Sunday, May 28, 2017

CC's Arm, Holliday's Bat Beat A's

Note the Jersey Mike's ad in the background.
I think CC would like Jersey Mike's subs.

Yesterday, The Arsenal won the FA Cup, the New York Red Bulls beat the New England Revolution (yet another bunch of cheaters from New England, but, this time, it didn't work), and the Yankees... won. Not a particularly big game, and not against a particularly big rival. But I'll take it.

CC Sabathia, who grew up in Vallejo, California, with the Oakland Athletics as the closest team, started against them at Yankee Stadium. The Big Fella did well against the team he grew up rooting for, going 6 1/3 innings, allowing 2 runs on 6 hits and 3 walks, striking out 9. Of course, Joe Girardi removed him when his pitch count reached 96. God forbid, he should let a workhorse continue to work well.

The Yankees gave him an early lead to work with. With 1 out in the 1st inning, A's starter Jharel Cotton walked Gary Sanchez, hit Matt Holliday with a pitch, threw a wild pitch that advanced the runners, and gave up a sacrifice fly to Starlin Castro. One-nil to the Pinstripe Boys. (Apparently, I'm still in soccer mode.)

Both teams scored in the 6th inning. The A's scored to tie it, but with 2 out, Cotton again walked Sanchez. Cliche alert: Walks can kill you. This time, Holliday made him really pay for it, crushing a 413-foot home run to the Bleachers in left-center field.

Adam Warren finished off the 7th inning, but, as he did yesterday, Tyler Clippard ran into trouble in the 8th. Girardi must have decided not to look in the binder, because, this time, he took Clippard out before he could blow the game, and decided to risk Dellin Betances on a 5-out save. It worked: Betances faced 5 batters, and got them all out, striking out 3 of them.

Yankees 3, A's 2. WP: Sabathia (5-2 -- matching his uniform number, 52.) SV: Betances (5). LP: Cotton (3-5).

The series concludes this afternoon. Michael Pineda starts against Andrew Triggs. The Yankees go into it 2 games ahead of the Baltimore Orioles in the American League East, 3 in the loss column.

Come on you Pinstripes! (Yeah, I'm still in soccer mode. Don't forget, Arsenal were big underdogs.)

Jim Bunning, 1931-2017

Jim Bunning was a Hall-of-Famer as a pitcher. As a politician, well, let's just say we were not often in agreement. For this post, I'm going to stick to the facts.

James Paul David Bunning was born on October 23, 1931 in Southgate, Kentucky, about 3 miles across the Ohio River from downtown Cincinnati. He was born the same week as Mickey Mantle, but took much better care of himself, and, as a result, lived 22 years longer.

He attended Cincy's St. Xavier High School and Xavier University, getting a degree in economics while pitching minor-league baseball. In 1950, he signed with the Detroit Tigers, and remained in their minor-league system until his promotion in 1955. In between, he married Mary Catherine Theis.

He made his major league debut on July 20, 1955. Wearing Number 15, he started for the Tigers at Briggs Stadium (renamed Tiger Stadium in 1961), and lost to the Baltimore Orioles 6-3. Eventually, he switched to Number 14, and developed a hard slider, and a pitching motion that made his 6-foot-3, 190-pound frame look like it was jumping out at the batter, much as did that of fellow future Hall-of-Famer Bob Gibson. That slider enabled him to pitch a no-hitter against the Boston Red Sox on July 20, 1958, a 3-0 win at Fenway Park.

Sox star Ted Williams was not impressed. Jim Pagliaroni, a rookie catcher on the Sox in Ted's last season, 1960, recalled hearing Ted psych himself up in batting practice, saying things like, "My name is Ted Fucking Williams!" (He would swing the bat, and hit the ball, and produce a Crack! sound.) "And I'm the greatest hitter in baseball!" (Crack!) "Jesus H. Christ himself couldn't strike me out!" (Crack!) "Here comes Jim Bunning!" (Crack!) "Jim Bunning, with that little shit slider of his!" (Crack!) "He can't get me out, I'm Ted Fucking Williams!" (Crack!)

After the 1963 season, the Tigers traded Bunning and his slider -- Williams' opinion to the contrary, a really good one -- to the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phils raced out to 1st place in the National League, and Bunning was a big reason why. On June 21, 1964, he pitched a perfect game against the Mets at brand-new Shea Stadium.

It was the 1st regular-season perfect game in 42 years (Don Larsen, of course, pitched one in the World Series 8 years earlier), the 1st by a National League pitcher in 84 years, and the 1st no-hitter by a Phillies pitcher in 58 years. It made him only the 2nd pitcher to have pitched no-hitters in both Leagues, after Cy Young. (They have since been joined by 2 others: Nolan Ryan and Hideo Nomo.) He even doubled home 2 runs in the 6th inning, as the Phils won 6-0. It was the 1st game of a doubleheader, and the Phils also won the 2nd game, 8-2, as Rick Wise got his 1st major league win.

It was Father's Day, and Bunning was already the father of 7 children. Eventually, he would have 9, including David Bunning, now a federal judge. He had 35 grandchildren, including Patrick Towles, now the starting quarterback at the University of Kentucky; and 14 great-grandchildren.

But that 1964 season would end in embarrassment for the Phillies, as they had a 6 1/2-game lead with 12 games to play, lost 10 straight games, and blew it. for over half a century, manager Gene Mauch has been criticized for overpitching righthander Bunning and lefthander Chris Short during the slide. Fair or not, the St. Louis Cardinals won the Pennant, and then the World Series.

The Phils traded Bunning to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1968, they traded him to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1969, and they traded him back to the Phillies in 1970. That year, the Phils closed out their tenure at Connie Mack Stadium. On April 10, 1971, Bunning started and won the 1st game at Veterans Stadium, beating the Montreal Expos 4-1.

He retired at the end of that season, with a record of 224-184, becoming only the 2nd pitcher, after Cy Young, to have won at least 100 games in each League: 118-87 in the American, and 106-97 in the National. His career ERA was 3.27, his ERA+ 115, and his WHIP 1.179. He had 2,855 strikeouts, then 2nd on the all-time list behind Walter Johnson. He was a 9-time All-Star, was elected to the Philadelphia Baseball Wall of Fame in 1984, was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996, and had his Number 14 retired by the Phillies in 2001.

*

In 1977, he was elected to the City Council in Fort Thomas, Kentucky. In 1979, he was elected to the State Senate. In 1983, he was the Republican nominee for Governor, but lost. In 1986, he ran for the U.S. House of Representatives, for the District that included the Kentucky suburbs of Cincinnati, including Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. It is considered the State's most conservative District, and he won it 6 times.

When longtime Democratic Senator Wendell Ford retired, Bunning won his seat. Winning this seat in November 1998 and being sworn into it in January 1999 made him 1 of 2 Republicans who voted to impeach President Bill Clinton in the House, and then vote to convict him in his impeachment trial in the Senate. The other was Mike Crapo of Indiana. Of course, Clinton was acquitted, because the Republicans had no admissible evidence.

In 2004, knowing that his District depended on the Ohio River flowing well, and not flooding he sponsored a bill that became the Bunning-Bereuter-Blumenauer Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2004. (Apparently, to sponsor it, you had to have a German last name that started with a B.)

But that year, as he approached his 73rd birthday, people began criticizing him for "bizarre" behavior, especially concerning allegations he made against his Democratic opponent as he ran for re-election. His race was a lot closer than it was expected to be.

In April 2006, Time magazine did a profile on "America's Five Worst Senators." Fairly or not, it named Bunning to that list, saying he treated his staff badly and "shows little interest in policy unless it involves baseball." He had been part of the investigation into steroid use in the game. (I said I would stick to the facts. Saying that he was one of the worst Senators would be an opinion, and Time held it; saying that Time called him that is a fact.)

In 2009, as the Bush Recession hit rock bottom, he refused to vote for a bill boosting unemployment insurance until he was mollified with some amendments. His approval rating dropped to 28 percent, and he announced he wouldn't run again in 2010.
Jim Bunning continued to attend induction ceremonies for both the Baseball Hall of Fame and the Philadelphia Baseball Wall of Fame until last year, when he suffered a stroke. He died in a hospital in Southgate on May 26, 2017, at the age of 85.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Yankees on Arsenal Trophy Win Days, 1930-2017

April 26, 1930: Arsenal win the FA Cup, beating Huddersfield Town of Yorkshire, 2-0 at the original Wembley Stadium, West London. The Yankees beat the Boston Red Sox, 8-3 at the original Yankee Stadium in The Bronx.

April 6, 1931: Arsenal clinch the title of the old Football League Division 1 (hereafter referred to as "the League"), with a draw against Portsmouth of Hampshire, 1-1 at the Arsenal Stadium, a.k.a. Highbury, North London. The Yankees were working their way north from Spring Training, and did not play an official game.

April 22, 1933: Arsenal clinch the League, beating Chelsea of West London, 3-1 at Chelsea's ground, Stamford Bridge. The Yankees beat the Red Sox, 2-1 at Fenway Park in Boston.

April 28, 1934: Arsenal clinch the League, with a draw against Chelsea, 2-2 at Stamford Bridge. The Yankees lose to the Red Sox, 4-2 at Yankee Stadium.

April 20, 1935: Arsenal clinch the League, beating Huddersfield 1-0 at Highbury. The Yankees beat the Philadelphia Athletics (now the Oakland Athletics), 3-1 at Yankee Stadium.

April 25, 1936: Arsenal win the FA Cup, beating Sheffield United of Yorkshire, 1-0 at Wembley. The Yankees lose to the Red Sox, 7-2 at Fenway.

May 7, 1938: Arsenal clinch the League, beating Bolton Wanderers of Lancashire, 5-0 at Highbury. The Yankees beat the Detroit Tigers, 12-8 at Yankee Stadium.

April 10, 1948: Arsenal clinch the League, with a draw against Huddersfield at their ground, Leeds Road, 1-1. The Yankees were working their way north from Spring Training, and did not play an official game.

April 29, 1950: Arsenal win the FA Cup, beating Merseyside club Liverpool, 2-0 at Wembley. The Yankees beat the Washington Senators (now the Minnesota Twins), 6-2 at Griffith Stadium in Washington.

May 1, 1953: Arsenal clinch the League, beating Burnley of Lancashire, 3-2 at Highbury. The Yankees lost to the Chicago White Sox, 6-5 at Comiskey Park in Chicago.

April 28, 1970: Arsenal win the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup (the tournament now known as the Europa League), beating Anderlecht of Brussels, Belgium, 3-0 at Highbury. The Yankees beat the California Angels (the team now known as the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim), 7-5 at Yankee Stadium.

May 3, 1971: Arsenal clinch the League, beating their North London arch-rivals, Tottenham Hotspur, 1-0 at Spurs' ground, White Hart Lane. The Yankees were not scheduled to play that day.

May 8, 1971: Arsenal win the FA Cup, clinching "The Double," beating Liverpool, 2-1 in extra time at Wembley. The Yankees beat the White Sox, 2-1 at Comiskey.

May 12, 1979: Arsenal win the FA Cup, beating Manchester United, 3-2 at Wembley. The Yankees beat the Angels, 6-5 at Yankee Stadium.

April 5, 1987: Arsenal win the Football League Cup, beating Liverpool, 2-1 at Wembley. The Yankees opened their regular season the next day.

May 26, 1989: Arsenal clinch the League, beating Liverpool, 2-0 at Liverpool's ground, Anfield. The way the tiebreakers worked, Arsenal had to beat Liverpool by 2 goals, and got the 2nd from Michael Thomas in the last minute of the last game of the season. The Yankees lost to the Oakland Athletics (a.k.a. the A's), 4-0 at Yankee Stadium.

May 6, 1991: Arsenal clinch the League, beating Manchester United, 3-1 at Highbury. Actually, they clinched earlier in the day, without playing, when Liverpool lost to Nottingham Forest. The next season was the last for the old Football League Division One; thereafter, it would be the Premier League (again, herefore referred to as "the League"). The Yankees lost to the Seattle Mariners, 4-2 at Yankee Stadium.

April 18, 1993: Arsenal win the League Cup, beating Sheffield Wednesday of Yorkshire, 2-1 at Wembley. The Yankees lost to the Texas Rangers, 12-2 at Yankee Stadium.

May 20, 1993: After the Final ended 1-1 5 days earlier, Arsenal play Sheffield Wednesday again, in a replay, and again win 2-1 at Wembley. The Yankees were not scheduled to play that day.

May 4, 1994: Arsenal win the European Cup Winners' Cup, beating Parma of Italy, 1-0 at Parken Stadium in Copenhagen, Denmark. The Yankees lost to the Angels, 7-6 at Yankee Stadium.

May 3, 1998: Arsenal clinch the League, beating Everton of Merseyside, 4-0 at Highbury. The Yankees beat the Kansas City Royals, 10-1 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City.

May 16, 1998: Arsenal win the FA Cup, and the Double, beating North-East club Newcastle United, 2-0 at Wembley. The Yankees beat the Minnesota Twins, 5-2 at Yankee Stadium. The next day, while Arsenal were having their victory parade, David Wells pitched a perfect game for the Yankees against the Twins.

