Thursday, June 30, 2016

How to Be a Yankee Fan In Chicago -- 2016 Edition

This Monday, the 4th of July, the Yankees begin a series in Chicago against the White Sox.

Hog Butcher for the World,
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation’s Freight Handler,
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the Big Shoulders:

They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I have seen your painted women under the gas lamps luring the farm boys.

And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free to kill again.

And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the faces of women and children I have seen the marks of wanton hunger.

And having answered so I turn once more to those who sneer at this my city, and I give them back the sneer and say to them:

Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.

Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the little soft cities;

Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning as a savage pitted against the wilderness,

Bareheaded, shoveling, wrecking, planning, building, breaking, rebuilding,
Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with white teeth,
Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young man laughs,
Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has never lost a battle,
Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse.
And under his ribs the heart of the people, laughing!

Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of Youth, half-naked, sweating, proud to be Hog Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.

-- Carl Sandburg, 1916.

Sandburg knew. He was right then. He is still right now. And this legendary poem "Chicago" fits the White Sox much more than it does the Cubs.

"If I was a colonel in some horrible war," said Jean Shepherd, the legendary writer and radio show host, native of Hammond, Indiana, and hard-core White Sox fan, "and I needed volunteers for a suicide mission to take an enemy pillbox, I’d call out, 'Any of you White Sox fans? Follow me!' And those White Sox fans would follow me, and we'd take that pillbox! Because White Sox fans are special. Fifty years without a Pennant? A hundred years? Doesn't matter. We're loyal."

Shepherd said that in the 1987 documentary Chicago White Sox: A Visual History. It was an elaboration of something he'd said before: "If I was going to storm a pillbox, going to sheer, utter, certain death, and the colonel said, 'Shepherd, pick six guys,' I’d pick White Sox fans, because they have known death every day of their lives, and it holds no terror for them."

White Sox fans hate the Cubs, and especially Cub fans, a lot more than Cub fans hate the White Sox and their fans. To a Cub fan, a White Sox fan is a greasy, dirty, uncouth hood who likes heavy metal and marijuana -- an image probably ingrained due to the South Side's gritty reputation and Disco Demolition Night in 1979. To a White Sox fan, a Cub fan is a prissy, effete intellectual who is willing to accept losing so long as he has his ivy and his beer -- and, occasionally, his marijuana. In other words, newspaper columnist and conservative TV news pundit George Will, who actually is a Cub fan... except for the substance abuse part.

Jean Shepherd has been dead for a few years, but I'll bet he didn't like George Will. Will is still alive, and I'll bet he was never a Jean Shepherd fan, either. Shep had too much imagination for the likes of Will.

Before You Go. This series will be played in early July. So ignore all the stories you've heard about Chicago being cold: You're going to The Cell to see the Yankees play the White Sox, not to Soldier Field to see the Giants or Jets play the Bears. More likely than not, it's going to be hot, with no cold blast of air coming in off Lake Michigan producing "Bear Weather."

The Chicago Tribune is predicting temperatures to be in the high 80s during daylight, and the low 70s at night. In the immortal words of Paris Hilton, "That's hot." They're also predicting rain for Wednesday, which could present problems. The Chicago Sun-Times backs up its rivals' temperature predictions, but is more optimistic about the chance of rain.

Wait until you cross into Illinois to change your clocks. Indiana used to be 1 of 2 States, Arizona being the other, where Daylight Savings Time was an issue; however, since 2006 -- 4 years after a West Wing episode lampooned this -- the State has used it throughout. Once you cross into Illinois, you'll be moving from Eastern to Central Daylight Time.

Tickets. In spite of the White Sox normally being the better team on the field, the Cubs have had the better attendance. This season, the Cubs are averaging 38,842 for home games, the White Sox just 21,247.

In fact, the Cubs have had a higher attendance than the White Sox every season from 1994 onward, even though the Sox were then in a very good period and have actually won a Pennant and a World Series since: Even in their title season of 2005, the Sox trailed the Cubs in per-game attendance, 24,437 to 39,138. The Sox’ record is 36,511 in 2007, and the Cubs had 39,040 the same year.

I think the Cub/Sox divide -- that is, the Sox fans hate the Cubs and their fans more than the Cub fans hate the Sox and their fans -- is partly due to the Cub-Cardinal rivalry. Cub fans have someone they hate more than they hate the White Sox. The move of the Milwaukee Brewers, considerably closer to Chicago than St. Louis is, to the National League has killed the Sox-Brewers rivalry, which was never all that strong, but neither has it made Cub fans hate the Brewers all that much. In contrast, Brewers fans have grown to hate Cub fans, mainly because they were probably already sick of hearing about Cub fans, Wrigley Field and Harry Caray on "Superstation" WGN.  (This may also be spillover from Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers, although it's been a while since Chicago Bulls vs. Milwaukee Bucks, or even DePaul vs. Marquette, has meant much.)

Hopefully, the White Sox' 2005-present resurgence, under (now former) manager Ozzie Guillen and general manager Kenny Williams will help them build rivalries with AL Central opponents Detroit, Cleveland and Minnesota, and they can have better attendance as a result of both the winning and the rivalries.

But, for now, getting tickets for a White Sox game shouldn't be difficult: Essentially, you can get any seat you can afford. And their games are considerably cheaper than those of the Cubs across town: Gold Boxes will cost $79, Lower Boxes $55, Outfield Reserved $35, Upper Boxes $33, Lower Corners $20, Upper Reserved $10, Upper Corners a mere $5 (perhaps the cheapest seats in the majors), and Bleachers $33. For whatever reason (the Sox' website doesn't explain it), all of these prices will drop dramatically for the Sunday afternoon game.

Getting There. Chicago is 789 land miles from New York. Knowing this, your first reaction is going to be to fly out there.

Unlike some other Midwestern cities, this is a good idea if you can afford it. If you buy tickets online, you can get them for under $400 round-trip. O'Hare International Airport (named for Lt. Cmdr. Edward "Butch" O'Hare, the U.S. Navy's 1st flying ace who was nevertheless shot down over the Pacific in World War II), at the northwestern edge of the city, is United Airlines' headquarters, so nearly every flight they have from the New York area’s airports to there is nonstop, so it’ll be 3 hours, tarmac to tarmac, and about 2 hours going back.

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) Blue Line train will take you from O'Hare to the downtown elevated (or "L") tracks that run in "The Loop" (the borders of which are Randolph, Wells, Van Buren and Wabash Streets) in 45 minutes. From Midway Airport, the Orange Line train can get you to the Loop. Both should take about 45 minutes.

Bus? Greyhound's run between the 2 cities, launched 5 times per day, is relatively easy, but long, averaging about 18 hours, and is $20 round-trip -- but can drop to as low as $150 on Advanced Purchase. Only 1 of the 5 runs goes straight there without requiring you to change buses: The one leaving Port Authority Bus Terminal at 10:15 PM (Eastern) and arriving at Chicago at 2:30 PM (Central). This includes half-hour rest stops at Milesburg, Pennsylvania and Elkhart, Indiana, and an hour-and-a-half stopover in Cleveland.

The station is at 630 W. Harrison Street at Des Plaines Street. (If you’ve seen one of my favorite movies, Midnight Run, this is a new station, not the one seen in that 1988 film.) The closest CTA stop is Clinton on the Blue Line, around the corner, underneath the elevated Dwight D. Eisenhower Expressway.
The new Greyhound Station. It looks small
(especially under the Sears/Willis Tower), but it's very efficient.

Train? Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited (known as the Twentieth Century Limited when the old New York Central Railroad ran it from Grand Central Terminal to Chicago's LaSalle Street Station) leaves New York's Penn Station at 3:40 every afternoon, and arrives at Union Station at 225 South Canal Street at Adams Street in Chicago at 9:45 every morning. Going back, it leaves at 9:30 every evening and arrives back in New York at 6:23 PM the next day. It’s $309 round-trip.
The closest CTA stop is Quincy/Wells, in the Loop, but that's 6 blocks away – counting the Chicago River as a block; Union Station is, literally, out of the Loop.
If you do decide to walk from Union Station to the Loop, don't look up at the big black thing you pass. That' the Willis Tower, formerly known as the Sears Tower, which, until the new World Trade Center was topped off, was the tallest building in North America, which it had officially been since it opened in 1974. If there's one thing being in New York should have taught you, it's this: "Don’t look up at the tall buildings, or you'll look like a tourist."

But since you'e come all this way, it makes sense to get a hotel, so take a cab from Union Station or Greyhound to the hotel – unless you're flying in, in which case you can take the CTA train to within a block of a good hotel. There are also hotels near the airports.

If you decide to drive, it's far enough that it will help to get someone to go with you and split the duties, and to trade off driving and sleeping. The directions are rather simple, down to (quite literally) the last mile. You'll need to get into New Jersey, and take Interstate 80 West. You'll be on I-80 for the vast majority of the trip, through New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Ohio. In Ohio, in the western suburbs of Cleveland, I-80 will merge with Interstate 90. From this point onward, you won’t need to think about I-80 until you head home; I-90 is now the key.

If you were going directly to U.S. Cellular Field (not a good idea, as you should go to your hotel first), you'd take Exit 55A for 35th Street, merge onto LaSalle Street, and turn left on 35th Street. The ballpark is bounded by 35th Street (3rd base), Shields Avenue/Bill Veeck Drive and the Amtrak/Metra tracks (1st base), 37th Street (right field) and Wentworth Avenue (left field).

If you do it right, you should spend about an hour and a half in New Jersey, 5 hours and 15 minutes in Pennsylvania, 4 hours in Ohio, 2 hours and 30 minutes in Indiana, and half an hour in Illinois before you reach the exit for your hotel. That's 13 hours and 45 minutes. Counting rest stops, preferably halfway through Pennsylvania and just after you enter both Ohio and Indiana, and accounting for traffic in both New York and Chicago, it should be no more than 18 hours, which would save you time on both Greyhound and Amtrak, if not on flying.

Once In the City. A derivation of a Native American name, "Chikagu" was translated as "Place of the onion," as there were onion fields there before there was a white settlement. Some have suggested the translation is a little off, that it should be "Place of the skunk." Others have said, either way, it means "Place of the big stink."

Founded in 1831, so by Northeastern standards it's a young city, Chicago's long-ago nickname of "the Second City" is no longer true, as its population has dropped, and Los Angeles' has risen, to the point where L.A. has passed it, and Chicago is now the 3rd-largest city in America. But, at 2.7 million within the city limits, and just under 10 million in the metropolitan area, it's still a huge city. And its legendary crime problem is still there, so whatever precautions you take when you're in New York, take them in Chicago as well.

The "Loop" is the connected part of the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA)'s elevated railway (sometimes written as "El" or "L") downtown: Over Wells Street on the west, Van Buren Street on the south, Wabash Street on the east and State Street on the north. Inside the Loop, the east-west streets are Lake, Randolph, Washington, Madison, Monroe, Adams, Jackson and Van Buren; the north-south streets are Wells, LaSalle (Chicago's "Wall Street"), Clark, Dearborn, State and Wabash.

The city's street-address centerpoint is in the Loop, at State & Madison Streets. Madison separates North from South, while State separates East from West. The street grid is laid out so that every 800 on the house numbers is roughly 1 mile. As U.S. Cellular Field is at 333 West 35th Street, and on the 3500 block of South Shields Avenue, now you know it's a little less than a mile west of State, and 4 1/2 miles south of Madison.

The CTA's rapid-rail system is both underground (subway) and above-ground (elevated or "El"), although the El is better-known, standing as a Chicago icon alongside the Sears Tower, Wrigley Field, Michael Jordan, deep-dish pizza, and less savory things like municipal corruption, Mrs. O'Leary's cow and Al Capone. The single-ride fare is $2.25, a 1-day pass is $10, a 3-day pass (if you're going for an entire series) is $20, and a 7-day pass is $28.
(By the way, the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 was more likely the result of Mr. O'Leary hosting a poker game in his barn, in which he, or one of his friends, dropped cigar ash onto hay, rather than Mrs. O'Leary's cow, knocking a lantern, onto some hay.)

I was actually in Chicago on the day they switched from tokens to farecards: June 1, 1999. It took me by surprised, as I had saved 10 tokens from my previous visit. I was able to use them all, because I'd gotten there 2 days before.

