about 3.4 million, ranking 16th in the U.S. -- roughly the combined population of Manhattan, The Bronx and Staten Island -- or that of Manhattan and Queens. Denver is the only metropolitan area with teams in all 4 sports that's smaller.

"Minneapolis" is a combination of the Dakota tribal word for water, and the Greek word for city. It was founded in 1867 with the name St. Anthony Falls, and, of course, St. Paul, founded in 1854, is also named for an early Christian saint. In Minneapolis, Hennepin Avenue separates the numbered Streets from North and South, and the Mississippi River is the "zero point" for the Avenues, many (but not all) of which also have numbers.

Each city once had 2 daily papers, now each is down to 1: Minneapolis had the Star and the Tribune, merged in 1982; St. Paul the Pioneer and the Dispatch, merged into the Pioneer Press and Dispatch in 1985, with the Dispatch name dropped in 1990. Today, they are nicknamed the Strib and the Pi Press.

The sales tax in the State of Minnesota is 6.875 percent. It's 7.775 in Minneapolis' Hennepin County, and 7.625 percent in St. Paul's Ramsey County. Bus and Light Rail service is $2.25 per ride during rush hours, $1.75 otherwise.

Going In. Target Field is at the northwest edge of downtown Minneapolis, in a neighborhood called the Warehouse District. The Metro Transit Hiawatha Line, Minneapolis’ light rail system, has a Target Field Station.

Target Field is bounded by 5th Street (left field), 3rd Avenue (right field), 7th Street (1st base) and the Hiawatha Line (3rd base). Parking lots are all over downtown, although if you’ve driven all this way, most likely you’ll be staying at a hotel and walking or taking public transit from there.  The official address is 1 Twins Way.

If you’re walking from downtown, you’ll most likely be arriving over the I-394 overpass and entering at the right field or home plate gates. If you’re arriving by light rail, the station is outside the left field gate. If you're driving, parking is between $10 and $15, depending on the event.

The gates are numbered in honor of the men whose numbers had already been retired when the ballpark opened: Center field, Gate 3, Harmon Killebrew; Left field, Gate 6, Tony Oliva; Home plate, Gate 14, Kent Hrbek; Right field corner, Gate 29, Rod Carew; and another in right field, Gate 34, Kirby Puckett. Gate 29 has Target Plaza, with statues of those players, and also of former owners Calvin Griffith, and Carl and Eloise Pohlad, parents of current owner Jim Pohlad.  The Twins' team Hall of Fame display is also there.

The ballpark faces northeast, and in stark contrast to the Metrodome, the place is open at right field, has no stupid roof with stupid lighting, and has, yes, real grass. If you are old enough to remember the Twins' original home, Metropolitan Stadium, the double-decked left field bleachers will be reminiscent of that stadium, but, from some angles, will also bear a resemblance to Jack Murphy/Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego and the old Mile High Stadium in Denver (if you remember the baseball configurations of those stadiums). Looking at the 1st base/right field stands, you may see a resemblance to Camden Yards in Baltimore. Target Field does seem to have a mixture of 1970s funkiness (which, aside from round entrance ramps, was rarely incorporated into the designs of the ballparks in use in that decade) and 1990s-to-the-present convenience.

Outfield distances are 339 to left, 377 to left-center, 411 to center, 365 to right center and 328 to right – favoring lefthanded hitters, although the ball doesn’t fly out of the yard the way it did at Metropolitan Stadium or the Metrodome. In its brief history, the longest home run hit at Target is a 491-footer by Jim Thome in 2011. Ben Oglivie of the Milwaukee Brewers hit the longest at the Metrodome, 481 feet, although I can't find a reference to a date. The longest at The Met, as you  might guess, was by Harmon Killebrew, 525 feet in 1967.

Above center field is a sign saying “TARGET FIELD,” with the words separated by the Target store logo. Above that is the original team logo, with two ballplayers against an outline of the state. One is wearing an M logo on his sleeve, another an StP logo on his, and they’re reaching across a river to shake hands. This symbolizes the old minor-league teams in the American Association, the Minneapolis Millers and the St. Paul Saints, who went out of business when the original Washington Senators moved to Minnesota to become the Twins in 1961.

Food. Considering that Minnesota is Big Ten Country, you would expect their ballpark to have lots of good food, in particular that Midwest staple, the sausage, including German, Italian, Polish and Kosher varieties. Fortunately, you would be right, as the influence of regional rivals Chicago and Milwaukee has taken hold. Something called Kramarczuk’s Food Network Creations is at Section 114 (lower level behind home plate), and Mexican and Asian specialties also dot the walkways.

At Section 133 (right-center-field bleachers), they have “State Fair Classics” -- the State Fair, held from late August to Labor Day, in the small town of Falcon Heights, between the Twin Cities, is a very big deal, known as "The Great Minnesota Get-Together." These "classics" include Pork Chops on a Stick, Roasted Corn on the Cob, Corn Dogs, and Walleye Fingers – think a fish version of "chicken fingers." It's not something I would eat, but walleyes, a native fish, are very popular in Minnesota. The start of walleye fishing season, usually around May 10, is so big there, the Twins always request to be on the road that weekend, so as not to hurt attendance.

Being Midwestern, the Twins believe in beer and lots of it. (In their early days, the Twins heavily identified with Hamm's Beer, which was headquartered in St. Paul. Hamm's has since been bought out, although the brand is still sold in the Upper Midwest.) Being American, the Twins believe in ice cream and lots of it.

Team History Displays. The Twins are now in their 2nd half-century of play, so they certainly have some history. They have banners representing their titles on the exterior promenade of the ballpark: The 1965 American League Pennant, the 1969 and 1970 AL Western Division Championships, the 1987 and 1991 World Championships, and the 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2009 and 2010 AL Central Division Championships. The Twins have never reached the Playoffs via the Wild Card.

No mention is made of the titles won as "the old Washington Senators": The 1924 World Championship and the 1925 and 1933 AL Pennants. Nor is any mention made of the American Association Pennants won by the Millers (1896, 1910, ’11, ’12, ’15, ’32, ’35, ’55, ’58 and ’59) and the Saints (1924 and ’48).

