Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Yankees Score 12 Runs. And It's Almost Not Enough.

Every now and then, the Yankees have one of those games that makes you say, "I wish they'd saved some of those runs for later." It usually happens when they're about to play the Red Sox, especially at Fenway Park.

And what's the next series on the Yankee schedule? Well, lookee what we have here: A trip to Boston to play the Red Sox at Fenway.

So what happened last night, against the Texas Rangers? The Yankees scored 12 runs.

Legend has it that, after a 1964 afternoon game in which the Mets beat the Chicago Cubs 19-1 -- wins were rare for them in their early years, never mind blowout wins -- a fan, unable to watch or listen to the game because he was at work, called up one of the New York newspapers (no Internet in those days) and asked how the Mets did. He was told, "Great, they scored 19 runs!" And the fan, who knew his Mets, asked, "Did they win?"

*

Last night, Brett Gardner continued his hot hitting by leading off the game with a home run, his 13th of the season. But the Rangers tagged Brandon McCarthy for 4 runs, and led 4-1 after 5.

Then came the 6th inning, perhaps the best Yankee inning of the season so far. Gardner led off again, off Ranger starter Nick Martinez, and doubled to right. Jeter beat out an infield singled. Jacoby Ellsbury popped up, but a wild pitch moved Gardner to 3rd and Jeter to 2nd.

Mark Teixeira returned from injury, and drew a walk to load the bases. Carlos Beltran singled Gardy and the Captain home. 4-3 Rangers. Brian McCann hit a sacrifice fly to get Teix home. Tie game. Chase Headley drew a walk.

That was enough for Ranger manager Ron Washington, as he brought Shawn Tolleson in to relieve Martinez. But Zoilo Amonte, back from the minors, singled home Beltran to give the Yankees the lead. Brendan Ryan, who's been completely unreliable with the bat, doubled home Headley and Almonte. 7-4. Yankees. The Yanks had batted around, and Gardner came up again, and reached on an error. 8-4. Yankees.

The Yankees scored twice more in the 7th, and it was 10-4 Yankees. Surely, the Yankees weren't going to blow a 6-run lead with 9 outs to go.

J.P. Arencibia hit his 2nd home run of the game, a grand slam off Dellin Betances after Adam Warren loaded the bases. 10-8 Yankees.

Teixeira sent a Teix Message in the top of the 8th (18 homers in July is pretty good for a player who's been injured), and that made it 12-8 Yankees. Surely, the Yankees weren't going to blow an 4-run lead with 6 outs to go.

The Rangers closed to within 12-9 in the bottom of the 8th. Surely, the Yankees weren't going to blow a 3-run lead with 3 outs to go.

David Robertson came in to close it out. The first batter he faced was Arencibia. D-Rob struck him out.

But Leonys Martin singled. Robinson Chirinos walked, and was replaced by pinch-runner Daniel Robertson. Now the tying run was at the plate.

Rougned Odor grounded out to move the runners over. Shin-Soo Choo walked to load the bases. Now the tying run was on 1st, and the winning run was at the plate.

Elvis Andrus singled home Martin and Robertson. 12-11. Now the tying run was at 2nd, and the winning run was on 1st. And Joe Girardi had already used Warren, Betances and Chase Whitley. And who's left in the bullpen that would inspire confidence in a Yankee Fan? Nobody. Girardi was going to live or die with Robertson.

Robertson walked Alex Rios. Bases loaded. Now the tying run was at 3rd, the winning run at 2nd. Good thing there were 2 outs. Just 1 out to go. So near, and yet so far away.

That home run that Beltre had hit earlier? It was the 391st of his career. That's 1 more than Graig Nettles, 2 more than Johnny Bench. More than Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, Johnny Mize, Jim Rice, Dwight Evans, Frank Howard and Dick Allen. And only a few less than Dale Murphy, Al Kaline and Duke Snider.

It was the 2,541st hit of his career. That's more than anyone has had in a Yankee uniform aside from Jeter, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.

And all he needed to at least tie the game, and probably win it, was a single.

I remembered the Yankee game of May 16, 2006. Playing at the old Stadium, they fell behind the Rangers 9-0 and 10-1, stormed back to 12-12 after 7, and trailed 13-12 in the bottom of the 9th, and won it 14-13 on a home run by Jorge Posada.

Could this game be the Rangers' revenge for that, as the 2010 American League Championship Series was their revenge for beating them in the Division Series of 1996, '98 and '99?

A big chunk of the Yankee section of the Twitterverse was saying this would be the worst Yankee loss of the season. Some were saying that, even if we held on, it would feel like a loss. I have to admit, if you score 12 runs, and the game is still in doubt with 1 out to go, you shouldn't brag about it.

Beltre hit a long fly ball to left field. Some of us were sure it was another grand slam.

Gardner stood on the warning track, and hauled it in. Ballgame over. Yankees win. Theeee Yankees win... barely.

WP: McCarthy (3-0). SV: Robertson (27). LP: Martinez (1-7).

*

The series with the Rangers concludes tonight. The starting pitchers are Hiroki Kuroda for the Yankees, and Colby Lewis for the Rangers.

Tomorrow is a travel day, and then comes the weekend series against the Boston Red Scum.

Meanwhile, right now, Yankee Stadium is hosting a preseason "friendly" between 2 of England's biggest soccer teams, Liverpool and Manchester City.

The Yankee Stadium Bleachers are probably the closest thing in American sports to The Kop at Liverpool's historic Anfield.

Fenway's bleachers? Considering the Fenway animals, it's more like the Stretford End at Manchester United's Old Trafford.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Yankees, Red Sox, Stephen A., Raiders, Modell, and an Arsenal Farewell

We won 7 of 8 after the All-Star Break. Now, we've lost 3 straight.

We need runs. Lots and lots of runs.

We didn't get them last night. The only runs we scored were on a pair of solo home runs by Brett Gardner (giving him a surprising 12 on the season). Gardner and Derek Jeter (who passed Carl Yastrzemski on the all-time hits list, giving him more than all living humans except Hank Aaron and Pete Rose) each got 3 hits; the rest of the Yankees, 5.

David Phelps (5-5) didn't help, giving up 4 runs in 6 innings. But it wouldn't have mattered if the entire staff gave up only 3 over the full 9: We still only scored 2 off Yu Darvish (10-6). Neftali Feliz had the save for the Rangers (his 2nd).

Rangers 4, Yankees 2.

We need a win tonight.

*

It could have been worse. Somebody forgot to tell the Red Sox that you gotta come out of the clubhouse to play the ballgame. Those pesky Toronto Blue Jays pounded them at Fenway last night, 14-1.

And, with the Red Sox playing as lousy this season as they did in 2012, as if the 2013 World Series title never happened (and, without David Ortiz's steroids, it wouldn't have), Fenway was only half-full.

What happened to "the best sports city in America"? What happened to "Boston Strong"? What happened to "our fucking city"?

I guess they only support a winner.

*

Stephen A. Smith was suspended by ESPN for his ill-suited remarks about domestic violence in the way of the Ray Rice suspension.

For one week. Or half as long as Rutgers Ray, who I used to admire, got for hitting his now-wife.

If this doesn't make sense, it's not because it wasn't enough for Stephen A., one of the best sportswriters of the last 20 years, but whose mouth has gotten him in trouble before. And it's not because it was too long for him. It's because it wasn't enough for Rice.

If a woman hits you, you can defend yourself without hitting her. There's no excuse for anything other than self-defense, like if she's coming at you with a gun or a knife.

*

There's a rumor going around that Mark Davis, son of Al Davis and now owner of the Oakland Raiders, wants to move the team to San Antonio, because of the lease and the comparative lack of luxury boxes at the Oakland Coliseum.

He does know the Alamodome isn't a better option, right? Maybe he should ask the ownership of the Houston Texans how hard it is to put a dent into the Dallas Cowboys' stranglehold on football fandom in Texas.

The San Antonio Raiders? At least they wouldn't have to change uniform colors to match another team in town, since the Spurs also wear silver and black. Although, when the Raiders first left Oakland, for Los Angeles, eventually the Kings switched from Laker purple and gold to Raider silver and black.

But why not just go back to Los Angeles? They still have a hold of the area anyway. Plus, it would screw over the San Diego Chargers, which is something Daddy Al loved to do.

*

Speaking of rotten owners who moved NFL teams, Art Modell couldn't be buried anywhere near Cleveland after he moved the original Browns to Baltimore. He's buried in suburban Baltimore County.

And a man identified only as a Browns fan has been arrested for, literally, pissing on Modell's grave. He did it, and posted a video of it on YouTube. (No, I won't link to it.)

If charges are filed (and it looks like they will be), the fan could face 2 years in jail, and a $500 fine.

Look, I understand the sentiment. But there are some things that you just don't do. He crossed the line, and I have no sympathy for him if he goes to prison for this.

*

Alex Forbes has died. You may never have heard of him, but he was a legend for one of my favorite sports teams.

Alexander Rooney Forbes was born on January 21, 1925 in Dundee, Scotland. A right half in soccer -- today, he would be a right back -- he worked in a Dundee dockyard during World War II, and played for Dundee North End. Yorkshire club Sheffield United brought him to England in 1944, and fellow Scot Archie Macaulay recommended him to his own club, North London's Arsenal, in 1948.

That allowed Alex to reach Arsenal in time to be a part of their 1948 Football League title, and he played enough matches to get a League winner's medal. He did, however, start as the Number 4 on their 1950 FA Cup winners, defeating Liverpool. He also played in the 1952 FA Cup Final, but Arsenal lost to Newcastle United. In 1953, he helped Arsenal win another League title.
Alex Forbes, wearing the lid of the FA Cup after the 1950 Final

In 1956, he suffered a knee injury, and Arsenal let him go after the season. After a season with East London's Leyton Orient and another with West London's Fulham, he retired in 1958. He represented Scotland in both soccer and ice hockey. He later moved to South Africa, taught at Yeshiva College in Johannesburg (not to be confused with Yeshiva University in New York), and won snooker tournaments there.

He was married to Peggy, and had a son Bobby and a daughter Jan. He died yesterday, at the age of 89, the last surviving member of Arsenal's 1950 FA Cup winners.

*

Days until the next Yankees-Red Sox series begins: 3, this Friday night, at 7:00 PM, at Fenway Park.

Days until the Red Bulls next play a "derby": 4, this Saturday, at 7:00 PM, home to the New England Revolution. So that's New York vs. New England in both MLB and MLS.

Days until the 2014-15 Premier League season begins: 18, on Saturday, August 16, with Arsenal at home to Southeast London club Crystal Palace.

Days until Rutgers plays football again: 30, on Thursday, August 28, at 10:00 PM (7:00 local), away to Washington State, at CenturyLink Field, home of the NFL Champion Seattle Seahawks. Just 1 month.

Days until the U.S. national soccer team plays again: 36, on Wednesday, September 3, a friendly, away to the Czech Republic in Prague. The Czechs have given the U.S. trouble before, including a 3-0 humiliation at the 2006 World Cup. But things are different now. There's also discussions about playing Ireland away later in the year.

Days until East Brunswick High School plays football again: 37 on Thursday, September 4, home to Woodbridge. A little over 5 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: 46, on Saturday, September 13, at 8:00 PM, against old enemy Penn State. Under 7 weeks.

Days until Derek Jeter's last regular-season home game (barring injury): 58, on Thursday, September 25, against the Baltimore Orioles. Under 2 months.

Days until the next North London Derby between Arsenal and Tottenham: 60, on Saturday, September 27, at the Emirates Stadium.

Days until Derek Jeter's last regular-season game (barring injury): 61, on Sunday, September 28, against the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

Days until the Devils play again: 72. They open on Thursday, October 9, away to the Philadelphia Flyers. Just 10 weeks. 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: 92, on Wednesday, October 29. Exactly 3 months, and no more Jeter -- not as an active player, anyway.

Days until the next East Brunswick vs. Old Bridge Thanksgiving game: 121, on Thursday morning, November 27, at 10:00 AM. Under 4 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 228 days. Under 8 months. Whether it will be a home game, and thus at the new Yankee Stadium, is yet to be determined.

Days until Alex Rodriguez is eligible to play for the Yankees again: 246 -- presuming, that is, that 2015's Opening Day is on April 1, and wouldn't it just work out that way, that A-Rod is again allowed to play a regular-season game for the Yankees on April Fool's Day? Anyway, that's a little over 8 months.

Days until the New York Islanders' last game at the Nassau Coliseum: 256, on April 11, 2015, at 7:00 PM, against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Under 9 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 431 days. That's a little over 14 months. Or, to put it another way, "431 Sleeps Till Brooklyn." Until then, even with their 4 straight long-ago Stanley Cups, they're just a Small Club In Hempstead.

Days until Euro 2016 begins in France: 683, on Friday, June 10. Under 2 years.

Days until the next Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: 740, on Friday, August 5, 2016. A little over 2 years.

Days until the next World Cup begins in Russia: 1,413, on Friday June 8, 2018. Under 4 years.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Yanks Cooled Off, But Teix Could Soon Return

Maybe, sometime this week, I'll do a report of Arsenal Day at Red Bull Arena. Not today.

When last I posted the result of a Yankee game, the Yanks had won 7 of 8 since the All-Star Break. Things were looking very good, with lots of nice momentum.

Aaaaaaaand it's gone. They've now lost 2 straight, at home, to those pesky Toronto Blue Jays.

On Saturday, while I was preparing for Arsenal Day, Chris Capuano made his Yankee debut. I certainly can't blame him for the Yankees losing: He went 6 innings, allowing just 2 runs on 5 hits, although he did walk 4. He left with the game tied 2-2, so if the team's job wasn't done, it was much more the offense's fault than the pitcher's.

