Monday, June 12, 2017

How to Be a Met Fan In Los Angeles -- 2017 Edition

Next Monday, the Mets go to Los Angeles to play one of the teams whose place in New York they took, the Dodgers.

Perhaps Met fans should be glad that the Dodgers left Brooklyn after the 1957 season, and that the Giants left Manhattan at the same time.  After all, if they hadn't, the Mets never would have been created, and the fans of the 2 former clubs, the Capulets and Montagues of baseball (or the Hatfields and McCoys, if you prefer), would not have been united in the love of a new club, the canonization of the National League, and hatred of the Yankees.

Before You Go. Unlike the Seattle and San Francisco Bay Areas, the Los Angeles area has very consistent weather. It's a nice place to visit. If you don't mind earthquakes. And mudslides. And wildfires. And smog. (Okay, the smog problem isn't as bad as it was in the Seventies. And New York had smog issues then, too.)

Check the weather forecast on the Los Angeles Times' website before you, so you'll know what to bring. Currently, projections for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are in the low 80s in daylight, and the high 60s at night.

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

Tickets. With basketball legend Earvin "Magic" Johnson having bought the Dodgers, settling their ownership situation, and injecting some much-needed cash into what had been one of the wealthiest baseball teams from their last few years in Brooklyn until owner Frank McCourt's spectacularly messy divorce, the Dodgers are again perennial Playoff contenders.

And, as in days of old (specifically, the 1960s through the 1980s), they again have the best attendance in baseball, averaging 44,637 fans per home game this season, at the stadium with the largest current capacity in the major leagues, an even 56,000 seats. (In recent times, there have been a few stadiums with larger capacities that hosted Major League Baseball teams, including the old Yankee Stadium, but all have been replaced, except for nearby Anaheim/Angel Stadium, which has been remodeled and now has a much lower capacity.)

So getting tickets could be tough. Infield Boxes are $135, Infield Loge Boxes $80, Preferred Loge Boxes (down the baselines) $71, Infield Reserve $43, Preferred Reserve $28, Pavilion (what they call Bleachers) $45 in right field and $32 in left field (the difference being Sun issues). The top deck -- infield-only seats, although they may be the highest in baseball history, even higher than the upper decks at the old Yankee Stadium and Shea -- go for $26 to $28.

Getting There. It's 2,779 miles from Times Square in New York to City Hall in downtown Los Angeles, and 2,789 miles from Citi Field to Dodger Stadium. In other words, if you're going, you’re flying.

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

But, if you really, really want to drive... Take Interstate 80 West across New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska. Just before leaving Nebraska for Colorado, you'll get on Interstate 76, and shortly before reaching Denver you'll get on Interstate 70 West. You'll take that all the way to its end in Utah, where you'll take Interstate 15 South. You’ll go through a short strip of Arizona before getting into Nevada (where you’ll see the Strip, Las Vegas), before getting into California.

Assuming you're not going to a hotel first (and you really should), either in Los Angeles or near the stadium or Disneyland in Anaheim), you’ll get off I-15 at Exit 109A, and get on Interstate 10 West, and almost immediately onto U.S. Route 101 North, the San Bernardino Freeway.  Take that road's Exit 3 to State Route 110, the Pasadena Freeway, and Exit 24 will drop you off at Dodger Stadium.

Given an average speed of 60 miles an hour, you'll be in New Jersey for an hour and a half, Pennsylvania for 5:15, Ohio for 4 hours, Indiana for 2:30, Illinois for 2:45, Iowa for 5:15, Nebraska for 6 hours, Colorado for 7:15, Utah for 6 hours, Arizona for half an hour, Nevada for 2 hours, and California for 3 and a half hours hours; for a total of 46 hours and 30 minutes. Factor in rest stops, you'll need more like 3 full days. And, remember, that’s just one way. And if you end up using Las Vegas as a rest stop, well, you might end up missing the series and end up, yourself, as what "stays in Vegas."

That's still faster than Greyhound and Amtrak. Greyhound will take about 68 hours, changing buses twice, $564 round-trip, although it could drop to as little as $494 on advanced purchase. The station is at 1716 E. 7th Street, at Lawrence Street.

If you go by Amtrak, it's about 67 hours. You'd leave Penn Station on the Lake Shore Limited at 3:40 PM Eastern Time on Friday, arrive at Union Station in Chicago at 9:45 AM Central Time on Saturday, transfer to the Southwest Chief at 3:00 PM, and arrive and Union Station in Los Angeles at 8:15 AM Pacific Time on Monday. It's $574 round-trip. Union Station is at Alameda & Arcadia Streets).

Flights will be more expensive, and you'll almost certainly have to change planes at least once, probably in Chicago or Dallas. But if you play your cards right, you can get a round-trip nonstop flight for a little under $600 -- just a little more than the train, and a hell of a lot faster.. The LAX2US bus will take you, as its name suggests, from Los Angeles International Airport to Union Station, taking 45 minutes and costing $8.00; from there, bus and subway connections can be made to downtown. 

Once In the City. Los Angeles was founded in 1781 by Spain as a Catholic mission, and means "The Angels" -- and so, that was the name of the Pacific Coast League team, and the subsequent American League team: The Los Angeles Angels. The city continues to grow by leaps and bounds, and is now just under 4 million people, making it the 2nd-largest city in North America, behind New York. (Unless you count Mexico, and thus Mexico City, as "North America" instead of "Central America.") The metro area has about 18.6 million people.