May 4, 2002: Arsenal win the FA Cup, beating Chelsea, 2-0 at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales. This was the seat of the Final between the 2000 closing of the old Wembley and the 2007 opening of the new one. The Yankees lost to the Mariners, 6-5 at Yankee Stadium.

May 8, 2002: Arsenal clinch the League, and the Double, beating Manchester United, 1-0 at United's ground, Old Trafford. The Yankees beat the Tampa Bay Devil Rays (now known as the Tampa Bay Rays), 7-2 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.

May 17, 2003: Arsenal win the FA Cup, beating Southampton of Hampshire, 1-0 at the Millennium Stadium. The Yankees lost to the Rangers, 5-2 at Yankee Stadium.

April 25, 2004: Arsenal clinch the League, with a draw against Spurs, 2-2 at White Hart Lane. Arsenal had now won the League at White Hart Lane as many times as Spurs had: 2. The Yankees also played their arch-rivals, the Red Sox, and weren't so lucky, losing 2-0 at Yankee Stadium.

May 21, 2005: Arsenal win the FA Cup, after drawing with Manchester United, 0-0, despite being down to 10 men, beating them 5-4 on penalty kicks, at the Millennium Stadium. The Yankees weren't so lucky, losing an Interleague game to the New York Mets, 7-1 at Shea Stadium in Queens.

May 17, 2014: Arsenal win the FA Cup, beating Hull City of Yorkshire, 3-2 in extra time, at the new Wembley Stadium in London. The Yankees won an Interleague game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, 7-1 at the new Yankee Stadium in The Bronx.

May 30, 2015: Arsenal win the FA Cup, beating Aston Villa of Birmingham, 4-0 at Wembley. The Yankees beat the A's, 5-3 at the Oakland Coliseum.

May 27, 2017: Arsenal win the FA Cup, beating Chelsea, 2-1 at Wembley. The Yankees beat the A's, 3-2 at Yankee Stadium.

FA Cup-Winning Goalscorers, 1872-2017

This afternoon, Arsenal won the Football Association Cup for a record 13th time, the 3rd time in the last 4 years. The North London giants beat West Londoners Chelsea, winners of the Premier League, 2-1 at the new Wembley Stadium in West London.

Aaron Ramsey, who scored the winning goal in the 2014 Final against Hull City, did it again, this time a lot sooner. Had he not done so, extra time might have been necessary, as it was in 2014. This time, he tallied in the 79th minute, right after Chelsea had wiped out the "One-nil to the Arsenal" lead that the Gunners (so nicknamed for their connection to the old Royal Arsenal at Woolwich) had notched very early on.

Arsene Wenger has now managed 7 FA Cup wins, more than any manager ever. He truly gambled by benching forward Olivier Giroud for Theo Walcott, and sending Arsenal out there without Petr Cech in goal, Laurent Koscielny and Gabriel Paulista on the back 4, and Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere in the midfield -- all injured except for Giroud, who came on late, and, as he had in 2014, assisted Ramsey's goal. As the smart Arsenal fans say, "Arsene Knows." (The dumb ones still want him out. I guess trophies are no longer what matter to them.)

The trophy was handed out by the President of the FA -- Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, grandson of Queen Elizabeth II. William also handed it out to Arsenal last year. Previously, Arsenal have received the Cup from King George V in 1930, King George VI in 1936 and 1950, Prince Charles in 1979, and Prince George, Duke of Kent, in 1971, 1993, 1998, 2002, 2003 and 2005. (The Duke of Kent is still alive, but it's William's duty now.)

The Queen, now 91 years old but showing no signs of slowing down, also awarded the World Cup to England Captain Bobby Moore at the old Wembley Stadium in 1966. She has admitted to being an Arsenal fan, as were her parents before her (George VI and the woman my generation knew as Elizabeth the Queen Mother -- who lived to be 101 and was still making public appearances, with canes but still upright and mentally with it, near the end).

But she hasn't handed the FA Cup out for a long time, and never gave it to an Arsenal Captain; the Gunners just weren't very good at the time. Prince Charles, now 68 and still heir to the throne, has admitted to being a fan of Lancashire side Burnley, which got relegated this season.

William, next in line after his father Charles, is an Aston Villa fan: He didn't like that most of his friends sided with the obvious clubs, such as Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United or Chelsea, so he went with an underdog club. (Villa have a decent history, but they haven't done much in the last 30 years.) His brother, Prince Harry, is an Arsenal fan. 

*

These men scored the goals that won FA Cup Finals.

Year, name of scorer, club (location, if said club has not already been mentioned), uniform number (or the number that would have corresponded to his position prior to 1930), minute of the game of the scoring of the goal that assured his team would have more than the opposition.

"ST" means stoppage time, also known as injury time: Time that the referee adds on, at the end of each half, to make up for game time missed due to any stoppage, such as to care for an injury, to address fouls, or for time-wasting; it is added at his discretion, and the number of minutes is a minimum and can have additional time added. "ET" means extra time, what North American sports would call "overtime."

Some of the spellings of these names -- of players and of clubs -- may seem odd. Rest assured, I have checked them, and they are correct.

Although Britain entered World War I in August 1914, the League season and Cup tournament that were soon to begin were allowed to play out until May 1915. Then football was suspended for the duration. The war ended in November 1918, but this was considered too late to reorganize for a 1918-19 season, and so that season was not played. The 1919-20 season began on time.

Britain entered World War II in September 1939, and the League season and Cup tournament that had already begun were called off. League football was suspended for the duration, but "Football League War Cup" tournaments were played, and I have included the scorers of the winning goals in this list. The war ended in August 1945, too late to reorganize a new League season for 1945-46, but an FA Cup tournament was organized and held in its entirety. The 1946-47 season began on time. After the troops came home from each World War, attendances skyrocketed, and the game became more popular than ever.

1872 Morton Betts, Wanderers (London), 7, 15th
1873 Arthur Kinnaird, Wanderers, 10, 27th
1874 Charles Mackarness, Oxford University, 2, 10th
1875 William Stafford, Royal Engineers, 8, time of goal unknown
1876 Charles Wollaston, Wanderers, 6, 30th
1877 William Lindsay, Wanderers, 3, 86th
1878 Arthur Kinnaird, Wanderers, 4, 35th
1879 Charles Clerke, Old Etonians (Eton, Berkshire), 6, 59th

1880 Clopton Lloyd-Jones, Clapham Rovers (South London), 11, time unknown
1881 Edwards Wynyard, Old Carthusians (Godalming, Surrey), 9, time unknown
1882 Reginald Macaulay, Old Etonians, 8, 8th
1883 Jimmy Costley, Blackburn Olympic (Lancashire), 10, time unknown but was in ET
1884 Jimmy Forest, Blackburn Rovers (Lancashire), 5, approximately 35th
1885 Jimmy Forest, Blackburn Rovers, 6, time unknown
1886 Joe Sowerbutts (his real name), Blackburn Rovers, 9, time unknown
1887 Archie Hunter, Aston Villa (Birmingham), 9, time unknown
1888 Jem Bayliss, West Bromwich Albion (West Midlands), 9, time unknown
1889 Fred Dewhurst, Preston North End (Lancashire), 10, 15th

1890 Nat Walton, Blackburn Rovers, 10, 10th
1891 Jack Southworth, Blackburn Rovers, 9 time unknown
1892 Jasper Geddes, West Bromwich Albion, 10, time unknown
1893 Harry Allen, Wolverhampton Wanderers (West Midlands), 5, 60th
1894 James Logan, Notts County (Nottingham), 9, time unknown
1895 Bob Chatt, Aston Villa, 8, 1st (30 seconds)
1896 Fred Spiksley, Sheffield Wednesday (Yorkshire), 11, 18th
1897 Jimmy Crabtree, Aston Villa, 6, 44th
1898 Arthur Capes, Nottingham Forest, 10, 42nd
1899 Billy Beer, Sheffield United, 8, 65th

1900 Jasper McLuckie, Bury (Lancashire, now in Greater Manchester), 9, 9th
1901 Tom Smith, Tottenham Hotspur (Middlesex, didn't get put in London until 1965), 7, 76th
1902 Billy Barnes, Sheffield United (Yorkshire), 7, 79th
1903 George Ross, Bury, 6, 20th
1904 Billy Meredith, Manchester City (Lancashire, now in Greater Manchester), 7, 23rd
1905 Harry Hampton, Aston Villa, 9, 2nd
1906 Sandy Young, Everton (Lancashire, now in Merseyside), 9, 77th
1907 George Simpson, Sheffield Wednesday, 11, 86th
1908 George Hedley, Wolverhampton Wanderers, 9, 43rd
1909 Sandy Turnbull, Manchester United (Lancashire, now in Greater Manchester), 10, 22nd

1910 Albert Shepherd, Newcastle United (Northumberland, now in Tyne and Wear), 9, 52nd
1911 Jimmy Speirs, Bradford City (Yorkshire), 8, 15th
1912 Harry Tufnell, Barnsley (Yorkshire), 8, 118th (ET)
1913 Tommy Barber, Aston Villa, 4, 78th
1914 Bert Freeman, Burnley (Lancashire), 9, 57th
1915 James Simmons, Sheffield United, 7, 36th
1916 Tournament canceled due to World War I
1917 Tournament canceled due to World War I
1918 Tournament canceled due to World War I
1919 Tournament canceled due to World War I

1920 Billy Kirton, Aston Villa, 8, 100th (ET)
1921 Jimmy Dimmock, Tottenham Hotspur, 11, 53rd
1922 Billy Smith, Huddersfield Town (Yorkshire), 11, 67th (penalty)
1923 David Jack (future Arsenal star), Bolton Wanderers (Lancashire), 8, 2nd
1924 Neil Harris (not the actor), Newcastle United, 9, 83rd
1925 Fred Tunstall, Sheffield United, 11, 30th
1926 David Jack, Bolton Wanderers, 9, 76th
1927 Hughie Ferguson, Cardiff City (Wales), 9 74th
1928 Tommy McLean, Blackburn Rovers, 10, 22nd
1929 Billy Butler, Bolton Wanderers, 7, 79th

1930 Alex James, Arsenal (North London), 10, 16th
1931 W.G. "Ginger" Richardson, West Bromwich Albion, 9, 58th
1932 Jack Allen, Newcastle United, 9, 72nd
1933 Jimmy Stein, Everton, 11, 41st
1934 Fred Tilson, Manchester City, 11, 74th
1935 Ellis Rimmer, Sheffield Wednesday, 11, 85th
1936 Ted Drake, Arsenal, 9, 74th
1937 Raich Carter, Sunderland, 8, 72nd
1938 George Mutch, Preston North End, 8, 119th (ET, penalty)
1939 John Anderson, Portsmouth, 9, 43rd

1940 Sam Small, West Ham United (East London), 7, 34th
1941 Robert Beattie, Preston North End, number and time unknown
1942 Frank Broome, Wolverhampton Wanderers, 7, 51st
1943 Blackpool, scorer, number and time unknown
1944 Charlton Athletic & Aston Villa drew 1-1, replay canceled due to war-related issues
1945 Bolton Wanderers, scorer, number and time unknown
1946 Peter Doherty (not the singer), Derby County, 10, 92nd (ET)
1947 Chris Duffy, Charlton Athletic (South London), 11, 114th (ET)
1948 Stan Pearson, Manchester United, 10, 80th
1949 Jessie Pye, Wolverhampton Wanderers, 9, 42nd

1950 Reg Lewis, Arsenal, 10, 18th
1951 Jackie Milburn, Newcastle United, 9, 40th
1952 George Robledo, Newcastle United, 84th
1953 Bill Perry, Blackpool, 11, 92nd (ST)
1954 Frank Griffin, West Bromwich Albion, 7, 87th
1955 Bobby Mitchell (not the American football star), Newcastle United, 11, 52nd
1956 Bobby Johnstone, Manchester City, 7, 62nd
1957 Peter McParland, Aston Villa, 11, 73rd
1958 Nat Lofthouse, Bolton Wanderers, 9, 3rd
1959 Tommy Wilson (not the music producer), Nottingham Forest, 9, 14th

1960 Mick McGrath, Blackburn Rovers, 6, 41st, own goal to Wolverhampton Wanderers
1961 Bobby Smith, Tottenham Hotspur, 9, 66th
1962 Bobby Smith, Tottenham Hotspur, 9, 51st
1963 David Herd (former Arsenal star), Manchester United, 9, 57th
1964 Ronnie Boyce, West Ham United, 8, 90th
1965 Ian St. John, Liverpool, 9, 113th (ET)
1966 Derek Temple, Everton, 11, 74th
1967 Frank Saul, Tottenham Hotspur (now, finally, in North London), 11, 67th
1968 Jeff Astle, West Bromwich Albion, 9, 93rd (ET)
1969 Neil Young (not the singer), Manchester City, 10, 24th

1970 David Webb, Chelsea (West London), 6, 104th (ET)
1971 Charlie George, Arsenal, 11, 111th (ET)
1972 Allen Clarke, Leeds United (Yorkshire), 8, 53rd
1973 Ian Porterfield, Sunderland, 10, 51st
1974 Kevin Keegan, Liverpool, 7, 57th
1975 Alan Taylor, West Ham United, 9, 60th
1976 Bobby Stokes, Southampton, 11, 83rd
1977 Jimmy Greenhoff, Manchester United, 8, 55th
1978 Roger Osborne, Ipswich Town, 7, 77th
1979 Alan Sunderland, Arsenal, 8, 89th