Brian McCann hit a home run in the 4th inning (his 11th of the season), with Carlos Beltran aboard, to give the Yanks a 2-0 lead. But, yet again, Melky Cabrera hurt the Yankees, this time with a 5th-inning double that scored some guy who Met fans used to think was a better shortstop than Derek Jeter. (Jose Reyes. And he still isn't better.)

Shawn Kelley allowed a run in the 7th, before Matt Thornton settled things down. But Chase Whitley, who really should have been kept in the rotation, allowed 2 runs in the 9th, and Jeff Francis allowed another to make it 6-2.

The Yankees came back in the 9th, but it wasn't enough. Jacoby Ellsbury singled with one out, and Beltran knocked one out (his 12th homer) to make it 6-4, but that was it.

WP: Drew Hutchison (7-9). No save. LP: Kelley (1-3).

Blame the hitters. They blew it with men on 1st & 2nd in the 1st, the 5th and the 8th; and they blew it with man on 1st in the 3rd, again after the homer in the 4th, in the 6th and the 7th.

*

Shane Greene started yesterday, and didn't have good stuff. In less than 6 innings, he allowed 3 runs on 8 hits and 2 walks. Not bad, but the way the Yankees have hit most of the year, not good enough.

In the bottom of the 5th, with the Yankees down 2-0, Chase Headley and Francisco Cervelli, 2 guys the Yankees couldn't count on in the 1st half (because Headley was elsewhere and Cervelli was hurt), hit back-to-back home runs to tie it. It was Headley's first as a Yankee, and Cervelli's first of the season. The teams traded runs in the 6th, making it 3-3.

David Huff finished the 6th without further trouble for the Yankees. Dellin Betances got through the 7th, but allowed a run in the 8th before Adam Warren got out of it. But Beltran singled home Brett Gardner to forge yet another tie. It was 4-4 going to the 9th.

David Robertson got Reyes to ground out to open the inning. But Melky singled. (Look, the guy embarrassed the Giants with his PED use. He would have embarrassed us, and we didn't need that then, and we don't need that now. I am not saying we never should have gotten rid of Melky. I'm just saying that I don't like that he's hurt us with the Jays.)

D-Rob got the dangerous Jose Bautista to ground into a fielders choice. But he stole 2nd, and another ex-Yankee prospect, Dioner Navarro, singled him home. The Yanks meekly went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the 9th.

(Navarro's never quite turned into a great player, but he did make the All-Star Team with the 2008 Rays, and he's done better, thus far, than that other recent catching prospect, Jesus Montero, who's been hurt most of this season.)

Jays 5, Yanks 4. WP: Aaron Sanchez (1-0). SV: Cam Janssen (16). LP: Robertson (1-3).

*

So, with 9 weeks left in the regular season, the Yankees are 4 games behind the 1st-place Baltimore Orioles. This is not a big deal -- certainly not so big a deal that we need to start paying more attention to the Wild Card race. But we must start scoring more runs.

Good news: Mark Teixeira has taken batting and fielding practice, and it is rumored that he will be in the lineup tomorrow night. Bad news: Until he does, whenever that is, the Yankees will still be, essentially, operating with a 24-man roster. And with 13 pitchers and 9 starting hitters, that means only 2 hitters on the bench.

Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman, please take note: This is not a recommended way to run your ballclub. You should have put Teix on the Disabled List, since he'll end up having been out at least 15 days anyway; and you don't need 13 pitchers. Joe: I repeat, you do not need 13 pitchers! Put down the damn binder and let a righthanded pitcher pitch to a lefthanded hitter! If he's good enough to pitch for the New York Yankees, he's good enough to pitch to anyone!

*

Tonight, the Yankees start a weeklong roadtrip. First, 3 games in Arlington against the Texas Rangers, then Thursday is a travel day, and then a weekend series against The Scum at Scumway Park in Scumtown.

All the Texas games are scheduled to start at 8:05 PM our time (7:05 theirs). Here are the projected pitching matchups:

* Tonight: David Phelps vs. Yu Darvish.
* Tomorrow: Brandon McCarthy vs. Nick Martinez.
* Wednesday: Hiroki Kuroda vs. Colby Lewis.

Come on you... uh, Bombers? Let's do some bombing! Like the YES Network promos are saying: Go deep, in the heart of Texas!

Yankees in the Baseball Hall of Fame

Note: This list only includes players and others who had notable contributions to the Yankees, not Hall-of-Famers who were briefly Yankees like Paul Waner and Phil Niekro. And while I do count broadcasters, I'm not counting Joe Garagiola because he wasn't a Yankee broadcaster for long; nor Tony Kubek, even though he played for the Yankees, because he wasn't elected as a Yankee broadcaster.

1. Babe Ruth, elected 1936 with the first class.
2. Willie Keeler, 1939
3. Lou Gehrig, 1939
4. Clark Griffith, 1946, pitcher and first manager, nearly won 1904 Pennant
5. Jack Chesbro, 1946
6. Herb Pennock, 1948
7. Ed Barrow, 1953
8. Bill Dickey, 1954
9. Joe DiMaggio, 1955
10. Joe McCarthy, 1957
11. Miller Huggins, 1964
12. Casey Stengel, 1966
13. Red Ruffing, 1967
14. Waite Hoyt, 1969
15. Earle Combs, 1970
16. George Weiss, 1971
17. Lefty Gomez, 1972
18. Yogi Berra, 1972
19. Mickey Mantle, 1974
20. Whitey Ford, 1974
21. Bucky Harris, 1975, just 2 years as manager but won 1947 World Series
22. Bob Lemon, 1976, Yankee pitching coach then, won 1978 World Series as manager
23. Joe Sewell, 1977, only 3 years as Yankee but won 1932 World Series
24. Larry MacPhail, 1978, only 2 years as owner but modernized team, won 1947 World Series
25. Mel Allen, 1978, Ford Frick Award for broadcasters
26. Red Barber, 1978, he and Mel were the first Frick Award honorees
27. Johnny Mize, 1981
28. Enos Slaughter, 1985
29. Buck Canel, 1985, did Spanish broadcasts for both Yankees and Mets
30. Catfish Hunter, 1987
31. Tony Lazzeri, 1991
32. Reggie Jackson, 1993
33. Phil Rizzuto, 1994
34. Dave Winfield, 2001
35. Wade Boggs, 2005
36. Jerry Coleman, 2005, elected as broadcaster for Yankees and San Diego Padres
37. Goose Gossage, 2008
38. Rickey Henderson, 2009, I wouldn't count him but he keeps getting invited to Old-Timers' Day
39. Jacob Ruppert, 2013
40. Joe Torre, 2014

Yogi, Whitey, Reggie, Winfield, Boggs, Goose, Rickey and Torre are still alive -- that's 8.

How to Go to a Giants or Jets Game at the Meadowlands

With the 2014 National Football League season approaching, I decided to do my "How to Be a (team name) fan in (city name)" series for football, starting with the home teams, the New York Giants of East Rutherford and the New York Jets of East Rutherford (as the baseball Angels might call them). This is, of course, less for those of you who are Tri-State Area fans, more for those of you visiting from other cities/metropolitan areas.

I'll also be doing this for each of their 2014 away opponents too, including (should they make it) any teams they go away to in the Playoffs if I haven't already done them.

According to a map based on Facebook "Likes," showing each County in the country, until 2013, the Jets had just one County where they had more fans than the Giants: Nassau County, Long Island, long the home of their team offices and training camp, Weeb Ewbank Hall on the campus of Hofstra University, across from the Nassau Coliseum. Now, even Nassau is listed as majority Giants territory. I guess Sports Illustrated had it right in 1986, when the Giants were on their way to their 1st Super Bowl win and the Jets were also Playoff-bound: "In the Big Apple, the Jets are always second banana."

Before You Go. In New York and North Jersey, anything is possible as far as the weather goes, but there are some usuals. It can get really hot early in the season, really cold from November on out, and the biggest thing wrong with Giants Stadium, the wind, wasn't fixed even with $1.6 billion at their disposal. So be aware of that. Check the newspaper or local TV websites for the forecast before you decide what to wear.

It's the Eastern Time Zone, so you don't have to worry about fiddling with your timepieces if you actually are a Giants fan, or a Jets fan, or a fan of any of the teams in the East visiting them (Giants: Atlanta Falcons, Washington Redskins, Philadelphia Eagles; Jets: Detroit Lions, Buffalo Bills, Pittsburgh Steelers, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots). It's 1 hour ahead of the Central Time Zone (Giants: Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Dallas Cowboys; Jets: Chicago Bears), 2 hours ahead of Mountain (Giants: Arizona Cardinals; Jets: Denver Broncos), and 3 hours ahead of Pacific (Giants: San Francisco 49ers; Jets: Oakland Raiders).

Tickets. The games are usually sold out well in advance, with all 82,566 seats sold (if not actually occupied during the game). This in spite of the fact of the familiar joke that the only reason anyone goes to Jet games is that they can't get tickets to Giant games.

This may be right: In 2013, the Giants averaged 80,148 fans per home game, a near-sellout, and 2nd in the League only to the Dallas Cowboys. The Jets? "Only" 76,957, or 93 percent of capacity.

As with Giants Stadium, MetLife Stadium has 3 main decks. In the lower level, expect to pay $400 to $1,400 on the sidelines, and $219 to $332 in the end zones. In the middle level, $593 to $792 sidelines, $227 to $265 end zones. In the upper level, $128 to $443 sidelines, $123 to $233 end zones.

Getting There. For reasons that will soon become clear, I'm advising you to get to New York/New Jersey by a means other than driving: Plane, train, bus. Then get a hotel nearby (there are several near both Newark Airport and the Meadowlands Sports Complex), and then either get a rental car or take public transportation (especially the latter if you're actually staying in New York City).

If you're driving, here's how to get to MetLife Stadium by car:

* Philadelphia Eagles: Get into New Jersey and take the Turnpike North to Exit 16W, and follow the signs for the Stadium. About 1 hour and 45 minutes.

* Washington Redskins: Get on Interstate 95 North, and then follow the directions from Philadelphia. About 3 hours and 45 minutes.

* New England Patriots: It really depends on what part of New England you're starting from. From Cape Cod, Rhode Island and eastern Connecticut, take I-95 South the whole way. From northern Connecticut, western Massachusetts and Vermont, take Interstate 91 South until you reach New Haven, and then follow the preceding directions. From Boston, take Interstate 90/Massachusetts Turnpike West to Exit 9, take Interstate 84 West to Hartford, take Exit 86 onto I-91, and then follow the preceding directions. From New Hampshire, take Interstate 93 South until you get to Interstate 495, and take that until you get to the Pike, and then follow the directions from Boston. From Maine, you could take I-95 all the way, but it will probably be faster if you take it to I-495, and then follow the directions from New Hampshire. Once you get into New York City, cross over the George Washington Bridge, then get on the New Jersey Turnpike South, and take Exit 16W, and follow the signs for the stadium. The time you will need will also vary, depending on what part of New England you start from, but, from Boston, figure on at least 4 hours; northern New England, at least 5 hours.

* Buffalo Bills: The simplest way is to get on I-90, the New York State Thruway East, to Syracuse, then take Interstate 81 South to Scranton, switch to Interstate 380 South, to Interstate 80 East, then take that to Exit 53 for New Jersey Route 3, and take that to the Stadium. About 6 hours.

* Pittsburgh Steelers: Take Interstate 76, the Pennsylvania Turnpike East, to Harrisburg, then switch to Interstate 78 East for its entire length. This will get you to the New Jersey Turnpike, and then take Exit 16W, and follow the signs for the Stadium. About 6 hours.

* Detroit Lions: Take Interstate 75 South to Toledo, then I-80 East to the New Jersey Turnpike, and that to Exit 16W. About 9 hours.

* Indianapolis Colts: Take Interstate 70 East until it merges with I-76 outside Pittsburgh, and then follow the directions from there. About 10 hours and 45 minutes.

* Chicago Bears: Take Interstate 94 South to I-80 East, and take that all the way to the New Jersey Turnpike, and that to Exit 16W. About 11 hours and 45 minutes.

* Atlanta Falcons: Take Interstate 85 North until you hit I-95 in Virginia, and then follow the directions from Washington. About 13 hours.

* Miami Dolphins: Take I-95 North the whole way. About 18 hours and 30 minutes.

* Dallas Cowboys: Uh, yeah, you're flying. But if you really want to drive all the way from North Texas, take Interstate 20 East until you reach Atlanta, and then follow the directions from there. About 24 hours.

* Anybody else: Forget it, fly.

Be advised that traffic is going to be hellacious, even though you'll never actually be entering New York City. So, whatever driving time I gave you, allow yourself at least half an hour to get from Exit 16W to your parking space.

Once In the City. East Rutherford is a Borough of 8,913 people in Bergen County, New Jersey. Its most famous native is basketball announcer Dick Vitale. If not for the Meadowlands complex, which opened in 1976 with Giants Stadium and the Meadowlands Racetrack, added the arena now named the IZOD Center in 1981, and replaced the Stadium with MetLife in 2010, it might very well be best known for producing Dickie V, bay-bee! It's not like, aside from the Complex, there's anything noticeable about it.

So if you're flying in, and your hotel isn't at the Complex or by the Airport, most likely, you'll be staying in New York City -- a.k.a. The City.

Pennsylvania Station, a.k.a. Penn Station, is between 31st and 33rd Streets, between 7th and 8th Avenues. Port Authority Bus Terminal is between 40th and 42nd Streets, between 8th and 9th Avenues. They are one stop apart on the Subway's A, C and E trains. Outside Port Authority, there is a statue of Jackie Gleason dressed as bus driver Ralph Kramden on The Honeymooners, one of a series of statues commissioned by cable network TV Land.