Illinois' State sales tax is 6.25 percent, but in the City of Chicago it's 9.25 percent -- higher than New York's. So don't be shocked when you see prices: Like New York, Boston and Washington, Chicago is an expensive city.

ZIP Codes in the Chicago area start with the digits 60. The Area Code is 312, with 708 and 847 in the suburbs.

Going In. To get to "The Cell" (or "The Phone Booth") from downtown, take the Red Line train to "Sox-35th." It’s about a 12-minute ride, making it twice as fast as from Midtown Manhattan to Yankee Stadium, 3 times as fast as from Midtown Manhattan to Citi Field.
UPDATE: On November 1, 2016, the naming rights to this stadium were sold to a Chicago-based mortgage company, and it became Guaranteed Rate Field. No more "The Cell," it's "The Rate" or "G-Rate." Yeah, I know, not the best thing to do when the Cubs have just won the World Series.

The area around the park, part of the Bridgeport neighborhood of the South Side, isn't as bad as it was in the 1960s, '70s, '80s and early '90s. It was in 1973 that Jim Croce, in "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown," called the South Side "the baddest part of town." But things have improved significantly. Nevertheless, take the L, and leave the car at the hotel -- not just because of the safety issue, but because it's just more convenient to train it. If you do insist upon driving, parking costs $25.

The official address is 333 W. 35th Street. (Comiskey's was 324 W. 35th.) You’ll be most likely to enter by the home plate gate at 35th & Shields. Unlike Wrigley Field, the park is not surrounded by bars, famous or otherwise. Unfortunately, McCuddy's Tavern, the legendary saloon that was on the site, across from Comiskey Park, did not, as was promised to its owners, get rebuilt across the street. Instead, the site of old Comiskey is just a parking lot for the new one.

Prior to a refit in time for the 2003 All-Star Game, new Comiskey looked a lot like the 1976-2008 edition of Yankee Stadium, with 2 decks of blue seats wrapping from the left field pole around home plate to the right field pole, with a white wall bracketing the outfield bleachers. But complaints about the place being a "Mallpark" -- especially after Camden Yards in Baltimore opened just 1 year later, making the White Sox' new home almost instantly obsolete -- led to some changes, including new green seats, more bleacher seats, removing the top couple of rows in the upper deck and replacing them with a slightly overhanging roof, and better concession stands. It does look better -- if a bit less like the park where I (and many of you) grew up.
The ballpark faces southeast, away from downtown and the city's skyscrapers. Its predecessor had faced northeast, and the Sears Tower could be seen over the left field upper deck. The outfield distances are 330 feet to left, 335 to right, 375 to the power alleys and 400 to center -- much more of a hitters' park than old Comiskey was, but still not heavily favoring hitters. And the field is immaculate, as it usually was at old Comiskey, although that one was occasionally "tailored" for the home team. Capacity is officially 40,615.

Joe Borchard, with the White Sox in 2004, hit the longest home run, 504 feet. The longest at the old Comiskey Park? It's hard to say with any certainty. A few balls were hit over its roof. Jimmie Foxx, Mickey Mantle and Dick Allen cleared it in left field, and Ted Williams did it to right. These would have to be 525-foot shots, at least; Mickey's drive, in 1955, has been suggested as having been about 550.

Like its predecessor, U.S. Cellular Field has an "exploding scoreboard" that lights up, and shoots off fireworks, for a White Sox home run or a White Sox win. It's not a replica of either of the first two boards -- the original exploding scoreboard, at the old Comiskey, lasted from 1960 to 1982 and was replaced in time for the 1983 All-Star Game -- but it upholds the tradition. Legend has it that, upset by the "unprofessionalism" of the original 1960 board, Casey Stengel brought sparklers into the Yankee dugout, and when a Yankee homered, he had the sparklers lit, and the Yankees jumped up and down in the dugout in mock celebration.

Also like its predecessor, which Bill Veeck had installed upon his return in 1976, there's a shower in the bleachers. The Chicagoland Plumbing Council Shower isn't there (at least, not necessarily) because White Sox fans stink, but to allow them to cool off on hot days.

The park has had movie scenes filmed in it for Rookie of the Year, Major League II, Little Big League, My Best Friend's Wedding and The Ladies Man. With Rookie of the Year filming in Chicago because its featured team was the Cubs, U.S. Cellular Field stood in for Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, which is ironic, since, due to its proximity to Hollywood, Dodger Stadium has stood in for many other ballparks.

The ballpark has hosted no other sporting events, and rarely hosts concerts, the 1st being by the Rolling Stones in 2002.

Food. As one of America's greatest food cities, in Big Ten Country where tailgate parties are practically a sacrament, you would expect the Chicago ballparks to have lots of good options. The Cubs are rather disappointing in this regard.

The White Sox? In fact, there may be no team with better food options than the Pale Hose. Hot dogs. Sausages. Sandwiches. Pizza. Ethnic varieties. Ice cream. And so much beer, you'll think you missed your exit and ended up in Milwaukee. Bill Veeck used to call the old Comiskey "the world's largest saloon," and the new park reflects this, even if it's not as dark and foreboding in the corridors. (The old one could have used better lighting, but, aside from that and being in poor condition when I visited, I loved it.)

There's no equivalent to Boog's Barbecue at Camden Yards, where a team legend actually tends to the stand. But all over the park are stands, with hot dogs, bratwurst, Polish sausage and pizza, named for White Sox legends: Eddie Collins, Chico Carrasquel, Early Wynn, Nellie Fox, Jim Landis, Sherm Lollar, Al Lopez, Bill Melton, Dick Allen, Tony LaRussa, Ed Farmer, Ron Kittle, and, yes, Chicago native Greg Luzinski -- but if you want to see "the Bull" dishing out barbecue, you'll have to go to Philadelphia, where he made his baseball name.

The ChiSox also have funnel cake stands at Sections 108, 155 & 533, and, in honor of their 1983 Division Champions, "Winning Ugly is Sweet Ice Cream" at Section 145.
According to a recent Thrillist article on the best thing to eat at each of Major League Baseball's 30 active ballparks, the best thing to eat at U.S. Cellular Field is not corn on the cob, but corn off the cob: A bowl of corn cut fresh of the cob, and loaded with toppings that can include chili, salt, butter and mayonnaise. Apparently, when the vendor asks what topping you want, you're supposed to say, "All of them." This is available at stands at Sections 104, 127, 142 and 529.

Team History Displays. The Sox have notations honoring their Pennants (1901, 1906, 1917, 1919, 1959 and 2005) on the outfield light towers. The Sox also won Division titles in 1983 and 1993 in the old American League Western Division, and since moving to the AL Central in 1994 they've won them in 2000, 2005 and 2008 (and were in 1st place in 1994 when the strike began, thus ending the season with them leading, though MLB doesn't recognize this as a division title). All their postseason berths have been by finishing first, no Wild Cards. (They also had close calls for the Pennant in 1908, 1920, 1964 and 1967, and for the AL West in 1972 and 1977.)
They have statues honoring some of their all-time greats: Founding owner Charlie Comiskey and the 1950s double-play combination of Luis Aparicio and Nellie Fox, behind Section 100 on the right side of center field; 1950s legends, left fielder Orestes "Minnie" Minoso and pitcher Billy Pierce, and 1980s catcher (also Red Sox legend) Carlton Fisk, behind Section 164 on the left side of center field; 1980s outfielder Harold Baines, behind Section 105 in right field; and 1990s first baseman Frank "Big Hurt" Thomas and 2000s 1st baseman Paul Konerko, behind Section 160 in left field.
The Aparicio and Fox statues

There are 2 blue seats in the outfield: One in Section 159 in left, where Konerko's grand slam landed in Game 2 of the 2005 World Series; and one in Section 101 in right, where Scott Podsednik's walkoff homer landed in the same game. Twice in 2008, Jim Thome hit homers onto the center field Fan Deck, the only times it's been done, and a plaque marks the location of the 1st; the 2nd provided the only run in a Playoff for the American League Central Division title.

Outside Gate 4 is Champions Plaza, a display honoring the team's 2005 World Championship (the only one won by either Chicago baseball team since World War I), featuring images (strictly speaking, not "statues") of Konerko; 3rd baseman Joe Crede, who homered in Games 1 and 3; 2nd baseman Geoff Blum, whose 14th-inning homer won Game 3, tied for the longest game in World Series history; shortstop Juan Uribe, who fielded an Orlando Palmeiro grounder for the clinching out; and our old friend Orlando Hernandez (though I'm not sure why they chose El Duque, as his role in the 2005 postseason was not especially notable). Why left fielder Podsednik, whose Game 2 homer is the only World Series walkoff ever hit by a Chicago player, is not included, I don't know.
The team's retired numbers are depicted on the right field club-seats section: Number 2, Fox; 3, Baines; 4, 1930s-40s shortstop Luke Appling; 9, Minoso; 11, Aparicio; 14, Konerko; 16, 1920s-30s pitcher Ted Lyons; 19, Pierce; 35, Thomas; and 72, Fisk. Also there is Jackie Robinson's universally-retired Number 42.
In addition, no uniformed personnel have worn 6 since the death of hitting instructor Charley Lau in 1984, except for one of his proteges, later hitting instructor Walt Hriniak. And no one has worn 56 since Mark Buehrle left via free agency. However, neither of these numbers has been officially retired.

There is a Chicago White Sox Hall of Fame located somewhere in the park, and "Shoeless Joe" Jackson, the most famous of the "Eight Men Out" who supposedly threw the 1919 World Series to the Cincinnati Reds, though banned from the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, is honored by the White Sox Hall of Fame. So is Bill Veeck, who owned the White Sox twice: 1959-61, selling them because he was sick, and misdiagnosed and thought he was dying; and again 1975-81, selling them because he couldn't keep up with the rising costs, saying, "It's not the high price of talent that bothers me, it's the high price of mediocrity."

I can't find a full list of members, but, aside from those already mentioned, the following players are in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, and were also White Sox for at least a significant portion of their careers: 1900s shortstop George Davis, 1900s pitcher Ed Walsh, 1910s-20s 2nd baseman Eddie Collins (better known for his time with the Philadelphia Athletics), 1910s-20s catcher Ray Schalk, 1920s outfielder Harry Hooper (better known for his time with the Boston Red Sox), 1920s pitcher Red Faber, 1960s pitcher Hoyt Wilhelm (better known for his time with  other teams), and, while we're talking about someone better known for playing with another team, 1972-76 pitcher Rich "Goose" Gossage.

Co-owner Jerry Reinsdorf has been elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame, since he also owns the NBA's Chicago Bulls, and thus has half-ownership of the United Center, along with Rocky Wirtz, owner of the NHL's Chicago Blackhawks.

When the 1st All-Star Game was held at Comiskey Park in 1933, 2 White Sox players were chosen, but both were better-known as Philadelphia Athletics: Left fielder Al Simmons and 3rd baseman Jimmy Dykes. Walsh, Jackson, Collins and Wynn were named to The Sporting News' 100 Greatest Players in 1999. The fact that the White Sox have have only 1 player on that list who played for them after the Roaring Twenties is very telling. In 2006, White Sox fans chose Frank Thomas in a poll conducted for DHL's Hometown Heroes contest.

Stuff. Chicago Sports Depot stores are located on the first level of the park, behind home plate and at each outfield corner. The usual items that can be found at a souvenir store can be found there.

Chicago is a great literary city, and while the Cubs have been seen as the more romantic team, there have been a lot of good books about the White Sox:

Who's On 3rd? The Chicago White Sox Story, Richard Lindberg's tale that takes them from their 1901 founding up to the 1984 season.

When Chicago Ruled Baseball: The Cubs-White Sox World Series of 1906, a 100th Anniversary tribute by Bernard A. Weisberger -- even in a Series where they beat the Cubs, the Sox don't get top billing!