The "centerpoint" of the city, where east-west and north-south addresses begin, is 1st Street and Main Street. Numbered streets are east-west.

The Los Angeles Times is the leading (most-circulated) newspaper in the Western United States, and has long been known for a great sports section. The legendary columnist Jim Murray has been dead for some time now, but if you watch ESPN's Around the Horn, you'll recognize the names of Bill Plaschke and J.A. Adande.

The sales tax in the State of California is 7.5 percent, in the City of Los Angeles 9 percent. ZIP Codes in Los Angeles start with the digits 900 and 901, and the suburbs 902 through 918. The original Area Code was 213, but it is now used only for Downtown, and 323 now overlays it. 310 and 818 are used for the Western suburbs, 562 for the Southern suburbs, and 661 and 747 for the Northern suburbs.

A single ride on a bus or subway is $1.75. A 1-day pass is $7.00, and a 7-day pass (which might be a better value even if you're only staying for the 3 games of the series) is $25. Yes, L.A. has a subway now, the Metro, with Red, Blue, Green, Gold, Purple and Expo lines. (Expo? It goes from Los Angeles all the way to Montreal? No.)
Going In. The official address of Dodger Stadium used to be 1000 Elysian Park Avenue. In honor of the legendary broadcaster, now retired after calling 67 seasons with the franchise, an all-time major league record, it has been officially changed to 1000 Vin Scully Avenue.

It's about 2 miles north of downtown, in the Elysian Park neighborhood. Public transportation in L.A. is a lot better than it used to be, with the addition of the Metro -- and now, the Dodger Stadium Express bus. It will pick up fans at the Patsaouras Bus Plaza, adjacent to the east portal of Union Station, and continue to Dodger Stadium via Sunset Blvd. and Cesar Chavez Avenue. Service will be provided starting 90 minutes prior to the beginning of the games, and will end 45 minutes after the end of the game. Service will be provided every 10 minutes prior to the start of the game and run approximately every 30 minutes throughout the game. Dodger tickets will be honored as fare payment to ride the service. Those without a ticket will pay regular one-way fare of $1.75.

Thankfully, Dodger Stadium is not one of those 1960s or '70s stadiums that was built as a multipurpose facility for any event for which a promoter willing to pay Walter O'Malley's rent. But a major similarity it shares with those stadiums is that it is an island in a sea of parking. Parking will cost you $15 at the gate, but only $10 if you purchase online.

Dodger Stadium points away from downtown, but -- all jokes about L.A.'s infamous smog aside -- on a clear day you'll get a view of the San Gabriel Mountains. Nicknamed Chavez Ravine for the former name of its location, Blue Heaven and O'Malley's Taj Mahal (or Taj O'Malley), by starry-eyed Dodger fans, and O'Malley's Temple of Greed by me, it was built in 1962 and is thus more than half a century old -- meaning it has now lasted longer than Ebbets Field, which hosted 45 seasons of baseball.

But its age is hidden well, with its architectural style (that zig-zaggy roof over the bleachers can be seen on a few New Jersey public schools built in the JFK years) giving it away much more than its condition.
The Dodgers have usually been nuts on maintenance, including cleanliness. The old saying is, "You can eat off the floor at Dodger Stadium." Begging the question, "Even if you can, why would you want to?"

You'll most likely be going into the stadium through the home plate entrance. From this angle, the stadium may look odd, due to not being very tall. This is an illusion, as it was built into the side of Chavez Ravine. Along with the Oakland Coliseum, up the coast, this is the only active MLB stadium where you can walk in the front gate and go downstairs to your seat. (Ironically, this was once true for the Dodgers' arch-rivals: It could be done for Giants games at the Polo Grounds.)
The home plate entrance. Note the flags
representing the home countries of the players
that the Dodgers had at the time.

Being in the California sunshine, the natural grass field has nearly always looked good. But O'Malley's old policy of no advertising inside the stadium, save for the two Union 76 logos (for the gasoline station chain now owned by ConocoPhillips) on the scoreboards, is long gone. It doesn't make the place look tacky, though. (Tommy Lasorda can do that, if he shows up.)

The field points northeast, and is symmetrical: 330 feet to the poles, 360 to "Medium Left-Center" and "Medium Right-Center," 375 to "True Left-Center" and "True Right-Center," and 400 to center. That 400 mark is not shown: Instead, there are markers reading 395 to either side of dead center.
For a long time, the stadium's status as a pitcher's park, aiding such stars as Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Tommy John, Don Sutton, Fernando Valenzuela and Orel Hershiser, led to suggestions that the Dodgers were cheating: That the pitcher's mound was really closer than the required 60 feet, 6 inches, perhaps as much as 4 feet closer.

This has never been proven, and the fact that the Dodgers' pitching hasn't been as good the last 25 years (until Clayton Kershaw came along, that is) suggests 1 of 2 things: Either something happened to change the park's conditions to make it less unfriendly to hitters (what that would be, I don't know); or the Dodgers realized that, sooner or later, someone was going to prove the too-close-mound claim, and the game was up, and they had to move it back.