1980 Trevor Brooking, West Ham United, 10, 13th
1981 Ricky Villa, Tottenham Hotspur, 5, 76th
1982 Glenn Hoddle, Tottenham Hotspur, 10, 6th (penalty)
1983 Bryan Robson, Manchester United, 7, 25th
1984 Graeme Sharp, Everton, 9, 38th
1985 Norman Whiteside, Manchester United, 4, 110th (ET)
1986 Craig Johnston, Liverpool, 8, 62nd
1987 Gary Mabbutt, Tottenham Hotspur, 6, 95th (ET), own goal to Coventry City (West Midlands)
1988 Lawrie Sanchez, Wimbledon (South London), 10, 37th
1989 Ian Rush, Liverpool, 14 (usually 9), 104th

1990 Lee Martin, Manchester United, 3, 59th
1991 Des Walker, Nottingham Forest, 4, 94th (ET), own goal to Tottenham Hotspur
1992 Michael Thomas (former Arsenal star), Liverpool, 11, 47th
1993 Andy Linighan, Arsenal, 5, 119th (ET)
1994 Eric Cantona, Manchester United, 7, 60th (penalty)
1995 Paul Rideout, Everton, 15, 30th
1996 Eric Cantona, Manchester United, 7, 85th
1997 Roberto Di Matteo, Chelsea, 16, 1 (42 seconds)
1998 Marc Overmars, Arsenal, 11, 23rd
1999 Teddy Sheringham, Manchester United, 10, 11th

2000 Roberto Di Matteo, Chelsea, 16, 73rd
2001 Michael Owen, Liverpool, 10, 88th
2002 Ray Parlour, Arsenal, 15, 70th
2003 Robert Pires, Arsenal, 7, 38th
2004 Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United, 7, 44th
2005 Patrick Vieira, Arsenal, 4, penalties
2006 John Arne Riise, Liverpool, 6, penalties
2007 Didier Drogba, Chelsea, 11, 116th (ET)
2008 Nwankwo Kanu (former Arsenal star), Portsmouth, 27 (previously 25), 37th
2009 Frank Lampard, Chelsea, 8, 72nd

2010 Didier Drogba, Chelsea, 11, 59th
2011 Yaya Toure, Manchester City, 42, 74th
2012 Didier Drogba, Chelsea, 11, 52nd
2013 Ben Watson, Wigan Athletic (Greater Manchester), 91st (ST)
2014 Aaron Ramsey, Arsenal, 16, 109th (ET)
2015 Theo Walcott, Arsenal, 14, 40th
2016 Jesse Lingard, Manchester United, 35, 111th (ET)
2017 Aaron Ramsey, Arsenal, 8 (he switched numbers), 79th

Scored the Cup-winning goal twice: 8 men, most recently Aaron Ramsey of Arsenal, 2014 & today.

Done it 3 times: Didier Drogba of Chelsea, 2007, '10 and '12.

Fastest: Bob Chatt, Aston Villa, 1895, 30 or so seconds.

Did it to his own team with an own goal: Mick McGrath, to Blackburn for Wolverhampton, 1960; Gary Mabbutt to Tottenham for Coventry, 1987; Des Walker, Nottingham Forest for Tottenham, 1991.

Latest in regular time: Bill Perry, Blackpool, 1953, 92nd minute.

Did it in extra time: 16 men, most recently Jesse Lingard, Manchester United, 2016.

Latest in extra time: George Mutch, Preston North End, 1938; and Andy Linighan, Arsenal, 1993; both in the 119th minute.

Did it with an in-game penalty: Billy Smith, Huddersfield, 1922; Mutch; Glenn Hoddle, Tottenham, 1982; and Eric Cantona, Manchester United, 1994. Did it during postgame penalties: Patrick Vieira, Arsenal, 2005; and John Arne Riise, Liverpool, 2006.

In 2009, Louis Saha of Everton scored 25 seconds into the game, the fastest FA Cup Final goal ever, but Everton went on to lose the game to Chelsea. Ffor those games where I've listed "time unknown," if it had been scored in the 1st minute, that fact surely would have been recorded.

Squad numbers were assigned to positions until 1993. The highest number allowed was 11 until substitutes were allowed, starting in the 1966-67 season, then 12 until 1986-87, then 14 with the allowance of a second sub, until 1993. The highest number yet worn by any player in an FA Cup Final is 45, by Mario Balotelli of Manchester City in 2011. The 42 worn in the same game by winning goalscorer Yaya Toure would have broken the record had Balotelli not played.

Roberto DiMatteo is the only non-playing manager to have both scored an FA Cup-winning goal and managed an FA Cup-winning team.

Jimmy Forest never played for Nottingham Forest. Alan Sunderland never played for Sunderland. Ricky Villa never played for Aston Villa. And, as the joke goes, Danny Shittu never played for Tottenham. (He bounced around, playing more games for West London's Queens Park Rangers than anyone else.) Then again, he never won the FA Cup, either.

Gin Rummy Girardi Throws Great Tanaka Start Away

The Yankees started a 3-game series with the Oakland Athletics at Yankee Stadium last night. After the 2 worst starts of his career, Masahiro Tanaka really needed to show the Yankees his previous ace form.

He did. In the 1st 7 innings, he allowed a double and 3 singles, but no walks and no runs, striking out 13. If this were a postseason start, it would be legend.

The problem was, the Yankees didn't get any runs off A's starter Sean Manaea, either. They wasted a leadoff walk by Brett Gardner in the 1st inning, an Austin Romine double in the 3rd, singles by Aaron Judge in the 4th and the 7th, and an Aaron Hicks single in the 6th.

Joe Girardi trusted Tanaka to begin the top of the 8th. I guess we should give him some small, very small, amount of credit for that. Tanaka got his 14th strikeout.

Then he allowed a single. And, instead of allowing him to work out if it, Girardi saw this single, checked Tanaka's pitch count, saw that it had reached 111, panicked, and pulled him, and brought in Tyler Clippard.

This was a stupid thing to do. Clippard pitched with, to borrow the words of M*A*S*H's Colonel Potter, all the efficiency of a one-legged man at a butt-kicking contest: Fielder's choice, walk, single, single. 2-0 A's.

The Yankees got nothing in the bottom of the 8th. Girardi sent Jonathan Holder out for the top of the 9th. His 1st 2 batters were Trevor Plouffe, who singled, and Stephen Vogt, who hit a 400-foot home run. At 2-0, the game was still within reach. At 4-0, the Yankees were unlikely to come back.

Hicks led off the bottom of the 9th by drawing a walk, and there was hope. But Holliday flew out. Starlin Castro singled, and Judge walked, loading the bases with 1 out. Didi Gregorius was up. A home run could tie it.

He got a run home with a sacrifice fly, but Gary Sanchez popped up to end the game. A's 4, Yankees 1. WP: Manaea (3-3). No save. LP: Tanaka (5-4).

Stop telling me Girardi does well with what he has: He doesn't. Forget poker: He's playing gin rummy, discarding good cards, and losing because of it.

The series continues this afternoon. CC Sabathia starts against Jharel Cotton.

You know what would be nice? If CC were to pitch well this afternoon, if the Yankees got a sufficient number of runs, and if Joe Girardi trusted his starter and didn't throw another game away with stupid pitching changes.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Bob Kuzava, 1923-2017; Ed Mierkowicz, 1924-2017

There were 2 notable deaths in baseball this month, both of them from the Polish-American community of Detroit, best friends from the town of Wyandotte, 1 of them connected to the Yankees.

Robert Leroy Kuzava was born on May 28, 1923. Despite his Italian-sounding name, he was part of the Detroit area's huge Polish community, going to the now-defunct St. Patrick's High School. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II, and rose to the rank of Sergeant, and was nicknamed "Sarge" for the rest of his life."

A lefthanded pitcher, he made his major league on September 21, 1946, starting for the Cleveland Indians against his hometown team, the Detroit Tigers, at League Park in Cleveland. He was a bit erratic, walking 7 batters and striking out only 3. But he left with the game tied, and the Tigers won it 5-4 in 11 innings, with Dizzy Trout going the distance.

He had trouble finding his control, and in 1947, the Indians sent him back down. He did not return to the major leagues during the 1948 season, meaning he missed out on the Indians' World Series win.

After that season, the Indians traded him to the Chicago White Sox. They weren't impressed, and, early in 1950, traded him to the Washington Senators, then among the dregs of baseball. That season, racing to 1st base to complete a double play against the White Sox, Nellie Foxx stepped on him, severing his Achilles tendon. He never pitched for the Senators again.

The Yankees must have seen something in him, because, on June 15, 1951, they sent Tom Ferrick Bob Porterfield and Fred Sanford (not the Sanford & Son character) to the Senators to obtain Kuzava.

It turned out to be a great trade. Yankee manager Casey Stengel, always looking for new ways to use players, converted him into a reliever. Down the stretch of the 1951 season, Kuzava, wearing Number 21, went 8-4 with a 2.40 ERA.

The Yankees won the Pennant, and faced the New York Giants in the World Series. They took a 4-1 lead into the 9th inning of Game 6, needing only 3 more outs to take their 3rd straight title. But Vic Raschi, who had pitched brilliantly for the Yankees in 3 straight Series to this point, faltered, loading the bases with nobody out.

Casey brought Kuzava in, and he allowed back-to-back sacrifice flies that brought the Giants to within 4-3. He got 2 outs, then faced Sal Yvars, who hit a sinking liner into right field. It could have given the Giants the lead, but Hank Bauer slid on his knees and made a shoestring catch -- or, rather, it would have been a kneepad catch, if baseball players wore kneepads -- to end it. (It was also the last game Joe DiMaggio ever played.)

That, alone, would have written the name of Bob Kuzava into Yankee history. But, pardon the pitching-related pun, he was just getting warmed up. Casey used him as both a starter and reliever in 1952, with mixed success.

But, again, he threw Kuzava into the cauldron of a clinching game of a World Series -- this time, in the 7th inning of Game 7, with the Yankees leading 4-2, but the Brooklyn Dodgers having loaded the bases with 1 out. He got the 2nd out, then got Jackie Robinson to pop up, except every Yankee infielder seemed to lose the ball in the sun. Billy Martin ran in from 2nd base and made a shoestring catch, and, again, Kuzava was bailed out by a fantastic defensive play. He got through the 8th, and worked out of a jam in the 9th to give the Yankees their 4th straight title. Yogi Berra jumped on Kuzava's back, caught by the early NBC TV cameras, with Mel Allen mentioning it on the air.

Again in 1953, Stengel used Kuzava as both a starter and a reliever, with mixed success. Again, the Yankees won the Pennant. Again, Stengel inserted Kuzava into a Series game. This time, though, it didn't work: He didn't have good stuff in Game 5 against the Dodgers, and Casey had to remove him. The Yankees won, anyway, and clinched in Game 6 for the 5th straight World Championship, never done before or since. As Yogi said of Don Larsen's World Series perfect game 3 years later, "It's never happened before, and it still hasn't."

That was pretty much it for Kuzava in Pinstripes. He was traded to the Baltimore Orioles in 1954, and bounced around to Pittsburgh and St. Louis before calling it quits in 1957. His career record was 49-44, with 7 shutouts and 13 saves -- and 3 World Series rings.

He became a scout for the Milwaukee Braves and the Kansas City Athletics. With the A's, he saw a tall righthanded pitcher in Detroit, and told owner Charlie Finley to sign him before somebody else got him. Notoriously cheap, Finley wouldn't match the $70,000 the pitcher had been offered by the White Sox. The pitcher did reach the White Sox, but didn't do much for him. But he also played basketball, played for his hometown Pistons, and, on February 14, 1968, scored the 1st basket at the new Madison Square Garden. He would be acquired by the Knicks, and the rest was history. His name was Dave DeBusschere.

Bob Kuzava lived out his life in Wyandotte, and died there on May 15, 2017, just short of his 94th birthday. He was survived by Dona, his wife of 74 years; sons Robert Jr. and Tom; daughters Diane and Theresa (another, Jeanne, predeceased him), 6 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

He was a member of the National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame, and a field in Wyandotte is named for him.

With his death, there are now just 2 surviving players from the 1951 World Champion New York Yankees: Bobby Brown and Charlie Silvera. (Whitey Ford was serving in the Korean War at the time.) There are also 2 left from the 1952 World Champion New York Yankees: Silvera and Irv Noren. (Brown had joined Whitey in the Army.) And there are 4 players left from the 1953 World Champion New York Yankees: Ford, Silvera, Noren and Art Schallock. (Brown was still in the service.)

*

We also just lost the last link to a legend: The last wartime-era World Champions.

Edward Frank Mierkowicz was born on March 6, 1924. He and Bob Kuzava, were best friends, but they were not classmates, as Ed Mierkowicz went to the public Wyandotte High School. He, too, served in the Army during World War II, but was discharged in 1944 after contracting rheumatic fever.