Eight Men Out: The Black Sox and the 1919 World Series, the definitive book on the greatest of all baseball scandals, by Eliot Asinof. It was made into the great 1988 film Eight Men Out, with John Sayles directing and playing legendary sportswriter Ring Lardner, the late Chicago icon Studs Terkel as Ring's colleague Hugh Fullerton, D.B. Sweeney as Shoeless Joe, and Chicago native John Cusack as the greatest victim of the scandal, 3rd baseman Buck Weaver. (When Ken Burns made his Baseball miniseries, he kind of gave both Chicago teams short shrift, but he interviewed Sayles and Terkel, and, reading accounts of the Series, Terkel and Cusack reprised their roles.)

Minnie and the Mick: The Go-Go White Sox Challenge the Fabled Yankee Dynasty, 1951 to 1964, Bob Vanderberg's tale of growing up in Chicago in the Eisenhower and Kennedy years, with the irony of Minnie Minoso being away from the Sox for their one Pennant from 1919 to 2005, before returning. (Minoso returned by 1964, when the Yanks beat the Sox out for the Pennant by one game.)

Go-Go to Glory: The 1959 Chicago White Sox, a 50th Anniversary tribute by Bill Nowlin.

* South Side Hitmen: The Story of the 1977 Chicago White Sox, by Dan Helpingstine and Leo Bauby, about the first White Sox team I can remember and one that, for a brief time, made the Pale Hose cooler than the Cubbies.

Stealing First in a Two-team Town: The White Sox from Comiskey to Reinsdorf, the aforementioned Richard Lindberg updating the story through the Sox' 1993 Division title.

Sox and the City: A Fan's Love Affair with the White Sox from the Heartbreak of '67 to the Wizards of Oz, by Chicago Sun-Times film critic Richard Roeper, going up to the 2005 title.

Available DVDs include White Sox Memories: The Greatest Moments in Chicago White Sox History, and the official 2005 World Series highlight film package. This is the only World Series the South Siders have won since official WS highlight films have been made.

During the Game. A recent Thrillist article on "Baseball's Most Intolerable Fans" ranked White Sox fans 9th, 5 places behind the Yankees, 1 behind the Mets, and 2 behind their crosstown rivals, saying...

It’d be a shame to paint White Sox fans with a broad brush as unruly hooligans who start
game-canceling riots and occasionally rough up elderly first-base coaches -- even though, you know, both of those have 100% happened. 

White Sox fans can get a bit rough, and they do like to drink. However, if you don't antagonize them, they will probably give you no worse than a bit of verbal.

The Monday game, on the 4th of July, will feature REO Speedwagon singing the National Anthem. Tuesday night will be Grateful Dead Tribute Night, which will include giving away White Sox-themed Grateful Dead T-shirts, man. (Hopefully, the White Sox will watch their speed, and the Yankees won't need a miracle.)

The team is wearing sleeve patches in memory of Eddie Einhorn, the Paterson, New Jersey native who co-owned the White Sox with Jerry Reinsdorf (collectively, they were known as the Reinhorn Twins), and who died this past February at age 80.

The White Sox have a mascot, a big furry green Phillie Phanatic-like thing called Southpaw, a reference to the team playing on the South Side. Their 1980s mascots, Ribbie and Rhubarb, are long gone.
Southpaw, macking Mrs. Met at the 2013 All-Star Game at Citi Field.
She might've liked his resemblance to the Phillie Phanatic.
You know what they say: Once you go green, you never leave that scene.

The White Sox hold auditions for National Anthem singers, instead of having a regular. They have a theme song, "Go-Go White Sox," which is what their 1959 Pennant winners were called, and it's a pretty rousing number, certainly with better lyrics than either "Here Come the Yankees" or "Meet the Mets."

Gene Honda is the Sox' public address announcer. He fills the same function for the Blackhawks and the DePaul University basketball team. The White Sox, led by organist Nancy Faust (who retired after the 2010 season), were the first team to use the 1969 Steam chart-topper "Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye)" to serenade a pitcher getting knocked out of the game. Lori Moreland has succeeded Faust as the organist. And if they win, they will play, appropriate for the South Side, the Blues Brothers' version of the blues standard "Sweet Home Chicago."

After the Game. The neighborhood should be safe after a day game, but after a night game, with all that extra time to drink, it can get a little dodgy. As I said, leave the opposing fans alone, and they'll probably leave you alone.

If you want to be around other New Yorkers, I found listings of 4 Chicago bars where New York Giants fans gather: Red Ivy, just south of Wrigley at 3519 N. Clark Street at Eddy Street; The Bad Dog Tavern, 4535 N. Lincoln Avenue at Wilson Avenue (Brown Line to Western); Racine Plumbing Bar and Grill, 2642 N. Lincoln Avenue at Kenmore; and Trinity, at 2721 N. Halsted Street at Diversey Parkway (Brown or Purple Line to Diversey for either Racine or Trinity).

And I found these 3 which show Jets games: Rebel Bar & Grill, also just south of Wrigley at 3462 N. Clark at Cornelia Avenue; Butch McGuire's, 20 W. Division Street at Dearborn Street (Red Line to Clark/Division); and Wabash Tap, at 1233 S. Wabash Avenue, at 12th Street. Red Line to Roosevelt.

Note that all of these are a lot closer to Wrigley than to The Cell. But there are plenty of good places in the city to get a postgame meal, or just a pint.

If your visit to Chicago is during the European soccer season (which gets underway in mid-August), the best place to watch your favorite club is at The Globe Pub, 1934 W. Irving Park Rd., about 6 miles northwest of The Loop. Brown Line to Irving Park.

Sidelights. Chicago is one of the best sports cities, not just in America, but on the planet. Check out the following – but do it in daylight, as the city’s reputation for crime, while significantly reduced from its 1980s peak, is still there.

* Site of old Comiskey Park. The longtime home of the White Sox, 1910 to 1990, was at 324 W. 35th Street at Shields Avenue (a.k.a. Bill Veeck Drive), and is now a parking lot, with its infield painted in.
This was the home field of Big Ed Walsh (the pitcher supposedly helped design it to be a pitchers' park), Eddie Collins, Shoeless Joe Jackson and the rest of the "Black Sox," Luke Appling, the great double-play combination of Luis Aparicio and Nellie Fox of the '59 "Go-Go White Sox," Dick Allen, the 1977 "South Side Hit Men" of Richie Zisk and Oscar Gamble, and the 1983 Division Champions of Carlton Fisk, Ron Kittle, LaMarr Hoyt and Harold Baines.
The old Comiskey was also where future Yankee stars Russell "Bucky" Dent and Rich "Goose" Gossage began their careers, and where, in the last game the Yankees ever played there, Andy Hawkins pitched a no-hitter – and lost, thanks to his own walks and 3 errors in the 8th inning.

The NFL's Chicago Cardinals played there from 1922 to 1959, and the franchise, now the Arizona Cardinals, won what remains their only NFL Championship Game (they didn't call 'em Super Bowls back then) there in 1947. And in 1979, during what was supposed to be intermission between games of a White Sox vs. Tigers doubleheader, was Disco Demolition Night. Today, it’s called a fiasco, but the sentiment was right: Disco really did suck. But the biggest music event there was the Beatles' concert on August 20, 1965.
The two ballparks side-by-side, during construction in 1990

* Wrigley Field. Opened in 1914 as Weeghman Park for the Chicago Whales of the Federal League, the Cubs moved in for the 1916 season and have been here for a century. William Wrigley Jr. bought the team and the ballpark in 1925 and renamed it Wrigley Field.

It's known for its brick wall surrounding the field, the ivy covering the bricks in the outfield, the trapezoidal bleachers, the big hand-operated scoreboard on top, and famously refusing to add lights until 1988, playing all day games. The Cubs have won 6 Pennants here, but the last was in 1945. The Bears played here from 1921 to 1970, winning 8 NFL Championships in the pre-Super Bowl era. Wrigley (still known as Cubs Park) was also home of the Chicago Tigers, who played in the NFL only in its 1st season, 1920.

It is by far the oldest ballpark in the National League, and next to Fenway Park in Boston the 2nd-oldest in Major League Baseball. 1060 W. Addison Street. Red Line to Addison.

* Previous Chicago ballparks. The Cubs previously played at these parks:

State Street Grounds, also called 23rd Street Grounds, 1874-77, winning the NL’s first Pennant in 1876, 23rd, State, and Federal Streets & Cermak Road (formerly 22nd Street), Red Line to Cermak-Chinatown.

Lakefront Park, also called Union Base-Ball Grounds and White-Stocking Park (the Cubs used the name “Chicago White Stockings” until 1900, and the AL entry then took the name), 1878-84, winning the 1880, ’81 and ’82 Pennants, Michigan Avenue & Randolph Street in the northwest corner of what’s now Millennium Park, with (appropriately) Wrigley Square built on the precise site. Randolph/Wabash or Madison/Wabash stops on the Loop.

West Side Park I, 1885-91, winning the 1885 and ’86 Pennants, at Congress, Loomis, Harrison & Throop Streets, now part of the campus of the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), Blue Line to Racine.

South Side Park, 1891-93, just east of where the Comiskey Parks were built.

West Side Park II, 1893-1915, winning the 1906 and 1910 Pennants and the 1907 and 1908 World Series, the only World Series the Cubs have ever won, at Taylor, Wood and Polk Streets and Wolcott Avenue, now the site of a medical campus that includes the Cook County Hospital, the basis for the TV show ER, Pink Line to Polk.  (Yes, the CTA has a Pink Line.)

Prior to the original Comiskey Park, the White Sox played at a different building called South Side Park, at 39th Street (now Pershing Road), 38th Street, & Wentworth and Princeton Avenues, a few blocks south of the Comiskey Parks.

* United Center and site of Chicago Stadium. From 1929 to 1994, the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks played at Chicago Stadium, "the Madhouse on Madison," at 1800 W. Madison Street at Wood Street. The NBA’s Bulls played there from 1967 to 1994. The United Center opened across the street at 1901 W. Madison at Honore Street.

At the old Stadium, the Blackhawks won Stanley Cups in 1934, '38 and '61, and the Bulls won NBA Titles in 1991, '92 and '93. At the United Center, the Bulls won in 1996, '97 and '98 and the Blackhawks won the 2010 and '13 Cups -- and, as of this writing, have advanced to the Western Conference Finals for the 4th time in the last 6 seasons. The city's 1st NBA team, the Chicago Stags, played there from 1946 to 1950, and reached the 1st NBA Finals there in 1947. It will host the NCAA Frozen Four next year, and hosts the annual Champions Classic, a college basketball season-opening tournament.

The Democrats had their Convention at Chicago Stadium in 1932, '40 and '44, nominating Franklin D. Roosevelt each time; the Republicans also had their Convention there in '32 and '44, nominating Herbert Hoover and Thomas E. Dewey, respectively. The Democrats held court (or rink) at the United Center in 1996, renominating Bill Clinton in their first Convention in Chicago since the disaster of 1968.

Elvis Presley gave concerts at Chicago Stadium on June 16 and 17, 1972; October 14 and 15, 1976; and May 1 and 2, 1977 -- meaning he was singing while burglars were breaking into the Watergate complex in Washington, and while Chris Chambliss as hitting a Pennant-winning home run for the Yankees.

Blue Line to Illinois Medical District (which can also be used to access the site of West Side Park II and ER), or Green or Pink Line to Ashland-Lake.

* Soldier Field. The original version of this legendary stadium opened in 1924, and for years was best known as the site of the Chicago College All-Star Game (a team of graduating seniors playing the defending NFL Champions) from 1934 to 1976.

It was the site of the 1927 heavyweight title fight between Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney, the famed "Long Count" fight, which may have had what remains the greatest attendance ever for a U.S. sporting event, with figures ranging from 104,000 to 130,000, depending on who you believe. It definitely was the site of the largest football crowd ever, 123,000 to see Notre Dame play USC a few weeks after the Long Count; in spite of various expansions, the universities of Michigan and Tennessee and Penn State still can’t top this. The 1926 Army-Navy Game was played there, in front of over 100,000.

The Chicago Rockets of the All-America Football Conference played at Soldier Field in 1946, '47 and '48, changing their name to the Chicago Hornets in '49. They were not admitted into the NFL with their AAFC brethren in Cleveland, San Francisco and Baltimore.