The Twins’ retired numbers are shown in stanchions on the facing of the upper deck in left field: 3, Harmon Killebrew, 3rd base & 1st base, 1961-74; 6, Tony Oliva, right field, 1962-76 and serving the club in several capacities since; 10, Tom Kelly, 1st baseman 1975, manager 1986-2001; 14, Kent Hrbek, 1st base, 1981-94; 28, Bert Blyleven, pitcher, 1970-76 and 1985-88; 29, Rod Carew, 2nd base and 1st base, 1967-78; and 34, Kirby Puckett, center field, 1984-95 -- plus Jackie Robinson's universally-retired 42. Oddly, the numbers are listed in order of their retirement from right to left, as opposed to left to right (or numerically), so that, from left to right, they read: 42, 10, 28, 34, 14, 6, 29, 3. Killebrew (who died in 2011), Oliva, Carew, Hrbek, and Kirby Puckett Jr., standing in for his father, threw out the ceremonial first balls for the first game at the new park on April 12, 2010.

As stated, the Twins' team Hall of Fame is outside the park at Gate 29, with the statues. The members include:

From the 1965-70 teams: Killebrew, Oliva, Carew, catcher Earl Battey, shortstop Zoilo Versalles, left fielder Bob Allison, and pitchers Camilo Pascual, Jim Kaat and Jim Perry.

From the 1987 & ’91 teams: Kelly, Blyleven, Hrbek, Puckett, shortstop Greg Gagne, 3rd baseman Gary Gaetti, and pitchers Frank Viola and Rick Aguilera.

From the 2000s: Pitchers Brad Radke and Eddie Guardado.

And spanning the eras: Founding owner Calvin Griffith, original team executive George Brophy, Hall of Fame broadcaster Herb Carneal, owner Carl Pohlad, minor-league director Jim Rantz, media relations director Tom Mee, and public address announcer Bob Casey.

No mention is made of Millers legends Joe Cantillon, Joe Hauser, Ted Williams, Willie Mays, Monte Irvin, Ray Dandridge, Hoyt Wilhelm, Orlando Cepeda, Felipe Alou and Carl Yastrzemski. (The Millers were a Red Sox farm team, then the Giants, then the Red Sox again.) Or of Saints legends Duke Snider and Roy Campanella. (The Saints were a Dodger farm team.)

In 1999, Killebrew, Carew and Puckett were named to The Sporting News' 100 Greatest Baseball Players.

Stuff. The Twins have Team Stores throughout the ballpark. The usual items that can be found at a souvenir store can be found there.

Books about the Twins are not exactly well-known. The staff of the Star-Tribune put together Minnesota Twins: The Complete Illustrated History in 2010. Newly-published is Stew Thornley's Minnesota Twins Baseball: Hardball History on the Prairie. Cool of the Evening: The 1965 Minnesota Twins is Jim Thielman’s look at Minnesota’s 1st major league Pennant winner. Bill Gutman, Dave Weiner and Tony Seidl wrote From Worst to First! The Improbable 1991 Seasons of the Atlanta Braves and the Minnesota Twins.

There is, as yet, no Essential Games of the Minnesota Twins, or of either Metropolitan Stadium or the Metrodome. But the official 1987 and 1991 World Series highlight film packages are available.

During the Game. Because of their Midwest/Heartland image, Twins fans like a “family atmosphere.” Therefore, while they don’t especially like the Yankees, they will not directly antagonize you. You’ll probably be all right if you don’t say anything unkind about Killebrew or Puckett, especially now that they’re both dead. I would also advise against saying anything complimentary about the Green Bay Packers, the University of Wisconsin, the Dallas Stars (the hockey team that used to be the Minnesota North Stars) or Norm Green (the owner who moved them).

The Twins' mascot is TC Bear -- TC for Twin Cities, and it's probably a bear in honor of that once-familiar Minnesota mascot/TV pitchanimal, the Hamm's Bear. They don't have a song to use after “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” in the 7th Inning Stretch, or a postgame victory song, but they do have a theme song, "We're Gonna Win, Twins!"

They still sell the Homer Hankies made famous during their 1987 postseason run. They did not, however, originate the idea: In 1977, the Cleveland Indians, desperate for attendance, held “Hate the Yankees Hanky Night.”

The Twins have "The Race at Target Field." It's a takeoff on the Milwaukee Brewers' Sausage Race, with five Minnesota-inspired characters: Louie the Loon (a bird, not a crazy man), Wanda the Walleye (fish), Babe the Blue Ox (from the legend of Paul Bunyan), Skeeta the Mosquito (apparently they got him in a trade with the Houston Astros), and Bullseye the dog (mascot of Target, and apparently a descendant of former Bud Light pitchdog Spuds Mackenzie). No revival of the Hamm's Bear.

After the Game. An unfortunate part of the Twins’ legacy is the fact that, when Washington Senators owner Clark Griffith, who would never have moved the team, died in 1955, his son Calvin Griffith wanted out of the increasingly-black D.C. At a Lions Club dinner in 1978, he freely admitted that he moved the Twins to Minnesota because it was mostly white. So the Twins exist primarily because of racism – albeit that of just one man. Nevertheless, this racial homogeneity has kept Minneapolis comparatively safe – although the Twin Cities have since attracted more blacks, and had already produced some famous black people, including baseball legend Dave Winfield and music superstar Prince Rogers Nelson. (Along with the fictional character of Synclaire James, played by Kim Coles on the New York-based show Living Single.) At any rate, regardless of the races of the people you see on the streets, you should be safe.

If you want to be around other New Yorkers, I’m sorry to say that listings for where they tend to gather are slim. But I have one listing for a place that seems to cater to football Giants fans: O'Donovan's Irish Pub, at 700 1st Avenue North at 7th St.