When you get to your hotel, Penn Station or Port Authority, go to a Hudson News stand and pick up copies of The New York Times and the Daily News. Don’t read the New York Post. Like anything owned by Rupert Murdoch, it’s a bunch of right-wing lies with an occasionally good sports section added. The Times and the Daily News, however, are not only manned by responsible journalists, but have great sports sections. The Times is the face New York City likes to show the rest of the world. The Daily News is the face the City prefers to show itself. The Post is a face only a mother could love. Not my mother, though. Nor hers.

The sales tax in New York City is 8.25 percent, in New Jersey 7 percent.

The city of New Amsterdam, and the colony of New Netherland, was founded by the Dutch in 1624. In 1664, the English took over, and named both city and colony New York, for the Duke of York, brother of King Charles II. As none of Charles' many children were legitimate, when he died in 1685, that brother became King James II -- and his reign did not end well, and let's leave it at that.

New York County, a.k.a. the Borough of Manhattan, was also named for James. "Manahatta" was an Indian word meaning "island of many hills." Kings County was named for King Charles, but the Dutch name Breuckelen stuck, and it became the City, and after 1898 the Borough, of Brooklyn. Queens County, or the Borough of Queens, was named for King Charles' Portuguese wife, Catherine of Braganza. Richmond County was named for one of Charles' sons, Charles Lennox, Earl of Richmond, but the Dutch name Staaten Eylandt stuck, and it became the Borough of Staten Island. And Jonas Bronck settled the land north of Manhattan, which became known as Bronck's Land, which somehow morphed into "The Bronx." Apparently, the "The" became attached because of the Bronx River that passes through it, as rivers are still frequently called that: The Hudson is, although never "The Harlem" or "The East." Anyway, it's the Borough of The Bronx and Bronx County.

New York has been the most populous city in America since surpassing Philadelphia in the post-Revolutionary period, and now has about 8.4 million people living in the Five Boroughs. About 20 million live in the New York Metropolitan Area, a.k.a. the New York Tri-State Area.

New York has a street grid, but doesn't quite follow a centerpoint system. For the east-west numbered Streets, below Washington Square Park, Broadway is the divider between the East Side and the West Side; above Washington Square to the Harlem River, it's 5th Avenue; in The Bronx, it's Jerome Avenue, which borders the 3rd-base stands of the new Stadium.

On the East Side, the Avenues go 5th, Madison, Park (which takes the place of 4th Avenue above Union Square), Lexington, 3rd, 2nd, 1st, York, East End. Numbered Streets will reach an address of 1 at 5th, 100 at Park, 200 at 3rd, 300 at 2nd, 400 at 1st. On the Lower East Side, this extends to 500 at Avenue A, 600 at Avenue B, 700 at Avenue C and 800 at Avenue D. (A, B, C and D, hence the nickname for this neighborhood: "Alphabet City.") The Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive (FDR Drive), formerly the East River Drive and once so dangerous it was called the Falling Down Roadway, separates the island from the East River.

On the West Side, the Avenues go 6th, a.k.a. Avenue of the Americas, Lenox Avenue or Malcolm X Blvd. above Central Park; 7th, a.k.a. Fashion Avenue, or Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. above Central Park; 8th, Central Park West above 59th Street, or Frederick Douglass Blvd. above Central Park; 9th, Columbus Avenue above 59th, or Morningside Drive above 110th; 10th, Amsterdam Avenue above 59th; 11th, West End Avenue above 59th, merging with Broadway at 108th; and Riverside Drive. The West Side Highway, a.k.a. the Joe DiMaggio Highway, separates the island from the Hudson River.

The north-south numbered Avenues start with 1 at their southern ends, and the addresses go up going Uptown, but there's no set pattern (every X blocks = 100 house numbers), and the vary as to where they begin: 

Broadway, The Battery at the island's southern tip; 1st and 2nd, Houston Street (roughly, Zero Street -- and that's pronounced HOW-stin, not HEW-stin like the Texas city); 3rd, 9th Street; Lexington, 21st Street; Park, 32nd Street (Park Avenue South extends to 17th Street); Madison, 23rd Street (at Madison Square); 5th, Washington Square North (roughly, 6th Street); 6th, Franklin Street (the only numbered Avenue below Houston, so it's about -12th Street); 7th, 11th Street (7th Avenue South extends to Carmine Street, roughly at Houston or Zero); 8th, Bleecker Street (roughly 10th Street at that point); 9th, Gansevoort Street (roughly 12th Street); 10th and 11th, 13th Street; 12th, 22nd Street.

The Subway system looks complicated, and it is. The blue lines (A, C & E), orange lines (B, D & F) and red lines (1, 2 & 3) are on the West Side; the green lines (4, 5 & 6) on the East Side; the yellow lines (N, Q & R) go from the East Side when Downtown to the West Side in Midtown, and then cross over to Queens. A single ride is $2.50, and you're better off getting a multi-ride MetroCard. There will be a $1.00 charge for a new card.

Going In. If you're in the City, getting to the Meadowlands by public transportation has never been easy. It used to be that the only way to do it was to get to the Port Authority Bus Terminal at 41st Street & 8th Avenue (A, C or E train to 42nd Street), and then take the New Jersey Transit 320 bus in. This is still possible, and, theoretically, you can get from bus station to stadium gate in 20 minutes. But, as I said, the traffic will be bad.

The new option, established with the new Stadium, is by rail. You can get to Penn Station, at 32nd Street & 7th Avenue (1, 2, 3, A, C, or E train to 34th Street), and then switch to New Jersey Transit rail. Even then, you'll have to change trains at Secaucus Junction. At least then, it will only be one more stop, although why the rail spur goes around the Stadium, and not right to it, I'll never know. NJ Transit makes no sense whatsoever. But if you do it right, it should take about half an hour. Round-trip fare from New York's Penn Station is $10.50, and from Newark's Penn Station (from which you would also transfer at Secaucus Junction) it's $8.00.

The official address of the Stadium is 1 MetLife Stadium Drive. Tailgating is allowed in the Stadium parking lots. The Stadium has 5 gates, all named for corporations: Bud Light, SAP, Verizon, MetLife (an insurance company, in case you didn't know) and Pepsi. The SAP Gate is the closest one to the train station.

For Giants games, the exterior of the Stadium lights up in blue. For Jets games, it lights up in green. This is a way of finally giving the Jets and their fans, who for a quarter of a century were stuck playing "home games" at a stadium named for another team, a sense of home-field advantage.

There are large video boards at each of the four corners of the stadium. The field is artificial turf.

Food. I don't want this post to be any longer than it has to be, but the food options at MetLife are quite extensive. Whether they're appetizing is for you to decide. So here's a link.

Team History Displays. As the only stadium in the NFL that had, as they would say in soccer, "groundsharing," it was difficult to do that at Giants Stadium. The Jets would hang banners with their retired numbers on the sideline, but the Giants, who naturally (as the older team and the more successful team) did not. And neither team, thus far, hangs representations of their World Championships (the Jets only the 1, the Giants 8, more than any team except the Green Bay Packers' 13 and the Chicago Bears' 9).

But with the opening of MetLife Stadium, and the electronically-aided switching between home teams, signs can be turned out around the lip of the upper deck, showing the Giants' and Jets' Rings of Honor.

The Giants honor the following 35 individuals:

* From their 1927 NFL Champions: Founders/Owners Tim and Jack Mara, and two-way tackle Steve Owen (Number 55). Tim Mara and Owen are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. So is two-way end Ray Flaherty (1, retired); and quarterback Benny Friedman (6), who came a little bit after this and didn't stay for the next title.

* From their 1934 NFL Champions: The Mara brothers, now head coach Owen, center/linebacker Mel Hein (Number 7, retired), and running back/defensive back Ken Strong (50, retired). All of these except Jack Mara are in the Hall, as are Flaherty and two-way end Red Badgro (17).

* From their 1938 NFL Champions: Each of the preceding, running back/defensive back Alphonse "Tuffy" Leemans (4, retired), two-way end Jim Lee Howell (81). All of these except Howell and Jack Mara are in the Hall.

* From their 1944 team that lost the NFL Championship Game to the Green Bay Packers: The Mara brothers, Owen, and two-way tackle Al Blozis. Blozis' Number 32 is retired -- not because he was a great player, but because he then went into the service and was killed in action in World War II. So was another Giant from that 1944 team, two-way end Jack Lummus. Blozis, from Garfield, Bergen County, New Jersey, played 3 seasons for the Giants before being drafted, and was killed fighting the Nazis in France. Lummus only played the 1941 season for the Giants, then enlisted in the Marines, and died fighting the Japanese at Iwo Jima, from stepping on a land mine, but not before his heroics there got him the Congressional Medal of Honor, though he never knew it. Blozis and Lummus both had plaques in their memory on the center field clubhouse at the Polo Grounds, along with baseball Giants John McGraw, Christy Mathewson and Ross Youngs, former Mayor and Giants fan Jimmy Walker, and a monument for Eddie Grant, the baseball Giant killed in World War I.)

* From their 1956 NFL Champions: The Mara brothers, Howell (now head coach), quarterback Charlie Conerly (Number 42 retired), running backs Frank Gifford (Number 16 retired) and Alex Webster (29), offensive tackle Roosevelt Brown (79), defensive end Andy Robustelli (81), linebacker Sam Huff (70), and defensive back Emlen Tunnell (45). Each of these except Howell and Jack Mara is in the Hall. But two of Howell's assistant coaches are, though not for what they did with the Giants: Offensive coordinator Vince Lombardi, and defensive coordinator Tom Landry, who, after the early 1950s' switch to two-platoon football, was the first great defensive back (49), who did not also play defensive back, but retired and switched to a coaching role in time for the 1956 title, and may have made that title possible as much as anyone. Also in the Hall, but leaving the Giants before their 1956-63 glory days, was two-way tackle Arnie Weinmeister (73).

* From their 1958-63 teams that reached 5 NFL Championship Games and lost them all: Each of the preceding (Tim Mara died during that run), quarterback Y.A. Tittle (Number 14 retired), running back Joe Morrison (Number 40 retired), and defensive back Dick Lynch. All of these except Jack Mara, Morrison and Lynch are in the Hall.

* From the 1964-85 interregnum: Owner Wellington Mara, kicker Pete Gogolak (3), linebacker Brad Van Pelt (10), and punter Dave Jennings (13). Mara is in the Hall. So is quarterback Fran Tarkenton (10), who was a Giant between his two stints with the Minnesota Vikings.

* From their 1986-87 and 1990-91 Super Bowl XXI and XXV winners: Mara, general manager George Young, coach Bill Parcells, quarterback Phil Simms (Number 11 retired), tight end Mark Bavaro (89), defensive end George Martin (75), and linebackers Lawrence Taylor (56, retired), Harry Carson (53) and Carl Banks (58). Mara, Parcells, Taylor and Carson are in the Hall. Why isn't Young? Or Simms? 

* From their 2000-01 team that lost Super Bowl XXXV: Mara, co-owner Bob Tisch, running back Tiki Barber (21), receiver Amani Toomer (81), defensive end Michael Strahan (92) and linebacker Jessie Armstead (98). Mara and Strahan are in the Hall. Barber is not, despite being the all-time leading rusher in New York Tri-State Area football history (slightly ahead of Curtis Martin, who is in).

* From their 2007-08 Super Bowl XLII winners: Toomer and Strahan. Strahan is in the Hall. As yet, no player who was on their 2011-12 Super Bowl XLVI winners has been enshrined, mainly because so many of them are still active, such as quarterback Eli Manning.

The Jets honor the following 13 individuals:

* From their 1968-69 Super Bowl III winners: Coach Weeb Ewbank (a representation of a green coach's jacket stood in for a "retired number"), quarterback Joe Namath (Number 12 retired), receiver Don Maynard (13, retired), offensive lineman Winston Hill (75), defensive lineman Gerry Philbin (81) and linebacker Larry Grantham (60). Ewbank, Namath and Maynard are in the Hall of Fame. So is running back John Riggins (44), who arrived after the Super Bowl win, and played enough seasons to qualify as a "Jet in the Hall of Fame," although he's better known for his play with the Washington Redskins.

* From their 1982 team that got to the AFC Championship Game: Running back Freeman McNeil (24), receiver Wesley Walker (85), and 3 of the 4 members of the defensive line known as the New York Sack Exchange: Tackles Joe Klecko (73 retired) and Marty Lyons (93) and end Mark Gastineau (99). Tackle Abdul Salaam (74) has yet to be added.

* From the late 1980s and early 1990s: Receiver Al Toon (88). Defensive end Dennis Byrd, whose struggle to walk again led the Jets to retire his Number 90, has not yet been enshrined.

* From their 1998 team that won the AFC East and got to the AFC Championship Game, and their 2002 AFC East Champions: Running back Curtis Martin (28, retired). Receiver Wayne Chrebet has not yet been enshrined, and his Number 80 has not been officially retired, but the Jets have removed it from circulation. Parcells, the architect of this team after coaching the Giants and the New England Patriots, is in the Hall, but, as yet, enshrined only by the Giants, not the Jets.

* No players from their 2009 or '10 teams that reached the AFC Championship Games, have yet been honored.

There is no representation at MetLife Stadium for the many college stars who played at Giants Stadium, either for Rutgers, or in the now-defunct Kickoff Classic, or in the Army-Navy Games of 1989, 1993, 1997 or 2002. It was also held a few times at the Polo Grounds, the old Yankee Stadium, and, way back in 1905, at Osborne Field, then the football home of Princeton University. Nor is there a mention of the 9 games played at Giants Stadium by the U.S. soccer team, or any other national team, or the New York Cosmos. Or of the August 10, 2010 U.S. loss to Brazil, or the March 26, 2011 draw with Argentina, both at MetLife.