Games of the 1994 World Cup and the 1999 Women's World Cup were also held at the old Soldier Field. MLS' Chicago Fire made it their 1st home ground, and 14 matches of the U.S. soccer team have been played on the site, most recently a 2016 win over Costa Rica. The U.S. has won 7 of these games, lost 4 and tied 3. An NHL Stadium Series game was played there earlier this year, with the Blackhawks beating the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-1.

Amazingly, the Bears played at Wrigley from 1921 to 1970, with the occasional single-game exception. The story I heard is that Bears founder-owner-coach George Halas was a good friend of both the Wrigley and Veeck families, and felt loyalty to them, and that’s why he stayed at Wrigley even though it had just 47,000 seats for football. But I heard another story that Halas was a Republican and didn’t like Chicago’s Democratic Mayor, Richard J. Daley (whose son Richard M. recently left office having broken his father’s record for longest-serving Mayor), and didn’t want to pay the city Parks Department a lot of rent. (This is believable, because Halas was known to be cheap: Mike Ditka, who nonetheless loved his old boss, said, “Halas throws nickels around like manhole covers.”) The real reason the Bears moved to Soldier Field in 1971 was Monday Night Football: Halas wanted the revenue, and Wrigley didn’t have lights until 1988.

A 2002-03 renovation demolished all but the iconic (if not Ionic, they're in the Doric style) Greek-style columns that used to hang over the stadium, and are now visible only from the outside. It doesn’t look like “Soldier Field” anymore: One critic called it The Eyesore on the Lake Shore. Capacity is now roughly what it was in the last few years prior to the renovation, 61,500. And while the Bears won 8 Championships while playing at Wrigley (8 more titles than the Cubs have won there), they’ve only won one more at Soldier Field, the 1985 title capped by Super Bowl XX. The Monsters of the Midway have been tremendous underachievers since leaving Wrigley, having been to only 1 of the last 28 Super Bowls (and losing it).

1410 S. Museum Campus Drive, at McFetridge and Lake Shore Drives, a bit of a walk from the closest station, Roosevelt station on the Green, Orange and Red Lines.

* Site of Chicago Coliseum. There were 2 buildings with this name that you should know about. One hosted the 1896 Democratic National Convention, where William Jennings Bryan began the process of turning the Democratic Party from the conservative party it had been since before the Civil War into the modern liberal party it became, a struggle that went through the Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt years before it finally lived up to its promise under John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson.

It was here that Bryan gave the speech for which he is most remembered, calling for the free coinage of silver rather than sticking solely to the gold standard: "You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns. You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold."

Now a part of Jackson Park, at 63rd Street & Stony Island Avenue. 63rd Street Metra (commuter rail) station.

The other was home to every Republican Convention from 1904 to 1920. Here, they nominated Theodore Roosevelt in 1904, William Howard Taft in 1908 and 1912, Charles Evans Hughes in 1916 and Warren Harding in 1920. When TR was maneuvered out of the nomination to return to office at the 1912 Convention, he held his subsequent Progressive Party Convention was also held there.

It was also the original home of the Blackhawks, from 1926 to 1929 and briefly again in 1932. In 1935, roller derby was invented there. In 1961, an NBA expansion team, the Chicago Packers, played there, becoming the Zephyrs in 1962 and moving to become the Baltimore Bullets in 1963 (and the Washington Bullets in 1973, and the Washington Wizards in 1997).

The Coliseum hosted a few rock concerts before the Fire Department shut it down in 1971, and it was demolished in 1982. The Soka Gakkai USA Culture Center, a Buddhist institute, now occupies the site. East side of Wabash Avenue at 15th Street, with today’s Coliseum Park across the street. Appropriately enough, the nearest CTA stop is at Roosevelt Avenue, on the Red, Yellow and Green Lines.

* Site of International Amphitheatre. Home to the Bulls in their first season, 1966-67, and to the World Hockey Association's Chicago Cougars from 1972 to 1975, this arena, built by the stockyards in 1934, was home to a lot of big pro wrestling cards. Elvis sang here on March 28, 1957. The Beatles played here on September 5, 1964 and August 12, 1966.

But it was best known as a site for political conventions. Both parties met there in 1952 (The Republicans nominating Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Democrats the man was then Governor of Illinois, Adlai Stevenson), the Democrats in 1956 (Stevenson again), the Republicans in 1960 (Richard Nixon), and, most infamously, the Democrats in 1968 (Hubert Humphrey), with all the protests. The main protests for that convention were in Grant Park and a few blocks away on Michigan Avenue in front of the Conrad Hilton Hotel, one of the convention headquarters (now the Chicago Hilton & Towers. 720 S. Michigan).

The Amphitheatre, torn down in 1999, was at 4220 S. Halsted Street, where an Aramark plant now stands. Red Line to 47th Street. This location is definitely not to be visited after dark; indeed, unless you're really interested in political history, I'd say, if you have to drop one item from this list, this is the one.

Elvis also sang in Illinois at Assembly Hall at the University of Illinois in Champaign on October 22, 1976, and at Southern Illinois University Arena in Carbondale on October 27.

* Northwestern University. Chicago's Big Ten school is just north of the city, 16 miles from the Loop, in Evanston. Dyche Stadium/Ryan Field, and McGaw Hall/Welsh-Ryan Arena, are at 2705 Ashland Avenue between Central Street and Isabella Street. (Purple Line to Central.)

While Northwestern's athletic teams have traditionally been terrible, the school has a very important place in sports history: The 1st NCAA basketball tournament championship game was held there in 1939, at Patten Gymnasium, at 2145 Sheridan Road: Oregon defeated Ohio State. The original Patten Gym was torn down a year later, and the school’s Technological Institute was built on the site. Sheridan Road, Noyes Street and Campus Drive. Purple Line to Noyes.

Welsh-Ryan, under the McGaw name, hosted the Final Four in 1956: Bill Russell and K.C. Jones, soon to be Boston Celtics stars, led the University of San Francisco past Iowa. These are the only 2 Final Fours ever to be held in the Chicago area.

* DePaul University. Led by legendary coach Ray Meyer, and then his son Joey Meyer, the basketball team at this "mid-major" Catholic school has featured eventual pro stars George Mikan, Bill Robinzine, Mark Aguirre, Terry Cummings, Dallas Comegys, Quentin Richardson and Rod Strickland.

The Blue Demons' longtime home court was Alumni Hall, until 1979. It was demolished in 2000, and DePaul's new student center was built on the site. 1011 W. Belden Avenue. Red Line to Fullerton. Starting in 1980, they moved out to the Rosemont Horizon, now the Allstate Arena, in the suburb of Rosemont, out by O'Hare Airport. 6920 N. Mannheim Road. Blue Line to Rosemont, then Bus 223 to Touhy & Pace. In the Autumn of 2017, they'll move into the new Wintrust Arena, at the McCormick Place Convention Center. 2201 S. Indiana Avenue, at Cermak Road. Green Line to Cermak-McCormick Place.

* Toyota Park. MLS' Chicago Fire have played here since 2006, and the National Women's Soccer League's Chicago Red Stars since their inception in 2009. The U.S. soccer team has played here once, a 2008 win over Trinidad & Tobago. 7000 S. Harlem Avenue, Bridgeview, in the southwestern suburbs. Orange Line to Midway Airport, then transfer to the 379 or 390 bus.

* National Italian-American Sports Hall of Fame. Appropriately in Chicago's Little Italy, west of downtown, it includes a state of Yankee legend Joe DiMaggio. Other New York native or New York-playing baseball players honored include Joe Torre, Yogi Berra, Phil Rizzuto, Billy Martin, Vic Raschi, Tony Lazzeri, Dave Righetti, Frank Crosetti, Roy Campanella, Sal Maglie, Mike Piazza, Bobby Valentine, John Franco, Carl Furillo, Frank Viola, Jim Fregosi, Ralph Branca, Rocky Colavito, broadcaster Joe Garagiola, and the last active player to have been a Brooklyn Dodger, Bob Aspromonte, and his brother Ken Aspromonte. 1431 W. Taylor Street at Loomis Street.  Pink Line to Polk.

* Museums. Chicago's got a bunch of good ones, as you would expect in a city of 3 million people. Their version of New York’s Museum of Natural History is the Field Museum, just north of Soldier Field. Adjacent is the Shedd Aquarium. On the other side of the Aquarium is their answer to the Hayden Planetarium, the Adler Planetarium.

And they have a fantastic museum for which there is no real analogue in New York, though the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia is similar: The Museum of Science & Industry, at 57th Street & Cornell Drive, near the University of Chicago campus; 56th Street Metra station. The Art Institute of Chicago is their version of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, at 111 S. Michigan Avenue, just off the Loop.

* Ferris Bueller's Day Off. If you're a fan of that movie, as I am (see my 25th Anniversary retrospective, from June 2011), not only will you have taken in Wrigley Field, but you’ll recognize the Art Institute as where Alan Ruck focused on Georges Seurat’s painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.

Other sites visited by Ferris, Cameron and Sloane were the Sears Tower, then the tallest building in the world, 1,454 feet, 233 S. Wacker Drive (yes, the name is Wacker), Quincy/Wells station in the Loop; and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, 335 S. La Salle Street, LaSalle/Van Buren station in the Loop. (That station is also where Steve Martin & John Candy finally reached Chicago in another John Hughes film, Planes, Trains and Automobiles). The von Steuben Day Parade goes down Lincoln Avenue every September, on or close to the anniversary of Baron von Steuben's birth, not in the spring as in the film.

While the Bueller house was in Long Beach, California, the Frye house is in Highland Park, north of the city. Remember, it’s a private residence, and not open to the public, so I won’t provide the address. And the restaurant, Chez Quis, did not and does not exist.

Nor did, nor does, Adam's Ribs, a barbecue joint made famous in a 1974 M*A*S*H episode of the same title. Today, there are 18 restaurants in America named Adam's Ribs, including two on Long Island, on Park Boulevard in Massapequa Park and on the Montauk Highway in Babylon; and another on Cookstown-Wrightstown Road outside South Jersey's Fort Dix and McGuire Air Force Base. But only one is anywhere near Chicago, in Buffalo Grove in the northwestern suburbs.

Not far from that, in the western suburbs, is Wheaton, home town of football legend Red Grange and the comedic Belushi Brothers, John and Jim. John and Dan Aykroyd used Wrigley Field in The Blues Brothers, and Jim played an obsessive Cubs fan in Taking Care of Business. Their father, an Albanian immigrant, ran a restaurant called The Olympia Cafe, which became half the basis for John's Saturday Night Live sketch of the same name, better known as the Cheeseburger Sketch: "No hamburger! Cheeseburger, cheeseburger, cheeseburger, cheeseburger, cheeseburger... No fries, chips!... No Coke, Pepsi!"

Don Novello, an SNL writer who played Father Guido Sarducci, said the other half of the inspiration was the Billy Goat Tavern, originally operated by Greek immigrant William "Billy Goat" Sianis, originator of the supposed Billy Goat Curse on the Cubs, across Madison Street from Chicago Stadium, from 1937 until 1963. At that point, Sianis moved to the lower deck of the double-decked Michigan Avenue, since it was near the headquarters of the city's three daily newspapers, the Tribune, the Sun-Times, and the now-defunct Daily News. Mike Royko, who wrote columns for each of these papers, made it his haunt and frequently mentioned it in his columns.

Novello and Bill Murray, Chicagoans, were regulars at the Billy Goat, but John Belushi later said he'd never set foot in the place, so while the others may have drawn inspiration from it, his came from his father's restaurant.

Sam Sianis, nephew of the original Billy, still serves up a fantastic cheeseburger (he was there when I visited in 1999), he deviates from the sketch: No Pepsi, Coke. It's open for breakfast, and serves regular breakfast food. It looks foreboding, being underneath the elevated part of Michigan Avenue, and a sign out front (and on their website) says, "Enter at your own risk." But another sign says, "Butt in anytime." 430 N. Michigan Avenue, lower deck, across from the Tribune Tower. Red Line to Grand. The original location near Chicago Stadium has effectively been replaced, at 1535 W. Madison Street.

The Tribune Tower is a work of art in itself. Its building, Tribune publisher "Colonel" Robert R. McCormick, had stones taken from various famous structures all over the world: The Palace of Westminster in London, the Western Wall in Jerusalem, the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China, the Grand Canyon.  (He must've paid a lot of people off.) These can be seen at near ground level, but the building itself is so grand that it doesn't need it.