Having scouted him before The War, his hometown Tigers signed him, and, with rosters still stretched thin despite V-J Day having already happened, put him into his 1st game on August 31, 1945. Like Kuzava, his 1st game was Tigers vs. Indians, although this one was at Briggs Stadium in Detroit (later Tiger Stadium). Wearing Number 2, he pinch-hit for Skeeter Webb in the 7th inning, but did not reach base, and the Indians won 7-2.

He only played in 11 games during the 1945 season, but 1 of those was Game 7 of the World Series against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. In the 9th inning, he became a defensive replacement for Hall-of-Famer Hank Greenberg in left field, his only defensive chance a single by Roy Hughes, and he didn't get to bat -- but the Tigers won, 9-3, and were World Champions. The Tigers would not reach the World Series again for 23 years; the Cubs, 71 years.
After the game, the City of Detroit and team owner Walter Briggs threw a huge party for the Tigers. Most of the players opted to go home so just a few attended the celebration. A free car was given to a rookie player, Salty Parker, who had his name drawn. When this party was announced, everybody associated with that team showed up, with the anticipation of winning a car. They did have the drawing, and Ed Mierkowicz won the car.

A lot of the veterans were a little jealous of the kid, because he hardly played on the squad. But Hank Greenberg himself, with all his height and all his moral authority, rose to speak, and said, "Hey, he is a rookie, and he can use it more than we can. Don't begrudge the kid his good luck."

But it was still wartime conditions, and Detroit wasn't making new cars yet. Instead of giving him the keys to a car, they gave him a hubcap as a promissory note. The next year, he turned the hubcap in, and got his car. He later got the hubcap back, and framed it.

Ed would get into only 34 regular-season games, all for the Tigers except for his last, on April 19, 1950, for the St. Louis Cardinals. He made just 67 plate appearances, collecting just 11 hits. But he was a major leaguer, and played for the winning side in a Game 7 of a World Series.
He continued to play professionally until 1957, but never reached the majors after 1950. He said his career "was like a cup of coffee, but no cream." He added, "God gave me the ability to play ball. Made a pretty good living. We didn't make a lot of money, but it was a lot of fun."

He returned to Wyandotte, and worked as a mechanic at a waste treatment plant, retiring in 1984. He also refereed CYO basketball, and may be best remembered in the Detroit area for that. He also owned a Wyandotte saloon called the Blossom Bar, and watched the Tigers win Pennants in 1968, 1984, 2006 and 2012.

Up until 2014, he was in reasonably good health until 2014, when he suffered an injury that ends up starting the decline of many an old person: He fell and broke his hip. He fell again last year, and spent the rest of his life in a nursing home in Rochester Hills, Michigan. He died there on May 19, 2017, at the age of 93.

He was survived by his daughters Linda Edwards, Brenda Schervish and Lisa Mayra. He was widowed twice, having been married to women named Kathryn, then Janette, and was predeceased by stepsons Tom and Kip Tiefer. He had several grandchildren.

He was the last surviving member of the 1945 World Champion Detroit Tigers, and thus the last living member of a World Series winner up to that point. Now, the earliest surviving World Series winner is 94-year-old Albert "Red" Schoendienst, the Hall of Fame 2nd baseman for the 1946 St. Louis Cardinals, who also won one with the 1957 Milwaukee Braves, and managed the Cardinals to the 1967 World Championship and another Pennant in 1968, losing to the Tigers. Still a consultant and a Spring Training instructor for the Cards, he has worn a Major League Baseball uniform for 72 consecutive seasons. As far as I know, that's a record.

Bob Kuzava and Ed Mierkowicz remained friends for about 80 years, from radio to Netflix, from Clark Gable to Robert Pattinson, from Count Basie to Fifth Harmony, from FDR to SOB, from finding out who won today's game by waiting for the evening paper to finding out what's happening in today's game by refreshing your browser.

They died within 4 days of each other.

Chciałbym złożyć szczere wyrazy współczucia z powodu śmierci Roberta i Edwarda. That's a traditional Polish funeral blessing, meaning, "I would like to express sincere words of compassion for the death of Robert and Edward."

Rain Dampens Yankee Momentum

After Tuesday night's game, which the Yankees lost to the Kansas City Royals, 6-2 at Yankee Stadium, I said they needed to score a bunch of runs on Wednesday night.

They didn't. They only got 1 more. This time, Joe Girardi didn't screw up the pitching, and that 1 more run was more than enough.

It would have been pretty hard to screw the pitching up, although, knowing Girardi and his binder, he might have had a way printed out for him. In fact, he had it: Luis Severino threw 114 pitches, which is 14 more than Girardi's red alert, and about 19 more than his yellow alert.

But Joe left Sevy in because he was brilliant, pitching perhaps the best Yankee start of the post-Jeter era: 8 innings, no runs, 4 hits, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts.

But you gotta score runs, no matter how good your pitcher is. Didi Gregorius provided, as it turned out, all the offense the Yankees would need in the bottom of the 3rd inning, with a home run to right-center field, his 3rd jack of the season. Matt Holliday brought home another run with a sacrifice fly in the 6th, and a Brett Gardner single brought Sir Didi home in the 7th. Royals starter Jason Hammel pitched decently, and were he doing it against a team other than my own, I'd say he deserved a better fate.

Dellin Betances struck out the side in the 9th, making him now 4-for-4 in save opportunities since Aroldis Chapman's injury forced him back into the closer's role he had for the last 2 months of last season. Yankees 3, Royals 0. WP: Severino (3-2). SV: Betances (4 ). LP: Jason Hammel (1-6).

After a game like that, you wanna get right back out there. And the Yankees were scheduled for a Thursday afternoon "getaway day" 1:00 start. Alas, the weather had other ideas, and the game was rained out, and rescheduled for an off-day on both teams' calendars, September 25.

Rain is a great stopper of momentum. And we're not exactly in a drought, so we didn't need it for non-baseball reasons.

So the Yankees, now 2 1/2 games (3 in the loss column) ahead of the Baltimore Orioles in the American League Eastern Division, had to wait until tonight to play again. They start a 3-game home weekend series with the Oakland Athletics, who come in struggling, 4 games under .500. Here are the projected pitching matchups:

* Tonight, 7:05 PM: Masahiro Tanaka vs. Sean Manaea, an All-Pacific matchup, as Manaea is a Samoan from Indiana. Tanaka has a tendency to give up home runs, especially early, canceling out his good performances. Hopefully, he will control his hungry gopher tonight.

* Tomorrow, 1:05 PM: CC Sabathia starts against the team he grew up rooting for in the East Bay, against Jharel Cotton.

* Sunday, 1:05 PM: Michael Pineda vs. Andrew Triggs.

This could be a very tricky series for the Yankees, whose trend, for as long as I can remember (going back to the Reggie-Thurman Dynasty), is to struggle against pitchers they've never seen before. They beat Triggs on May 20 of last season, but that was in relief. They've never faced him as a starter before. They beat Manaea when he started against them the next day, but that's their only game against him. Like Manaea, Cotton debuted in the major leagues last season, and has 12 major league appearances under his belt, none against the Yankees.

We shall see.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

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

For this coming Thursday through Sunday, the Yankees travel across the U.S.-Canadian border to play away to the Toronto Blue Jays.

After 20 years in the wilderness following their 1992 and '93 World Championships, the Jays got good again in 2014, won the American League Eastern Division again in 2015, won the AL Wild Card Game in 2016, and advance to the AL Championship Series in each of the last 2 seasons. They got off to a horrendous start this season, but have gone on a hot streak late.

Why do I so frequently call them "those pesky Blue Jays"? Because it was the Blue Jays, then a 2-year-old expansion team, that the Yankees faced in the first Major League Baseball game I ever saw live, on May 27, 1978. The Yankees, defending World Champions, took a 1-1 tie into the 9th, but Ed Figueroa ran out of gas and lost, 4-1. (Why Billy Martin didn't put in Sparky Lyle, I don't know. I do know he didn't trust the new reliever, Goose Gossage, though Bob Lemon did, and that helped save the season.)

It took 4 games, over a span of 15 years, before I finally saw the Yankees beat the Blue Jays with me in the stadium. I used to keep records of this sort of thing, and I could probably rebuild it if I had the time, but I think my record against the Jays is 2-5 -- and that includes 0-2 in Toronto. Which is a long way to go to not come away with a win.

Being in a foreign country has its particular challenges -- and, yes, for all its similarities to America, Canada is still a foreign country.

Before You Go. Make sure you call your bank and tell them you're going. After all, Canada may be an English-speaking country, and a democracy (if a parliamentary one), and a country with a Major League Baseball team, but it is still a foreign country. If your bank gets a record of your ATM card making a withdrawal from any country other than the U.S., it may freeze the card, and any other accounts you may have with them. So be sure to let them know that you will, in fact, be in Canada for a little while.

And, since June 1, 2009, you need a passport to cross the border in either direction. Even if you have a valid driver's license (or other State-issued ID) and your birth certificate, they ain't lettin' you across into the True North Strong and Free. Not even if you're a Blue Jays season-ticket holder living in Buffalo or if you sing hosannas of praise to Wayne Gretzky. You don't have a passport? Get one. You do have one? Make sure it's valid and up to date. This is not something you want to mess with. Canadian Customs officials do not fuck around: They care about their national security, too.

Do yourself another big favor: Change your money before you go. There are plenty of currency exchanges in New York City, including one on 42nd Street between 7th and 8th Avenue.

Leave yourself $50 in U.S. cash, especially if you're going other than by plane, so you'll have usable cash when you get back to your side of the border. At last check, on the evening of May 25, 2016, US$1.00 = C$1.35 – or, C$1.00 = US 74 cents. However, since the currency exchanges need to make a profit, the current rate may actually favor Canada.  (I was actually in Canada on the day when it most favored the U.S.: January 18, 2002, $1.60 to $1.00 in our favor.)

The multi-colored bill were confusing on my first visit, although we have those now, too. The $5 is blue, and features Wilfrid Laurier (Prime Minister 1896-1911). The $10 is purple, and features John A. Macdonald (the 1st Prime Minister, 1867-1873 and again 1878-1891, essentially he's their George Washington without having fought a war for independence). The $20 is green, and features the nation's head of state, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II. The $50 is red, and features William Lyon Mackenzie King (the longest-serving Prime Minister, 1921-1926, 1926-1930, 1935-1948, including World War II). And the $100 is yellow, and features Robert Borden (Prime Minister 1911-1920, including World War I).

The tricky part is going to be the coins – and you'll thank me for telling you this, but keep your U.S. coins and your Canadian coins separate, for the simple reason that their penny, nickel, dime and quarter are all the same colors and just about the same size as our respective coins. (To make matters more confusing, as we recently did with our States, they had a Provincial quarter series.)

All coins have Queen Elizabeth's portrait on the front, but she's been Queen since 1952, and depending on how old the coin is, you might get a young woman, or her current 91-year-old self, or anything in between. You might even get a penny or a nickel old enough to feature her father, King George VI. Such a coin is still legal tender, however.

They have a $1 coin, copper-colored, bigger than a quarter, and 11-sided, with a bird on the back. This bird is a loon – not to be confused with the people lunatic enough to buy Maple Leafs season tickets. The coin is thus called the "loonie," although they don't say "ten loonies": They use "buck" for "dollar" the way we would. In fact, the term is connected to Canada: Their first English settlers were the Hudson's Bay Company, and they set the value of a dollar to the price of the pelt of a male beaver, the male of the species being called, as are those of a deer and a rabbit, a buck. (And the female, a doe.) The nation's French-speakers (Francophones) use the French word for loon, and call it a "huard," but since the Montreal Expos are gone, you probably won't hear that term unless you're a hockey fan and go to see the Rangers, Devils or Islanders in Montreal – or maybe Ottawa, which is on the Ontario-Quebec border and has a lot of French-first-speakers.

Then there's the $2 coin, or "toonie." It’s not just two dollars, it's two-toned, and even two-piece. It's got a copper center, with the Queen on the front and a polar bear on the back, and a nickel ring around it. This coin is about the size of the Eisenhower silver dollars we used to have. This is the coin that drives me bonkers when I'm up there.

My suggestion is that, when you first get your money changed before you begin your trip, ask for $1 coins but no $2 coins. It's just simpler. I like Canada a lot, but their money, yikes, eh?

This is Canada, the Great White North, but, being early June, the traditional Canadian cold, and the wind blasting off Lake Ontario, should not be a problem. In which case the Rogers Centre roof will be likely to be closed. So you should pack a winter jacket. If you're going from May onward, even in late September, it will probably be warm enough to not bring any jacket, but bring a light one just in case.

According to the Toronto Star website, temperatures will be in the low 60s in the afternoons and the mid-50s at night, so expect the dome to be open for at least the Saturday and Sunday afternoon games, if not all 4 games.

Toronto is in the Eastern Time Zone, so you won't have to reset your watch or fiddle with your smartphone's clock.

Tickets. It used to be that getting tickets to any Blue Jays home game, not just Yankee games, was hard, because they were selling the SkyDome out, 50,000 per night. It peaked in their 2nd straight World Championship season of 1993, 50,098.