Oddly, from the park's opening in 1962 to 1970, there were 5 no-hitters pitched there, 3 by Koufax, and all by home pitchers (including Angel Bo Belinsky in '62 and Dodger Bill Singer in '70); from 1971 to 1989, none at all, in spite of all the good Dodger pitching, from 1990 to 1995, 5 more, 3 by Dodgers (Fernando, Kevin Gross and Ramon Martinez) and 2 by opponents (Dennis Martinez and Kent Mercker). Then, none until June 18, 2014 (Kershaw), and another on August 30, 2015 (Jake Arrieta of the Chicago Cubs).

In spite of its pitcher's park status, 4 home runs have been hit completely out of the stadium. Willie Stargell of the Pittsburgh Pirates did it twice, in 1969 and 1973, the 1st of these measured at 507 feet, which still the park's longest home run. Mike Piazza (then still with the Dodgers, not the Mets) hit one all the way out in 1997, Mark McGwire roided one out in 1999, and Giancarlo Stanton cranked one in 2015.

Because of its proximity to Hollywood, Dodger Stadium can be seen in lots of movies, including Superman Returns, where the Big Red S safely deposits a distressed airliner on the field. (A skyline for Metropolis was CGI'ed in behind the bleachers, where one would normally see the San Gabriels.) A space shuttle wasn't so lucky in The Core, crashing into the stadium.

It filled in for Anaheim Stadium in The Naked GunReggie... must kill... the Queen. Rookie of the Year had a scene set at Dodger Stadium, but because they were doing all their filming in Chicago, they used the White Sox' U.S. Cellular Field as a stand-in for Dodger Stadium.

It hosted an NHL Stadium Series game on January 25, 2014, a local rivalry game, with the Anaheim Ducks beating the Los Angeles Kings 3-0. In 2013, it hosted games of the International Champions Cup soccer tournament, featuring hometown team Los Angeles Galaxy and renowned European soccer teams Real Madrid (of Spain), Everton (Liverpool, England) and Juventus (Turin, Italy). London's Arsenal hasn't played there, but in the film Rock of Ages, set in L.A. in 1987, Tom Cruise played the lead singer of a band named Arsenal, who played the stadium in the film's closing scene.
Landon Donovan taking a corner kick for L.A. Galaxy, August 3, 2013

The Beatles played their next-to-last concert at Dodger Stadium on August 28, 1966, before concluding their last tour up the coast at Candlestick Park the next night. It didn't host another concert until October 25 and 26, 1975, when Elton John sold it out on back-to-back nights (wearing a sequined Dodger jersey designed by Bob Mackie), and then not again until the Jacksons' 1984 Victory Tour.
"This boy's too young to be singing the Dodger Blues!"

Pope John Paul II delivered a Mass there in 1987, and the Three Tenors held a concert there, telecast worldwide. During a 2008 concert, Madonna brought on Britney Spears (they didn't kiss this time) and Justin Timberlake as guests.

Food.  The Dodger Dog has long been renowned as one of the best hot dogs in baseball. (You are, of course, free to disagree. Personally, the best hot dog I've ever had at a ballgame was at Tiger Stadium in Detroit.) A recent Thrillist article on the best food at each Major League Baseball stadium got more specific: While the Dodger Dog, a steamed blend of beef and pork, is available at every concession stand, the grilled all-beef Super Dodger Dog is "available only at select vendors."
Honestly, it looks rather ordinary,
although I do like a lot of relish on my hot dog.

In 2013, they introduced the Brooklyn Dodger Dog. After what O'Malley did to Brooklyn, the Borough's natives old enough to remember 1957 could say, "Youse got some noive, pal!" (Translation: You are showing a considerable about amount of nerve, sir.) This variation has lots of garlic and spices, so an Italian Brooklynite (or otherwise New Yorker, or New Jerseyan) could appreciate it.

Keeping with the "Dodger Blue" motif, they also have the Big Blue Burger. Despite the name, there isn't bleu cheese on it. Rather, it has tomatoes, caramelized onions (so far, so good), chipotle aioli and pasilla chili peppers (you had me, and then you lost me). They serve classic grilled cheese, and "Street Style Carne Asada Tacos" (presumably in the style of L.A. taco trucks).

As for team-themed stands: Campy's Corner (named after Roy Campanella) is behind Section 4, Think Blue at 5, Brooklyn Dodger Pizza (because you can't get a decent pizza in L.A., "California Pizza Kitchen" be damned) at 8 and 130, and Dodgertown Deli (named for their longtime spring training home in Vero Beach) at 47. Tommy Lasorda's Trattoria is on the right field concourse: As the man himself says, his favorite food is "anything ending in a vowel."

Fast-food chain Carl's Jr. is at 10 and 140. And while their arch-rivals, the Giants, were the first to sell them at a ballpark, the Dodgers have stands seling garlic fries. As you might imagine in California, they have Veggie Dogs at Sections 22, 23 and 108, and Healthy Cart at 30.

Roger Owens has been a peanut vendor for the Los Angeles Dodgers for as long as there's been a Los Angeles Dodgers, starting at the Coliseum in 1958 and having been at Dodger Stadium since it opened in 1962. He is renowned for his accuracy in tossing peanut bags, still managing to toss a bag 30 rows despite his age. Indeed, now that Vin Scully is retired, he might be the Dodgers' seniormost employee.