Stuff. On the first floor of the outer edge of the stadium, along the west sideline, is a large store, as big as most Sports Authority or Modell's outlets, that sells both Giant and Jet gear. Which includes Giants' and Jets' hard hats, which so many fans in the urban Northeast and Midwest like to wear, imagining themselves to be as tough as construction workers. Ha ha.

It does not, however, sell team DVDs or books about the teams. I can, however, make some recommendations. New York Giants: The Complete Illustrated History, by Lew Freedman and former Giants player turned broadcaster Pat Summerall (who has since died) was updated in 2012.

Jack Cavanaugh's Giants Among Men tells how, as the subtitle puts it, the 1956-63 Giants "Made New York a Football Town and Changed the NFL." (Those Giants changed the NFL in 2 significant ways: They helped move pro football into the TV era, and made defense something to cheer for the first time. In fact, the now-familiar "Dee-FENSE!" chant was invented by Giant fans at the old Yankee Stadium.) Linebacker Jim Burt and sportswriter Hank Gola told the story of the next great Giant team in Hard Nose: The Story of the 1986 Giants.

Carlo DeVito and Sam Huff wrote Wellington: The Maras, the Giants, and the City of New York, about the late owner's relationship to the team and the Tri-State Area, with significant attention to how the Giants got forced out of The City by the impending renovation of Yankee Stadium, and how the team and The City have reacted to each other ever since.

Just as Summerall assisted on the Giants' version, Joe Namath co-write New York Jets: The Complete Illustrated History, with sportswriter Mark Cannizzaro. Shortly before Parcells brought the Jets back to respectability, longtime New York Times sportswriter Gerald Eskenazi wrote Gang Green: An Irreverent Look Behind the Scenes at Thirty-Eight (Well, Thirty-Seven) Seasons of New York Jets Football Futility. And Andrew Goldstein recently published Growing Up Green: Living, Dying, and Dying Again as a Fan of the New York Jets.

NFL Films produced installments in their The Complete History of the... series for both teams, in both cases going up through the 2007 season (enabling them to include the Giants' Super Bowl XLII win). And all 4 Giant Super Bowl wins, and the Jets' even more significant 1, are all available in DVD packages.

The film Little Giants is about youth football, and has nothing to do with the Big Blue Wrecking Crew. And one (oh-so-slightly) Jet-related film you do not want to get is the 1980 version of Flash Gordon. This piece of outer-space camp cast Sam J. Jones as an updated version of the 1930s film-serial hero, now identifying himself as, "Flash Gordon, quarterback, New York Jets." (I have to admit, though, he did bear a resemblance to the Jet quarterback of that time, Richard Todd.) It not only failed to show any football action (even The Dark Knight Returns showed one play), it failed to properly ride the rise of science fiction generated by Star Trek and Star Wars, and made Flash look even more ridiculous than did the then-current TV version of Flash's long-ago contemporary, Buck Rogers.

During the Game. Although New Yorkers and New Jerseyans can be intense, a visiting fan will probably be safe attending a game at MetLife Stadium. Giant fans may harass people wearing Eagles or Cowboys gear, but if you don't provoke them, it won't get any worse than that. As for Jet fans, they'll probably leave you alone unless you're wearing Patriots gear. (Even Dolphin and Raider paraphernalia won't get under their skin.) But, again, don't provoke them, and you should be all right.

Neither the Giants nor the Jets have a mascot. The Giants do not have cheerleaders. The Jets didn't, either, until the 2007 establishment of the Jets Flight Crew, who are dressed considerably more modestly than most NFL cheerleading squads.

The teams really don't need cheerleaders. These are, after all, New Yorkers, New Jerseyans, and Connecticutians... uh, Connecticutites... uh, people from Connecticut.

As I said, it was Giant fans in 1956 that invented the "Dee-FENSE!" chant. Jet fans, however, are content to chant, "J! E! T! S! Jets! Jets! Jets!" Giant fans may wonder if that's the best that Jet fans can do, but Jet fans can say, "At least we've proven we can spell." Of course, Giant fans could come back with "'Jets' is a four-letter word."

The man who long led the J-E-T-S chants from Section 134 (an end zone) of Giants Stadium, New York fireman Edwin "Fireman Ed" Anzalone, while still attending games at MetLife, no longer does so "in character." A native of College Point, Queens, not far from the Jets' former home of Shea Stadium, he had worn a fireman's hat decorated with Jets gear, and a jersey, Number 42, in honor of former Jet running back Bruce Harper, before switching to 6 in support of beleaguered quarterback Mark Sanchez. Apparently, it was Sanchez's "Butt Fumble," on Thanksgiving Night 2012 against the arch-rival New England Patriots, that made him give up. (Oddly, while continuing to work with the FDNY, he actually lives in East Rutherford.)

As for the Giants, I previously thought that they don't have any fans who are any more noticeable than the others. But this isn't true: Joe Ruback, a.k.a. License Plate Guy, has attended every Giants home game since Giants Stadium opened in 1976, and has attended every away game since 2003, too. He first came to a Giants game with his original plate, one of the old orange New York plates with blue lettering, reading "G1ANTS." He now has a collection of 31 plates, rotating them, including a vanity plate with a Giants helmet (available from New York's DMV even though the Giants play in New Jersey), reading "XXIXX5" for their 1st 2 Super Bowl wins. (I guess someone already had "XXI XXV." Like Fireman Ed, he's no dope: He's trusted enough to be the athletic director at a school in Yonkers, and runs a design company. He's also appeared a few times on WFAN's Boomer and Carton show with Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton.

After the Game. Traffic may be even worse after the game than before. After all, those 80,000 people have tried all day to get into the parking lot, some to tailgate, some just to see the game; afterward, they all want to get out as soon as possible. (Well, maybe not all. Some fans like to do a postgame tailgate, too.) Be advised, it may take a while to get out.

Route 3 is probably your best bet for a postgame meal, as there are plenty of chain restaurants. It's a typically tacky and commercial Jersey highway. However, Manny's Cocktail Lounge, a.k.a. "Manny's of Moonachie" (that's pronounced Moo-NAH-key), made famous as a watering hole by fans of the 1980s Giants, has long since gone out of business. Its location, at 110 Moonachie Avenue, has been replaced by a Cuban-themed restaurant and banquet hall, La Havana 59.

Sidelights. This is where I discuss other sports-related sites in the metropolitan area in question, and then move on to tourist attractions that have no (or little) connection to sports. Since most people reading this will be from the Tri-State Area, I'll keep it short as possible.

Both the Giants (1925-55) and the Jets (1960-63) used to play at the Polo Grounds. So did the baseball Giants (1890-1957), the Yankees (1913-22) and the Mets (1962-63). 155th Street & 8th Avenue in Upper Manhattan. D train to 155th Street. Definitely visit in daylight only.

The original Yankee Stadium, the former home of the Yankees (1923-2008) and the Giants (1956-73), was on the south side of 161st Street at River Avenue. The new Stadium is on the north side. D or 4 train to 161st Street.

Shea Stadium, the former home of the Mets (1964-2008) and Jets (1964-83), and where the Yankees played while the old Yankee Stadium was being renovated (1974-75), was in Flushing Meadow, Queens, just to the west of the new Mets ballpark, Citi Field. 7 train to Mets-Willets Point. The Giants played 1 season there, 1975.

The Giants played half of 1973 and all of 1974 at the Yale Bowl in New Haven, Connecticut. Metro-North from Grand Central to New Haven, then walk from Union Station to Chapel Street, and take the F bus.

The current version of Madison Square Garden, home of the Knicks and Rangers since 1968, is at 32nd Street & 7th Avenue, on top of Penn Station. 1, 2, 3, A, C or E train to 34th Street-Penn Station. "The Old Garden" was at 49th Street & 8th Avenue, and is now home to an office and residential tower, Worldwide Plaza. C train to 50th Street, and the station contains a mural about the Garden.

The NBA's Nets and the NHL's Devils used to play at the Meadowlands Complex, at the building now named the IZOD Center. Now, the Nets play at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, and the Islanders will join them there for the 2015-16 season. 620 Atlantic Avenue & Flatbush Avenue. 2, 3, 4, 5, D, N or R train to Atlantic Avenue.

The Islanders will play 1 more season before moving to Brooklyn at the Nassau Coliseum. The Nets also played their best years (1971-77) there. 1255 Hempstead Turnpike in Hempstead (the mailing address is Uniondale). Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) from Penn Station to Hempstead Terminal, then transfer to N70, N71 or N72 bus.

The Devils now play at the Prudential Center in Newark. 165 Mulberry Street & Edison Place. New Jersey Transit rail from New York's Penn Station to Newark's station of the same name.

However, because of the distance involved, I'd say forget the Long Island and Connecticut places, unless you're a sports nut with an entire weekend to spare.

If you have more than 1 day (and more than a little money) to spend in and around New York, I do recommend the American Museum of Natural History (79th Street & Central Park West, C train to 81st Street), the Metropolitan Museum of Art (82nd Street & 5th Avenue, 4, 5 or 6 train to 86th Street and then walk 3 blocks west to 5th Avenue), the observation deck of the Empire State Building (34th Street & 5th Avenue, B, D, F, N, Q or R train to 34th Street-Herald Square and walk 1 block east), and the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site (the only President thus far born in The City was born at 28 East 20th Street, N or R train to 23rd Street).

However, I can't recommend the Statue of Liberty, as it's not cheap, it's time-consuming both to get there and to get through, and the view from the crown isn't what you might hope. And the new World Trade Center isn't open yet, and the 9/11 Memorial is expensive and has long lines.

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The New York Giants and the New York Jets no longer play in New York City, or even in New York State, but still represent the Big Apple after all these years. To be fair, the Meadowlands Sports Complex is only slightly farther from Midtown Manhattan than Shea Stadium was, and not that much further than Yankee Stadium. So they're still a good match for The City.

If you follow these instructions carefully, you'll be able to get in, through and out of a Giants or Jets game safely. Not without stress, to be sure, and I can't guarantee a win (I'm Uncle Mike, not Broadway Joe), but safely.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Yankees Get Another Pitcher, Beat Those Pesky Blue Jays

Before last night's game, the Yankees made another acquisition to boost their starting rotation, purchasing Chris Capuano from the Colorado Rockies.

This is not a long-term signing, as the lefthander from Springfield, Massachusetts -- Red Sox Nation, but also the hometown of early 1950s Yankee Legend Vic Raschi -- is about to turn 36. He missed all of 2008 and 2009 due to, yes, Tommy John surgery, and his career record is 74-84. He was only with the Rockies for a few days, as they signed him after he was released by his home-State Red Sox. He's made 28 appearances this season, all in relief, but he's already been slotted in as today's Yankee starter. He'll wear Number 26.

Last night, in the opener of a 3-game home series against those pesky Toronto Blue Jays, Hiroki Kuroda settled down after a rough start. The Jays scored 3 runs, on a Jose Reyes single, a Melky Cabrera single, and a Jose Bautista home run, before Kuroda could even get a 2nd out in the 1st inning. But, the rest of the way, the Jays only got 1 run on 7 hits against the Yankee pitchers -- that 1 run coming on another home by "Joey Bats." (How come we never hear about him being tested for steroids?)

In the bottom of the 2nd, Brian Roberts got an infield single with the bases loaded, to get the Yankees on the board. Then Brett Gardner hit a sacrifice fly to score another. In the 3rd, the Yankees got home runs from Carlos Beltran (his 11th of the season, solo) and, believe it or not, Ichiro Suzuki (his 1st of the year, 3 runs).

It was 6-4 Yankees after 3 innings -- and yet, that was the final score. WP: Kuroda (7-6). SV: David Robertson (26). LP: Mark Buehrle (10-7).

The series continues this afternoon, with Capuano opposed by Drew Hutchison.

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And, in a little over 6 hours, the New York Red Bulls will host a friendly (exhibition game) against Arsenal. For the first time, I will get to see my favorite soccer team play live, and it's, as they say over there, "on my manor." It'll be Thierry Henry leading Metro against the Gunners, the club with whom he made his name.

Hopefully, within the next few years, I'll have enough money to go over to London and see them play at home.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Yankees Win for the Nieces and Me

Today was a very special day. For the first time, my 7-year-old nieces watched an entire Yankee game with me.

Making it imperative that the Yankees win.

But before I get to that, I forgot to discuss last night's Yankee game.

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So after playing 14 innings against the Texas Rangers the night before, last night the Yankees only played 5. So that's 19, which comes out to 2 full and change.

David Phelps started against Yu Darvish. I was not optimistic. But Phelps was very strong over his 5 innings: One run, 5 hits, no walks.

In the bottom of the 3rd, with the Rangers up 1-0, Francisco Cervelli was on 3rd, and Brett Gardner was up. Darvish committed a balk, and that sent Cervelli home with the tying run.

Darvish must have been rattled, because he gave up a  home run to Gardner. Imagine if, before the season started, I had told you that Gardner would have more home runs than Jacoby Ellsbury. You'd have thought I was crazy. But it's true: Gardner has 10, Ellsbury 8... and Robinson Cano 7.

In the bottom of the 5th, with the Yankees still up 2-1, the rains came. The umpires waited over 2 hours before calling it. With the home team up in the bottom of the 5th, the game was official. Yankees win.

WP: Phelps (5-4). No save. LP: Darvish (9-6).


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Now, for this afternoon's game. Brandon McCarthy started, and, using the cutter that the Arizona Diamondbacks told him to stop throwing, pitched 6 very strong innings. He only allowed 1 run, and that was partly due to an error by Brian Roberts.