The building is also the headquarters of the TV and radio station that McCormick named for his paper: WGN, "The World's Greatest Newspaper," a line that has long since disappeared from the paper's masthead. 435 N. Michigan Avenue. Red Line to Grand.

The Wrigley Building is right across from it, at 400 N. Michigan. The block of North Michigan they're on is renamed Jack Brickhouse Way, and Brickhouse's statue is on the grounds of the Tribune Tower.

* Quad Cities. Rock Island and Moline, Illinois, and Davenport and Bettendorf, Iowa, are, together, known as the Quad Cities. Together, these cities and adjoining smaller towns have a population of about 475,000. (Davenport about 100,000, Moline 44,000, Rock Island 39,000 and Bettendorf 35,000). Not big enough to be major league -- but some people tried.

The 5,000-seat Douglas Park was the home of the Rock Island Independents from 1907 to 1925, including 1920 to 1925 in the NFL. In fact, it was the site of the 1st NFL game, on October 3, 1920, a 45-0 Indys win over the Indiana-based Muncie Flyers. It was also home to a minor-league baseball team, the Rock Island Islanders, from 1907 to 1937, winning Class D Pennants in 1907, 1909 and 1932. West side of 10th Street between 15th and 18th Avenues in Rock Island, 180 miles west of Chicago.

One of the oldest surviving pro basketball teams is the Atlanta Hawks. They began as the Tri-Cities Blackhawks (they dropped Bettendorf from the "Quad Cities" description) in 1946. They weren't very good, and moved to Milwaukee in 1951, St. Louis in 1955, and Atlanta in 1968. They played at the 6,000-seat Wharton Field House, which opened in 1928 and still stands. 1800 20th Avenue.

There is a minor-league baseball team in the Quad Cities, but it's been known by various names since its inception in 1879 as the Davenport Brown Stockings. They've won 10 Pennants, previously in Class B, and in what's now Class A: In 1914, 1933 and 1936 as the Davenport Blue Sox; in 1949 as the Davenport Pirates; in 1968 and 1971 as the Quad City Angels; In 1979 as the Quad City Cubs; in 1990 again as the Quad City Angels; and in 2011 and 2013 under their current name, the Quad Cities River Bandits.

Since 1931, they have played at a stadium right on the Mississippi River, which proved a problem during the 1993 flood. The 4,024-seat ballpark was known as Municipal Stadium until 1971, then as John O'Donnell Stadium until 2008, when it became Modern Woodmen Park, as the fraternal organization bought naming rights. 209 S. Gaines Street in Davenport.

No President has ever come from Chicago, and none has a Presidential Library anywhere near it -- Abraham Lincoln's is 200 miles away, in the State capital of Springfield -- although many have Presidential connections. Most notably, the 1st true Presidential Debate, between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon, was held on September 26, 1960, at the old CBS Studio, home to WBBM, 780 on your AM dial and Channel 2 on your TV. 630 N. McClurg Street. The building is no longer there. Red Line to Grand, then an 8-minute walk.

In the early days of American politics, any temporary meeting structure was called a "Wigwam," which is a Native American word for a temporary dwelling. Chicago's first Wigwam was at what is now 191 N. Upper Wacker Drive, right where the Chicago River splits into north and south branches. Abraham Lincoln was nominated there at their 1860 Convention. A modern office building is on the site today. Clark/Lake station in the Loop.

Another Wigwam stood at 205 East Randolph Street, in what was then called Lake Park, now Grant Park. The Democrats held their Convention there in 1892, nominating Grover Cleveland for the 3rd time. The Harris Theater is on the site today. Randolph/Wabash station in the Loop.

In 1864, the Democrats nominated General George B. McClellan at The Amphitheatre, 1100 South Michigan Avenue. A Best Western Hotel is on the site today. Red Line to Roosevelt. In 1868, the Republicans nominated Ulysses S. Grant at Crosby’s Opera House, 1 West Washington Street. A modern office building is on the site today. Blue Line to Washington.

The Interstate Industrial Exposition Building, a.k.a. the Glass Palace, was where the Republicans met and nominated James Garfield in 1880, and both parties met in 1884, the Republicans nominating James G. Blaine and the Democrats nominating Cleveland for the 1st time. 111 South Michigan Avenue. The aforementioned Art Institute of Chicago is on the site today. Adams/Wabash station in the Loop. And in 1888, the Republicans met at the Auditorium Building, 430 South Michigan Avenue. It still stands. Harold Washington Library station, a.k.a. State-Van Buren station, in the Loop.

The old Cook County Courthouse, where the Black Sox trial took place in 1921 (and where a boy allegedly called out to Shoeless Joe Jackson, "Say it ain't so, Joe!" which may actually have happened) was at 1340 South Michigan Avenue, corner of 14th Street. The building has been replaced by an office building, with an Italian restaurant named Giordano's on the ground floor. Green, Orange or Red Line to Roosevelt.

You may notice some other film landmarks. The Chicago Board of Trade Building was used as the Wayne Tower in Christopher Nolan’s Batman films. And Chicago stood in for Metropolis in the Superman-themed TV series Lois & Clark, with the Wrigley Building and the Tribune Tower as standout landmarks.

TV shows set in Chicago include The Untouchables, about Eliot Ness and his Depression-era crimebusters; Good Times, set in the infamous, now-demolished Cabrini-Green housing project; the related sitcoms Perfect Strangers and Family Matters (Great shows? Well, of course, they were, don't be ridiculous!); Married... with Children, Fox's longest-running non-cartoon (though the Bundy family was pretty darn cartoonish); the 1990s hospital dramas ER and Chicago HopeBoss, the current show with Kelsey Grammer as a corrupt Mayor; and The Bob Newhart Show, with Bob as psychiatrist Dr. Bob Hartley.

Nearly every one of these shows was actually filmed in Los Angeles, and the exterior shots were also mostly L.A. sites, so don't bother going to look for them. However, a statue of Newhart is at the Navy Pier, near its amusement rides, between Grand Avenue & Illinois Street at the lake.

*

Every American should visit Chicago. And with the Sox having the smaller attendances, you'll have an easier time getting into U.S. Cellular Field than into Wrigley. Have fun -- but remember, be smart, and don't go out of your way to antagonize anyone.

Pat Summitt, 1952-2016

Only one person ever had a greater impact on the game of basketball than Pat Summitt. That was Dr. James Naismith. And he invented the sport.

Patricia Sue Head was born on June 14, 1952 in Clarksville, Tennessee, and grew up on a dairy farm there. She loved basketball from an early age, but Clarksville High School did not have a girls' basketball team in the 1960s. Few American high schools did at the time. So the family moved to nearby Henrietta, because Cheatham County High School did have a girls' basketball team.

Pat Head had 3 older brothers, all of whom received athletic scholarships. But she and her younger sister Linda couldn't get them, because Title IX did not happen until 1972. So their parents paid their daughters' way into college, in Pat's case at the University of Tennessee at Martin.

Just before the 1974-75 season began, before the NCAA even recognized women's basketball, the University of Tennessee, at its main campus in Knoxville, named Pat assistant coach of their women's team -- and then the head coach quit, leaving her in charge. She was 22 years old, barely older than her players. She was paid $250 a month -- that's right, she was paid monthly. She washed the uniforms herself.

In 1976, she coached the Tennessee Volunteers -- already known as the Lady Vols -- to a 16-11 record, earned her master's degree in physical education at UT-Knoxville, and played on the U.S. Olympic team in Montreal, earning a Silver Medal.

She got the Lady Vols to their 1st Final Four in 1978. This was, as I said, before the NCAA administered a national tournament for women. The governing body at the time was the AIAW, the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women. The 1st NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament was in 1982, and Tennessee reached the Final Four. To call women's college basketball "minor league" at this point would have been kind.

In 1980, Pat married R.B. Summitt. For a while, she was publicly listed as "Pat Head Summitt," but eventually everyone just called her "Pat Summitt." On September 21, 1990, Pat was making a recruiting visit to a player's home when she went into labor. But she was determined to get the player to come to UT. She got the agreement, drove to the airport, got on the UT private jet, flew back to Knoxville, and made it to the hospital in time to give birth to Ross Tyler Summitt, who goes by "Tyler."

She explained: "When you grow up on a dairy farm, cows don't take a day off."
He always seemed to be celebrating with her.

In 1984, she coached the U.S. women's basketball team to the Gold Medal at the Olympics in Los Angeles, becoming the 1st American of either gender to both play on and coach a medal-winning team in the sport.

Much like Dean Smith at the men's team at the University of North Carolina, before he finally broke through in 1982, Pat was considered a great coach who couldn't win the big one. That ended in 1987, when the Lady Vols beat perennial power Louisiana Tech in the Final, 67-44.

She would win the Southeastern Conference Championship in the regular season 16 times, and in the Tournament 16 times -- winning both in 1980, 1985, 1994, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2010. She would win 8 National Championships: 1987, 1989, 1991, 1996, 1997, 1998 (an undefeated season), 2007 and 2008.

A fierce rivalry began between the Lady Vols and the Lady Huskies of the University of Connecticut. Geno Auriemma has now led them to 11 titles, surpassing not only Pat's 8, but UCLA men's coach John Wooden's 10. That rivalry, and its games broadcast on ESPN, would help to grow the women's side of the game exponentially.

Also helping to grow women's basketball were her books, with Sports Illustrated and Washington Post writer Sally Jenkins: Reach for the Summit: The Definite Dozen System for Succeeding at Whatever You Do (1998), Raise the Roof: The Inspiring Inside Story of the Tennessee Lady Vols' Historic 1997-1998 Threepeat Season (1999), and Sum It Up: 1,098 Victories, a Couple of Irrelevant Losses, and a Life in Perspective (2014). Interestingly enough, considering my comparison of Summitt with Dean Smith, Sally Jenkins also collaborated with him on his memoir.

Those 1,098 wins still make her the winningest coach in the history of college basketball, regardless of gender. Going into the 2016-17 season, Auriemma has 955, and Mike Krzyzewski of the Duke men's team has 970, so both could surpass her. However, she already surpassed Bob Knight, Dean Smith, and Adolph Rupp, the previous holders of the men's coaching record. It took her 788 wins to surpass the previous women's record-holder, Jody Conradt of the University of Texas. She surpassed that old record by nearly 40 percent.

Despite her tendency to yell or to give "an icy stare" to players who weren't performing well enough, UT asked her to switch to coaching the men's team when a vacancy arose in 1997. They asked her again in 2001. She refused both times. Nevertheless, the court at UT's Thompson-Boling Arena is named for her.

Her players included Bridgette Gordon, Sheila Frost, Daedra Charles, Chamique Holdsclaw, Tamika Catchings, Semeka Rendall (together known as The Three Meeks), and, perhaps best of all, Candace Parker. And, over her 38 seasons as head coach, every player she coached got her degree. Every. Single. One. Without exception.

In 2011, she announced that she had been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease. She wasn't even 60 years old. She was going to coach one last season, handing duties over to Holly Warlick, who had played for her from 1976 to 1980 and had been her assistant since 1985. At the conclusion of the 2012 season, Pat officially retired.
Pat with son Tyler and his wife AnDe

Pat Summitt died on June 28, 2016, at a senior living facility in Knoxville. She was only 64 years old. But she had packed a tremendous influence into those 64 years. Without her, women's basketball would still be an afterthought, at the collegiate, professional and Olympic levels. Certainly, there would be no WNBA without her.

Her achievements may be surpassed. Her influence never will be.

Her son Tyler Summitt briefly played on the Tennessee men's team, after having been his home State's high school scholar-athlete of the year. He served as an assistant coach on the women's team at Marquette University in Milwaukee, and was the head coach at Louisiana Tech during the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons. He left that post under unfortunate circumstances, and there is no good reason to talk about it at this time.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Yanx Split With Rox Thanx to Castro Walx Off

As they did last week in Denver, the Yankees had a brief 2-game series with the Colorado Rockies, this time in New York. As they did last week, they split the series.