When the stadium opened, O'Malley had it built without water fountains, so there would be no free water. The old bastard didn't want to give anything away. The team website says that they have been installed since.

Team History Displays. The facade of the upper deck in left field has notations for the Dodgers' 10 retired numbers: 1, Harold "Pee Wee" Reese, shortstop, 1940-58; 2, Tommy Lasorda, pitcher, 1954-55, and manager, 1976-96; 4, Edwin "Duke" Snider, center field, 1947-62; 19, Jim "Junior" Gilliam, 3rd base, 1952-66, and coach, 1967-78 (making him the 1st black coach in MLB); 20, Don Sutton, pitcher, 1966-80 (with a brief comeback in 1988); 24, Walter Alston, manager, 1954-76; 32, Sandy Koufax, pitcher, 1955-66; 39, Roy Campanella, catcher, 1948-57; 42, Jackie Robinson, 2nd base (mostly), 1947-56; and 53, Don Drysdale, pitcher, 1956-69. The Dodgers do not have a team Hall of Fame.
Note the difference in Robinson's 42,
showing its universal retirement.

Although Jackie's Number 42 was retired for all of baseball on April 15, 1997, the 50th Anniversary of his major league debut, in a game at Shea Stadium between the Mets and the Dodgers, his number was previously retired by the Dodgers, on June 4, 1972 (as it turned out, not long before his death), along with Campy's 39 and Sandy's 32, the 1st such ceremony by the Dodgers.

(For perspective, the only numbers already retired in MLB at that point were: 3, 4, 5, 7 and 37 by the Yankees for Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and Casey Stengel; 37 by the Mets for Casey; 4, 11 and 24 by the Giants for Mel Ott, Carl Hubbell and Willie Mays; 36 by the Phillies for Robin Roberts; 21 and 41 by Atlanta for Warren Spahn and Eddie Mathews; 20 by Baltimore for Frank Robinson; 1 by Cincinnati for Fred Hutchinson; 5 and 19 by Cleveland for Lou Boudreau and Bob Feller; 32 by Houston for Jim Umbricht; 1, 20 and 33 by Pittsburgh for Billy Meyer, Pie Traynor and Honus Wagner; and 6 by St. Louis for Stan Musial.)

Jackie grew up in nearby Pasadena, but he never actually played for the Dodgers in Los Angeles. Neither did Campy, who was paralyzed in a car crash in the off-season when the move happened, although he was kept employed by the Dodgers until his death in 1993. Reese barely played in L.A. But Snider, born in L.A. and raised in adjoining Compton (that's right, the Duke of Flatbush was straight outta Compton), was a member and indeed a key cog of their 1959 World Championship team in his hometown, as were Brooklyn "Boys of Summer" Gil Hodges and Carl Furillo.

Aside from Gilliam, who died while he was their 1st base coach (they wore black Number 19 patches on their sleeves in the 1978 World Series against the Yankees), all of these men are in the Hall of Fame. Aside from team owner Walter O'Malley (at least part-owner 1942-79, sole owner 1950-79), all of the Dodgers' Hall-of-Famers from the Los Angeles move onward have had their numbers retired.

This could be why they have not officially retired Number 34 for Fernando Valenzuela (pitcher 1980-91, number not issued since), or Number 6 for Steve Garvey (1st base 1969-82, only briefly issued since, including for Joe Torre while he managed the Dodgers), neither of whom is in the Hall, and to be fair each is at least a step short of it. Oddly, while 23 is not retired, Don Mattingly chose to wear 8 instead when he became a Dodger coach under Torre -- presumably, in Yogi Berra's honor -- and continued to wear it as a manager (and still does, now that he manages the Miami Marlins). 

The Dodgers' 6 World Series Championships are shown on the facade of the right field Stadium Club: 1955 (in Brooklyn), 1959, 1963, 1965, 1981 and 1988. As with the Yankees, Pennants and Division titles without going all the way are not shown; unlike their rivals up the Coast, the Giants, they do mention a World Championship won in New York.
Robinson and Koufax were named to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team in 1999. The same year, they, Snider, Campanella, and 1890s Brooklyn star Willie Keeler were named to The Sporting News' 100 Greatest Baseball Players. At 5-foot-4 and maybe 140 pounds, Wee Willie was the earliest and smallest player so honored. In 2006, Robinson, despite not having played for Los Angeles, was chosen by Dodger fans in the DHL Hometown Heroes poll.

When the 1st All-Star Game was played in 1933, only 1 Dodger was selected: Tony Cuccinello. This was after Dazzy Vance, their great pitcher of the 1920s, was traded and before their stars of the 1940s arrived.

Stuff. The Dodgers have a "Top of the Park Gift Store" in the upper deck behind home plate. On non-game days, it's open 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

Contrary to its image as a city whose "idea of culture is yogurt," there is a Los Angeles literary tradition. Much of it is in the "hard-boiled detective story," as pioneered by Raymond Chandler through his creation of the private eye Philip Marlowe. Writers influenced by the city include Nathanael West, Charles Bukowski, James Ellroy, Michael Connelly, Walter Mosley and Bret Easton Ellis. And the Los Angeles Times has produced many fine sportswriters. But as for books about the Dodgers? Uh...