Chase Headley, doing very nicely since the Yankees got him a couple of days ago, singled home Gardner in the 4th. In the 5th, Cervelli doubled home Ichiro Suzuki, advanced to 3rd on a Brendan Ryan bunt, and scored on a sacrifice fly from Ellsbury.

Joe Girardi brought Adam Warren in to pitch the 7th, and he gave up a home run to J.P. Arencibia. A guy batting .133, and he hit 2 home runs in this series. Then Girardi brought in Matt Thornton to pitch to 1 lefty. It just occurred to me now that he wears Number 48, the same number as Boone Logan, Girardi's previous "Save me, lefty!" But Thornton got out of it.

My niece Rachel kept calling Girardi "Joe DiMaggio." I had to remind her that DiMaggio was a long time ago. But she was much more into the game than Ashley was. She heard the announcers mention that Girardi was wearing a wristband in connection with something that his daughter Lina was doing. Lina is the same age as my nieces, and Rachel noticeably perked up every time the cameras showed Girardi and his wristband.

Dellin Betances pitched a scoreless 8th, and then the Yankees got an insurance run when Brian McCann doubled home Carlos Beltran. David Robertson walked a batter in the 9th, but finished it off.

Yankees 4, Rangers 2. WP: McCarthy (5-10). SV: Robertson (25). LP: Colby Lewis (6-8). Happy Uncle: Me. Happy Nieces: Ashley and Rachel. And the time of the game, a very nice 2 hours and 47 minutes.

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So the Yankees have now won 6 out of 7 since the All-Star Break. They are just 2 1/2 games behind the Baltimore Orioles for 1st place in the American League Eastern Division, and they have the 2nd AL Wild Card berth -- pending the results of tonight's games. All this despite loads of injuries, including to 4 of the 5 opening week starters.

There's still quite a bit of baseball to be played, and anybody who counted the Yankees out is looking pretty silly right about now.

By the way, during the game, I saw a fan in the Stadium bleachers wearing a 2005 Arsenal home shirt -- with the O2 sponsorship.

Just over 48 hours from kickoff between Arsenal and the Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena, and the Gooners aren't merely coming to New York and New Jersey... they're HERE!

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Hours until the Arsenal-Red Bulls match at Red Bull Arena: 48. 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: 8, a week from tomorrow night, at 7:00 PM, at Fenway Park.

Days until the Red Bulls next play a "derby": 9, a week from Saturday, at 7:00 PM, home to the New England Revolution. So that's New York vs. New England in both MLB and MLS.

Days until the 2014-15 Premier League season begins: 23, on Saturday, August 16, with Arsenal at home to Southeast London club Crystal Palace. A little over 3 weeks.

Days until Rutgers plays football again: 35, on Thursday, August 28, at 10:00 PM (7:00 local), away to Washington State, at CenturyLink Field, home of the NFL Champion Seattle Seahawks. Just 5 weeks.

Days until the U.S. national soccer team plays again: 41, on Wednesday, September 3, a friendly, away to the Czech Republic in Prague. The Czechs have given the U.S. trouble before, including a 3-0 humiliation at the 2006 World Cup. But things are different now. There's also discussions about playing Ireland away later in the year.

Days until East Brunswick High School plays football again: 42, on Thursday, September 4, home to Woodbridge. Just 6 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: 51, on Saturday, September 13, at 8:00 PM, against old enemy Penn State. A little over 7 weeks.

Days until Derek Jeter's last regular-season home game (barring injury): 63, on Thursday, September 25, against the Baltimore Orioles. Exactly 9 weeks.

Days until the next North London Derby between Arsenal and Tottenham: 65, on Saturday, September 27, at the Emirates Stadium. Just over a month.

Days until Derek Jeter's last regular-season game (barring injury): 66, on Sunday, September 28, against the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

Days until the Devils play again: 77. They open on Thursday, October 9, away to the Philadelphia Flyers. Just 11 weeks. 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: 97, on Wednesday, October 29. A little over 3 months, and no more Jeter -- not as an active player, anyway.

Days until the next East Brunswick vs. Old Bridge Thanksgiving game: 126, on Thursday morning, November 27, at 10:00 AM. A little over 4 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 233 days. Under 8 months. Whether it will be a home game, and thus at the new Yankee Stadium, is yet to be determined.

Days until Alex Rodriguez is eligible to play for the Yankees again: 251 -- presuming, that is, that 2015's Opening Day is on April 1, and wouldn't it just work out that way, that A-Rod is again allowed to play a regular-season game for the Yankees on April Fool's Day? Anyway, that's a little over 8 months.

Days until the New York Islanders' last game at the Nassau Coliseum: 261, on April 11, 2015, at 7:00 PM, against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Under 9 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 436 days. That's a little over 14 months. Or, to put it another way, "436 Sleeps Till Brooklyn." Until then, even with their 4 straight long-ago Stanley Cups, they're just a Small Club In Hempstead.

Days until Euro 2016 begins in France: 688, on Friday, June 10. Under 2 years.

Days until the next Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: 745, on Friday, August 5, 2016. A little over 2 years.

Days until the next World Cup begins in Russia: 1,418, on Friday June 8, 2018. Under 4 years.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Are Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins Hall-of-Famers?

For years, the Philadelphia Phillies and their fans were lucky: They were reaching the Playoffs, largely due to having the greatest 1st baseman, the greatest 2nd baseman, and the greatest shortstop in team history, all at their peaks at the same time.

But now Ryan Howard has fallen victim to injuries that have rendered him not even ready to be a designated hitter, Chase Utley developed an old man’s knees, and Jimmy Rollins is no longer as effective as he once was.

There are other facts in the Phillies’ collapse from reaching 5 straight postseasons, including back-to-back Pennants and a World Series win, but this one is the most shocking.

It looks like this Big 3 is nearly finished, at least as regular contributors to a winning team. Is any of them worthy of Hall of Fame election?

*

Ryan Howard. He has a lifetime batting average of .267 (not good), on-base .356 (better), slugging .532 (very good), OPS+ 131 (very good). Hits, 1,259; home runs, 326; in each case, good, but not nearly enough.

He’s had only 1 season batting at least .300, but has had 6 seasons of at least 30 homers, 4 of at least 40, and topped out at 58, the most of any National League lefthanded hitter ever, and tying Jimmie Foxx of the old Athletics for the most in Philadelphia history. He had 6 seasons of at least 100 RBIs; for comparison’s sake, Mickey Mantle had just 4. Still, given that Citizens Bank Park is a hitters’ park, he should have bigger numbers, both seasonal and career.

He has 3 All-Star berths and the 2006 National League MVP, and 3 other times he has finished in the top 5 in the MVP voting. That’s not enough.

Baserunning doesn’t help him: 12 stolen bases for a career, although his 75 percent success rate (12 out of 16) is good. Nor does fielding help him: He's never won a Gold Glove.

In postseason play, he came through in the 2008 NLCS and World Series, the 2009 NLDS and NLCS (winning the MVP in the latter), and the 2010 NLDS and NLCS. But in four other postseason series, he was poor, including a World Series record 13 strikeouts in 2009.

Baseball-Reference.com’s Hall of Fame Monitor, on which 100 is a "Likely HOFer," Howard is at 98, just short. On their Hall of Fame Standards, which is more weighted toward career stats, and on which 50 is the "Average HOFer," he's at 25, well short.

B-R also has 10 “Most Similar Batters.” Howard's are Richie Sexson, Prince Fielder, Cecil Fielder, Hank Sauer, Tony Clark, Jay Buhner, Travis Hafner, Justin Morneau, Kevin Mitchell and Danny Tartabull. None of those are currently in the Hall, and nly Prince Fielder has a legitimate chance to make it.

There’s no serious evidence that "Big Piece" used performance-enhancing drugs, but he does fit the profile: From ages 25 to 31, he was one of the best sluggers in the game; since then, he’s been plagued by injuries and just hasn’t been getting it done.

*

Chase Utley. Lifetime BA .287 (good), OBP .371 (very good), SLG .493 (good), OPS+ 126 (good). Hits, 1,519; home runs, 225; in each case, decent, but not nearly enough.

He’s batted .300 twice, and has had 3 seasons of at least 30 homers, and 4 of at least 100 RBIs. Given his ballpark, there should be more.

He has 6 All-Star berths, including this season. But his highest place in the MVP voting has been 7th. Baserunning doesn’t help him much: Only 133 career steals (though with an 88 percent success rate). Fielding doesn’t help much: No Gold Gloves.

He has been inconsistent in postseason play: He was great in the NLDS in 2009, ’10 and ’11, in the NLCS in 2008, and the World Series in 2009. However, in 4 other series, he was nearly invisible. In the 2008 World Series, he only got 3 hits, but 2 were home runs, for 4 RBIs.

B-R has him at 77 on their HOF Monitor, and 33 on their HOF Standards; in both cases, well short.

His most similar batters include interesting players like Nomar Garciaparra, Carlos Guillen, and the still-active Robinson Cano, David Wright, Hanley Ramirez and Victor Martinez; but the only one of the 10 already in the Hall is Joe Gordon.

There’s no evidence that he cheated, but, as with Howard, there is a big statistical dropoff and injury tendency from age 31 onward.

*

Jimmy Rollins. Now, we’re talking about a different kind of player: J-Roll is known as a contact hitter, a good baserunner, a good fielder, and a team leader. He's more a Derek Jeter type than a big boomer, Miguel Cabrera type like Howard; or a scrappy but powerful middle infielder, Robin Yount type like Utley.

He has a lifetime BA of .268; OBP, .327; SLG, .424; OPS+, 97; hits, 2,265; home runs, 212. Aside from the career hits, none of those statistics suggests even All-Star status, let alone Hall of Fame. He’s never batted .300 in a season (only twice topping .290), has 4 20-homer seasons but only 1 reaching 30, and has never had a 100-RBI season.

He has, however, led the NL in triples 4 times and in runs scored once. He’s had 10 seasons of at least 30 doubles, and 4 of at least 40. That suggests a little power, and good baserunning. That thought is backed by his 444 career stolen bases (83 percent success), including 10 seasons of at least 30 and 4 of at least 40. However, he has only led the League in stolen bases once.

His fielding also helps him, as he’s won 4 Gold Gloves. But he’s only made 3 All-Star teams, none since 2005. He has won an MVP, in 2007, but that’s the only time he’s come close in the voting. He’s been the Phils’ sparkplug, their leader on the field and off, getting them to postseason play 5 times and nearly 2 others.

He excelled in the 2008 NLCS, and hit well in the 2011 NLDS. Other than that, he hasn’t been a positive factor, including batting .222 with just 2 RBIs in his 2 World Series (11 games).

B-R's HOF Monitor has him at 104, meaning he makes it; but their HOF Standards have him at 38, putting him well short. His 10 most similar batters provide an interesting look: 2 of them, Barry Larkin and Pee Wee Reese, are in the Hall; a 3, Alan Trammell, has some supporters for his election (including me). In each of the 4 cases (counting Rollins himself), the defense helps a lot.

Just in the last year, there has been talk of disputes between Rollins and Phillies’ manager Ryne Sandberg, and it has coincided with a statistical decline. From ages 22 to 33, he was one of the leading figures of National League baseball. After that, he’s been just another player.

My conclusion: Ryan Howard and Chase Utley are good guys, and were once great sluggers. And Jimmy Rollins was one of the most exciting players of our era. They were once winners. But, barring big-time comebacks at late ages, none is worthy of the Hall of Fame.

And that’s something I never would have expected to say as recently as 2011.

Chase Headley -- That's Who!

Yesterday, I ripped Brian Cashman for bringing in trading the promising Yangervis Solarte to the San Diego Padres for Chase Headley, a one-year wonder (2012) who strikes out too much -- essentially, a younger but slower version of Alfonso Soriano.

I titled last night's post, "Cashman Throws Away Solarte for WHO?!?"

So it took 14 innings for Headley to make me look like a fool last night.

I'll take it, if it means winning.

*

The Chase we already had, Chase Whitley, gave us 6 shutout innings against the Texas Rangers. He allowed 7 hits, but no walks, and no runs.

Matt Thornton and Adam Warren -- neither a welcome sight lately -- got us through the 7th inning, Dellin Betances through the 8th, David Robertson through the 9th.

But the Yankees didn't hit. In the first 20 innings of this series, the Yankees scored 2 runs. That's not good enough. The hits last night included a double by Derek Jeter with 1 out in the bottom of the 9th -- the 535th double of his career, surpassing Lou Gehrig to become the Yankees' all-time leader. It was also the 3,413th hit of his career, bringing him within 6 hits of Carl Yastrzemski for 8th on the all-time list, 7 of Honus Wagner for 7th, and 22 of Cap Anson for 6th.

Man on 2nd with 1 out. But after Jacoby Ellsbury was intentionally walked to set up the inning-ending double play, Carlos Beltran, regrettably, obliged, and we went to extra innings, scoreless.

Robertson pitched a perfect 10th. The Yankees went 1-2-3.

Shawn Kelley pitched a perfect 11th. Brett Gardner and then Jeter walked, but got stranded when Ellsbury grounded out.

David Huff pitched a perfect 12th. Beltran beat out an infield single to lead off, and got to 2nd on a wild pitch. Brian McCann singled him hom--

Not so fast -- literally. Beltran couldn't score, and would have been out if he'd tried.

Ichiro Suzuki tried a squeeze bunt, but Beltran couldn't score. McCann did get to 2nd. Brian Roberts was intentionally walked to set up the double play. Francisco Cervelli lined out to 3rd.

Headley came up. Somebody on Twitter said he would win the game, because he hadn't been "infected" yet. Well, not this time: He grounded into a force play to end the threat.

And then Huff, who'd been so strong in the 12th, began the 13th by giving up a home run to J.P. Arencibia. And he allowed 2 more hits.