Ivan Nova started on Tuesday night, and was ineffective, allowing 6 runs (5 of them earned) in only 4 innings. Nick Goody tacked on 2 more runs to put the game out of reach. Brett Gardner, Carlos Beltran, Didi Gregorius and Rob Refsnyder each had 2 hits, to no avail.

Rockies 8, Yankees 4. WP: Chad Bettis (6-5). No save. LP: Nova (5-5).

*

The situation did not call for the dreaded D-GANG, Day Game After Night Game. But that's what the Yankees had on Wednesday afternoon. CC Sabathia started, and the Yankees gave him a 4-0 cushion in the 2nd inning, thanks to a grand slam by the much-maligned Chase Headley, his 4th home run of the season.

But the Big Fella couldn't hold it. Over the next 3 innings, he and Anthony Swarzak allowed 8 runs. No Runs DMC pitched perfect ball after that -- Dellin Betances in the 7th, Andrew Miller in the 8th, and Aroldis Chapman in the 9th -- just as it was planned. But no one planned on trailing 8-4 going into the bottom of the 7th.

Except Refsnyder led off the inning by reaching base on that rare baseball play, catcher's interference. The Rockies' catcher was Nick Hundley, no relation to former Met Todd and his father, former Cub Randy, although they were also catchers.

After Jacoby Ellsbury flew out, Gardner singled, and Beltran hit a home run, his 19th of the season. 8-7 Rockies. Alex Rodriguez was robbed on a fine defensive play, but Brian McCann hit a ground-rule double down the right-field line. Starlin Castro singled, but since McCann, to borrow Reggie Jackson's line about Lou Piniella, runs like a dump truck, he had to stop at 3rd base. Didi singled McCann home.

Castro was the leadoff hitter in the bottom of the 9th, and he assured there would be no others. For the 1st time this season, the Yankees had a walkoff home run. It was Castro's 10th homer of the season.

Yankees 9, Rockies 8. WP: Chapman (1-0). No save. LP: Jason Motte (0-1).

*

The Yankees are now 35-36, 6 games behind the Baltimore Orioles in the American League Eastern Division. They are not gaining ground, but the Orioles aren't pulling away, either. As inconsistent as the Yankees have been, they are still in it. With 3 months to go, 6 games is not a big deal.

As they did last week, for 4 games in Minneapolis, the Yankees start a weekend series with the seriously struggling Minnesota Twins, this time for 3 games in The Bronx. Here are the projected pitching matchups:

* Tonight, 7:05 PM: Masahiro Tanaka vs. Tommy Milone.

* Tomorrow, 1:05 PM: Michael Pineda vs. Ervin Santana.

* Sunday, 1:05 PM: Nathan Eovaldi vs. Tyler Duffy.

*

Days until the New York Red Bulls play again: 1, tomorrow night at 7:30, away to the Columbus Crew. This comes after a shocking late loss away to Real Salt Lake on Wednesday night.

Days until the U.S. national soccer team plays again: 1, tomorrow night, at 8:00 PM Eastern Time, at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, against Colombia in the 3rd place game of the Copa America Centenario. The Final will be the next day, at the Meadowlands, between Argentina and Chile. After this, the next game for the U.S. team will be on September 2, as part of CONCACAF's qualifying matches for the 2018 World Cup.

Days until the next Yankees-Red Sox series: 21, on Friday, July 15, the 1st series after the All-Star Break, at Yankee Stadium II. Just 3 weeks.

Days until the Red Bulls next play a "derby": 23, on Sunday night, July 17, against the Philadelphia Union at Talen Energy Stadium (formerly PPL Park) in Chester, Pennsylvania. The next game against New York City F.C. (a.k.a. Man City NYC, Man City III, Small Club In Da Bronx and The Homeless) is on Sunday afternoon, July 3, at Yankee Stadium II -- although after the greatest humiliation any MLS team has ever endured, that 7-0 defeat in The Bronx last weekend, I wonder if NYCFC (now 0-4 all-time against RBNY) will even want to show up. The next game against D.C. United (a.k.a. The DC Scum) is on Sunday night, August 21, at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium in Washington. The next game against the New England Revolution is on Sunday night, August 28, at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey.

Days until The Arsenal play at the opponents in the 2016 Major League Soccer All-Star Game: 34, on Thursday night, July 28, at Avaya Stadium in San Jose, California, home of the San Jose Earthquakes. Just 5 weeks.  Three days later, The Arsenal will play C.D. Guadalajara (a.k.a. Chivas), one of the biggest clubs in Mexico, at the StubHub Center, home of the Los Angeles Galaxy, in Carson, California. This will be just 2 years after The Arsenal came to America to play the Red Bulls in New Jersey. I was lucky enough to get a ticket and attend that match. I won't be going to either of these: Even if I could get a game ticket, paying for a plane ticket would be tough. And, because of the timing of these games, The Arsenal will not host the no preseason Emirates Cup this year. (They'd held it every year since 2007, except for 2012, canceling it due to the Olympics causing havoc with London's infrastructure.)

Days until the 2016 Olympics begin in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: 42, on Friday, August 5. Just 6 weeks.

Days until The Arsenal play another competitive match: 50, on Saturday, August 13, at home to Liverpool. Just 7 weeks. This game could be delayed to Sunday the 14th, or Monday the 15th, depending on the whims of British television executives trying to get big ratings.

Days until Rutgers University plays football again: 71, on Saturday, September 3, away to the University of Washington, in Seattle. Just 10 weeks.

Days until East Brunswick High School plays football again: 77, on Friday, September 9, probably away, since, while the 2016 schedule hasn't been released yet, the Big Green opened last season at home.

Days until the New Jersey Devils play again: 
111, on Thursday night, October 13, away to the Florida Panthers. Under 4 months. The home opener is 5 days later, on Tuesday night, October 18, against the Anaheim Ducks.

Days until the next East Brunswick-Old Bridge Thanksgiving game: 153, on Thursday morning, November 24, at the purple shit pit on Route 9. Exactly 5 months.

Days until the New Jersey Devils play another local rival: 170. Their 1st game this season with the New York Rangers will be on Sunday night, December 11, at Madison Square Garden. Their 1st game this season with the Philadelphia Flyers will be on Thursday night, December 22, at the Prudential Center. By a quirk in the schedule, the New York Islanders, a team they usually play several times a season, don't show up on the slate until Saturday night, February 18, 2017, at the Prudential Center.

Days until the Contract From Hell runs out, and Alex Rodriguez' alleged retirement becomes official: 494, on October 31, 2017, or at the conclusion of the 2017 World Series, if the Yankees make it, whichever comes last. A little over 16 months.

Days until the next World Cup kicks off in Russia: 720, on June 14, 2018. A little under 2 years. The U.S. team will probably qualify for it, but with Jurgen Klinsmann as manager, particularly in competitive matches rather than in friendlies, you never know.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

How to Be a New York Soccer Fan In Seattle -- 2016 Edition

The New York Red Bulls do not visit the Seattle Sounders this season, but New York City FC do, this coming Sunday.

Yes, the city in that picture really is Seattle. Yes, that really is a nice blue sky overhead. When the clouds part, and you can see Lake Washington and the Cascadia Mountains, including Mount Rainier, it's actually a beautiful city. It's just that it rains so much, such a sight isn't all that common.

Before You Go. Seattle is notorious for rain.Check the websites of the Seattle Times and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer for the weather forecast. Right now, they're saying that Sunday afternoon will be in the mid-70s, and the evening in the mid-50s, with a chance of rain.

Seattle is in the Pacific Time Zone, 3 hours behind New York. Adjust your timepieces accordingly.

There is high-speed passenger ferry service from Seattle to the Canadian city of Victoria, the capital of the Province of British Columbia. It costs a bundle, though: $92.50 each way. (The scenery in Washington State and British Columbia is spectacular, and this is clearly part of what you're paying for.) From there, you can easily get to Vancouver. If you want to make this trip, you will have to give confirmation within 48 hours of booking. And it's a passenger-only ferry service: No cars allowed. If you'd like to make a side trip to Vancouver, you're better off driving or taking the train. But any way you go over the border, you should have your passport with you. And, of course, you'll have to change your money.

Tickets. The Sounders annually lead MLS in attendance, so much so that they have no intention of getting out of the football stadium they originally inhabited, as have the Red Bulls, Chicago, Colorado, Columbus, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, San Jose have done; as D.C. and Orlando are preparing to do; and as NYCFC would like to do. They averaged 44,247 fans last season -- a sellout, although the top deck, the 300 sections, is closed off. Getting tickets will be very difficult.

Away supporters are put in Section 203, so, being limited to one section, you might have it easier than home fans. Tickets are $20.

Getting There. It's 2,860 miles from Times Square in Manhattan to Pioneer Square in Seattle, and 2,63 miles from Yankee Stadium CenturyLink Field, where the Seahawks play their home games. In other words, if you’re going, you’re going to want to fly.

After all, even if you get someone to go with you, and you take turns, one drives while the other one sleeps, and you pack 2 days' worth of food, and you use the side of the Interstate as a toilet, and you don’t get pulled over for speeding, you’ll still need over 2 full days to get there. One way.

But if you really, really want to drive... Get onto Interstate 80 West in New Jersey, and stay on that until it merges with Interstate 90 west of Cleveland, then stay on 90 through Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, into Wisconsin, where it merges with Interstate 94. Although you could take I-90 almost all the way, I-94 is actually going to be faster. Stay on I-94 through Minnesota and North Dakota before re-merging with I-90 in Montana, taking it through Idaho and into Washington, getting off I-94 at Exit 2B.

Not counting rest stops, you should be in New Jersey for an hour and a half, Pennsylvania for 5:15, Ohio for 4 hours, Indiana for 2:30, Illinois for 2 hours, Wisconsin for 3:15, Minnesota for 4:30, North Dakota for 6 hours, Montana for a whopping 13 hours (or 3 times the time it takes to get from New York to Boston), Idaho for 1:15 and 6:45 in Washington. That’s 50 hours, and with rest stops, you're talking 3 full days.

That's still faster than Greyhound (70 hours, changing in Pittsburgh, Chicago, Minneapolis and Missoula, $458 round-trip) and Amtrak (67 hours, changing in Chicago, $910 before booking sleeping arrangements).

On Amtrak, you would leave Penn Station on the Lake Shore Limited at 3:40 PM Eastern Time on Thursday, arrive at Union Station in Chicago at 9:45 AM Central Time on Friday, and board the Empire Builder at 2:15 PM, and would reach King Street Station at 11:55 AM Pacific Time.

King Street Station is just to the north of the stadium complex, at S. King Street & 3rd Avenue. S., and horns from the trains can sometimes be heard as the trains go down the east stands of CenturyLink Field and the right-field stands of Safeco Field. The Greyhound station is at 811 Stewart Street at 8th Avenue, in the Central Business District, about halfway between the stadiums and the Seattle Center complex.
King Street Station. There is a Union Station,
next door, but it's an office building now.

A round-trip flight from Newark to Seattle, if ordered now, could be had, although not nonstop (changing in Chicago outbound and Dallas back in), for around $700. More likely, it'll cost close to $1,100. Link Light Rail can get you out of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac), and the same system has Stadium Station to get to Safeco and CenturyLink Fields. The fare is $2.75.

Once In the City. Founded in 1853, and named for a Chief of the Duwamish Indians, Seattle is easily the biggest city in America's Northwest, with 635,000 people within the city limits and 3.6 million in its metropolitan area. Just as Charlotte is called the Queen City of the Southeast, and Cincinnati the Queen City of the Midwest, Seattle is known as the Queen City of the Northwest. All its greenery has also gotten it the tag the Emerald City. With Lake Washington, Puget Sound, and the Cascade mountain range nearby, including Mount Rainier, it may be, on those rare clear days, America's most beautiful metro area.

East-west street addresses increase from Puget Sound and the Alaskan Way on eastward. North-south addresses are separated by Yesler Way. The Times is Seattle's only remaining daily print newspaper. The Post-Intelligencer is still in business, but in online form only. This is mainly due to the high cost of both paper and ink, and has doomed many newspapers completely, so Seattle is lucky to still, sort of, have 2 daily papers.