Lasorda and Scully recently collaborated on The Dodgers: From Coast to Coast, as they are 2 living links to the club's Brooklyn days. (Lasorda pitched for them there, although not well; and Scully began at Ebbets Field in 1950.) Plaschke wrote I Live For This: Baseball's Last True Believer for Lasorda. Robinson (I Never Had it Made), Campanella (It's Good to Be Alive), and Drysdale (Once a Bum, Always a Dodger) all wrote good memoirs, although you should remember that Jackie and Campy never played for them in Los Angeles.

Arnold Rampersad's Jackie Robinson: A Biography is highly regarded, and Jane Leavy's Sandy Koufax: A Lefty's Legacy is fantastic. So is Tom Adelman's Black and Blue: The Golden Arm, the Robinson Boys, and the World Series That Stunned America, which covers the 1966 season (and its leadup), culminating in the shocking World Series upset of the defending World Champion Dodgers by the then-upstart Baltimore Orioles, and is an excellent examination of both cities in that turbulent time, and is nearly as superb as Leavy's work in its discussion of Koufax. (In this case, "the Robinson Boys" has nothing to do with the already-retired Jackie: They were the Orioles' Brooks Robinson, the white 3rd baseman from Little Rock, and Frank Robinson, the black right fielder born in Texas and raised in Oakland, who showed a racially-divided city that they could get along and win.)

Another book about the 1960s Dodgers, about to be published (1 week from today), is The Last Innocents: The Collision of the Turbulent Sixties and the Los Angeles Dodgers, by Michael Leahy -- born in Newark, New Jersey, grew up in L.A., graduated from Yale, and now a longtime writer for The Washington Post.  

Paul Haddad, who grew up in the Seventies and Eighties like I did, recently published High Fives, Pennant Drives and Fernandomania: A Fan's History of the Los Angeles Dodgers' Glory Years. He was referring to 1977 to 1981, including outfielder Glenn Burke and his claimed invention of the high five -- and Burke's struggle as the closest thing MLB has yet had to an openly gay player, drummed out of the team by Lasorda, who has never been Catholic enough to curb his foul mouth, nor Christian enough to accept that his own son, model Tommy Lasorda Jr., was gay, or that his son's death was due to AIDS.

Newly published in the 2017 season is Jerald Podair's book City of Dreams: Dodger Stadium and the Birth of Modern Los Angeles. And Michael Fallon has published Dodgerland: Decadent Los Angeles and the 1977-78 Dodgers. It's not an official sequel to The Last Innocents, but I read them back-to-back, and it pretty much covers the team's 1st 20 years in L.A., including what the City of Los Angeles was like at the time. Unlike Haddad's book, Fallon's Dodgerland only touches on the eventual title of 1981 briefly, at the end. It does, however, expose Lasorda for the phony that he has always been.

If you decide to read any of the books that try to justify O'Malley's move of the team out of Brooklyn, you have only yourself to blame when your head explodes due to the ingestion of bullshit through your eyes. The truth is, O'Malley did have a choice. If he was "visionary" enough to see that Los Angeles was a great baseball market, he wasn't the first to have that vision (though he was the first to truly act on it), and he should also have had the vision to get around New York's Mayor Robert Wagner and construction boss Robert Moses, to get the stadium he claimed he really wanted in Brooklyn.

As for videos, of particular interest to Met fans is Gil Hodges: The Quiet Man, one of several hourlong videos about the Brooklyn Dodgers that were narrated by David Hartman, about the Dodger 1st baseman who became the Mets' first baseman and the manager who brought them the 1969 "Miracle." The Dodgers also have a collection of the official World Series highlight films of their 5 L.A. titles, a collector's edition DVD set of the 1988 World Series, which remains their last Pennant. (This drought, currently 28 years, is their longest period out of the Series since the Series began in 1903. The previous longest was 1920 to 1941.)

Los Angeles Dodgers: From Coast to Coast - The Official Visual History of the Dodgers is available on DVD. So are various pieces on Jackie Robinson, including the recent film 42 starring Chadwick Boseman as the pioneer and Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey. Ken Burns' new film Jackie Robinson should be available on DVD soon. However, as yet, there is no Essential Games of the Los Angeles Dodgers or Essential Games of Dodger Stadium.

During the Game. On April 3, 2016, Thrillist published an article titled, "Baseball's Most Intolerable Fans, Ranked." To my shock, Dodger fans came in at Number 1 -- meaning they were the least tolerable fans in the major leagues.

I was flabbergasted. I thought Dodger fans were only bad when the Giants were in town, carrying over the rivalry from New York. Their fans go from laid-back Southern Californians to rabid dogs when the Giants are in town.

But they have no ill will toward the Mets. Sure, they want to beat New York. Los Angeles always wants to beat New York -- doesn't everybody? It comes with the territory of being the greatest city in the world. So, I figured, "Just don't speak well of the Giants, or ex-Dodger owner Frank McCourt, and you should be fine."