But the strike of 1994, and the decline of the team (the World Championship roster had already begun to be broken up to save money), was the beginning of the end. They fell to 20,209 in 2002, had an uptick back to 29,626 in 2008, but in 2010 they averaged 20,068, 5th-worst in baseball, 3rd in the AL and dead last in the AL East – and that counts games against the well-traveling, not-that-far-away Yankees and Red Sox, not to mention their closest opponents, the Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers.

The move of the Montreal Expos to Washington, making them Canada's only Major League Baseball team, didn't seem to have affected attendance much: The increases in home attendance in 2005, '06, '07 and '08 were mainly due to the Jays getting a little better (in 2006 they finished 2nd to the Yankees, the closest they came to postseason play since between 1993 and 2015), and they lost 6,500 fans per game in 2009 and lost another 3,000 in 2010.

The preseason hype of 2014 and the postseason runs of the last 2 years sold a lot of tickets, getting them up to 36,869, about 75 percent of capacity

Even with that increase, you should have no trouble getting tickets, and going to one of the many scalpers on and around the stadium grounds will be totally unnecessary – this is the Jays, not the Leafs, who haven’t played to an unsold seat since World War II. (Note that all ticket prices I’m mentioning in this post are in Canadian dollars, which means they're a bit less in U.S. dollars.)

Games against the Yankees are classified as "Premium Games," so they are a bit more expensive than usual. You can get Field Level Bases for $91, Field Level Infield for $89, 200 Level Bases and 200 Level Infield for $84, 200 Level Outfield for $57, 100 Level Outfield for $47, and the entire upper deck, the 500 Level, is just $36. The 500 Level is really high up, but no worse than the upper decks at the old Yankee Stadium and Shea, and the first few rows shouldn't be all that bad.

Getting There. The best way is by plane. (Note that these prices, unlike the preceding, will be in U.S. dollars.) Air Canada runs flights out of Newark Liberty, John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia International Airport to Toronto's Lester Pearson International Airport (he was Prime Minister from 1963 to 1968 and won the Nobel Peace Prize), and the flight takes about an hour and a half. Book on Air Canada today, and you can get a round-trip nonstop flight for under $500. On an American carrier, it will be much more expensive, and it won't be nonstop.

Greyhound runs 9 buses a day from Port Authority Bus Terminal to the Toronto Coach Terminal, at 610 Bay Street. (Countries in the British Commonwealth, including Canada, call a local bus a bus and an inter-city bus a "coach.") The ride averages about 11 hours, and is cheap, $103 round-trip -- and an advance purchase can drop it to $88. The TCT is big and clean, although a little confusing, as it seems to be two separate buildings. You shouldn’t have any difficulties with it. It's one block down Bay to Dundas Street, and turn left to get to the Dundas subway station.
Amtrak, however, runs just 1 train, the Maple Leaf, in each direction each day between New York and Toronto, in cooperation with Canada's equivalent, VIA Rail. This train leaves Pennsylvania Station at 7:15 AM and arrives at Union Station at 7:41 PM, a trip of 12 hours and 21 minutes – reaching Customs at 4:24 PM. The return trip leaves Toronto at 8:20 AM, reaches the border at 10:22, and gets back to Penn Station at 9:50 PM.

So if you want to see, for example, this entire upcoming series), you would have to leave New York on Wednesday morning and leave on the following Monday morning, and spend 4 nights in a hotel.
So, while Toronto's Union Station, at 65 Front Street West, is one of the world's great rail terminals, and is the heart of the city (it's the centerpoint of the city's subway system, so it's not just in the heart of the city), taking Amtrak/VIA to Toronto is not particularly convenient. Especially since the Maple Leaf is one of Amtrak's most popular routes, and it could sell out. If you still want to try it, it's US$252 round-trip. That's a lot more than Greyhound.
If you're driving, it's 500 miles – well, 492 miles from Times Square to downtown Toronto. It's 79 miles from downtown to the closest border crossing, the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge at Niagara Falls. (It's 458 miles from Times Square, and 45 miles from the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge, to downtown Hamilton, home of the CFL's Tiger-Cats.)

Get into New Jersey to Interstate 80, and take it all the way across the State. Shortly after crossing the Delaware River and entering Pennsylvania, take I-380, following the signs for Scranton, until reaching I-81. (If you've driven to a game of the Yankees' Triple-A farm team, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, you already know this part.) Take I-81 north into New York State. (If you've driven to a game of the Mets' Double-A farm team, the Binghamton Mets, you already know this part.) Continue on I-81 past Binghamton and to Syracuse, where you'll get on the New York State Thruway, which, at this point, is I-90. Continue on the Thruway west, past Rochester, to Buffalo.

What happens next depends on where you cross the border. But first, let's discuss what you should do when you're actually at the border. Because you need to take this seriously. Because Canadian Customs will.

You'll be asked your citizenship, and you'll have to show your passport and your photo ID. You'll be asked why you're visiting Canada. Seeing a Yankees vs. Blue Jays game probably won't (but might) get you a smart-aleck remark about how the Jays are going to win, but they won't keep you out of their country based on that alone.

If you're bringing a computer with you (counting a laptop, but probably not counting a smartphone), you don't have to mention it, but you probably should. Chances are, you won't be carrying a large amount of food or plants; if you were, depending on how much, you might have to declare them.

Chances are, you won't be bringing alcohol into the country, but you can bring in one of the following items duty-free, and anything above or in addition to this must have duty paid on it: 1.5 litres (53 ounces) of wine, or 8.5 litres (300 ounces or 9.375 quarts) of beer or ale, or 1.14 litres (40 ounces) of hard liquor. If you have the slightest suspicion that I'm getting any of these numbers wrong, check the Canada Customs website. Better yet, don't bring booze in. Or out.

As for tobacco, well, you shouldn't use it. But, either way over the border, you can bring up to 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars, and 200 grams (7 ounces) of manufactured tobacco. As for Cuban cigars, last year, President Obama relaxed the embargo: Now, travelers may return to the United States with up to US$100 worth of alcohol or tobacco or a combination of both. (Cuba is also renowned for its rum.) Products acquired in Cuba may be in accompanied baggage, for personal use only. It is still considerably easier to buy these items in Canada than in America, but, now, you can bring them back over the border.

If you've got anything in your car (or, if going by bus or train) that could be considered a weapon, even if it's a disposable razor or nail clippers, tell them. And while Canada does have laws that allow you to bring in firearms if you're a licensed hunter (you'd have to apply for a license to the Province where you plan to hunt), the country has the proper attitude concerning guns: They hate them. They go absolutely batshit insane if you try to bring a firearm into their country. Which, if you're sane, is actually the sane way to treat the issue.

You think I'm being ridiculous? How about this: 7 of the 45 U.S. Presidents -- 9 counting the Roosevelts, Theodore after he was President and Franklin right before -- have faced assassins with guns, 6 got hit and 4 died; but none of the 23 people (including 1 woman) to serve as Prime Minister of Canada has ever faced an assassination attempt. John Lennon recorded "Give Peace a Chance" in Montreal and gave his first "solo concert" in Toronto, but he got shot and killed in New York. In fact, the next time I visit, I half-expect to see a bumper sticker that says, "GUNS DON'T KILL PEOPLE, AMERICANS WITH GUNS KILL PEOPLE."

(Another note about weapons: I'm a fan of the TV show NCIS, which airs in Canada on Global Network TV. If you are also a fan of this show, and you usually observe Gibbs Rule Number 9, "Never go anywhere without a knife," you need to remember that these are rules for members of Gibbs' team, not for civilians. So, this time, forget the knife, and leave it at home. If you really think you're going to need it -- as a tool -- mention the knife to the border guard, and show it to him, and tell him you have it to use as a tool in case of emergency, and that you do not plan to use it as a weapon. Do not mention the words "Rule Number 9" or quote said rule, or else he'll observe his Rule Number 1: "Do not let this jackass into your country, eh?" And another thing: Border guards, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, most likely will observe a variation on Gibbs Rule Number 23: "Never mess with a Mountie's Tim Hortons coffee if you want to live.")

And if you can speak French, don't try to impress the Customs officials with it. Or the locals, for that matter. You're going into Ontario, not Quebec. (And even if you were going into Quebec, they're not going to be impressed by your ability to speak their first language.) A, People of French descent are a minority west of Quebec (although singers Alanis Morrissette and Avril Lavigne are both Franco-Ontarians); and, B, They can probably speak English, let alone French, and possibly another language or two, better than you can. If you try to speak French in Toronto, you won't sound like you're from Montreal, and you certainly won't sound like you're from Paris. You'll sound like a smartass. That's if you speak French well. If you don't, you'll sound like a damn fool.

When crossing back into the U.S., in addition to what you would have to declare on the way in (if you still have any of it), you would have to declare items you purchased and are carrying with you upon return, items you bought in duty-free shops or (if you flew) on the plane, and items you intend to sell or use in your business, including business merchandise that you took out of the United States on your trip. There are other things, but, since you're just going for baseball, they probably won't apply to you. Just in case, check the Canadian Customs website I linked to above.

Precisely where will you be crossing the border? It could be at the Peace Bridge, built to commemorate the U.S. and Canada having "the world’s longest undefended border," from Buffalo into the Ontario city of Fort Erie.
The Peace Bridge

After going through Customs, this would take you right onto the Queen Elizabeth Way (the QEW). After the Pennsylvania Turnpike, this was North America's 2nd superhighway, and was named not for the current Queen but for her mother, the wife of King George VI, the woman most people now under the age of 65 called the Queen Mother or the Queen Mum. (You know: Helena Bonham-Carter in The King's Speech.) This road will hug Lake Ontario and go through the Ontario cities of Niagara Falls, St. Catharines and Hamilton before turning north and then east toward Toronto. Toronto's CN Tower is so tall that you may actually see it, across the lake, before you get to Hamilton.

The most common route from Buffalo to Toronto, however, is to go north on I-190, the Thruway's Niagara Extension, to Niagara Falls. After you go through Customs, the road will become Ontario Provincial Highway 405, which eventually flows into the Queen Elizabeth Way.
The Rainbow Bridge

At the edge of the "megacity" of Toronto (Montreal is also now a "megacity"), the QEW becomes the Frederick G. Gardiner Expressway. ("Big Daddy" Gardiner was a major Toronto politician, and was responsible for getting it built.) The Gardiner does not have numbers on its exits.  If you're going for only one game, and are leaving Toronto right afterward (I don't recommend this this: Spend a day in the city), you'll take the Spadina Avenue exit to get to Rogers Centre.

If you make 3 rest stops – I would recommend at or near Scranton and Syracuse, and count Customs, where they will have a restroom and vending machines – and if you don’t do anything stupid at Customs, such as fail to produce your passport, or flash a weapon, or say you watch South Park (a show with a vendetta against Canada for some reason), or call Sidney Crosby a cheating, diving pansy (even though he is one) – the trip should take about 11 hours.

Though that could become 12, because Toronto traffic is every bit as bad as traffic in New York, Boston and Washington. As Canada native (Regina, Saskatchewan) Leslie Nielsen would say, I am serious, and don't call me Shirley: Toronto traffic is awful.

Once In the City. Founded as York in 1793, it became the City of Toronto in 1834, the name coming from Taronto, a Native American name for the channel of water between Lake Simcoe and Lake Couchiching. There are 2.6 million people in the city, and 5.6 million in the metro area; in each case, making it larger than any in North America except New York, Los Angeles and Chicago -- unless you count Mexico to be part of "North America" instead of "Central America," in which case add Mexico City to those that are larger.

Since Canada is in the British Commonwealth, there are certain subtle differences. Every measurement will be in the metric system. Dates are written not as Month/Day/Year, as we do it, but as Day/Month/Year as in Britain and in Europe. So the series begins for us on "June 1, 2017" but for them on "1 June 2017." And instead of "6/1/17," they'll write it as "1/6/17." 1st of June, not January 6.

They also follow British custom in writing time: A game starting at 7:07 PM would be listed as 1907. (Those of you who have served in the military, you will recognize this as, in the words of M*A*S*H's Lt. Col. Henry Blake, "all that hundred-hours stuff.") And every word we would end with -or, they will end with -our; and some (but not all) words that we would end with -er, they end with -re, as in "Rogers Centre."

Another thing to keep in mind: Don't ask anyone where the "bathroom" is -- ask for the "washroom." This difference was a particular pet peeve of mine the first time I arrived at the Toronto Coach Terminal, although it wasn't a problem in Montreal's Gare Centrale, as I knew the signs would be in French.

Every measurement will be in the metric system: Temperatures will be in Celsius, not Fahrenheit; distances will be in "kilometres," not miles (including speed limits, so don't drive 100 thinking it's miles); and gas prices will be per "litre," not per gallon (so don't think you're getting cheap gas, because a liter is a little more than a quart, so multiply the price by 4, and you'll get roughly the price per gallon, and it will be more expensive than at home, not less).

When you arrive, I would recommend buying the Toronto Star and The Globe and Mail. The former newspaper is local, the latter is national, and both are liberal enough to suit my sensibilities (or, should I say, sensible enough to suit my liberalism). And The Star has a very good sports section, and should do a good job covering the Jays, although, being a hockey city in a hockey Province in a hockey country, you'll see a lot of stuff about the Maple Leafs and nearby minor-league, collegiate and "junior" hockey teams no matter what time of year it is.