Huff got out of it, but the Yankees still went to the bottom of the 13th losing. But Gardner led off with a double. Jeter bunted him over to 3rd. Tying run at 3rd, winning run at the plate, 1 out. Ellsbury singled Gardner home. Beltran singled. Winning run at 3rd, runner on 1st, 1 out.

McCann, who's so slow he makes molasses look like Nestlé's Quik (I think they call that stuff "NesQuik" now), grounded into a double play. We went to the 14th.

Girardi went to his last starter, Jeff Francis, who'd already been released by 2 teams this season, making (like Headley) his first Yankee appearance. There were no relievers left: Only starting pitchers. It was Francis or nobody.

Francis allowed a 2-out single, but that was it. Bottom of the 14th.

Ichiro grounded out. But Brian Roberts hit a ground-rule double down the right field line. Man on 2nd, 1 out. Cervelli singled... but Roberts, of whose good speed John Sterling had just been talking, couldn't score.

Up came Headley. Base hit to left-center. Roberts scores. Ballgame finally over! Yankees win! Theeeeeeee Yankees win!

Yankees 2, Rangers 1: WP: Francis (1-1). No save. LP: Nick Tepesch (3-6).

“When I found out (about the trade), obviously you have mixed emotions when you’ve been at a place for as long as I’ve been in San Diego,” Headley said. “But I couldn’t be happier to be a Yankee. It’s unbelievable. I can’t even believe I’m saying that. Long day, but great way to finish.”

*

Within minutes, the jokes began. Headley is "a true Yankee." Tomorrow (meaning today) this game would be on YES' Yankees Classics, and Headley's Yankeeography couldn't be far behind.

As my fellow Arsenal fans would say, If he'd done this for Tottenham, the DVD of last night's game would already be in stores.

The Yankees have now won 4 out of 5 since the All-Star Break. Optimism.

The series continues tonight. David Phelps starts for the Yankees, Yu Darvish for the Rangers.

So much for optimism.

But, hey, you never know. Obviously, since, 14 innings ago, I was ready to bail on Hedy Lamarr.

"That's Headley!"

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Girardi Throws Away Game, Cashman Throws Away Solarte for WHO?!?

I was supposed to go to last night's Yankee game. A friend won 4 tickets, but has no interest in baseball, and was willing to let me have them, provided I could give the other 3 away.

Would you believe, no takers? My brother-in-law was going to be one of them, and it would have been fairly easy for him to give the other 2. But he had to work late, so he couldn't go, and I couldn't find takers for the tickets.

And then he found out his meeting was canceled. So he, and thus I, could have gone after all.

It's just as well that we didn't go. I would have wanted Joe Girardi fired. I still might.

*

The Yankees opened a 4-game home series with the Texas Rangers last night. The Rangers have gone into an unbelievable tailspin, while the Houston Astros seem to have found their footing. Not only do the Astros no longer have the worst record in baseball, they're ahead of the Rangers in the AL West. Worst team in baseball? The Astros aren't even the worst team in Texas anymore.

Carlos Beltran opened the scoring with a sacrifice fly in the 1st inning. The Rangers tied it up in the 3rd, but Jacoby Ellsbury made it 2-1 in the 4th with a home run, his 8th of the season.

Going into the 6th inning, Shane Greene was doing well in his first Yankee Stadium start. And he got the first 2 outs. Things were looking good.

Then he allowed a single, and then a walk, and then an RBI single.

At this moment, the right thing to do would have been to get somebody warmed up in the bullpen.

The problem was, Girardi had already done that, and he pulled Greene. And brought in Matt Thornton.

Why Girardi pulled Greene, I understand. He might have been tiring. I didn't agree with the decision, but I understand it.

But Thornton? Thornton has not gotten the job done all year. Yes, the next batter up was a lefthanded hitter, but how many times did the lefty-on-lefty matchup burn Girardi when it was Boone Logan who was the lefty out of the pen?

And that next batter? Rougned Odor. No, that's not a misprint: It's pronounced "ROOG-ned OH-dore" -- not "OH-der" like a smell. He's 20 years old, a 2nd baseman from Venezuela, who until last night had 195 major league plate appearances. Any righthanded pitcher should have been able to get himself out.

But Girardi's Binder told him, "Bring in Logan Thornton, or I let general manager Brian Cashman release those embarrassing pictures of you."

Girardi brought in Thornton. Odor singled to left, bringing home the go-ahead run. Thornton allowed another RBI single to Shin-Soo Choo, before Girardi realized, "Holy cow, bringing in Thornton was a mistake. What does my Binder say now?" It said, "Bring in Adam Warren," and Warren stopped the bleeding by striking out Elvis Andrus.

But, speaking of guys named Elvis, we can't go on together with either suspicious minds or Girardi's Binder.

Rangers 4, Yankees 2. WP: Miles Mikolas (1-2 -- no, I'd never heard of him before, either.) SV: Joakim Soria (17). LP: Greene (2-1, and this loss was very much undeserved, but you can't charge a loss to the manager).

*

But as the old saying goes, it can always get worse. You know what damn fool thing Cashman did today?

He traded Yangervis Solarte! Solarte had gotten off to a great start this season, but stopped hitting, went down to the minors, and was called back up, but then Girardi traded him to the San Diego Padres before he could re-prove himself.

Who did the Yankees get from the Padres for Solarte? Chase Headley.

Who? Chase Headley? Isn't that the actress who plays Cersei Lannister on Game of Thrones? No, that's Lena Headey. Isn't Chase Headley a pitcher we already have? No, that's Chase Whitley.

Headley is 30 years old, from Colorado, a switch-hitting 3rd baseman who can also play the outfield. Until now, he's played his entire career in San Diego, since 2007. In 2012, he won a Gold Glove, and led the National League with 112 RBIs -- but talk about an outlier, his next-highest total is 64. He hit 31 home runs that year, otherwise his peak year is 13. And he strikes out more than Mickey Mantle or Reggie Jackson ever did: 73 times already this season, 142 last year.

Seriously: Cashman thought this was a good trade.

His reasoning is that Headley is a defensive upgrade on Solarte. Funny, but he wasn't all that interested in defensive upgrades when he had Eduardo NunE5!

Now, Headley is supposed to be the everyday 3rd baseman -- even though the recently-arrived Zelous Wheeler is doing the business both at bat and in the field.

What the hell is wrong with Cashman? At least with Girardi, we know what the hell is wrong with him: He's too "by the book"!

These guys may both have to go.

Anyway, good luck in San Diego, Yangervis. Chase Headley, I hope you can win games for us, but the way the manager and the GM are going, who knows.

Monday, July 21, 2014

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

“I’m in hell!” – Morgan Freeman
“Worse: You’re in Texas!” – Chris Rock
-- Nurse Betty

The Yankees start a home series with the Texas Rangers tonight, and will start a road series against them a week from tonight, in what Texas native Molly Ivins – frequently sarcastically – called The Great State.

An example of her writing: “In the Great State, you can get 5 years for murder, and 99 for pot possession.” (I once sent the late, great newspaper columnist an e-mail asking if it could be knocked down to 98 years if you didn’t inhale. Sadly, she never responded.)

Disclaimer: I have never been to the State of Texas, and thus I have no firsthand knowledge of what the ballpark is like. Nevertheless, I would like to make it easier for Yankee Fans to visit.

Before You Go. It's not just The South, it's Texas. This is the State that elected George W. Bush, Rick Perry, and Bill Clements Governor; Dick Armey, Tom DeLay, Ron Paul and Louie Gohmert to the House of Representatives; and Phil Gramm and Ted Cruz to the Senate -- and thinks the rest of the country isn't conservative enough. This is the State where, in political terms, somebody like Long Island's conservative Congressman Peter King is considered a sissy. This is a State that thinks that poor nonwhites don't matter at all, and that poor whites only matter if you can convince them that, no matter how bad their life is, they're still better than the (slur on blacks) and the (slur on Hispanics).

So if you go to Texas for this series, it would be best to avoid political discussions. And, for crying out loud, don't mention that, now over half a century ago, a liberal Democratic President was killed in Dallas. They might say JFK had it comin' 'cause he was a (N-word)-lovin' Communist.

No. I'm not kidding.  Like I said, I've never been to Texas, but I've seen enough Texans elsewhere, in actual meetings and on TV, to know that there are some of them who think like this -- and, among their own people, they will be less likely to hold back.  So don't ask them what they think.  About anything.

At any rate, before we go any further, enjoy Lewis Black's R-rated smackdown of Rick Perry and the State of Texas as a whole. Perry is so stupid and myopic, he makes Dubya look like Pat Moynihan.

Also within the realm of "It's not just The South, it's Texas," you should be prepared for hot weather. It's not just the heat that's so bad, it's the humidity. And the mosquitoes. You think it was only the heat that made the Houston Astros build the Astrodome? Sandy Koufax said, "Some of the bugs they've got down there are twin-engine jobs." And, unlike Houston (then as now), the Dallas-area team does not have a dome, or even a roof over the stands. It's hot, it's humid, it's muggy and it's buggy, and they have that shit all the time.

So, before you go, check the websites of the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (the "Startle-gram") for the weather. Regardless of what they say, bring bugspray, and remember to keep yourself hydrated.

Fortunately, despite the State's Southernness and Confederate past, you don't need a passport to visit, and you don't need to change your money.

Texas (except for the southwestern corner, with El Paso) is in the Central Time Zone, 1 hour behind New York. Adjust your timepieces accordingly.

Tickets. The Rangers averaged 38,759 fans last season, not surprising since they'd made the Playoffs 3 seasons in a row before that, after doing so only 3 times in their preceding 38 seasons. The official seating capacity at what's now known as Globe Life Park in Arlington is 48,114, boostable to over 52,000 with standing room. This season, they're averaging 35,039, which means over 13,000 tickets should be available, so getting them should not be a problem.

You know the old saying that everything is big in Texas? Count baseball ticket prices in that. Lower Infield seats, the closest seats likely to be available, go for $105. Lower Boxes, along the foul lines, are actually more expensive, at $106. Corner Boxes are $63. Lower Reserved (you could call them "bleachers") are $50. Upper Boxes are $43, Upper Reserved are $30, and Grandstand Reserved, in the upper right-field corner, are $17.

Be warned: A lot of these seats are listed as “Obstructed View.” This ballpark opened in 1994, and the plans for Camden Yards, if not the finished product, had to have been available to the designers. There is no excuse for a ballpark built after 1992 to have obstructed-view seats. Trying to look like one of the pre-World War II (or even WWI) ballparks can, after all, be taken too far.

Getting There. It is 1,551 miles from Midtown Manhattan to downtown Dallas, and 1,576 miles from Yankee Stadium to Globe Life Park. So unless you want to be cooped up for 24-30 hours, you... are... flying.

Nonstop flights from Newark, Kennedy or LaGuardia airports to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport will set you back over $1,000 (round-trip). That's a bit expensive and if that’s too much, and you want to wait until the next Yankee series – and thus order tickets after your next payday, in the hopes that your flight will be cheaper – you’re out of luck, as this is the only series the Yankees will play in Texas this season. Yet another thing that Interleague play has futzed up.

So, if it’s a choice between being cooped up or spending that much dough, what is being cooped up going to be like? Amtrak offers the Lake Shore Limited (a variation on the old New York Central Railroad’s 20th Century Limited), leaving Penn Station at 3:40 PM Eastern Time and arriving at Chicago’s Union Station at 9:45 AM Central Time. Then switch to the Texas Eagle at 1:45 PM, and arrive at Dallas’ Union Station (400 S. Houston Street at Wood Street) the following morning at 11:30. It would be $792 round-trip, and that’s with sleeping in a coach seat, before buying a room with a bed on each train.

Dallas is actually Greyhound’s hometown, or at least the location of its corporate headquarters: 205 S. Lamar Street at Commerce Street, which is also the address of their Dallas station. (The city is also the corporate HQ of American Airlines.) If you look at Greyhound buses, you’ll notice they all have Texas license plates. So how bad can the bus be?

Well, it is a lot cheaper: $486 round-trip, and advanced purchase can get it down to $437. But it won’t be much shorter. It's a 40-hour trip, and you'll have to change buses at least twice, in Richmond, Virginia (and I don't like the Richmond station) and either Atlanta or Memphis.

Oh... kay. So what about driving? As I said, over 1,500 miles. I would definitely recommend bringing a friend and sharing the driving. The fastest way from New York to Dallas is to get into New Jersey, take Interstate 78 West across the State and into Pennsylvania, then turn to Interstate 81 South, across Pennsylvania, the “panhandles” of Maryland and West Virginia, and across the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia into Tennessee, where I-81 will flow into Interstate 40. Take I-40 into Arkansas, and switch to Interstate 30 in Little Rock, taking it into the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area, a.k.a. “The Metroplex.” In Texas, I-30 is named the Tom Landry Freeway, after the legendary Dallas Cowboys coach.

Once you get across the Hudson River into New Jersey, you should be in New Jersey for about an hour, Pennsylvania for 3 hours, Maryland for 15 minutes, West Virginia for half an hour, Virginia for 5 and a half hours (more than the entire trip will be before you get to Virginia), 8 hours and 15 minutes in Tennessee, 3 hours in Arkansas, and about 3 hours and 45 minutes in Texas.

Taking 45-minute rest stops in or around (my recommendations) Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Charlottesville, Virginia; Bristol, on the Virginia/Tennessee State Line; Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee; Little Rock and Texarkana, Arkansas; and accounting for overruns there and for traffic at each end of the journey, and we’re talking 31 hours. So, leaving New York at around 10:00 on Sunday morning (thus avoiding rush-hour traffic), you should be able to reach the Metroplex at around 4:00 on Monday afternoon (again, allowing you to avoid rush-hour traffic, and giving you time to get to your hotel).