Sales tax in the State of Washington is 6.5 percent, but in the City of Seattle, it's 9.5 percent. Off-peak bus fare in Seattle is $2.25. In peak hours, a one-zone ride (either totally within the City of Seattle or in King County outside the city) is $2.50 and a two-zone ride (from the City to the County, or vice versa) is $3.00. The monorail is $2.25. The light rail fares, depending on distance, are between $2.00 and $2.75. Fares are paid with a farecard, or, as they call it, an ORCA card: One Regional Card for All.
Although Seattle is the largest city in the State of Washington, the State Capitol is Olympia, 60 miles to the southwest. It can be reached by public transportation, taking Bus 594 Lakewood, and then transferring to Bus 620. It takes about 2 1/2 hours.

The Washington State House in Olympia

Going In. The official address of CenturyLink Field, which opened in 2002 as Seahawks Stadium on the site of the Kingdome and is shared by the NFL's Seahawks and MLS' Sounders -- officially, "Seattle Sounders FC," even though we say "soccer team," not "football club" -- is 800 Occidental Avenue South. It is in a neighborhood called SoDo, for "South of Downtown." (CenturyLink is an Internet provider. It bought out telecommunications carrier Qwest, which had naming rights from 2004 to 2011.)

Occidental Avenue is the west sideline, the north side is King Street, the south side is Royal Brougham Way (Royal Brougham was not a car or a brand of booze, but the name of a Seattle sportswriter who championed the city as a site for major league sports), and the east sideline is the railroad. Parking is $8.00. With CenturyLink being at the southern edge of downtown, you’re likely to enter on the  north or west side. Tailgating is permitted in the north parking lot only. The Seahawks prohibit ball tossing, charcoal barbecues, open fires and deep fat fryers -- propane only.
CenturyLink Field, with Safeco Field behind it

"C-Link" is often cited as the loudest stadium in the NFL. Certainly, due to the league-leading crowds, it's the loudest in MLS. The way the stadium is built certainly gives the fans' noise less distance to travel: The upper levels were cantilevered over the lower sections, to fit within the limited space available for construction.

Along with the angle of seats and the placement of the lower sections closer to the field, this provided a better view of the field than typically seen throughout the country and allowed for a 67,000 seat capacity. Space is available to increase the total capacity to 72,000 for special events. The city's impressive skyline can be seen through the north end, beyond the triangular end zone "Hawks Nest" stand.

The playing surface is FieldTurf, and is laid out north-to-south. College football games have been played there. The University of Washington has played games there, including their entire 2012 season, when their home across town, Husky Stadium, was being renovated. New Jersey's Rutgers University will open their 2016 season away to UW. UW's arch-rivals, Washington State, opened their 2014 season there against Rutgers, who won a thriller.

(Wazzu's campus is nearly 300 miles to the southeast, so this wasn't exactly a home game for them. It may have been in the same State, but, distance-wise, it would have been like Rutgers playing them at Syracuse or Virginia Tech.)

It also hosts high school games, including a 2004 game in which Bellevue High, of the Seattle suburbs, beat De La Salle of the San Francisco Bay Area, ending the latter's national record 151-game winning streak, which had lasted 12 years. An art piece called The State of Football is on the grounds, as a tribute to high school football in the State of Washington.

It may be the best soccer facility in the country. The Sounders' "Cascadia Derby" games against the Portland Timbers and the Vancouver Whitecaps are spectacular events. The U.S. soccer team has played at CenturyLink 4 times, and won them all. The stadium hosted the 2009 MLS Cup Final, in which Real Salt Lake beat the Los Angeles Galaxy on penalties. Along with the New England Revolution, the Sounders are 1 of 2 MLS teams that still share a stadium with an NFL team.
UPDATE: That will change in 2017, when Atlanta United starts play, sharing the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium with the Falcons. And Minnesota United will, at first, share TCF Bank Stadium with the University of Minnesota, although that's not a pro football team.

Food. As a waterfront city, and as the Northwest’s biggest transportation and freight hub, it is no surprise that Seattle is a good food city, with the legendary Pike Place Market serving as their "South Street Seaport."

Fortunately, CenturyLink lives up to this. Unfortunately, they serve Coca-Cola as opposed to Pepsi, Budweiser as opposed to good beer, and, thumbing their noses in Seattle's history as a great labor-union city (not to mention the Seahawks' demolition of company spokesman Peyton Manning in the Super Bowl), Papa John's Pizza. They do have Seattle institution Starbucks, and I suppose there must be some Wisconsin people involved with Seahawk concessions, because they also serve Johnsonville Brats.

Don't want to make "Papa" John Schnatter any richer? Good for you! "Pizza of Seattle" stands are at Sections 107 and 122. Pioneer Square International District, specializing in Asian food, is at 105 and 139. Loud & Proud Fan Raves and Craves is at 109 and 116. Kidd Valley, specializing in burgers and fries, is at 111 and 147. The Cantina, specializing in Mexican food, is at 113 and 131. "Grounders World Famous Garlic Fries" is at 118. Kinder's BBQ is at 120. Seattle Dogs (hot dogs) is at 124, 135 and 149. Brougham Beer Hall is at 128. Ivar's, specializing in chicken and chowder (including bread bowls), is at 133. Pioneer Square Butcher is at 204 and 240. 360 Sizzle, specializing in Asian food, is at 208 and 236. Ciao Down! Italian food is at 210 and 234. Seafood stand Catch! is at 214 and 230.

Team History Displays. Seattle is an underachieving city in sports. Until the Seahawks won Super Bowl XLVIII at the Meadowlands in 2014, the city had won only 2 World Championships, ever: The 1917 Stanley Cup (I'll get to that in "Sidelights") and the 1979 NBA Championship. And since the SuperSonics' back-to-back Finals appearances in 1978-79, the city's only trips to the Finals had been the 1996 Sonics and the 2005-06 Seahawks, until the recent Seahawk Super Bowls (the one they won, and then the one they lost -- to the Patriots, thanks for nothing, Pete Carroll).

The Sounders are a part of this legacy of underachievement. They won the Supporters' Shield in 2014, and the U.S. Open Cup in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2014 -- 4 of these cups being a total matches among MLS teams only by the Chicago Fire. (They also lost in the Final in 2012.) But they've never won an MLS Cup.

The original Sounders, who played in the old North American Soccer League from 1974 to 1983, won division titles in 1980 and 1982, and got to the title game, the Soccer Bowl, in 1977 and 1982 -- both times, losing to the old New York Cosmos. They featured stars from the English league such as Bobby Moore, Alan Hudson, Alan Hinton, Mike England and Jimmy Robertson. The Sounders were also where one of the real characters of English soccer, Harry Redknapp, began his coaching career.

The Sounders name was revived in 1994, over such suggestions as Seattle FC, Seattle Alliance and Seattle Republic. They won the United Soccer League title in 1995, 1996, 2005 and 2007. As the current team is a continuation of that organization, they recognize those titles, but not the division titles won by the NASL Sounders. They hang banners for their USL and MLS/U.S. Open Cup achievements from the east side roof.
The Sounders have no retired numbers -- not even 6 for Bobby Moore, unlike his English club, West Ham United -- but it's likely that Number 2 will be put away for Clint Dempsey after he retires. They also don't have a team hall of fame.

Stuff. The Sounders FC Pro Shop, as well as the Seattle Seahawks Pro Shop, is located at Suite 300 at CenturyLink Field. Others are located at 410 Pike Street downtown, Renton Landing, Bellevue Square, and at the Lynnwood and Tacoma malls. 

Unlike most MLS teams, there is a good book written about this team. Two, in fact. (Well, in my opinion, anyway.) Both were published in 2013. Seattle radio sports-talk host Mike Gastineau (no relation to former Jets defender Mark) and U.S. soccer writer Grant Wahl collaborated on Sounders FC: Authentic Masterpice: The Inside Story Of The Best Franchise Launch In American Sports History. Cascadia Clash: Sounders versus Timbers, by Geoffrey C. Arnold of The Oregonian and former Sounders goalie Kasey Keller, tells of the best rivalry in MLS. As yet, there do not appear to be any Sounders-themed DVDs, even of their U.S. Open Cup Finals.

During the Game. Although Mariner fans hate the Yankees more than any other team, Seahawk fans have no reason to dislike either of the New York soccer teams beyond merely being that game's opponent who must be defeated. As long as you don't antagonize anyone, you should be okay.

This game will be Pride Day, in which the Sounders will honor the gay community of Seattle and the Pacific Northwest. The fact that NYCFC are the opponent should not lead to any inferences.

The Sounders hold auditions for National Anthem singers, instead of having a regular. They no longer have a mascot, as Sammy Sounder, an orca whale, has been dropped.
Comedian and The Price Is Right host Drew Carey is a part-owner of the Sounders. At his request, the team set up The Sounders FC Alliance. Based on the fan association at FC Barcelona, members have the ability to vote on the removal of the general manager and on other team decisions. Season-ticketholders are automatic members. As of yet, only once has such a vote been held, and the voters decided to retain the GM.

Also at the request of Carey, who was a trumpeter in his Cleveland high school's marching band, the Sounders have MLS' 1st marching band: The Sound Wave, which sits in the north end. Before every game, they lead The March to the Match from Occidental Park to the stadium.

Emerald City Supporters (ECS) preceded the club's entry into MLS, and sits in the south end, in Sections 121, 122 and 123. Gorilla FC (Gorilla Football Collective -- GFC also stands for their motto: Glory, Fellowship, Community) does a pregame march from the Seattle outlet of the Fadó pub chain to the stadium, led by Civ, a man in a gorilla suit. They sit in the south end, in Sections 119 and 120, next to ECS. Eastside Supporters sit in 150, which they call "The Pod." And the North End Faithful sit in Sections 100 and 144 to 152, beneath the Hawks Nest.
Some songs for the team are familiar adaptations. "We love you Sounders, we do!" "I'm Sounders 'Til I Die!" They took Arsenal fans' "Ooh to Be a Gooner" and made it "Ooh to Be a Sounder!" Like the Red Bull fans, they use the Cock Sparrer song: "Take 'em all, take 'em all, line 'em up against a wall and shoot 'em!" Perry Como's last hit song said, "The bluest skies you've ever seen are in Seattle," and Sounder fans sing that song in full.

After the Game. SoDo is not an especially high-crime area, and, as I said, Sounder fans generally do not get violent. You might get a little bit of verbal if you're wearing New York gear, but it won't get any worse than that.

Two bars are usually identified with Mariners and Seahawks games. Sluggers, formerly known as Sneakers (or "Sneaks" for short), is at 538 1st Avenue South, at the northwest corner of CenturyLink Field. A little further up, at 419 Occidental Avenue South, is F.X. McRory's. Keep in mind, though, that these will be Seattle-friendly bars.

Buckley's in Queen Anne, 2 blocks west of Queen Anne Avenue N. ,at 232 1st Avenue W. at Thomas Street, just to the west of Seattle Center, near the waterfront, is the local Giants fan hangout. The Magnolia Village Pub, at 3221 W. McGraw Street at 33rd Ave. W., is also considered a Giants bar, but it's 5 miles northwest of downtown. The Ram at Kent Station, at 512 Ramsay Way in Kent, is the local Jets center, but it's 20 miles south of downtown.

If you visit Seattle during the European soccer season (which this isn't), you may be able to watch your favorite team at one of these places:

* Arsenal: The Atlantic Crossing Pub, 6508 Roosevelt Way NE, 8 miles north of downtown. Bus 62.

* Liverpool: St. Andrews Bar & Grill, 7406 Aurora Avenue N, 7 miles north of downtown. Bus 7.

* Chelsea and Tottenham: The George and Dragon Pub, 206 N. 36th Street, 5 miles north of downtown. Bus 40.

* Everton: Beveridge Place Pub, 6413 California Avenue SW, 5 miles southwest of downtown. C Line Bus.

* Barcelona: Café Paloma, 93 Yesler Way at 1st Avenue, in Pioneer Square.

* Bayern Munich: Berliner Pub, 221 Main Avenue S., 12 miles southeast of downtown, in Renton. Bus 101.


If you don't see your club listed, the soccer bar in Seattle is Fadó, of the familiar Irish pub chain, at 801 1st Avenue and Columbia Street. You can probably find a few supporters of your team, and a bartender willing to put your team on the screen, there.