I would advise against buying the Toronto Sun, because it’s a right-wing sensationalist tabloid, and every bit the journalistically sloppy rag that the New York Post is. (It also has conservative "sister papers" called the Sun in Ottawa, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Calgary, although the Vancouver Sun is not connected.) The National Post, while also politically conservative (and thus a national competitor for The Globe and Mail), is a broadsheet and thus conservative in the sense that it is calmer and more sensible with its journalism.

As if being Canada's national media, culture and finance capital wasn't enough, there's another reason why people outside it, and particularly inside the Province of Ontario, hate Toronto: It's the Provincial capital, its Legislative Building located at Queen's Park, just north of downtown. "Queen's Park" has become slang for the government, or for perceived government corruption.
The Ontario Legislative Building.
It looks more collegiate than political.

If you can get to Union Station after leaving your hotel, you may also be able to get out-of-town papers, including the New York ones, as well as Canadian papers such as the Montreal Gazette and the Ottawa Citizen.

Union Station is at the intersection of Bay & Front Streets. Bay runs north-south, and divides Toronto's east and west sides, and the street numberings thereof; the lake serves as the "zero point" for streets running north and south, and thus there's no North and South on street names. Bay Street is also Canada's "Wall Street," the center of Toronto's financial district, and is not particularly well-liked by, well, anybody who isn't conservative in Canada.

Toronto has a subway, Canada's oldest, opened in 1954 and known as "the Rocket." (I'll bet Montrealers hated that, since it was the nickname of their beloved hockey star Maurice Richard, well before future Blue Jay and Yankee Roger Clemens was even born.) Along with Philadelphia, it's one of the last 2 subway systems in North America that still uses tokens rather than a farecard system such as New York's MetroCard.
They also have a streetcar system. Tokens can be used on both, and are C$3.25, (US$2.40, so it's actually cheaper than New York's), but are not sold individually. You must buy a minimum of 3, for C$8.10 (US$5.99), and the price per token goes down the more you buy. A Daypass is a much better value, at C$12.00 (US$8.88).
The drinking age in Ontario is 19. Postal Codes in Toronto begin with the letter M, and those in the suburbs with L. The Area Codes are 416 for the city and 905 in the suburbs, with 437 as an overlay.

Toronto's sales tax is 13 percent. In 2010, this replaced the former Provincial sales tax of 5 percent and the federal GST (Goods & Services Tax) of 8 percent. In other words, the Conservative Party government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper wanted Canadians to think he'd killed the hated GST, when, in fact, Ontarians (who only make up 36 percent of the country) are paying pretty much the same taxes that they did before. See how stupid it is to vote for conservative candidates? It doesn't work in any country.

Going In. Originally known as the SkyDome, for its retractable roof, and opening in June 1989, the building was renamed the Rogers Centre in 2005, for the new corporate owner of the Jays, Rogers Communications, founded by the late Ted Rogers and featuring several cable-TV networks, most notably Rogers Sportsnet (although TSN, The Sports Network, ESPN's Canada version, is the more popular).
The official address is 1 Blue Jays Way. The stadium doesn't really have surrounding streets, unless you count Bremner Blvd. to the south, as there are buildings, parks and a railroad between. Parking is a whopping C$40 (US$30), so if you drove in, you're better off leaving your car in your hotel's parking deck.

If you're trying to get to Rogers Centre (under both names, they hate it when you use the definite article "the" in its name) from a downtown hotel, it is not going to be fun. The subway doesn't go to the dome. The closest stop is the one for Union Station. And the city's famed streetcars are no help, either. It's a great city for public transportation, unless you're going to Rogers Centre or the CN Tower, which are only the 2 biggest tourist attractions in the city, and right next-door to each other. (When SkyDome opened in 1989, somebody called them a sperm-and-egg pairing.) I'd say they're the 2 biggest tourist attractions in the Province of Ontario, or even the entire country, but, as I said, you'll have to pass Niagara Falls to get to Toronto.

The stadium is, theoretically, just 3 blocks away from Union Station, down Front Street West: York, Simcoe, John. But it's going to seem like a long walk. (Trust me, I’'e done it.) And Front Street West is perhaps the most touristy street in the entire country, much as Broadway in Midtown Manhattan is.

Most likely, you'll be walking from Union Station along Front Street, or the Skywalk that connects the station to the CN Tower. Gates 2 and 3 are at the northeast corner, Gates 5 and 6 are on the east front, Gate 7 is at the southeast corner, Gates 9 and 9A are at the southwest corner, Gates 10 and 11 are on the west front, and Gates 13 and 14 are at the northwest corner.

There are, as yet, no statues outside the stadium dedicated to Blue Jays greats. But they do have some exterior sculptures depicting fans, which is nice. Even if the statues themselves are not all nice.
The hallways are carpeted. This makes the stadium feel more like a movie theater (or "theatre," as it would be "spelt" in Canada) than a sports stadium, especially if the roof is closed.  But the carpet that serves as the field is awful, about as bad as the one at Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay. Fortunately, no longer having to share the place with a football team, next year, there will be a natural grass field for the first time, leaving The Trop as (hopefully, forever) the last stadium in Major League Baseball with artificial turf.

The field points north, but that doesn't make a difference, since you can't see outside the place anyway, unless you sit on the 3rd base side and the roof is open, in which case you can see the CN Tower.
The field is symmetrical: Outfield distances are 328 to the poles (exactly 100 "metres"), 375 to the alleys and 400 to "centre." While with the Red Sox in 2001, Manny Ramirez hit the dome's longest home run, 491 feet. This will be the last season that the field is artificial turf: They're going to natural grass next season, now that they no longer have to also host football. This will leave Tampa Bay as the only MLB team still playing on the plastic stuff.

With the Toronto Argonauts having moved out, the Jays no longer have to groundshare with anyone. This leaves the Oakland Coliseum as the only stadium shared by a Major League Baseball team and a professional football team. 
Rogers Centre hosted the Argos for 27 seasons, and has hosted 4 Grey Cups, the last in 2012, won by the Argos. Like the Super Bowl, the Grey Cup site is chosen years in advance as a neutral site, but having only 9 teams in the League, and thus 9 major stadiums in the country, makes the chance of a team getting a home game for the title not at all rare. It hosted the Vanier Cup, the National Championship of Canadian college football, from 1989 to 2003, and again in 2007 and 2012.

It also hosted a few Buffalo Bills "home games," and the International Bowl, once won by Rutgers. With the new grass field coming in, the stands will be fixed in place, so, no more football. The NBA's Raptors played there from their 1995 debut until the 1999 opening of the Air Canada Centre.

Food. You know the economy is bad when a McDonald's closes. And there was a McDonald's in the SkyDome, the 1st in any stadium in the world, but it closed during the 2008-10 recession. The Hard Rock Café, the 1st in any stadium in the world, is also gone.

The stadium has standard baseball food, and although none of it is great, most of it upsets Canadian stomachs far less than do the Jays' relief pitchers. There are several "HogTown Grill" stands -- Hogtown being an old nickname for Toronto, the rusticity of it belying its image as Canada's biggest city. Before the Indian (or, as they would say in Canada, instead of "Native American," "First Nations") name of Toronto was given to the city, the English called it "York" (not to be confused with New York), and "Muddy York Market" (presumably a fresh fruit stand) is behind 106, 110 and 514.  

12 Bar, named in honor of Roberto Alomar, is behind Section 215. Touch 'Em All Joe Bar, obviously named for Joe Carter and his 1993 walkoff, is at 232.

Although Toronto is not as known for Jewish culture and food as much as Montreal is, a Kosher stand called Olde Spadina Avenue is at 132, and Shopsy's Deli is at 124.

In spite of Canada being in the opposite direction, Rogers Centre nods toward Mexico and the Caribbean with the Big Smoke Jerk Chicken Nacho: Crisp corn tortilla chips topped with cheddar cheese sauce, smoked jerk chicken, pico de gallo, scallions, country slaw, and jerk infused sour cream. (Jerk-infused? Another tribute to Alomar, a.k.a. Ol' Spithead?) This item is also available as a sandwich.

There is an ice cream shop at 137. And what would a Canadian gathering place be without a Tim Hortons, or two? Rogers Centre has 'em at 114 and 128.

The "Great Canadian" -- not to be confused with Wayne "The Great One" Gretzky, whose restaurant is across the street from Rogers Centre -- is a hot dog topped with maple baked beans, crumbled Canadian back bacon, caramelized sweet red onions and Canadian cheddar cheese. I would advise against trying it. If you do, you'll be glad Canada has socialized medicine.

The Jays also serve poutine, the French fries, gravy and curd concoction that almost single-handedly undoes all the good that Quebec culture has done for the world. The Jays' take on it includes chicken wings on the bottom, loaded not just with everything else that comes with poutine, but pretty much anything you've ever seen put on a baked potato. Apparently, the Blue Jays' motto is, "If you can't beat 'em, kill 'em by clogging their arteries."

There is also something called "Bread Bottoms" behind 109. I have no idea what this refers to; on my 2005 and '06 visits, I did not notice it, so it may have been added since. Hopefully, it's nothing worse than a bakery stand.

According to a recent Thrillist article on the best food at each MLB stadium, the best food available at Rogers Centre is sausage poutine at Toronto Street Eats, at Section 134. So, clearly, Thrillist is what you will be if you eat that: Full of shit.

Team History Displays. The Jays have championship banners in straightaway center field. (Or "centre field.") They no longer have separate banners for their World Series wins, Pennants and American League Eastern Division Championships of 1992 and 1993, only for the World Series wins. They also have banners for their AL East titles of 1985, 1989, 1991 and 2015, and for the 1991 All-Star Game which they hosted.

The Jays retired a uniform number for the first time in 2011, when they had their first player elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame: Roberto Alomar -- Number 12, 2nd base, 1991-95. They've given similar treatment to Hall-of-Famer Pat Gillick, the team's general manager from its inception in 1977 until 1995. Pat's and Robbie's banners flank the championship banners.
Their main display of player honors is a "Level of Excellence," between the 300 and 400 Levels (club seats). It honors the following:

* From the 1985 and 1989 AL East titles: 37, pitcher Dave Stieb; 11, left fielder George Bell; and 1, shortstop Tony Fernandez.

* From the 1992 and 1993 World Championships: Alomar, Stieb (only there for '92), Fernandez (only there for '93); 43, manager Cito Gaston; 29, 1st baseman and right fielder Joe Carter; and 25, 1st baseman Carlos Delgado (only there for '93, and that just barely).

* Spanning the eras: Gillick; Paul Beeston, executive, 1976-present and chief operating officer 1989-2015; and Tom Cheek, broadcaster, 1977-2005, his "number" being the number of consecutive games he broadcast until illness ended his streak at 4,306, soon ending his life as well.

Jackie Robinson's Number 42 is retired for all of baseball, including the Jays, so no Toronto ballplayer will ever wear it again.
The Level of Excellence previously featured the All-Time Team of the Canadian Football League's most successful franchise, the 16-time Grey Cup winners, the Toronto Argonauts, including their 4 retired numbers: Joe Krol, Number 55, quarterback, 1945-52 and '55; Dick Shatto, Number 22, running back, 1954-65; Danny Nykoluk, Number 60, offensive tackle, 1955-71; and Michael "Pinball" Clemons, Number 31, running back 1989-2000, since 2001 a team administrator, and, by a weird twist, comes from Dunedin, Florida, the only spring-training home the Blue Jays have ever had.

Aside from Dave Winfield, with the team for just 1 season (but a World Championship season), no Blue Jays were named to The Sporting News' 100 Greatest Players in 1999. If TSN were to do it again, none would be added, not even Alomar, Roy Halladay, Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson, or Carter, who was chosen by Jays fans in 2006 for the DHL Hometown Heroes poll.

There is no mention at Rogers Centre of the 10 Pennants won by the Jays' minor-league predecessors, the Toronto Maple Leafs, for whom the legendary hockey team was named: 1887 (in the original Eastern League, the rest in the International League), 1902, 1912, 1917, 1918, 1926, 1934, 1960, 1965 and 1966.

Those last 3 came as a farm club of the Boston Red Sox, with the 1960 Pennant featuring Carl Yastrzemski, and the last 2 being managed by Dick Williams, who was promoted to the big club and took some of his Leafs with him and, with Yaz and Jim Lonborg and a few others, those ex-Leafs forged the "Impossible Dream" Pennant of 1967.

However, 1967 was also the last year of the franchise, as they were moved by the Sox. It would be 1991 before Toronto got full revenge on the Red Sox for taking their old team away, edging them for the AL East title in the first race where both of them went down to the wire.

A statue of Ted Rogers, Rogers Communications titan and Jays owner from 2000 until his death in 2008 (and thus responsible for neither the team's establishment, nor the stadium's construction, nor the team's current success) stands outside. There are now 3 major league sports venues in Canada with his name on them: The Rogers Centre in Toronto, the Rogers Arena in Vancouver (home of the NHL's Canucks), and Rogers Place in Edmonton (the new home of the NHL's Oilers).
Stuff. The usual types of memorabilia are sold, including jerseys with the names of current Jays players on them. For those of former Jays stars, such as those on the Level of Excellence, sorry, but you’ll have to go to Mitchell & Ness in Philadelphia (or their website) to get them.