And you will be getting a hotel. Fortunately, Globe Life Park is in Arlington, midway between the downtowns of Dallas and Fort Worth. Well before either the Rangers or the Cowboys set up shop in Arlington, Six Flags Over Texas did so, as the original theme park in the Six Flags chain (opening in 1961), and so there are plenty of hotels available nearby. They’re also likely to be cheaper than the ones in downtown Dallas.

Officially, Globe Life Pallpark (formerly known as The Ballpark In Arlington, AmeriQuest Field and Rangers Ballpark) is at 1000 Ballpark Way, off Exit 29 on the Landry Freeway. It sits right between Six Flags and the new Cowboys Stadium (now named AT&T Stadium). Across Legends Way from the ballpark is a parking lot where the original home of the Rangers, Arlington Stadium, stood from 1965 to 1993. (It was a minor-league park called Turnpike Stadium before the announcement of the move of the team led to its expansion for the 1972 season.)

Once In the City. Dallas (population about 1,250,000, founded in 1856) was named after George Mifflin Dallas, a Mayor of Philadelphia and Senator from Pennsylvania who was James K. Polk's Vice President (1845-49). Fort Worth (about 800,000, founded in 1849) was named for William Jenkins Worth, a General in the War of 1812 and the Mexican-American War. And Arlington (375,000, founded in 1876) was named for the Virginia city across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., as a tribute to Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

The population of the entire Metroplex is about 6.8 million and climbing, although when you throw in Oklahoma, southern Arkansas and northern Louisiana, the total population of the Rangers' "market" is about 19 million -- a little less than the New York Tri-State Area, and soon it will surpass us.

Commerce Street divides Dallas street addresses into North and South. Beckley Avenue, across the Trinity River from downtown, appears to divide them into East and West. The sales tax in the State of Texas is 6.25 percent, in Dallas County 8.25 percent, and in Tarrant County (including Arlington and Fort Worth) 8 percent even.

Going In. Globe Life Park is 17 miles west of downtown in Dallas, and 18 miles east of downtown Fort Worth, about halfway between. Arlington is in Fort Worth's Tarrant County, not Dallas County. The official address is 1000 Ballpark Way.

Public transportation is a relatively new idea in Texas. While Dallas has built a subway and light rail system, and it has a bus service (get a Day Pass for $5.00), until recently, Arlington was the largest city in the country with no public transportation at all.

If you got a hotel near the various Arlington attractions, you're in luck: The Arlington Entertainment District Trolley goes to the area hotels and to the stadiums and theme parks. But if your hotel is in Dallas, you'll have to take Trinity Rail Express (TRE) to Centerport Station, and then transfer to bus 221, and take that to Collins & Andrew Streets. And even then, you'd have to walk over a mile down Cedarland Blvd. and Randol Mill Road to get to the ballpark. The whole thing is listed as taking an hour and 40 minutes.

But at least it's now possible to get from Dallas to a Ranger game and back without spending $50 on taxis. So how much is it? From Union Station to Centerport, each way, is $2.50. I don't know what the zones are for the bus, but a Day Pass is $5.00, meaning that getting there and back could top out at $10, which is reasonable considering the distance involved.

Parking is $15, and this includes Lot M and Lot N, on the site of the old Arlington Stadium. From Lots F, G, H, M & N, you would walk across a bridge over Mark Holtz Lake, named for the late Rangers broadcaster, to the new ballpark.

Most likely, you’ll enter at the northwest corner of the stadium, which is the home plate entrance. The ballpark faces southeast, although the structure prevents you from seeing out. It’s just as well: Although Dallas has some interesting architecture, downtown is too far away to see it from there anyway.

Various old parks were incorporated into the design. Most obvious is the old Yankee Stadium, with the frieze (that thing we Yankee Fans tend to incorrectly call a "facade") on the roof; and Tiger Stadium in Detroit, with that overhanging, support-poled upper deck in right field. The use of green as the park’s main color may be a tribute to the oldest remaining ballparks, Fenway Park in Boston and Wrigley Field in Chicago (although Fenway’s seats are red, green is the main color for the rest of the park).

The field is natural grass, and is not symmetrical. It's 332 feet to left field, 390 to left-center, 404 to "deep left center," 400 to straightaway center, 407 to the deepest part of the park in "deep right center," 377 to right center, and 325 down the right field line. The longest home run at this stadium, as you might guess, was hit by Josh Hamilton, a 485-footer in 2010.

The Center Field Sports Park is a fan interactive area located in Vandergriff Plaza. The interactive area includes a Wiffle Ball Park, Tee-Ball Cages, a Speed Pitch, a Pitching Cage, and picnic tables. Token machines are located in the park, and age restrictions apply to some activities. The Center Field Sports Park opens 2 hours prior to game time and remains open through the middle of the 7th inning during April, May, and September weekday games; and through the top of the 9th inning during June, July, and August games. The Center Field Sports Park will also close early on nights when postgame fireworks shows are scheduled.

Food. Along with the usual ballpark fare, the Rangers, going back to their early days at Arlington Stadium, were known for their nachos, as one might expect of a place with a Mexican influence, as Texas is. As one also might expect in Texas, they have barbecue stands, and lots and lots of beer, including the hometown brand, Lone Star Beer.

In Texas, you can expect Tex-Mex, and Casa De Fuego (House of Fire) is behind Section 125. They have a "Coney Island" stand, but the closest this Section 40 stand comes to being the Brooklyn seaside institution is selling chili dogs. There's a Dublin Up Irish Pub at 211, several Hot'n Chedder Sausage stands (their spelling, not mine), and at Section 24 (should be 34, to match his uniform number), Nolan Ryan's Beef Steak Sandwich. At Section 16, they have "Sausage Sundae." I don't wanna know.

Team History Displays. The Rangers, having now been around for over 40 years, have a bit of history. And while they never won a Pennant until 2010, or even qualified for postseason play until 1996, rarely (until now) have they been flat-out terrible. For the most part, they’ve been just sort of there, just another stop on a team’s schedule, and nothing to get excited about.

But they have had their moments, ranging from the sublime (the no-hitters and strikeout milestones of Nolan Ryan) to the ridiculous (sending 18-year-old Houston area native David Clyde to pitch in 1973, when he clearly wasn’t ready, and wrecking the arm of the top pick in the draft, just so they could bring in fans wanting to see a native Texan -- from the other side of the State -- pitch for the Rangers).

The Rangers have a team Hall of Fame, which is open to ticketed fans during home games, and during ballpark tours. There are currently 16 members: Pitchers Ryan, Charlie Hough, Ferguson Jenkins, and former Yankees John Wetteland and (ugh) Kenny Rogers; catchers Jim Sundberg and Ivan Rodriguez (briefly a Yankee); infielders Toby Harrah (the last active Washington Senator, and a former Yankee) and Buddy Bell; outfielders Tom Grieve, Rusty Greer and former Yankee Ruben Sierra; manager Johnny Oates (another former Yankee), broadcasters Mark Holtz and Eric Nadel, and Tom Vandergriff, longtime Mayor of Arlington (1951-77) and “the Father of the Texas Rangers.”

In 1999, Ryan was named to both the Major League Baseball All-Century Team and The Sporting News' 100 Greatest Baseball Players. He was the only player generally identified with the Rangers to receive either honor.

At the start of the 2012 season, the Rangers dedicated statues of Shannon and Cooper Stone, the father and son involved in a tragic incident the year before. All-Star Ranger left fielder Josh Hamilton saw the Stones in the stands, and tossed a ball up to them. But Shannon, a 39-year-old firefighter, bobbled it, and fell over the railing to his death. His son Cooper was just 6, and the poor kid saw the whole thing. He was wearing a HAMILTON 32 jersey. The Rangers invited Cooper and his mother Jenny to throw out the ceremonial first pitches at a Playoff game in 2011, and dedicated the statues on Opening Day, as a symbol of the bond between fathers, sons and baseball.

A highway near the ballpark is the Nolan Ryan Freeway. Keep in mind, though, that Ryan only pitched for the Rangers for 5 seasons, and while he is regarded as a Texas icon, he was from the Houston area, not the Dallas area. Oates (Number 26) and Ryan (Number 34) have had their numbers retired. Those numbers are above the skyboxes in left field. I don't know where they hang their American League Pennants (2010 and 2011) or their AL Western Division title banners (1996, 1998, 1999, 2010 and 2011).

The center-field “batter’s eye” is known as Holtz Hill, and a statue of Vandergriff stands behind Holtz Hill on a part of the Ballpark’s concourse called Vandergriff Plaza. A statue of Ryan is outside the park.

Prior to 1965, the Metroplex was home to 2 teams in the Class AA Texas League: The Dallas team had several names, including the Spurs in the 1920s and ‘30s, the Rebels in the ‘40s, and (this will shock people from the Philadelphia area) the Eagles in the ‘50s, before becoming the Dallas Rangers in 1958; while the Fort Worth team was called the Panthers in the 1900s, ‘10s and ‘20s and the Cats from 1932 onward. In 1959, the Class AAA American Association admitted both the Dallas Rangers and the Fort Worth Cats.

In 1965, Mayor Vandergriff had a 10,000-seat stadium built in his city, and it became home to a single team, the Dallas-Fort Worth Spurs, with the idea that 2 teams, both having attendance problems, would not help the region get an expansion team or a moved team at the major league level; but one team, drawing from the entire area, would. It worked, and as Bob Short announced that he would move the “new” Washington Senators to the area for the 1972 season, Turnpike Stadium was expanded to 20,000 seats, then 35,000 in time for the Rangers’ arrival, and finally to 43,000 seats in 1978.

The City Council offered to name the expanded stadium for Vandergriff, but he said it should be named for the city, and he threw out the first ball for their first game and broadcast for them for 3 years. He later served a term in Congress (elected as a Democrat, defeated by noted right-wing nut Dick Armey) and as a County Judge (elected as a Republican), and died at age 84, living just long enough to see his team play in its first World Series.

Note that the original Texas Rangers, the lawmen for whom the team (and the legendary Lone Ranger) were named, have their own Hall of Fame and Museum, in Waco. It’s 100 miles south of the Dallas area, so if you want to see that, you’ll need a car.

Stuff. The Rangers have team shops throughout the Ballpark, and also in downtown Dallas and downtown Fort Worth. The usual array of caps, jerseys, T-shirts, jackets, and baseball equipment are available. Naturally, they also sell cowboy hats and foam 10-gallon hats with the Ranger logo on them.

There are DVD retrospectives of their 2010 and '11 Pennant seasons. The Essential Games of the Texas Rangers includes 4 games: Ryan's 7th no-hitter on May 1, 1991; the team's first postseason game, Game 1 of the 1996 AL Division Series (which remained their only postseason game won until 2010); and their 2 Pennant clinchers, both in Game 6 of an ALCS, in 2010 against the Yankees and 2011 against the Detroit Tigers.

There aren't very many books about the Rangers -- indeed, if you do a search, and don't specify the baseball team, you'll probably end up with lots of books about the lawmen. Probably the best known book about the team doesn't exactly put them in a positive light: Seasons in Hell: With Billy Martin, Whitey Herzog and "The Worst Baseball Team in History" -- The 1973-1975 Texas Rangers. Mike Shropshire, who covered the Rangers first for the Star-Telegram and then the Morning News, published it in 1996, at a time when the Rangers had yet to appear in a postseason game -- although 1974, when Billy (having taken over from Herzog the year before) took them to 2nd place, should have been a fun season to cover. But when you have to go to a stadium without sun protection in Texas, the long season could be pretty rough even in the best of times.

Broadcaster Nadel published The Texas Rangers: The Authorized History after the '96 AL West title, and the Morning News staff published Believe It! Texas Rangers: 2010 American League Champions, after they finally won a Pennant.

During the Game. If you were going to a Dallas Cowboys game, I would advise you against wearing New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, and especially Washington Redskins gear. Under those circumstances, the stereotypical aggression of Texans may come into to play. However, wearing Yankee gear in Globe Life Park will almost certainly get you no more than a little verbal. And, this being a stadium, you're gonna get searched, and so is everyone else, so Texas' infamously lenient gun laws will be rendered useless. You're not going to get shot.  Even J.R. Ewing wouldn't have gotten shot.

Like its predecessor, Arlington Stadium, Globe Life Park offers no protection from the searing Texas heat. As a result, most home games are played at night. Until the ESPN Sunday Night Baseball era began, the Rangers were one of the few teams that ever played Sunday home games at night, a holdover from the era of "blue laws.

Like Arlington Stadium, it is a hitters’ park. This is particularly true to right field, where the pole is just 325 feet away, and the upper deck appears to overhang the lower one (there’s that Detroit similarity). They call their fans "Rangers Republic," as opposed to "Red Sox Nation" (or "Yankees Universe").

One good thing about the Rangers: As far as I know, they are the only MLB team that prohibits The Wave. And it's not their rule, either: It's a County law, probably instituted in the wake of that falling fan. Here's the scoreboard message:
The Rangers’ mascot is “Rangers Captain,” a horse dressed like a cowboy. On his page on the team website, Captain’s Corral, he is listed as follows: “Bats: Both. Throws: Smoke.” He has also been known to “throw down” with opposing mascots, including T.C. the Minnesota Twins’ bear, the Mariner Moose, and Junction Jack, the jackrabbit from the cross-State Houston Astros.

You know how the Yankees have "The Great City Subway Race"? And the Mets used to have the plane race? The Orioles have a Hot Dog race? The Nationals have the Presidents' Race? The Pirates have the Pierogi Race? The Brewers have the Sausage Race? The Rangers have the Dot Race.