Thrillist begs to differ:

Unlike a Lakers game, which is really just an excuse for plastic narcissist actors and the power grubbers who fund their films to figure out a different way to be on camera, Dodger Stadium is less about the flash, and more about two very real, very different elements:

A) The people in the expensive seats really do get there late, take off their shirts to reveal smaller, tighter shirts, stay four innings, knock around six to eleventy thousand beach balls they mostly bring in themselves, eat a crappy Dodger Dog, tell a made-up Vin Scully story they heard from their uncle, leave early, and listen to the You Must Remember This podcast on the way home instead of the game. And yes, we get that this is because the traffic is horrible, and parking at the stadium is an exercise in self-flagellation, and the entire idea of L.A. was founded on the idea that it would be a majestic series of villages for no more than 35 people with cars to travel around, but still, maybe just don't go?

B) The people in the cheap seats really do beat up opposing fans. Or call them horrible things until they leave. Every single person we talked to who is either a Dodgers fan, or has been to the game as a visitor, recalled some of the most uncomfortable, unprintable stories of fights, or things being poured on women, children, and the like, just to provoke a fight. Cool, guys. Way to show your passion.

Oh also: your beloved Dodger Dogs are basically limp, under-salted, un-snappy Slim Jims that no one would ever consider eating were they not trapped in an enclosed space four miles from their car surrounded by people hitting beach balls and trying to fight their children.


Indeed, after Game 1 of the 2015 National League Division Series, a Met fan living in Bakersfield was put in the hospital by a vicious beating -- allegedly, by not a father and son, but by a mother and son. And yet, it was reported that "Good Samaritans" were using the rally towels that the Dodgers had given out to stanch his bleeding.

So, now, I don't know who to believe. Well, you're New Yorkers, and, while they may be Southern Californians, they will almost certainly not be gangbangers from Crenshaw, Inglewood, Compton or Long Beach. If push literally comes to shove, I think you can take them. Then again, you're Met fans, so, who knows?

Listen, in spite of my usual view of Met fans' brainpower, I'm going to trust you to be intelligent for 4 days: The 1 on which you're reading this, and the 3 you're in L.A. So I need you to trust me, and follow the advice that I give to Yankee Fans going to Boston: If the fans around you are okay, and are willing to talk baseball with you, by all means return the favor; but don't provoke anybody. And if someone provokes you, walk away. It's better to be an uninjured coward than a hospitalized tough guy.

All 3 games of this series come with promotions. The Monday game is Brooklyn Cap Night, in which the Los Angeles franchise redefines "chutzpah" by selling Brooklyn Dodger caps with Met fans in the house. Tuesday is Tote Bag Night. Wednesday is Andre Ethier Bobblehead Night.

The Dodgers hold auditions for National Anthem singers, instead of having a regular. They don't have a guy in a suit to act as a mascot, not even unofficially, as the Dodger Sym-Phony Band dressed like "Dodger Bums" in the last 20 or so years in Brooklyn. The Dodgers don't really need a mascot, as long as Lasorda is still alive.

Like the Yankees, the Dodgers play "God Bless America" before "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the 7th Inning Stretch. In the middle of the 8th inning, they play "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey. This pissed off Journey lead singer Steve Perry, who is from Hanford, about halfway between L.A. and San Fran, and is a big Giants fan. He got the last laugh, as the Giants invited him to sing the song during their 2010 victory parade.

After a win, the Dodgers play "I Love L.A." by Randy Newman. This is typical of L.A., and particular Dodger fan, obliviousness: The song both praises and mocks Los Angeles.

After the Game. The situation is roughly the same as at Citi Field: Because it's an island in a sea of parking, you won't be in any neighborhood, much less a bad one. That's the good news. The bad news is, if you're looking for a postgame meal, snack, or even a pint, you won't find any nearby, unless you want to count The Short Stop, at 1455 Sunset Blvd., half a mile to the west. At least, as I said, there will be cabs waiting in Parking Lot G.

In and around Los Angeles proper, there's some places that may interest you. A recent Thrillist article called Big Wangs the best sports bar in the State of California. In this case, "Wangs" is a countrified version of "wings," as in chicken wings. (Although a male rooster is sometimes called a "cock.") 801 S. Grand Avenue, downtown, near the Staples Center.

West 4th & Jane is owned by a New Yorker and is an L.A.-area haven for Met fans. 1432 4th Street, Santa Monica. Bus R10. Rick's Tavern On Main is the home of the L.A. area's Yankees fan club. 2907 Main Street in Santa Monica, 2 blocks in from the beach. Bus 733 from downtown L.A. (While the 1970s sitcom Three's Company was set in Santa Monica, close to the beach, I cannot confirm that Rick's was the basis for the bar across from the apartment building, the Regal Beagle.)

O'Brien's Irish Pub at 2226 Wilshire Blvd. in Santa Monica is the home of the local fan club of the New York Giants football team. Bus R10. (Although it's also in Santa Monica, it's 3 miles in from the beach and Rick's.) On The Thirty is the home of L.A. area Jets fans. 14622 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks. Metro Red Line to Universal/Studio City, then transfer to Bus 150.

If your visit to Los Angeles is during the European soccer season (which just ended, but will get back underway in mid-August), the best soccer bar in the L.A. area is The Fox & Hounds (that's plural), 11100 Ventura Blvd., Studio City. Metro Red Line to Universal/Studio City, then Bus 150 or 240 to Ventura & Arch.