At least you won't have to look at those blue Js. When the Jays were heading into the 1992 postseason, somebody remembered the previous season's World Series, when the Minnesota Twins brought back the Homer Hankies of 1987, and the Atlanta Braves made the foam tomahawks to do the Tomahawk Chop. So someone made up about a million big bright blue foam objects in the shape of the letter J. A "blue J." Get it, eh? (Not to be outdone, when the Jays played the Chicago White Sox in the 1993 ALCS, white socks were given to Chicago fans to wave around. As far as I know, the Red Sox have never given people red socks to wave around.) The blue Js were still better than the foam headgear I once saw, resembling the bird on the team's then-logo. That looked really ridiculous.

There aren't many good books about the Jays. Nate LeBoutillier (ironically, a French-Canadian) wrote the recently-published, but unimaginatively-titled, The Story of the Toronto Blue Jays.  
On May 1, The Big 50: Toronto Blue Jays: The Men and Moments that Made the Toronto Blue Jays by Shi Davidi and Dan Shulman will be published.

The Jays are also weak on video. The official World Series highlight films of 1992 and 1993 are available on DVD, but if you're looking for The Essential Games of the Toronto Blue Jays, or The Essential Games of Rogers Centre, you're out of luck. They do, however, have Game 6 of the '93 Series available as part of the official MLB series Baseball's Greatest Games.

In spite of their Playoff runs of the last 2 seasons, and this year's 40th Anniversary of the club, there appear to be no commemorative books and videos.

During the Game. A recent Thrillist article placed the Blue Jays' fans at 28th on the list of "most intolerable fans" -- making them the 3rd most tolerable. For the most part, this is accurate: You do not need to fear wearing your Yankee gear to Rogers Centre. Although quite a few U.S.-based crime dramas (and other shows, and films, particularly those that supposedly take place in Chicago) have been filmed in and around Toronto, it's not a particularly crime-ridden city.

You might get some verbal from the Jays fans, especially after a Jays win over the Yanks, but this will mainly consist of them yelling, "Yankees suck!" And you’ve heard that before, and you know how to respond: "Five rings since '93, what have you done since then?" (Answer: "We're defending AL East Champions!" Rebuttal: "Yeah: One Division title in twenty-three years.")

The Thursday game is T-Shirt Thursday. The Sunday game is Josh Donaldson Bobblehead Day, a giveaway for the 1st 20,000 fans through the turnstiles.

If it's a day game and it's warm, no threat of rain, and there's no wind, most likely the roof will be open. If it's a night game, or a day game but rainy and/or windy, or not especially warm, the roof will probably be closed. The ball travels farther with the roof closed (this is usually the case with domed stadiums, though the first, Houston's Astrodome, was a pitcher's park), but with a large amount of foul territory, the Rogers Centre is generally regarded as a pitchers' park.

Since you're in Canada, there will be two National Anthems sung. "The Star-Spangled Banner" will probably be sung by about half of the few thousand Yankee Fans who show up, but "O Canada" will be sung by the home fans with considerable gusto.

When I'm at a sporting event where the opposing team is Canadian, I like to sing "O Canada" in French. Montreal Canadiens fans like this when I do it at the Prudential Center. Fans of the other Canadian NHL teams just think it's weird. When I did it in the 2 games I've been to at Rogers Centre, the Jays fans, as I warned they would, simply thought I was a twat. But then, they root for the Jays, and I root for the Yanks, so I'd rather have their opinion of me than my opinion of them. At any rate, the Jays hold auditions for Anthem singers, instead of having a regular.

The Jays' mascot is a blue jay named Ace. From 1979 to 1999, they had a blue jay mascot named B.J. Birdie. B.J. resembled the logo the Jays had at the time, while Ace resembles the one they've had since the 2004 season. From 2000 to 2003, Ace had a girlfriend, named Diamond – baseball or otherwise, "diamonds are a girl's best friend," get it? But they must have broken up, because Ace has been alone since 2004.
Ace, Carrie Underwood and former Jays pitcher Ricky Romero

At the 7th inning stretch, after they sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," they go into "OK Blue Jays." It was written by Jack Lenz and Tony Kosinec, and the recorded version is by Keith Hampshire & the Bat Boys. They’ve used this song since 1983, and it is certified as a gold record in Canada. (That's 50,000 copies, as opposed to the 500,000 you need to sell to get a gold record in the U.S.) It's a very stupid song, but then, so are most baseball-themed songs. It's not like "Here Come the Yankees" is appreciably better.

The Jays will be wearing 40th Season sleeve patches last year (1977-2016), not waiting until this year, the actual 40th Anniversary, to wear patches. On occasion, the Jays will wear throwback uniforms at home – but these will be their original road uniforms of the Exhibition Stadium era, 1977 to 1989. And they will be powder blue. There's a reason why teams stopped wearing that color: It is not particularly athletic-looking! Except maybe at the University of North Carolina.

If the roof is closed, fireworks will shoot out from it following a Jays homer or a Jays win. That's right, indoor fireworks. But the peak of the roof is high enough that you should not be in danger.

After the Game. As I said, Blue Jays fans may try to take a few liberties, especially if their team has beaten the Yankees. Toronto is an international city, every bit as much as New York is, and some of these people may have cut their teeth as sports fans in European soccer. But we're not talking about hooligans here. And, of course, you can just bring up the 27 rings, or the 5 the Yankees have won since Joe Carter touched 'em all 23 years ago. Wow, that means a 30-year-old living in Toronto may have no memory of it. Beats being 55 and having no memory of the Leafs winning the Cup, though.

The official address for the Rogers Centre is 1 Blue Jays Way, which is the street outside the left field corner, which flows into Peter Street. At 99 Blue Jays Way is Wayne Gretzky's Restaurant. But since he betrayed his former fellow players and sided with his current fellow owners in the 2004-05 NHL lockout, I consider him a traitor to the game of hockey, and I will not set foot in his establishment, and I would advise you to avoid it as well.

I would also advise avoiding Jack Astor's, a smart-alecky-named chain of Canadian restaurants that includes one at 144 Front Street West, about halfway between Union Station and the Rogers Centre. I ate there the last time I was in Toronto, and the food and service would be mediocre at half the price. They have only one location in the U.S. -- not surprisingly, in nearby Buffalo, at the Walden Galleria east of downtown.

There's the Canadian Bar & Grill, at the Hyatt Regency at 370 King Street West, 4 blocks from Rogers Centre.  It features what it calls "traditional Canadian cuisine." This includes wild game, as well as regional items like poutine and Newfoundland clam chowder. (Apparently, the word "chowder" came from the Newfies, and theirs is closer to New England's than to the tomato-based abomination known as Manhattan clam chowder. Clam chowder is one of the few things New England does better, a lot better, than New York.)

If rabbit stew isn't your cup of tea, try the Loose Moose Tap & Grill, at 146 Front Street West, 2 blocks from the stadium. There, as they say, you'll "eat like a king then party like a rock star!" You'll be dining like a typical Torontonian, rather than with guys likely to jump into the Monty Python "Lumberjack Song." (If you've never seen that sketch, let me put it this way: Don't ask, and I won't tell.) And the Lone Star Texas Grill, a block away at 200 Front Street West, is jointly owned by several former CFL players, and is a fair takeoff on the U.S. chain Lone Star Steakhouse.

Actually, your best bet may be, as Vancouver native Cobie Smulders of the TV series How I Met Your Mother would put it, "the most Canadian place there is": Tim Hortons. (Note that there is no apostrophe: It’s "Hortons," not "Horton's," because Quebec's ridiculous protect-the-French-language law prohibits apostrophes and the company wanted to keep the same national identity through all the Provinces.) They have a 62 percent share of the Canadian coffee market (Starbucks has just 7 percent) and 76 percent of the Canadian baked goods market. They also sell sandwiches, soup, chili, and even (some of you will perk up faster than if you'd drunk their coffee) New York-style cheesecake. It's fast food, but good food. I rate them behind Dunkin Donuts, but ahead of Starbucks.

Tim Horton, a defenceman (that's how they spell it up there) for the Maple Leafs, and businessman Ron Joyce started the doughnut/coffee shop chain in 1964, while in the middle of the Maple Leafs' 1960s dynasty. He played a couple of years for the Rangers, then went to the Buffalo Sabres and opened a few outlets in the Buffalo area. He was still playing at age 44, and the only thing that stopped him was death. Specifically, a 100-MPH, not-wearing-a-seat-belt crash on the Queen Elizabeth Way over Twelve Mile Creek in St. Catharines, Ontario. (In other words, if you're driving or taking the bus from New York to Toronto, you’ll pass the location.)

Joyce, whose son Ron Jr. married Horton's daughter Jeri-Lyn, joined with Dave Thomas of Wendy's and merged the two companies in 1995, becoming its largest shareholder, with even more shares than Thomas. Although the companies have since split again, it was mutually beneficial, as Wendy's gained in Canada and Timmy's poked their heads in the U.S. door.

There are now over 3,000 Tim Hortons locations in Canada (including one at Toronto's Union Station and several on Canadian Forces Bases around the world) and over 500 in the U.S. – and they’re heavily expanding in New York, including 3 in the Penn Station complex alone (despite Horton himself only briefly having played for the Rangers upstairs at the "new" Madison Square Garden). They are also partnered with Cold Stone Creamery, with an outlet on 42nd Street, a 2-minute walk from Port Authority. These Hosers know what they're doing.

The only reference I can find to a bar or restaurant in Toronto where New Yorkers are known to gather is the Sports Centre Café, at 49 St. Clair Avenue West, off Yonge Street. It has lots of screens, and, supposedly, local Giants fans watch NFL games there. I know, that's a bit vague, but it may be your best shot. St. Clair stop on the subway.

If your visit to Toronto is during the European soccer season, as we currently are, and you want to see your favorite club play, the city's original soccer pub, the Duke of Gloucester, is at 649 Yonge Street, at St. Mary Street. Line 1 to either Wellesley or Bloor-Yonge.

Sidelights. Being the largest and most influential city in Canada, Toronto is loaded with tourist traps. This has been spoofed in "The Toronto Song," a bit by the Edmonton-based comedy trio Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie. (It's often cited incorrectly including by myself in previous editions of this piece, as being by the Arrogant Worms. It’s not obvious that 3DTB are from Edmonton until the end of the song, by which point they've said everything in Ontario sucks, as do all the other Provinces, except, "Alberta doesn't suck – but Calgary does.")

They're not far off.  Toronto is much cleaner than most American cities: U.S. film crews, trying to save money by filming there, have had to throw garbage onto the streets so it would look more like New York, Boston, Chicago or Los Angeles, and then they have to do it again between takes, because the street-sweepers clean it up that quickly.  But the city does have slums, a serious homeless problem, ridiculous rents, never-ending lakefront high-rise construction (mirroring Mayor Mike Bloomberg's similar projects in New York), and their share of metalheads, punks, Goths and chavs.

I wouldn't call now-long-parted Mayor David Miller a dork, as 3DTB did, although his predecessor, Mel Lastman, was often a Canadian version of Rudy Giuliani. With better hair. You may have heard about recent Mayor Rob Ford: He was a crook, an alcoholic and a crackhead, who was just barely able, through legal action, to keep his office. Alas, cancer prevented him from running for re-election, and he recently died. The current Mayor is John Tory, and his conservatism makes him aptly-named.

Torontonians can’t quite decide whether they want to be Canada's New York (national media, culture and finance capital, home of the CBC and CTV, and Bay Street is their "Wall Street"), Canada's Chicago (a gritty blue-collar "drinking town with a sports problem"), or Canada’s L.A. (movie-filming center.) Actually, Montreal is Canada's New York, Hamilton its Chicago, and Vancouver its L.A.

Toronto is... Toronto is something else. Scientists have yet to figure out what. But check out these locations:

* Hockey Hall of Fame, 30 Yonge Street, blocked by Yonge, Front, Bay and Wellington. If you go to Toronto and you don't go to the Hockey Hall of Fame, they should deport you from Canada and never let you back in. This place is great, and the actual Stanley Cup is there. Well, 2 of them are, the original bowl that was so damaged that they replaced it in 1970, plus some of the bands with old-time winners on it, and a display copy. The one that gets awarded every year is also stored there in preparation for its annual awarding, then gets to go wherever the winning team's players want to take it for almost a year.
You'll also see why Canadians call hockey jerseys "sweaters": They used to be sweaters, as you'll see in the display cases. You'll also see why they’re not sweaters anymore: Holes where they were eaten by moths. Hockey eventually got that right.

They also got the location for their Hall of Fame right: While it's not clear where hockey was invented, and the NHL was founded in Montreal, they put their Hall of Fame in an easily accessible city, unlike baseball (hard-to-reach Cooperstown, New York is NOT where baseball was invented), basketball (Springfield, Massachusetts is where it was invented but it's a depressing town), and pro football (Canton, Ohio is where the NFL was founded but it's so drab and bleak it makes Springfield look like Disney World… Sorry, Thurman). Union Station stop on the TTC subway.