Another restaurant that may be of interest to New York baseball fans is Charley's Grill, at 225 3rd Avenue South at 2nd Street.  It was popular among visiting players from other American Association cities when they came to play the Millers and the Saints. Legend has it that, when the Yankees gathered for spring training in 1961, they were trying to figure out which restaurants in the new American League cities were good, and someone who'd recently played for the Denver Bears mentioned Charley's. But Yogi Berra, who'd gone there when the Yanks' top farm team was the Kansas City Blues, said, "Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded." Well, someone must still be going there, because it's still open.  (That Yogi said the line is almost certainly true, but the restaurant in question was almost certainly Ruggiero's, a place in his native St. Louis at which he and his neighbor Joe Garagiola waited tables.)

Sidelights. Minnesota’s sports history is long, but very uneven. Teams have been born, moved in, moved around, and even moved out. But there are some local sites worth checking out.

* Site of the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome and the new Vikings stadium. Home of the Twins from 1982 to 2009, the University of Minnesota football team from 1982 to 2008, and the NFL’s Vikings from 1982 to 2013, that infamous blizzard and roof collapse in 2010 brought the desire to get out and build a new stadium for the Vikes to the front burner, and it has finally led to action.

The Twins won the 1987 and 1991 World Series here – going 8-0 in World Series games in the Dome, and 0-6 in Series games outside of it. The Vikings, on the other hand, are just 6-4 in home Playoff games since moving there – including an overtime defeat in the 1998 NFC Championship Game after going 14-2 in the regular season.

From October 1991 to April 1992, the Metrodome hosted 3 major events: The World Series (Twins over Atlanta Braves), Super Bowl XXVI (Washington Redskins over Buffalo Bills), and the NCAA Final Four (Duke beating Michigan in the Final). It also hosted the Final Four in 2001 (Duke won that one, too, over Arizona).

In May 2012, faced with the serious possibility of the Vikings moving without getting a suitable stadium (Los Angeles, Las Vegas and San Antonio had been rumored as locations, in descending order of likelihood), the Minnesota State legislature approved funding for a new stadium for the Vikings, to be built on the site of the Metrodome and on adjoining land.

The damn thing has now been fully demolished -- in a piece of poetic justice, just as it was built and completed ahead of schedule and under budget, so did the demolition take place. The people of Minnesota seemed to be proud of its having been built on the cheap and on time, but it served its purpose, to keep the Twins and Vikings from moving for a generation, and now replacement stadiums are achieving the same purpose. Billy Martin, who hated the place, had the best word on it, though the awkward wording of it may have been inspired in part by his pal Yogi Berra: "It's a shame a great guy like HHH had to be named after it." (Billy's first managing job was with the Twins, at the Met in 1969.)

The Vikings will play at TCF Bank Stadium in 2014 and '15, before the new stadium opens in 2016. The new stadium might also allow Minnesota United to get promoted to Major League Soccer. 900 South 5th Street at Centennial (Kirby Puckett) Place. Metrodome station on Light Rail.

* Mall of America and sites of Metropolitan Stadium and the Metropolitan Sports Center. In contrast to their performance at the Metrodome, the Vikings were far more successful at their first home, while the Twins were not (in each case, playing there from 1961 to 1981). The Vikings reached 4 Super Bowls while playing at The Met, while the Twins won Games 1, 2 and 6 of the 1965 World Series there, but lost Game 7 to the Los Angeles Dodgers on a shutout by Sandy Koufax. (So the Twins are 11-1 all-time in World Series home games, but 0-9 on the road.) The Vikings were far more formidable in their ice tray of a stadium, which had no protection from the sun and nothing to block an Arctic blast of wind.

In fact, the Met had one deck along the 3rd base stands and in the right field bleachers, two decks from 1st base to right field and in the left field bleachers, and three decks behind home plate. Somebody once said the stadium looked like an Erector set that a kid was putting together, before his mother called him away to dinner and he never finished it. At 45,919 seats, it had a capacity that was just fine for baseball; but at 48,446, it was too small for the NFL.

Prior to the 1961 arrivals of the Twins and Vikings, the Met hosted the Minneapolis Millers from 1956 to 1960, and 5 NFL games over the same stretch, including 4 “home games” for the Packers. (Viking fans may be sickened over that, but at least University of Minnesota fans can take heart in the University of Wisconsin never having played there.) The experiments worked: The Met, built equidistant from the downtowns of Minneapolis and St. Paul, in the southern suburb of Bloomington, was awarded the MLB and NFL teams, and Midway Stadium, built in 1957 as the new home of the St. Paul Saints (at 1000 N. Snelling Avenue in the city of St. Paul, also roughly equidistant from the two downtowns), struck out, and was used as a practice field by the Vikings before being demolished in 1981.

The NHL’s Minnesota North Stars played at the adjoining Metropolitan Sports Center (or Met Center) from 1967 to 1993, before they were moved to become the Dallas Stars by owner Norm Green, earning him the nickname Norm Greed. The Stars reached the Stanley Cup Finals in 1981 and 1991, but never won the Cup until 1999 when they were in Dallas.

The Beatles played at Metropolitan Stadium on August 21, 1965 -- making one of only 3 facilities to host an All-Star Game, a Finals and a Beatles concert in the same year. (The others were the Boston Garden and Maple Leaf Gardens in 1964.) Elvis Presley sang at the Met Center on November 5, 1971 and October 17, 1976.

8000 Cedar Avenue South, at 80th Street -- near the airport, although legends of planes being an issue, as with Shea Stadium and Citi Field, seem to be absent. A street named Killebrew Drive, and the original location of home plate, have been preserved. A 45-minute ride on the Number 55 light rail (MOA station).

* Site of Nicollet Park. Home of the Millers from 1912 to 1955, it was one of the most historic minor-league parks, home to Ted Williams and Willie Mays before they reached the majors. With the Met nearing completion, its last game was Game 7 of the 1955 Junior World Series, in which the Millers beat the International League Champion Rochester Red Wings. A few early NFL games were played there in the 1920s. A bank is now on the site. Nicollet and Blaisdell Avenues, 30th and 31st Streets. Number 465 bus.

* Site of Lexington Park. Home of the Saints from 1897 to 1956, it wasn’t nearly as well regarded, although it did close with a Saints win over the arch-rival Millers. The site is now occupied by retail outlets. Lexington Parkway, University Avenue, Fuller & Dunlap Streets.