Sidelights. The Los Angeles metropolitan area, in spite of not having Major League Baseball until 1958, has a very rich sports history. And while L.A. is still a car-first city, it does have a bus system and even has a subway now, so you can get around.

UPDATE: You'll need it if you visit L.A. during the 2028 Olympics, which it has been awarded.

* Site of Wrigley Field. Yes, you read that right: The Pacific Coast League's Los Angeles Angels played at a stadium named Wrigley Field from 1925 to 1957, and the AL's version played their first season here, 1961.

The PCL Angels were a farm team of the Chicago Cubs, and when chewing-gum magnate William Wrigley Jr. bought them both, he built the Angels' park to look like what was then known as Cubs Park, and then named this one, and then the Chicago one, Wrigley Field. So this ballpark was Wrigley Field first.

The Angels won 12 PCL Pennants, the last 5 at Wrigley: 1903, 1905, 1907, 1908, 1916, 1918, 1921, 1926, 1933, 1934, 1947 and 1956. Their rivals, the Hollywood Stars, shared it from 1926 to 1935. It hosted a U.S. soccer loss to England in 1959 and a draw vs. Mexico the next year.

Its capacity of 22,000 was too small for the Dodgers, and the AL Angels moved out after 1 season. Torn down in 1966, it lives on in ESPN Classic rebroadcasts of Home Run Derby, filmed there (because it was close to Hollywood) prior to the 1960 season. Mickey Mantle was a fixture, but the only other guy thought of as a Yankee to participate was Bob Cerv (then with the Kansas City A's). Yogi Berra wasn't invited, nor was Moose Skowron, nor Roger Maris (who had just been acquired by the Yankees and whose 61 in '61 season had yet to happen). And while Willie Mays, Duke Snider and Gil Hodges were on it, and all did briefly play for the Mets, the Mets hadn't gotten started yet, so no one on the show wore a Met uniform.

42nd Place, Avalon Blvd., 41st & San Pedro Streets. Metro Red Line to 7th Street/Metro Center station, transfer to Number 70 bus. Be careful: This is South Central, so if you're overly nervous, you may want to skip this one.

* Gilmore Field. Home to the Hollywood Stars, this 13,000-seat park didn't last long, from 1939 to 1957. A football field, Gilmore Stadium, was adjacent. The Stars won 5 Pennants, the last 3 at Gilmore: 1929, 1930, 1949, 1952 and 1953. CBS Television City was built on the site. 7700 Beverly Blvd. at The Grove Drive. Metro Red Line to Vermont/Beverly station, then either the 14 or 37 bus.


* Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. This is probably the most famous building in the State of California, unless you count San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge or the HOLLYWOOD sign as "buildings." The University of Southern California (USC) has played football here since 1923. The University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) played here from 1928 to 1981, when they inexplicably moved out of the Coliseum, and the city that forms their name, into the Rose Bowl, a stadium that could arguably be called USC's other home field.

The Coliseum was the centerpiece of the 1932 and 1984 Olympic Games. It was home to the NFL's Rams from 1946 to 1979 and the Raiders from 1982 to 1994, and to a number of teams in other leagues, including the AFL's Chargers in 1960 before they moved down the coast to San Diego.

The Dodgers played here from 1958 to 1961 while waiting for Dodger Stadium to be ready, but the shape of the field led to a 251-foot left-field fence, the shortest in modern baseball history. They got the biggest crowd ever for an official baseball game, 92,706, for Game 5 of the 1959 World Series; 93,103 for Roy Campanella's testimonial, an exhibition game against the Yankees on May 7, 1959; and the largest crowd for any baseball game played anywhere in the world, 115,300, for a preseason exhibition with the Red Sox on March 29, 2008, to celebrate their 50th Anniversary in L.A.
The 2008 exhibition game

A crowd of 102,368 on November 10, 1957, for a rivalry game between the Rams and the San Francisco 49ers, stood as a regular-season NFL record until 2005. Ironically, the 1st Super Bowl, held here on January 15, 1967 (Green Bay Packers 35, Kansas City Chiefs 17) was only 2/3rds sold -- the only Super Bowl that did not sell out. Super Bowl VII (Miami Dolphins 14, Washington Redskins 7) was also played here.

It has hosted 20 matches of the U.S. soccer team -- only Robert F. Kennedy Stadium in Washington has hosted more. The U.S. has won 9 of those games, lost 7 and drawn 4. In 1967, as 2 separate leagues bid for U.S. soccer fans, it hosted the Los Angeles Wolves and the Los Angeles Toros. Those leagues merged to form the original North American Soccer League, but the Coliseum only hosted that league in 2 more seasons, for the Los Angeles Aztecs in 1977 and 1981.

Officially, the Coliseum now seats 93,607, and the Rams returned last year, and will remain through the 2019 season, before their new stadium in Inglewood is ready. Oddly, since both they and the Raiders moved away after the 1994 season, the Raiders seem to be the most popular NFL team in Los Angeles County, but the much closer Chargers, 90 miles away, were the most popular team in Orange County. Now, the Chargers have also returned. More about that in a moment.

* Banc of California Stadium and site of Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. Next-door to the Coliseum, the Sports Arena opened in 1959, and hosted the Democratic Convention the next year, although John F. Kennedy gave his acceptance speech at a packed Coliseum, debuting his theme of a "New Frontier."