* Exhibition Place. The Canadian National Exhibition is kind of a nationwide "State Fair." It was on the grounds, off Princes Boulevard, that Exhibition Stadium, or the Big X, stood from 1948 to 1999. It was home to the Blue Jays from 1977 to 1989 and the CFL's Argonauts from 1959 to 1988. It hosted only one MLB postseason series, the 1985 ALCS, which the Jays lost to the Kansas City Royals.
It hosted 12 Grey Cups (Canadian Super Bowls), although only one featured the Argos, and that was the 1982 game, won by the Edmonton Eskimos in a freezing rain, with fans chanting, "We want a dome!" The SkyDome/Rogers Centre project soon began, and Exhibition Stadium never hosted another Grey Cup. Rogers Centre has now hosted 4, including the 100th, in November 2012, which the Argos won over the Calgary Stampeders. Exhibition Stadium hosted the Vanier Cup from 1973 to 1975.

BMO Field (pronounced "BEE-moh," named for, oddly, the Bank of Montreal), home of Canada's Sports Hall of Fame and Major League Soccer's rather unimaginatively named Toronto FC, was built on the site of Exhibition Stadium. It hosted the 2010 and 2016 MLS Cup Finals, a neutral site for the former (Colorado beating Dallas) and the home field for the latter (Toronto losing to Seattle). The Argonauts moved there last year.

This past New Year's Day, in connection with the 100th Anniversary of both the League and the Maple Leafs, BMO Field hosted the NHL Centennial Classic, an outdoor game in which the Leafs beat the Detroit Red Wings 5-4 in overtime. 

Exhibition stop on the Lakeshore West line of GO, Toronto’s commuter-rail service out of Union Station.

* Varsity Stadium and Varsity Arena. The home of the athletic complex of the University of Toronto, it includes the 3rd Varsity Stadium on the site, replacing one that stood from 1911 to 2002 and the one before that from 1898 to 1911. It only seats 5,000, but its predecessor could hold 21,739, and hosted more Grey Cups than any other facility, 29, from 1911 to 1957.

The Varsity Blues have won the Yates Cup, emblematic of supremacy in Ontario college football, 25 times from 1898 to 1993; the Vanier Cup, Canada's National Championship, in 1965 and 1993; and, as with their hockey team, they were once much bigger, or perhaps the competition was much smaller, they won the 1st 3 Grey Cups, in 1909, 1910 and 1911, and a 4th in 1920.

Unlike Exhibition Stadium, the Argos won 9 of their 16 Grey Cups at home at Varsity Stadium: 1914, 1921, 1937, 1938, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1950 and 1952. (They also won at Sarnia in 1933, Vancouver in 1983, Winnipeg in 1991, Hamilton in 1996, Edmonton in 1997 and Ottawa in 2004.) It hosted the Vanier Cup from its inaugural game in 1965 to 1972, and again from 1976 to 1988.

Varsity Stadium was home to the various Toronto teams in the North American Soccer League, and was the location of the one and only visit to Canada thus far by North London soccer giants Arsenal, a 1-0 over a team called Toronto Select on May 23, 1973.

It hosted the 1969 Rock 'n Roll Revival Concert, as shown in the film Sweet Toronto, featuring John Lennon and his Plastic Ono Band (of course, with Yoko Ono, but also with Eric Clapton), the Doors, Alice Cooper, and founding fathers of rock Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and Gene Vincent. This was the concert where a live chicken was thrown at Cooper from the seats, and he threw it back, thinking it could fly, but it died, thus beginning his legend.

Next-door is Varsity Arena, built in 1926 and seating 4,116 people. The Varsity Blues have won 10 National Championships in hockey: 1966, 1967, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1976, 1977 and 1984. They used to be much bigger, including serving as the Canadian team at the 1928 Winter Olympics in St. Moritz, Switzerland, winning the Gold Medal. The Arena was also the home of the Toronto Toros of the World Hockey Association in the 1973-74 season.
The current Varsity Stadium, with its blue running track,
and Varsity Arena behind the press box

Museum stop on the Yonge-University Line, or St. George stop on the Yonge-University or Bloor-Danforth Lines.

* Rosedale Park, Scholfield and Highland Avenues. This is where the 1st Grey Cup game was held, on December 4, 1909. The University of Toronto defeated the Toronto Parkdale Canoe Club, 26-6. There’s now a soccer field on the site of the original stadium.

Unfortunately, the closest subway stop is Summerhill, on the Yonge-University Line, and you'll have to walk a roundabout path to get there. If you really want to see it, you may want to take a cab.

* Maple Leaf Gardens, 60 Carlton Street, at Church Street. Home of the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs from 1931 to 1999, this was arguably the most famous building in Canada. The Leafs won 11 Stanley Cups while playing here: 1932, 1942, 1945, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1951, 1962, 1963, 1964 and 1967 – and they haven't been back to the Finals since.

The Gardens (always plural, never "The Garden" like in New York and Boston) also hosted the first NHL All-Star Game, a benefit for injured Leafs star Ace Bailey in 1934, one of the Canada-Soviet “Summit Series” games in 1972, and the first Canada Cup in 1976, where Leafs star Darryl Sittler stole the show.

On November 1, 1946 -- last Fall was the 70th Anniversary -- the 1st NBA game was held at the Gardens, with the New York Knicks beating the Toronto Huskies, who folded after that first season of 1946-47. It hosted the Beatles on all 3 of their North American tours (1964, '65 and '66), and Elvis Presley in 1957 – oddly, in his early period, not in his Vegas-spectacle era.

But somebody who doesn't give a damn about history, only money, decided the Gardens was obsolete, and the Leafs moved into the Air Canada Centre in 1999.  A plan to turn the arena into a shopping mall and movie multiplex, as was done with the Montreal Forum, was dropped because of the way the building was built: Unlike the Forum, if the Gardens' upper deck of seats was removed, the walls would collapse.

Fortunately, it has been renovated, and is now the Mattamy Athletic Centre at the Gardens, part of the athletic complex of Ryerson University, including its hockey team, with its seating capacity reduced to 2,796 seats, down from its classic capacity which ranged from 12,473 in the beginning to 15,726 at the end, with a peak of 16,316 in the 1970s.
A recent interior photo, set up for curling

The Ryerson Rams have never won a significant hockey title. They had a football program, but it was canceled in 1964, and has never been revived.

So, while the old Madison Square Garden, the old Boston Garden, Chicago Stadium, and the Olympia are gone, and the Montreal Forum has been converted into a mall, one of the "Original Six" arenas is still standing and being used for hockey. It also has a Loblaws supermarket. College stop, on the Yonge-University Line.

* Mutual Street Arena, bounded by Mutual, Shuter, Dundas and Dalhousie Streets. This arena stood at this location from 1912 until 1989, when condos were built there, and was the home of the Toronto Blueshirts, National Hockey Association Champions and Stanley Cup winners 1914, and the Maple Leafs from 1917 to 1931.

The Leafs were known as the Toronto Arenas when they won the first NHL Championship and their first Stanley Cup in 1918, and the Toronto St. Patricks when the won the Cup in 1922. Conn Smythe renamed them the Maple Leafs, after the city’s minor-league baseball team, when he bought them in 1927. Queen or Dundas stops on the Yonge-University Line.

* Air Canada Centre, 40 Bay Street. "The Hangar," the home of the Maple Leafs and the NBA's Toronto Raptors since 1999 (the Raptors played at the SkyDome 1995 to 1999, with a few games at Maple Leaf Gardens), it is a modern, 18,800-seat facility with all the amenities, built between Union Station and the Gardiner Expressway. Union Station stops on the Yonge-University Line and the GO and VIA Rail systems.

* Hanlan's Point. This was the home of Toronto baseball teams from 1897 to 1925, and was the site of Babe Ruth's 1st professional game, on April 22, 1914, for the Providence Grays, then affiliated with the Red Sox, much as their modern counterparts the Pawtucket Red Sox are. The Grays played the baseball version of the Maple Leafs, and the Babe pitched a one-hitter and homered in a 9-0 Providence win.
Unfortunately, Hanlan's Point is on one of the Toronto Islands, in Lake Ontario off downtown. The stadium is long gone, and the location is only reachable by Ferry.

* Maple Leaf Stadium, at Stadium Road (formerly an extension of Bathurst Street) and Queens Quay West (that's pronounced "Queen’s Key"). Home to the baseball Maple Leafs from 1926 to 1967, it was demolished a year later, with apartments built on the site.
The Leafs won 5 International League Pennants here, and they were the 1st sports team owned by Jack Kent Cooke, who would later own the NBA's Los Angeles Lakers, the NHL's Los Angeles Kings, and the NFL's Washington Redskins. Take the 509 Streetcar from Union Station to Queens Quay West at Dan Leckie Way.

The Raptors' D-League team, named Raptors 905 for the Area Code of Toronto's suburbs, plays at the Hershey Centre. 5500 Rose Cherry Place (named for the late wife of hockey coach-turned-broadcaster Don Cherry), in Mississauga, 16 miles west of downtown. It takes 3 buses to get there. The Orangeville A's of the National Basketball League of Canada play at the Orangeville Athlete Institute. 207321 Ontario Provincial Route 9, in Mono, about 50 miles northwest of downtown.

* Fort York, Bathurst Street and Front Street West. You should see at least one place that doesn't have anything to do with sports. In the War of 1812, this place has become more interesting. In that war, the 2nd and last time the U.S. seriously tried to take Canada away from the British Empire, the U.S. Army, led by Zebulon Pike (for whom the Colorado Peak was named), burned the fort and what was then the city of York, now Toronto, on April 27, 1813. However, Pike was killed in the battle. In revenge, the British burned Washington, D.C. 

509 Streetcar to Fleet Street at Bastion Street. Essentially, Fort York is Canada’s Alamo. (But not their Gettysburg: That would be Lundy’s Lane, in Niagara Falls, and I recommend that you make time for that as well.)

* Royal Ontario Museum, 100 Queens Park at Bloor Street West. "The ROM" is at the northern edge of Queen's Park, which includes the Ontario provincial Parliament complex and the University of Toronto, and is, essentially, next-door to Varsity Stadium. It is Canada’s answer to New York's Museum of Natural History. Museum stop on the Yonge-University Line, or St. George stop on the Yonge-University or Bloor-Danforth Lines.

* Canada's Walk of Fame. This consists of stars embedded in sidewalks, similar to the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles, except the honorees – 163, including 149 individuals and 14 duos or groups, since the most recent induction in 2014 – are from all walks of life. It is centered on the sidewalk in front of Roy Thomson Hall. 60 Simcoe Street at King Street. St. Andrew station.

* CN Tower, 301 Front Street West at John Street. It rises 1,815 feet above the ground, but with only its central elevator shaft and its 1,122-foot-high observation deck habitable, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) ruled that it was never a candidate for the title of "the world's tallest building." From 1975 until Burj Khalifa opened in Dubai in 2007, it was officially listed as "the world's tallest freestanding structure." The CN stood for Canadian National railways, but with their bankruptcy and takeover by VIA Rail, the CN now stands for Canada's National Tower.

Like the Empire State Building, at night it is lit in colors (or "colours") for special occasions, with its standard colors being the national colors, red and white. Admission is C$44.00 -- US$33.00, making it even more expensive than the Empire State Building's $27.00. It's next-door to the Rogers Centre, and accessible via a skywalk from Union Station.

Toronto has quite a few very tall actual "buildings." First Canadian Place has been the nation's tallest building since it opened in 1975, 978 feet high, northwest corner of King & Bay Streets.  There are 7 other buildings in excess of 700 feet, including, sadly, one built by Donald Trump and named for himself.

Being outside the U.S., there are no Presidential Libraries in Canada. The nation's Prime Ministers usually don't have that kind of equivalent building. Of Canada's 23 Prime Ministers, 15 are dead, but only one is buried in Toronto: William Lyon Mackenzie King, who led the government off and on from 1926 to 1950, longer than anyone, and is buried at Mount Pleasant Cemetery. 375 Mount Pleasant Road, Yonge Street Line to St. Clair, then 74 Bus.

There have been plenty of TV shows set in Toronto, but most Americans wouldn't know them, so I won't list their filming locations. Probably the most familiar, due to its being shown on PBS, is Degrassi Junior High and its related series. Recently, ABC aired the Toronto-based cop series Rookie Blue.

Because Toronto has a lot of surviving Art Deco structures from the 1920s and '30s, it's frequently used as a filming location for period-piece movies, including the movie version of Chicago (despite Chicago also having many such buildings survive). There were also several scenes from the U.S. version of Fever Pitch (which, being Yankee Fans, we consider to be a horror film) that were shot in Toronto. One is the scene of the barbecue in the park: In the background, a statue can be seen. It's Queen Victoria. I seriously doubt that there are any statues of British monarchs left in Boston.

*

For some reason, the Jays list their start times as 1:07 and 7:07, instead of the usual 1:05/7:05 or the old-time 1:00/7:00 – or, as was the case with the Yankees while I was growing up, 2:00/8:00. This reflects what the starting time would be if it was, officially, 7 or 7:05.

Have fun, and remember, you're a guest in their country. Try not to go overboard with Yankeeness.