* Xcel Energy Center and site of the St. Paul Civic Center. Home of the NHL’s Minnesota Wild since their debut in 2000, and site of the 2008 Republican Convention that nominated John McCain for President and Sarah Palin for Vice President. (The GOP met in Minneapolis in 1892, renominating President Benjamin Harrison at the Industrial Exposition Building at 101 Central Avenue SE. It was torn down in 1940, and condos are on the site now.)

The place is a veritable home and hall of fame for hockey in Minnesota, the most hockey-mad State in the Union, including the State high school championships that were previously held at the Civic Center.

That building was the home of the Minnesota Fighting Saints of the World Hockey Association from 1973 to 1977. The Fighting Saints had played their first few home games, in late 1972, at the St. Paul Auditorium. Elvis sang at the Civic Center on October 2 and 3, 1974, and April 30, 1977. The Civic Center is also where Bruce Springsteen and Courteney Cox filmed the video for Bruce’s song “Dancing In the Dark.” 199 Kellogg Blvd. West. at 7th Street.

* Target Center. Separated from Target Field by I-394 and 2nd Avenue, this arena has been home to the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves since the team debuted shortly after its 1989 opening. The T-Wolves have only made the Western Conference Finals once, and are probably best known as the team Kevin Garnett and GM (and Minnesota native) Kevin McHale couldn’t get over the hump, before Garnett went to McHale’s former team, the Boston Celtics. The WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx also play here. 600 N. 1st Avenue at 6th Street.

* Site of Minneapolis Auditorium. Built in 1927, from 1947 to 1960 this was the home of the Minneapolis Lakers – and, as Minnesota is “the Land of 10,000 Lakes” (11,842, to be exact), now you know why a team in Los Angeles is named the Lakers. (The old Utah Jazz coach Frank Layden said his team and the Lakers should switch names, due to L.A.'s "West Coast jazz" scene and the Great Salt Lake: "Los Angeles Jazz" and "Utah Lakers" would both make more sense.)

The Lakers won the National Basketball League Championship in 1948, then moved into the NBA and won the Championship in 1949, 1950, 1952, 1953 and 1954. In fact, until the Celtics overtook them in 1963, the Minneapolis Lakers were the most successful team in NBA history, and have still won more World Championships than all the other Minnesota major league teams combined: Lakers 5, Twins 2, the rest a total of 0.

They were led by their enormous (for the time, 6-foot-10, 270-pound) center, the bespectacled (that’s right, he wore glasses, not goggles, on the court) Number 99, George Mikan. The arrival of the 24-second shot clock for the 1954-55 season pretty much ended their run, although rookie Elgin Baylor did help them reach the Finals again in 1959. Ironically, the owner of the Lakers who moved them to Los Angeles was Bob Short – who later moved the “new” Washington Senators, the team established to replace the team that moved to become the Twins.

The Auditorium hosted the NCAA Final Four (although it wasn't yet called that) in 1951, won by Kentucky over Kansas State. Elvis sang there early in his career, on May 13, 1956. The Auditorium was demolished in 1989, and the Minneapolis Convention Center was built on the site. 1301 2nd Ave. South, at 12th Street. Within walking distance of Target Field, Target Center and the Metrodome.

* University of Minnesota. TCF Bank Stadium, the new home of the University of Minnesota football team, opened in 2009. It was designed to resemble a classic 1920s college football stadium, with a reddish-brown brick exterior and a horseshoe shape, much like the 56,000-seat Memorial Stadium, where the Golden Gophers played from 1924 to 1981, before the Metrodome was built.

Its capacity of 50,805 makes it the 2nd-smallest stadium in the Big Ten, ahead of only Northwestern’s Ryan Field/Dyche Stadium, but the Gophers’ lack of success over the last 40 years or so has been overcome: They have regularly filled it. The Vikings played a home game here in 2010 after the Metrodome roof collapse, but the capacity (much like that of the even smaller Metropolitan Stadium) makes it insufficient as a permanent new home for the Vikings. The Vikings played a home game at “Old Memorial” in 1969 due to the Twins making the Playoffs that season.

The new stadium is at 2009 University Avenue SE, at 420 SE 23rd Avenue. Stadium Village stop on the light rail Green Line.

"Old Memorial" was a block away from where the new stadium now stands, on Walnut Street between University Avenue and Beacon Street. The Vikings played a home game there in 1969 due to the Twins making the Playoffs that season and having dibs on Metropolitan Stadium. The McNamara Alumni Center now stands on the site, and the arched entrance to Memorial has been preserved and stands inside.

The Gophers play their basketball games at Williams Arena, a classic old barn built in 1928, across Oak Street from the open west end of TCF Bank Stadium. Across 4th Street from Williams is Mariucci Arena, home of the hockey team that has won National Championships in 1974, '76, '79, 2002 and '03. Named for John Mariucci, a member of the Chicago Blackhawks' 1938 Stanley Cup winners who coached the Gophers, the arena was built in 1993, after the team previously played hockey at Williams.

Legend has it that 4th Street is the "Positively 4th Street" used as the title of a song by former UM student Robert Zimmerman, a.k.a. Bob Dylan, although, as is often the case with Dylan songs, there is no mention of the title in the songs. Whether the "friend" who's "got a lot of nerve" was a fellow UM student, I don't know. It's also been suggested that the 4th Street in question is the one in New York's Greenwich Village.

* Museums. The Twin Cities are very artsy, and have their share of museums, including one of the five most-visited modern art museums in the country, the Walker Art Center, at 1750 Hennepin Avenue. Number 4, 6, 12 or 25 bus. The Minneapolis Institute of Arts is at 2400 3rd Avenue South. Number 17 bus, then walk 2 blocks east on 24th Street. The Science Museum of Minnesota is at 120 W. Kellogg Blvd. in St. Paul, across from the Xcel Center.

Fort Snelling, originally Fort Saint Anthony, was established by the U.S. Army in 1819, where the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers meet, to guard the Upper Midwest. It served as an Army post until World War II. It is now a museum, with historical demonstrations based on its entire history, from the post-War of 1812 period to the Civil War, from the Indian Wars to the World Wars. 101 Lakeview Avenue in St. Paul, across from the airport. An hour’s ride on the Blue light rail.