The... wha-at? The Dot Race. It appears to have predated all of the preceding, although there seems to be some dispute as to who did it first, the Rangers or the Oakland A's. Originally, at Arlington Stadium, three dots -- red, green and blue -- would race around the scoreboard in the middle of the 6th inning. Now, they have live-action racing dots. Each fan is given a coupon that has one of the three colors. A coupon with the winning color can be taken to a Texas store to purchase... a new car! No, just kidding, not a new car. Okay, how about a steak dinner, which would certainly fit in with Texas' image? Nope. Okay, how about a free hot dog at a ballpark concession stand? Nope. You win... a bottle of the race's sponsor, Ozarka bottled water. Oh. Joy. All that money in Texas, and that's the best they can do?

It is with great regret, and some queasiness, that I report that the Rangers’ regular song to play in the 7th inning stretch after "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" is the nauseating “Cotton Eye Joe.” And in an apparent effort to make the Whatever They’re Calling Themselves This Season Angels of Anaheim’s “Rally Monkey” look mature, the Rangers have adopted the “Claw and Antlers” gesture. Utility infielder Esteban German saw a home run, and held his hands in a claw-like position. (That sounds like something to do with dexterity rather than strength.) A stolen base led German to hold his hands to his head, his fingers attempting to look like the antlers of a deer or a moose. (Now that sounds like it could represent strength, at least if it’s a moose, though a deer can be speedy.) A foam “antlers” hat soon followed, and became a big seller. ‘Scuse me while I roll my eyes.

After the Game. Dallas has a bit of a bad reputation when it comes to crime, but you’ll be pretty far from it. Not only is the ballpark not in a bad neighborhood, it’s one of those ballparks that’s not in any neighborhood. As long as you don’t make any snide remarks about the Cowboys, safety will not be an issue.

The only bars I could find that have been mentioned as catering to New Yorkers are the Cape Buffalo Grille, at 17727 Addison Road in Addison, north of Dallas, 28 miles northeast of Globe Life Park; and Humperdinks, at 6050 Greenville Avenue in north Dallas. That’s far from your base, even if your hotel is in downtown Dallas, but the former is an established home for fans of the football Giants, described by one as “a lifesaver for people from New York and New Jersey”; the latter seems to be the local home of Jet fans.

Sidelights. Despite their new rapid-rail system, Dallas is almost entirely a car-friendly, everything-else-unfriendly city. Actually, it’s not that friendly at all. It’s a city for oil companies, for banks, for insurance companies, things normal Americans tend to hate. As one Houston native once put it, “Dallas is not in Texas.” In fact, most Texans, especially people from Fort Worth (and, to a slightly lesser extent, those from Houston) seem to think of Dallas the way the rest of America thinks of New York: They hate it, and they think that it represents all that is bad about their homeland. Until, that is, they need a win. Or money.

As I said, AT&T Stadium, the new home of the Cowboys (opening in 2009), is close to Globe Life Park; in fact, it’s 7/10ths of a mile. You could walk between them. If you don’t mind losing 5 pounds of water weight in the Texas heat. The official address is 925 N. Collins Street, and the Cowboys offer tours of this Texas-sized facility, which will make the new Yankee Stadium seem sensible by comparison.

It has now hosted a Super Bowl, an NCAA Final Four (in 2014, Connecticut over Kentucky), some major prizefights and concerts (including Texas native George Strait opening the stadium with Reba McIntire, and recently holding the final show of his "farewell tour" there), and the biggest crowd ever to attend a basketball game, 108,713, at the 2010 NBA All-Star Game. While the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City hosted a larger regular-season crowd, the biggest crowd ever to see an NFL game on American soil was the first regular-season game there, the Cowboys and the Giants (Lawrence Tynes winning it for the G-Men with a last-second field goal), 105,121.

It hosts several special college football games: The annual Cotton Bowl Classic, the annual Cowboys Classic, the annual Arkansas-Texas A&M game, the Big 12 Championship, and, on January 12 of next year, it will host the first National Championship game in college football's playoff era.

Mexico's national soccer team has now played there 5 times -- the U.S. team, only once (a CONCACAF Gold Cup win over Honduras in 2013). Mexican clubs Club America and San Luis, and European giants Chelsea and Barcelona have also played there.

Don’t bother looking for the former home of the Cowboys, Texas Stadium, because "the Hole Bowl" was demolished in 2010. If you must, the address was 2401 E. Airport Freeway, in Irving. The U.S. soccer team played there once, a 1991 loss to Costa Rica.

The Cowboys’ first home, from 1960 to 1970, was the Cotton Bowl, which also hosted the Cotton Bowl game from 1937 to 2009, after which it was moved to AT&T Stadium. It also hosted some (but not all) home games of Southern Methodist University between 1932 and 2000, some games of soccer’s 1994 World Cup, and 7 U.S. soccer games, most recently a draw to Mexico in 2004.

But it’s old, opening in 1930, and the only thing that’s still held there is the annual “Red River Rivalry” game between the Universities of Texas and Oklahoma, every 1st Saturday in October, and that’s only because that’s the weekend when the Texas State Fair is held, as the stadium is in Fair Park. (Just look for the statue of "Big Tex" -- you can't miss him.) While it doesn’t seem fair that Oklahoma’s visit to play Texas should be called a “neutral site” if it’s in the State of Texas, the fact remains that each school gets half the tickets, and it’s actually slightly closer to OU’s campus in Norman, 191 miles, than it is from UT’s in Austin, 197 miles. The address is 3750 The Midway.

Next-door is the African-American Museum of Dallas. 1300 Robert B. Cullum Blvd., in the Fair Park section of south Dallas. Bus 012 or 026, or Green Line light rail to Fair Park station. Be advised that this is generally considered to be a high-crime area of Dallas.

The NBA’s Dallas Mavericks and the NHL’s Dallas Stars play at the American Airlines Center, or the AAC. Not to be confused with the American Airlines Arena in Miami (which was really confusing when the Mavs played the Heat in the 2006 and 2011 NBA Finals), it looks like a cross between a rodeo barn and an airplane hangar. 2500 Victory Avenue in the Victory Park neighborhood, north of downtown. Bus 052 or Green Line to Victory station.

Before the AAC opened in 2001, both teams played at the Reunion Arena. This building hosted the 1984 Republican Convention, where Ronald Reagan was nominated for a 2nd term as President. To New York Tri-State Area fans, it is probably best remembered as the place where Jason Arnott’s double-overtime goal won Game 6 and gave the New Jersey Devils the 2000 Stanley Cup over the defending Champion Stars. The 1986 NCAA Final Four, won by Louisville over Duke, was held there.

It was demolished in November 2009, 5 months before Texas Stadium was imploded. The arena didn’t even get to celebrate a 30th Anniversary. 777 Sports Street at Houston Viaduct, downtown, a 10-minute walk from Union Station.

The Major League Soccer club FC Dallas (formerly the Dallas Burn) play at Toyota Stadium, at 9200 World Cup Way in the suburb of Frisco. It’s 28 miles up the Dallas North Tollway from downtown, so forget about any way of getting there except driving. The U.S. soccer team has played there twice, both against Guatemala, a win and a loss.

Before there was the Texas Rangers, and before the Dallas-Fort Worth Spurs minor league team that opened Turnpike/Arlington Stadium in 1965, there were the Dallas team alternately called the Steers, the Rebels, the Eagles and the Rangers; and the Fort Worth Cats. Dallas won Texas League (Double-A) Pennants in 1926, 1929, 1941, 1946 and 1953. They played at Burnett Field, which opened in 1924, and was abandoned after the Dallas Rangers and the Fort Worth Cats merged to become the Spurs in 1965. Currently, it's a vacant lot. 1500 E. Jefferson Blvd. at Colorado Blvd. Bus 011.

The Cats won TL Pennants in 1895, 1905, 1906, 1920, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1924, 1925, 1930, 1937, 1939 and 1948. Those 6 straight Pennants in the Twenties became a pipeline of stars for the St. Louis Cardinals, and the 1930 Pennant featured Dizzy Dean and a few other future members of the Cards' 1930s "Gashouse Gang."

The Cats played at LaGrave Field, the first version of which opened in 1900, and was replaced in 1926, again after a fire in 1949, and one more time in 2002, as a new Fort Worth Cats team began play in an independent league. 301 NE 6th Street. Trinity Railway Express to Fort Worth Intermodal Transit Center, then Number 1 bus.

One more baseball-themed place in Texas that might interest a Yankee Fan: Due to his cancer treatments and liver transplant, Mickey Mantle, who lived in Dallas during the off-seasons and after his baseball career, spent the end of his life at the Baylor University Medical Center. 3501 Junius Street at Gaston Avenue. Bus 019.

Merlyn Mantle died in 2009, and while it can be presumed that Mickey's surviving sons, Danny and David, inherited his memorabilia, I don't know what happened to their house, which (I've been led to believe) was in a gated community and probably not accessible to the public anyway; so even if I could find the address, I wouldn't list it here. (For all I know, one or both sons may live there, and I've heard that one of them -- Danny, I think -- is a Tea Party flake, and even if he wasn't, the family shouldn't be disturbed just because you're a Yankee Fan and their father was one of the Yankees.)

If you truly wish to pay your respects to this baseball legend: Mickey, Merlyn, and their sons Mickey Jr. and Billy are laid to rest at Sparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery. Also buried there are Tom Landry, tennis star Maureen Connolly, oil baron H.L. Hunt, Senator John Tower, Governor and Senator W. Lee "Pappy" O'Daniel, bluesman Freddie King, actress Greer Garson and Mary Kay Cosmetics founder Mary Kay Ash. 7405 West Northwest Highway at Durham Street. Red Line to Park Lane station, then 428 Bus to the cemetery.

If there’s 2 non-sports things the average American knows about Dallas, it’s that the city is where U.S. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, and where Ewing Oil President J.R. Ewing was shot on March 21, 1980. Elm, Main and Commerce Streets merge to go over railroad tracks near Union Station, and then go under Interstate 35E, the Stemmons Freeway – that’s the “triple underpass” so often mentioned in accounts of the JFK assassination.

The former Texas School Book Depository, now named The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, is at the northwest corner of Elm & Houston Streets, while the “grassy knoll” is to the north of Elm, and the west of the Depository. Like Ford’s Theater, where Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, and the area surrounding it in Washington, the area around Dealey Plaza is, structurally speaking, all but unchanged from the time the President in question was gunned down, an oddity in Dallas, where newer construction always seems to be happening.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy was shot in Dallas and died, while John Ross Ewing Jr. was shot in Dallas and lived. Where’s the justice in that? J.R. was shot in his office at Ewing Oil’s headquarters, which, in the memorable opening sequence of Dallas, was in the real-life Renaissance Tower, at 1201 Elm Street, Dallas’ tallest building from 1974 to 1985, and in real life is the HQ for Neiman Marcus. Bank of America Plaza, on Elm at Griffith Street, is now the tallest building in Dallas, at 921 feet, although not the tallest in Texas (there’s 2 in Houston that are taller).

The real Southfork Ranch is at 3700 Hogge Drive (that’s pronounced “Hoag”) in Parker, 28 miles northeast of the city. (Again, you’ll need a car.) It’s not nearly as old as the Ewing family’s fictional history would suggest: It was built in 1970. It’s now a conference center, and like the replica of the Ponderosa Ranch that Lorne Greene had built to look like his TV home on Bonanza, it is designed to resemble the Ewing family home as seen on both the original 1978-91 series and the 2012-present revival. It is open to tours, for an admission fee of $9.50.
Dallas values bigness, but unless you count Southfork and Dealey Plaza, it isn't big on museums. The best known is the Dallas Museum of Art, downtown at 1717 N. Harwood Street at Flora Street. Nearby is the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, named for ol' H. Ross himself, at 2201 N. Field Street at Broom Street.
The Dallas area is also home to 2 major football-playing colleges: Southern Methodist University in north Dallas, which, as alma mater of Laura Bush, was chosen as the site of the George W. Bush Presidential Library (now open); and Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. The Bush Library is at 2943 SMU Blvd. & North Central Expressway, a 5-minute walk from Ownby Stadium, Moody Coliseum, and the university bookstore, which, like so many university bookstores, is a Barnes & Noble (not named for Dallas character Cliff Barnes). Blue or Red Line to Mockingbird Station.

SMU has produced players like Doak Walker, Forrest Gregg, Dandy Don Meredith, and the “Pony Express” backfield of Eric Dickerson and Craig James (both now TV-network studio analysts), while TCU has produced Slingin’ Sammy Baugh, Jim Swink and Bob Lilly. Both schools have had their highs and their lows, and following their 1987 “death penalty” (for committing recruiting violations while already on probation), and their return to play in 1989 under Gregg as coach, SMU are now what college basketball fans would call a “mid-major” school. Ironically, TCU, normally the less lucky of the schools, seriously challenged for the 2009 and 2010 National Championships, but their own “mid-major” schedule doomed them in that regard. TCU's Among G. Carter Stadium hosted the U.S. soccer team's 1988 loss to Ecuador.

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Texas is a weird place, and the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex is no exception. But it’s a pretty good area for sports, and it even seems to have finally embraced baseball as something more than something to do between football seasons.
If you can afford it, go, and help your fellow Yankee Fans make the Rangers feel like they’re in Yankee Stadium. After all, as I’ve said before, RANGERS SUCK! Especially when they wear blue shirts. Whatever the sport, whatever the country, the only Ranger in a blue shirt who doesn’t suck is the Lone Ranger! (And in the new movie, even he didn't wear a blue shirt. But then, the movie tanked, just like the last Lone Ranger movie did, in 1981.)

But remember to avoid using the oft-heard phrase “Dallas sucks.” In this case, keep the truth to yourself!