Sidelights. Aside from the KeyArena and the Safeco/CenturyLink complex, Seattle doesn't have a lot of sports sites worth mentioning. But these should be mentioned:

* Sick's Stadium. The Pacific Coast League team that preceded the Mariners, known at various times as the Indians, the Rainiers and the Angels (when they were a farm team of the Anaheim club), played 2½ miles southeast of the future sites of Safeco & CenturyLink, first at Dugdale Field (1913-1932) and then, after a fire required rebuilding, at Sick’s Stadium (1938-68 and 1972-76, built by Rainiers' owner Emil Sick).

The Seattle Pilots also played at Sick's, but lasted only one year, 1969, before being moved to Milwaukee to become the Brewers, and are now chiefly remembered for ex-Yankee pitcher Jim Bouton’s diary of that season, Ball Four.

The book gives awful details of the place's inadequacy: As an 11,000-seat ballpark, it was fine for Triple-A ball in the 1940s, '50s and '60s; expanded to 25,420 seats for the Pilots, it was a lousy place to watch, and a worse one to play, baseball in anything like the modern era.

Elvis Presley sang at Sick's on September 1, 1957 (since it had more seats than any indoor facility in town). Supposedly, a 15-year-old Seattle native named James Hendrix (later known as Jimi) was there. A few days prior, Floyd Patterson defended the heavyweight title there by knocking out fellow 1956 Olympic Gold Medalist Pete Rademacher.

Demolished in 1979 after the construction of the Kingdome (whose inadequacies were very different but no less glaring), the site of Sick's Stadium is now occupied by a Lowe's store. 2700 Rainier Avenue South, bounded also by McClellan & Bayview Streets & Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Mount Baker station on the Link light rail system.

Husky Stadium. The home of the University of Washington football team, the largest stadium in the Pacific Northwest (including Canada) is right on Lake Washington, and is one of the nicest-looking stadiums in college football. A rare feature in major college football is that fans can dock right outside and tailgate by boat. (The only others at which this is possible: Neyland Stadium at the University of Tennessee, and Heinz Field for University of Pittsburgh games.)

It opened in 1920, making it the oldest stadium in the Pacific-12 Conference. The Seahawks played a few home games here in 1994, after some tiles fell from the Kingdome roof, and played their games here in 2000 and 2001 between the demolition of the Kingdome and the opening of what's now CenturyLink Field. In 1923, it was the site of the last public speech given by President Warren G. Harding before his death in a San Francisco hotel. Sadly, The Wave was invented here in 1981, by university yell leader (think male cheerleader) Robb Weller, later one of Mary Hart's co-hosts on Entertainment Tonight.

A major renovation was recently completed, necessary due to age and the moisture from being on the water and in Seattle's rainy climate. Pretty much everything but the north stand of the east-pointing horseshoe was demolished and replaced. The Huskies played the 2012 season at CenturyLink, and moved into the revamped, 70,138-seat Husky Stadium for the 2013 season.

3800 Montlake Blvd. NE, at Pacific Street. Bus 545 to Montlake & Lake Washington Blvd., then walk half a mile across Montlake Cut, a canal that connects Lake Washington with Lake Union. Or, Bus 511 to 45th St. & 7th Ave., then Bus 44 to Pacific & Montlake, outside UW Medical Center, then walk a quarter of a mile.

UW is 4 miles northeast of downtown Seattle. Washington State University, their big "Apple Cup" rivals, have a downtown campus, but their main campus is in Pullman, all the way across the State, 286 miles away. "Wazzu" is actually close to the State Line, and not far from Moscow, Idaho, where the University of Idaho is located.

In their 1982 College Football Preview issue, Sports Illustrated listed Austin, home of the University of Texas, as the best college town. The worst? It named 2: "1. Pullman, Washington, home of Washington State. To party, students must drive 10 miles to Moscow, Idaho. 2. Moscow, Idaho." (It's actually 7 miles between the WSU and UI campuses.)

* Edmunson Pavilion. Adjacent to Husky Stadium, at 3870 Montlake, is Alaska Airlines Arena at Clarence S. "Hec" Edmundson Pavilion, the home of "U-Dub" basketball since 1927. Hec was the school's longtime basketball and track coach, and "Hec Ed" hosted the NCAA Final Four in 1949 (Kentucky over Oklahoma State) and 1952 (Kansas over New York's St. John's). It has also hosted the State of Washington's high school basketball finals.

UW has been to the Final Four only once, in 1953, although they've won the regular-season title in the league now called the Pac-12 11 times, including 2012; and the Conference Tournament 3 times, most recently in 2011. Washington State, across the State in Pullman, reached the Championship Game in 1941, but hasn't been back to the Final Four since.

The Kingdome hosted the Final Four in 1984, Georgetown over Houston; 1989, Michigan over Seton Hall; and 1995, UCLA over Arkansas. It also hosted 3 U.S. soccer team matches: A win, a loss, and a draw.

* Tacoma Dome. The Sonics used this building during the 1994-95 season, as the Seattle Center Coliseum was demolished and the KeyArena put up in its place. Opening in 1983, it seats 17,100, and its most common use has been for minor-league hockey and concerts. 2727 East D Street, about 32 miles south of downtown Seattle. It can be reached from downtown Seattle by Bus 590, 592, 594 or 595, and it would take about 45 minutes.

The night Elvis sang at Sick's Stadium, September 1, 1957, he gave an afternoon concert in Tacoma, at the Lincoln Bowl, the football stadium of Lincoln High School. 707 S. 37th Street. The day before, he sang across the State, at Memorial Stadium in Spokane. He returned to Spokane to sing at their Coliseum on April 28, 1973 and April 27, 1976.

The Spokane Coliseum, at Boone Street and Howard Avenue, seated 5,400, lasted from 1954 to 1995, and was replaced by the 12,200-seat Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena, across the street. It's home to minor-league hockey's Spokane Chiefs, who, despite not being in Canada, won their junior hockey championship, the Memorial Cup, in 1991 and 2008. 720 W. Mallon Avenue. Spokane is 280 miles east of Seattle.

* Seattle Ice Arena. The Seattle Metropolitans played in the Pacific Coast Hockey Association from 1915 until the league's folding in 1926, and won 5 league championships: 1917, 1919, 1920, 1922 and 1924. In 1917, they defeated the National Hockey Association champion Montreal Canadiens, and became the 1st American team to win the Stanley Cup. This would be Seattle's only world title in any sport for 62 years.

They played at the Seattle Ice Arena, which seated only 4,000 people, and was demolished in 1963. The IBM Building, a typically tacky piece of 1960s architecture, now stands on the site. 1200 Fifth Avenue at University Avenue, downtown.

Seattle has been trying to get an NHL team. For now, the closest one is the Vancouver Canucks, 143 miles away. The probably could support one, and maybe an NBA team, too: The metro area's population would rank it 16th in the NBA and 15th in the NHL. According to an article in the January 8, 2016 edition of Business Insider, the Canucks are the most popular NHL team in the State of Washington.

* Seattle Center. Erected for the 1962 World's Fair (as seen in the Elvis film It Happened At the World's Fair), Seattle Center, north of the sports complex at 400 Broad Street at John Street, includes the city’s trademark, the Space Needle. Admission is $11, half the cost of the Empire State Building, and it's open 'til 11:00 PM, with great views of the region's natural splendor.

Seattle Center also has the Pacific Science Center (think of it the Northwest's version of the American Museum of Natural History and its Hayden Planetarium), and the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame (not sure why Seattle was chosen as the Hall's location, although the city is a major aerospace center).

Also in this complex is Memorial Stadium, a high school football stadium built in 1946. It used to host the old North American Soccer League version of the Sounders, and now hosts the women's soccer team, the Seattle Reign. On June 24, 1975, it hosted a game between the national teams of the U.S. and Poland, ending in a draw.

Also in this complex is the KeyArena, home of the WNBA's Seattle Storm and formerly the SuperSonics. The Storm won the 2004 and 2010 WNBA titles there, and their Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson were named to the NBA's 15th Anniversary 15 Greatest Players in 2012. A high school football stadium is also on the site. Number 33 bus, although the nearest Link station is several blocks' walk away.


The KeyArena was built on the site of the Sonics' previous home, the Seattle Center Coliseum, which stood from 1962 to 1994. Elvis sang there on November 12, 1970; April 29, 1973 (2 shows); and April 26, 1976. 

On May 12, 2014, The New York Times printed a story that shows NBA fandom by ZIP Code, according to Facebook likes. (As yet, there is no hockey version.) With the loss of the Sonics, Seattle fans not only refused to accept their former heroes as Oklahoma City Thunder (Thunders? Thundermen?), but also refused to accept the next-closest team, their former arch-rivals, the Portland Trail Blazers, 172 miles away, as their new team. They seem to divide their fandom 4 ways, none of which should surprise you: The Chicago Bulls, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat. But if Seattle should ever get another team, these fans would certainly get behind the new Sonics.

Aside from Seattle Center and its Space Needle, and the stadiums, Seattle's best-known structure is the Pike Place Market. Think of it as their version of the South Street Seaport and Fulton Fish Market. (Or Philadelphia's Reading Terminal Market, Baltimore's Harborplace, or Boston's Quincy Market/Faneuil Hall.) It includes the first-ever Starbucks store, which is still open. Downtown, 85 Pike Street at Western Avenue.

Aside from the Pacific Science Center and the Science Fiction Museum, Seattle isn't a big museum city, although the Seattle Art Museum, at 1300 1st Avenue at University Street, might be worth a visit.

The State of Washington has never produced a President, so there's no Presidential Library. Senator Henry M. "Scoop" Jackson ran for the Democratic nomination in 1972 and 1976, but didn't get particularly close. The State's never produced a Vice President, either. Thomas S. Foley served a District centered on Spokane in Congress from 1965 to 1995, and was Speaker of the House of Representatives from 1989 to 1995.

At 967 feet high, Columbia Center, a.k.a. The Black Tower, is the tallest building in the Northwest, and, for the moment, the tallest building in North America west of the Rocky Mountains except for the U.S. Bank Tower in Los Angeles. (A building going up in San Francisco, and another in Los Angeles, are both expected to top the Black Tower by 2017.) If you're wondering about Seattle's most famous icon, the Space Needle, it was once the tallest structure west of the Mississippi River, but at 605 feet it is well short of the Black Tower.

Not many TV shows have been filmed in Seattle. Northern Exposure was filmed in the State of Washington, and Twin Peaks was both filmed and set there, but not in the City of Seattle. The science-fiction series Dark Angel, which vaulted Jessica Alba and NCIS' Michael Weatherly to stardom, was set in a dystopian future Seattle, but was filmed in Vancouver. So was Millennium. So was Smallville, but that wasn't meant to be Seattle. Arrow, about another superhero, is filmed in Vancouver, and, perhaps due to Green Arrow wearing a green costume, I've often thought of his hometown of Star City (renamed Starling City on the show) as being DC Comics' analogue for Seattle. While Frasier was set in Seattle, and Grey's Anatomy still is, there were hardly any location shots.

Nor have there been very many movies set in Seattle. The most obvious is Sleepless in Seattle, and the city was home to Matthew Broderick's and Ally Sheedy's characters in WarGames (in which Broderick's computer hacking has much greater consequences than it would 3 years later in the Chicago-based Ferris Bueller's Day Off).

Singles came along in 1992, at the height of grunge and the rise of Starbucks, which helped make Seattle the hippest city in the country in the years of George Bush the father and Bill Clinton's 1st term -- or, as Jason Alexander put it on Seinfeld, "It's the pesto of cities." It also reminded us of how good an actor Matt Dillon is, how gorgeous Kyra Sedgwick is, and that Bridget Fonda (daughter of Peter, niece of Jane and granddaughter of Henry) and Campbell Scott (son of George C. Scott and Colleen Dewhurst) were worthy of their genes.

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So, if you can afford it, go on out and join your fellow New York footie fans in visiting the Seahawks' nest for a Sounders game. Be advised, though, that it will be a lot harder than being Yankee Fans taking over the Mariners' ballpark. Aside from a Cascadia Derby against Portland (in either city), it may well be the defining MLS experience.