Minnesota is famous for Presidential candidates that don’t win. Governor Harold Stassen failed to get the Republican nomination in 1948, and then ran several more times, becoming, pardon the choice of words, a running joke. Senator Eugene McCarthy opposed Lyndon Johnson in the Democratic Primaries in 1968, but lost his momentum when Robert Kennedy got into the race and LBJ got out, then ran in 1976 as a 3rd-party candidate and got 1 percent of the popular vote. Vice President Walter Mondale was the Democratic nominee in 1984, losing every State but Minnesota in his loss to Ronald Reagan. In the 2012 election cycle, the moderate former Governor Tim Pawlenty and the completely batty Congresswoman Michele Bachmann ran, and neither got anywhere.

Most notable is Hubert Horatio Humphrey. Elected Mayor of Minneapolis in 1945 and 1947, he became known for fighting organized crime, which put a price on his head, a price it was unable to pay off. In 1948, while running for the U.S. Senate, he gave a speech at the Democratic Convention, supporting a civil rights plank in the party platform, a movement which culminated in his guiding the Civil Rights Act of 1964 through the Senate as Majority Whip. He ran for the Democratic nomination for President in 1960, but lost to John F. Kennedy, then was elected LBJ’s Vice President in 1964. He won the nomination in 1968, but lost to Richard Nixon by a hair. He returned to the Senate in 1970, and ran for President again in 1972, but lost the nomination to George McGovern. He might have run again in 1976 had his health not failed, as cancer killed him in 1978 at age 66. His wife Muriel briefly held his Senate seat.

Not having been President (he's come closer than any other Minnesotan ever has), he has no Presidential Library, but there is the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, 301 19th Avenue South, only a short walk from the Dome that would be named for him. Hubert and Muriel are laid to rest in Lakewood Cemetery, 3600 Hennepin Avenue. Number 6 bus.

The tallest building in Minnesota is the IDS Center, at 80 South 8th Street at Marquette Avenue, rising 792 feet high. The tallest in the State outside Minneapolis is Wells Fargo Place, at 30 East 7th Street at Cedar Street in St. Paul, 472 feet.

Nicollet Mall is a pedestrians-only shopping center that stretches from 2nd to 13th Streets downtown. At 7th Street, in front of Macy's, in roughly the same location that Mary Tyler Moore as Mary Richards threw her hat in the air in the opening to The Mary Tyler Moore Show, is a statue of "Mare" doing that. It was the first in a series of statues commissioned by TV Land that now includes Jackie Gleason outside Port Authority, Henry Winkler in Milwaukee, Bob Newhart in Chicago, Andy Griffith and Ron Howard in Raleigh, Elizabeth Montgomery in Salem, Massachusetts and Elvis in Honolulu. However, the show had no location shots in Minneapolis.

The sitcom Coach, which aired on ABC from 1989 to 1996, was set at Minnesota State University. At the time, there was not a real college with that name. But in 1999, Mankato State University was renamed Minnesota State University, Mankato; and in 2000, Moorhead State University became Minnesota State University, Moorhead. The University of Minnesota was originally a model for the school on the show, but withdrew its support: Although some game action clearly shows the maroon and gold of the Golden Gophers, the uniforms shown in most scenes were light purple and gold. In one Season 1 episode, the Gophers are specifically mentioned as one of the Screaming Eagles' opponents, suggesting that Minnesota State might have been in the Big Ten. Show creator Barry Kemp is a graduate of the University of Iowa -- like Wisconsin, a major rival of the Gophers -- and most of the exterior shots you see of the campus were filmed there. In addition, the main character, Hayden Fox, was named after then-Iowa coach Hayden Fry. No scenes were actually shot in Minnesota, not even Hayden's oft-snowy lake house.

St. Paul is the capital of the State of Minnesota. The Capitol Building is at University Avenue and Capital Blvd. It's a half-hour ride from downtown on the Number 94 bus (named because most of its route is on I-94).

*

Bob Wood, a native of Kalamazoo, Michigan, and a graduate of Michigan State University, wrote a pair of sports travel guides: Dodger Dogs to Fenway Franks, about his 1985 trip to all 26 stadiums then in MLB; and Big Ten Country, about his 1988 trip to all the Big Ten campuses and stadiums. (Penn State, Nebraska, and soon-to-be members Rutgers and Maryland were not yet in the league).

The Metrodome was the only stadium that featured in both books, although if either were updated to reflect current reality, it would feature in neither. In Big Ten Country, Wood said, “Now, don't get me wrong. It's not that I don't like Minneapolis. How can you not like Minneapolis?... No, Minneapolis is lovely. It’s the Metrodome that sucks!”

Thankfully, the Twins now play at Target Field, and, from what I understand, Minneapolis and St. Paul are still terrific cities, including for sports. A Yankee Fan should definitely take in a Yankees-Twins game there.

Living Members of Monument Park

April 18, 1923 to June 8, 1969: None. Miller Huggins died on September 25, 1929, and was honored with a Monument on May 30, 1932. Jacob Ruppert died on January 13, 1939, and was honored with a Plaque on April 19, 1940. Lou Gehrig died on June 2, 1941, and was honored with a Monument the following July 6. Babe Ruth died on August 16, 1948, and was honored with a Monument on April 19, 1949. Ed Barrow died on December 15, 1953, and was honored with a Plaque on April 15, 1954.

June 8, 1969 to April 29, 1976, 2: Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle. They were honored with Plaques, the first living people honored, save for Pope Paul VI, who had delivered a Mass at Yankee Stadium in 1965, and the Knights of Columbus had donated a plaque commemorating the occasion. They would also do so for Pope John Paul II in 1979, and Pope Benedict XVI in 2008. Pope Francis has said he wants to visit America next year, and presumably a Mass at Yankee Stadium would be on the itinerary, thus leading to another Plaque.

April 29, 1976 to January 13, 1978, 3: DiMaggio, Mantle and Joe McCarthy. McCarthy was honored with a Plaque. Casey Stengel died on September 29, 1975, and was honored with a Plaque on July 30, 1976.

January 13, 1978 to July 21, 1984, 2: DiMaggio and Mantle. McCarthy died. Thurman Munson died on August 2, 1979, and was honored with a Plaque on September 20, 1980.

July 21, 1984 to August 4, 1985, 3: DiMaggio, Mantle and Roger Maris. Elston Howard died on December 14, 1980, and was honored with a Plaque on the same day as Maris.

August 4 to December 14, 1985, 4: DiMaggio, Mantle, Maris and Phil Rizzuto.

December 14, 1985 to August 10, 1986, 3: DiMaggio, Mantle and Rizzuto. Maris died.

August 10, 1986 to August 1, 1987, 4: DiMaggio, Mantle, Rizzuto and Billy Martin.

August 1, 1987 to August 21, 1988: 6: DiMaggio, Mantle, Rizzuto, Martin, Lefty Gomez and Whitey Ford.

August 21, 1988 to February 17, 1989, 8: DiMaggio, Gomez, Rizzuto, Ford, Martin, Mantle, Bill Dickey and Yogi Berra.

February 17 to August 27, 1989, 7: DiMaggio, Dickey, Rizzuto, Berra, Ford, Martin and Mantle. Gomez died.

August 27 to December 25, 1989, 8: DiMaggio, Dickey, Rizzuto, Berra, Ford, Martin, Mantle and Allie Reynolds.

December 25, 1989 to November 12, 1993, 7: DiMaggio, Dickey, Rizzuto, Berra, Reynolds, Ford and Mantle. Martin died.

November 12, 1993 to December 26, 1994, 6: DiMaggio, Rizzuto, Berra, Reynolds, Ford and Mantle. Dickey died.

December 26, 1994 to August 13, 1995, 5: DiMaggio, Rizzuto, Berra, Ford and Mantle. Reynolds died.

August 13, 1995 to August 31, 1997, 4: DiMaggio, Rizzuto, Berra and Ford. Mantle died, and his Plaque was replaced by a Monument on August 25, 1996.

August 31, 1997 to March 8, 1999, 5: DiMaggio, Rizzuto, Berra, Ford and Don Mattingly. Mel Allen died on June 16, 1996, and was honored on July 25, 1998.

March 8, 1999 to May 7, 2000, 4: Rizzuto, Berra, Ford and Mattingly. DiMaggio died, and his Plaque was replaced by a Monument on April 25, 1999.

May 7, 2000 to July 6, 2002, 5: Rizzuto, Berra, Ford, Mattingly and Bob Sheppard.

July 6, 2002 to August 23, 2003, 6: Rizzuto, Berra, Ford, Mattingly, Sheppard and Reggie Jackson.

August 23, 2003 to August 13, 2007, 7: Rizzuto, Berra, Ford, Jackson, Mattingly, Sheppard and Ron Guidry. Red Ruffing died on February 17, 1986, and was honored on July 10, 2004.

August 13, 2007 to July 11, 2010, 6: Berra, Ford, Guidry, Jackson, Mattingly and Sheppard. Rizzuto died.

July 11, 2010 to September 22, 2013, 5: Berra, Ford, Guidry, Jackson and Mattingly. Sheppard died. George Steinbrenner died on July 13, 2010, and was honored the following September 20.

September 22, 2013 to June 21, 2014, 6: Berra, Ford, Guidry, Jackson, Mattingly and Mariano Rivera. True, he hasn't gotten his Plaque yet (What are they waiting for?), but his retired number is out there, so I'm counting him.

June 21 to 22, 2014, 7: Berra, Ford, Guidry, Jackson, Mattingly, Rivera and Tino Martinez.

June 22, 2014 to the present, 8: Berra, Ford, Guidry, Jackson, Mattingly, Rivera, Martinez and Goose Gossage. This matches the all-time peak from August 21, 1988 to February 17, 1989, and again from August 27, to December 25, 1989.

Presuming no one else dies before then -- and with Yogi Berra being 89 years old, frail and hospitalized twice in recent years, it could certainly happen -- a new all-time high of 9 living Monument Parkers will be reached on July 27 of this year, when Joe Torre is honored. It will reach 10 on August 9, when it's Paul O'Neill. Presumably, Derek Jeter's Number 2 will be retired before the last home game of this season, on September 25, making the total 11 even though he won't receive his Plaque before his career statistics and achievements are finalized. And it would reach 12 sometime in 2015, when Bernie Williams is honored (the exact date presumably waiting for the 2015 MLB schedule to be released).

*

Honorees from the First Dynasty, 1920 to 1935: Jacob Ruppert, Miller Huggins, Babe Ruth, Ed Barrow, Lou Gehrig. In the Baseball Hall of Fame, at least partly as Yankees, but not yet honored in Monument Park: Waite Hoyt, Herb Pennock, Tony Lazzeri. Bob Shawkey was also a rather important player in the development of the first Yankee Dynasty, but is not honored.

Honorees from the Second Dynasty, 1936 to 1948: Bill Dickey, Red Ruffing, Lefty Gomez, Joe McCarthy, Joe DiMaggio, Mel Allen, Phil Rizzuto. In the Hall of Fame but not Monument Park: Joe Gordon. Tommy Henrich could also be honored.

Honorees from the Third Dynasty, 1949 to 1968: Yogi Berra, Allie Reynolds, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Mickey Mantle, Bob Sheppard, Elston Howard, Roger Maris. In the Hall of Fame but not Monument Park: Johnny Mize, Enos Slaughter. Jerry Coleman was elected to the Hall as a broadcaster, although he also played for the Yankees in this era. Billy Martin was honored mainly for what he did as a manager, so I'll list him with the next Dynasty, though he played in this one.

Honorees from the Fourth Dynasty, 1969 to 1992: Thurman Munson, George Steinbrenner, Billy Martin, Ron Guidry, Reggie Jackson, Goose Gossage, Don Mattingly. In the Hall of Fame but not Monument Park: Catfish Hunter. Bobby Murcer and Graig Nettles should also be honored. I could also understand if they honored Sparky Lyle, Lou Piniella and Willie Randolph.

Honorees from the Fifth Dynasty, 1993 to current: Bernie Williams, Paul O'Neill, Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, Joe Torre, Tino Martinez. As yet, not Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, Hideki Matsui or anyone else.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Top 10 Derek Jeter Moments

June 26, 1974, 40 years ago today: Charles and Dorothy Jeter discover a crashed Kryptonian spacecraft while driving through Pequannock, New Jersey. Inside, they find a baby boy. They take him home and raise him as their own. They name him Derek Sanderson Jeter.

It's hard to believe he's 40 now. Sure, his hairline has receded, and he's slowed down, and he's announced his retirement, effective at the end of the season.

But no player has so effectively stood as a symbol for the New York Yankees since Mickey Mantle -- possibly even since Joe DiMaggio. After all, unlike Mantle (and Babe Ruth), where embarrassing things in his private life were kept quiet, there's been no scandal with Jeter. And if you think the media wouldn't love it if there was one, well, you probably also believe that the media loves the Yankees, when, clearly, it prefers the Yankees' rivals.

Jeter made his major league debut on May 29, 1995, at the Kingdome, against the Seattle Mariners. Reflecting his publicly-stated desire to reach the Yankees while they still had a single-digit uniform number available, he wore Number 2 (and has never worn any other number), started at shortstop, and batted 9th. The Mariner starter that night was Rafael Carmona, and if you've never heard of him, don't worry about it: He, too, was a rookie, making his own big-league debut just 11 days earlier. He made a grand total of 81 major league appearances, all for the Mariners. Despite the M's making the Playoffs that year and in 1997, he made no postseason appearances for them, and made his last appearance just 4 years later, almost to the day. His opposition of Jeter that night is the only truly remarkable thing about him.

Jeter led off the top of the 3rd for his first at-bat, and flew out to right field. (The right fielder was Darren Bragg -- not the ex-Yankee Jay Buhner.) He led off the top of the 5th, and grounded to shortstop Felix Fermin -- the very Felix Fermin the Yankees wanted to trade Mariano Rivera to the Mariners for the following spring, as they didn't think Jeter was ready. (No, I'm not making that up. It could have been the worst trade of the era.) In the 6th, he hit a line shot to right that was caught by Bragg. In the 9th, he grounded to 2nd. The game went to extra innings, and he struck out to end the 11th. The Yankees lost in 12 innings, 8-7. Randy Velarde and Dion James homered for the Yankees, Rich Amaral for the Mariners. Jack McDowell started, and Scott Bankhead was our last and the losing pitcher.

Yes, Jeter went 0-for-5 in his big-league debut -- if 0-for-4 is "the horse collar" (or just "the collar"), then 0-for-5 is "the collar plus one." Only 18,948 fans saw it, having no idea they were watching the beginning of a legend. Mariano had made his big-league debut 6 days earlier. Andy Pettitte, the previous month. Jorge Posada, the following September. And that was the Core Four.

The next day, May 30, Jeter led off the top of the 5th, against Tim Belcher, and hit a ground ball through the hole for a single to left field, the first hit of a current total of 3,388.

Think about that total for a moment: Only 8 human beings who have ever lived have collected more major-league hits than Jeter: Pete Rose, Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron, Stan Musial, Tris Speaker, Cap Anson, Honus Wagner and Carl Yastrzemski. Jeter has a shot at surpassing the last 3.

Only 3 of them are still alive: Rose, Aaron and Yaz. The youngest of those, Rose, was born in 1941. So Derek Jeter has more hits than any living person under the age of 73. 

He has also reached the postseason more times than any other player, 17 times. He has played on 7 Pennant winners and 5 World Championships, easily more than any active player. David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox is the only other active player who even has 3 rings (or, should we say, 3* rings).

Jeter is about to be voted onto his 14th American League All-Star Team. He was the 1996 AL Rookie of the Year, and while he's never been awarded the Most Valuable Player, he's finished in the top 10 in the voting 8 times, and in the top 3 on 3 occasions (he was truly robbed in 1998 and 2009, and possibly in 2006). He's won 5 Gold Gloves.

Derek Jeter has surpassed Cal Ripken Jr. as the greatest shortstop in AL history, and is behind only Honus Wagner among all-time shortstops. No, Ernie Banks isn't ahead of him. Neither is Luke Appling, nor Luis Aparicio. Remember the debate about whether Nomar Garciaparra and Alex Rodriguez were better? Well, now, nobody remembers A-Rod as a shortstop anyway (and who would want to put him ahead of Jeter, knowing what we now know?), and Nomar's career flamed out due to injury and divaness.

Barring injury, on Thursday night, September 25, 2014, against the Baltimore Orioles, Derek Jeter will play his last regular-season game at Yankee Stadium II -- it may have been George Steinbrenner's desire for one last big lump of money before he died that led to its construction, and Derek certainly wouldn't want to be remembered as a reason for the destruction of the old Yankee Stadium, but he "built" the new one every bit as much as Babe Ruth built the old one. On Sunday afternoon, September 28, 2014, at Fenway Park, against the Red Sox, he will play his last regular-season game. Hopefully, there will be postseason games, which could, theoretically, extend his career by as much as another month.

Top 10 Derek Jeter Moments

These are in chronological order.

1. April 2, 1996, Jacobs Field (now Progressive Field), Cleveland: With Tony Fernandez hurt, and unable to make a deal with the Mariners for Felix Fermin (who ended up on the Yankees that season anyway, and washed out, and retired), the Yankees had to make Jeter their starting shortstop, not yet 22 years old.

How did he do in his debut as a starter? A lot better than he did in his debut as a major leaguer. He hit his 1st major league home run, and made a sensational catch of a popup, running with his back to the infield. The Yankees won, 7-1, and the magical '96 season was underway.

(Which Yankee seasons count as "magical"? I would offer the following: 1923, 1927, 1941, 1949, 1961, 1977, 1978, 1996 and 2009.)

2. October 9, 1996, Yankee Stadium I: Game 1 of the AL Championship Series. The Yankees trail the Orioles 4-3 in the bottom of the 8th. Armando Benitez is on the mound for the O's, a fearsome-looking reliever who does not yet have a reputation for blowing big games. He's about to get one.

Jeter takes a Benitez fastball, and drives it toward the right field fence. You know the rest: It was officially a home run, and Jeffrey Maier (who went on to be a Division III All-America baseball player in college) will forever be a part of baseball lore. Bernie Williams wins it with a home run in the 11th, 5-4.

3. October 6, 1998, Yankee Stadium I: Game 1 of the ALCS. Jeter makes the first of his signature defensive plays, snaring a Travis Fryman grounder backhanded, turning, leaping, and firing to 1st base for the out.

4. July 11, 2000, Turner Field, Atlanta: All-Star Game. The AL beats the National League, 6-3. With 3 hits and 2 RBIs, Jeter is named Most Valuable Player -- the first Yankee ever to receive the award.

"In due time," he said, "when I sit down and get a chance to reflect on it, then you realize how special it is. And I wasn't aware that no Yankee, no other Yankee, had won this award, and it's kind of hard to believe."

5. October 25, 2000, Shea Stadium: Game 4 of the World Series. Jeter leads off the game with a home run on the first pitch off Bobby Jones. The Yankees go on to win, 5-4. Jeter also homers in Game 5, and the Yankees win, 4-2, and take the Series. He becomes the 1st (and still only) player ever to be named MVP of the All-Star Game and the World Series in the same season.

6. October 13, 2001, Oakland Coliseum: Game 3 of the AL Division Series. The Yankees trail the Oakland Athletics 2 games to none, and have to win 3 straight (2 on the road) to survive. Mike Mussina is pitching brilliantly, but Terence Long hits a drive to right field in the bottom of the 7th. Shane Spencer throws home, but it's offline. Jeremy Giambi, Jason's even slower younger brother, is going to score easily...

Until Jeter comes out of nowhere, and, in one motion, grabs the ball with his bare hand, halfway between home plate and 1st base, and flips it to Posada covering the plate, and Posada makes a tag that should (but doesn't) get as much mention, and Jeremy is out!

This is the most-talked-about defensive play in baseball since Willie Mays' catch in the 1954 World Series (unless you count Bill Buckner's error in the 1986 World Series), and it helps preserve a 1-0 Yankee win. Two days later, in Game 5 at The Stadium, Jeter makes a running catch of a popup, and tumbles into the stands and hangs on. The Yankees win that series, and the Pennant.

7. October 31, 2001, Yankee Stadium I: Game 4 of the World Series. Due to the postponements from the 9/11 attacks, this was the first MLB game ever played on Halloween. A Tino Martinez home run off Byung-Hyun Kim sent this game against the Arizona Diamondbacks into extra innings. While Jeter came to bat in the bottom of the 10th, the clock struck midnight, and, for the 1st time ever, Major League Baseball was being played in the month of November.

At 12:03 AM, Kim sidearmed a pitch into Jeter's kitchen, and he cooked it. The ball screamed down the right-field line, and it was only at the last instant that it was clear that it would be a home run. A fan in the stands held up a sign that said "MR. NOVEMBER." Clearly, it was possible that someone would be a hero in this game after midnight, so the sign's existence wasn't all that odd. But it seemed right that it was Jeter who did it. Like the Ford commercials said: "Jetah? He's got an edge!"

8. July 1, 2004, Yankee Stadium I: Coming up on the 10th Anniversary of one of the most amazing regular-season games we'll ever see. The Yankees were going for a sweep of the Red Sox, and it went 13 innings. A big reason why came in the top of the 12th: Trot Nixon hit a popup that looked like it might go foul. Jeter ran for it, caught it just short of the wall, and, perhaps remembering the 2001 ALDS Game 5 play, chose not to fall into the stands again, or try to stop his momentum some other way, but jump, and, as broadcaster Michael Kay put it, "and flies into the stands!"

It sure looked like he was flying: He was almost perfectly horizontal when he went in. I remember seeing this on television and saying, "He's Superman! He's Superman!" Then I saw him get up, and I saw that he'd cut and bruised his face (cue the fangirls squealing in horror), and I said, "Uh-oh, he's bleeding. Maybe he's not Superman. Maybe he's Batman."

The Yankees won the game in the 13th, 5-4. Of all the amazing things about this game, the most amazing is not the Jeter play, or the fact that the winning hits were by utility players Miguel Cairo and John Flaherty (who has built a broadcasting career based on this one play, and would be totally forgotten otherwise). It's that the winning pitcher was Tanyon Sturtze! Easily the highlight of his awful career.

9. September 21, 2008, Yankee Stadium I: The last game at the old ballyard. Although Jeter didn't get a hit, his postgame speech showed why he's been the Captain since 2003:

"For all of us up here, it's a huge honor to put this uniform on every day and come out here and play. And every member of this organization, past and present, has been calling this place home for 85 years.

"There's a lot of tradition, a lot of history, and a lot of memories. Now, the great thing about memories is you're able to pass it along from generation to generation. And although things are going to change next year, we're going to move across the street, there are a few things with the New York Yankees that never change -- it's pride, it's tradition, and, most of all, we have the greatest fans in the world.

"We're relying on you to take the memories from this stadium and add them to the new memories that come to the new Yankee Stadium, and continue to pass them on from generation to generation. On behalf of this entire organization, we want to take this moment to salute you, the greatest fans in the world."

Then he led what English soccer fans call a "lap of honour" around the field, saluting the fans. The next year, the new Stadium opened, and Jeter put together an MVP-worthy season, and the Yankees won their 27th World Championship. Sports Illustrated named him Sportsman of the Year.

10. July 9, 2011, Yankee Stadium II: Jeter goes 5-for-5 with 2 RBIs against the Tampa Bay Rays. The 3rd hit was Number 3,000 for his career, a drive to left field off David Price, for a home run. Only 1 other player has ever hit a home run for his 3,000th hit, Wade Boggs. The Yankees won, 5-4. (That does seem to be a legendary score in Yankee history. It was also the score of the famed 1949 Pennant clincher, and the Bucky Dent Game in 1978.)

 There: A Top 10 Moments in honor of Derek Jeter's 40th Birthday, and I didn't mention his Seinfeld appearance, and only hinted at his commercials.