The NBA's Lakers played here from 1960 to 1967, the NHL's Kings their first few home games in 1967 before the Forum was ready, the NBA's Clippers from 1984 to 1999, the ABA's Stars from 1968 to 1970, the WHA's Sharks from 1972 to 1974, the 1968 and 1972 NCAA Final Fours (both won by UCLA, the former over North Carolina and the latter over Florida State), USC basketball from 1959 to 2006, and UCLA basketball a few times before Pauley Pavilion opened in 1965 and again in 2011-12 due to Pauley’s renovation.

Due to its closeness to Hollywood studios, the Sports Arena was often used for movies that need an arena to simulate a basketball or hockey game, a prizefight (including the Rocky films), a concert, or a political convention. Lots of rock concerts were held there, and Bruce Springsteen, on its stage, called the building "the joint that don't disappoint" and "the dump that jumps."

The Sports Arena jumps no more: It was torn down late last year, so that Banc of California Stadium, a soccer-specific stadium for the new Los Angeles FC, could be built on the site. It is expected to open in time for LAFC's debut in the next Major League Soccer season, in March 2018.

3900 Block of S. Figueroa Street, just off the USC campus in Exposition Park. The California Science Center (including the space shuttle Endeavour), the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, and the California African American Museum are also there, and the Shrine Auditorium, former site of the Academy Awards, is but a few steps away. Number 40 or 42 bus from Union Station. Although the Coliseum and the Sports Arena are on the edge of South Central, you will probably be safe.

* Rose Bowl. Actually older than the Coliseum by a few months, it opened in 1922 and, except for 1942 (moved to Durham, North Carolina for fear of Japanese attacks on the Pacific Coast right after Pearl Harbor), it has hosted the Rose Bowl game every New Year's Day (or thereabouts) since 1923. As such, it has often felt like a home away from home for USC, Michigan and Ohio State. UCLA has used it as its home field since the 1982 season.

It hosted 5 Super Bowls, including the first ones won by the Raiders (XI) and Giants (XXI), plus the all-time biggest attendance for an NFL postseason game, 103,985, for Super Bowl XIV (Pittsburgh Steelers 31, Rams 19, the "home" field advantage not helping the Hornheads). And it hosted the 1983 Army-Navy Game, with Hollywood legend Vincent Price serving as the referee. The transportation of the entire Corps of Cadets, and the entire Brigade of Midshipmen, was said to be the largest U.S. military airlift since World War II.

It's hosted 18 games of the U.S. soccer team, most recently a loss to Mexico in 2015; and several games of the 1994 World Cup, including a Semifinal and the Final, in which Brazil beat Italy on penalty kicks. It also hosted several games of the 1999 Women's World Cup, including the Final, a.k.a. the Brandi Chastain Game. It was home to the Los Angeles Galaxy from their 1996 inception to 2002, including the 2000 CONCACAF Champions League and 2002 MLS Cup wins.

In NASL play, it hosted the Los Angeles Wolves in 1968, and the Los Angeles Aztecs in 1978 and 1979. They played at Weingart Stadium at East Los Angeles College in 1974, their 1st season, when they won the NASL title; and Murdock Stadium, at El Camino Junior College, in 1975 and '76. Yes, the defending champions of America's top soccer league played their home games at a junior college. This was what American soccer was like in the Seventies.

Rose Bowl Drive & Rosemont Avenue. Number 485 bus from Union Station to Pasadena, switch to Number 268 bus.

* Edwin W. Pauley Pavilion. Following their 1964 National Championship (they would win it again in 1965), UCLA coach John Wooden wanted a suitable arena for his ever-growing program. He got it in time for the 1965-66 season, and it has hosted 9 more National Championships, making for 11 banners (10 coached by Wooden).

The building was named for an oil magnate who was also a Regent of the University of California system, whose donation to its building went a long way toward making it possible. Edwin Pauley was a friend of, and appointee to several offices by, Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman, but the student protests of the 1960s led him to switch parties and support Ronald Reagan for Governor.

Speaking of politics, Pauley Pavilion was the site of the 2nd debate of the 1988 Presidential campaign, where CNN anchor Bernard Shaw asked the question that shattered the campaign of Governor Michael Dukakis – not that the Duke helped himself with his answer. Oddly, Dukakis chose to hold held his Election Eve rally there, despite being a Bostonian. (In contrast, Boston’s JFK held his Convention in the Coliseum complex but his Election Eve rally at the Boston Garden.)


Metro Purple Line to Wilshire/Normandie station, switch to the 720 bus, then walk up Westwood Plaza to Strathmore Place. "Westwood" is the name of the neighborhood that UCLA is in, and Coach Wooden was known as "the Wizard of Westwood."


A few steps away is Drake Stadium, the track & field facility that was home to 1960 Olympic Decathlon champion Rafer Johnson and another UCLA track star you might've heard of, named Jackie Robinson. And also his brother Mack Robinson, 1936 Olympic Silver Medalist.

On the way up Westwood Plaza, you'll pass UCLA Medical Center, now named for someone who died there, Ronald Reagan. Wooden, John Wayne and Michael Jackson also died there. The UCLA campus also has a Dykstra Hall, but it wasn't named after Lenny Dykstra.

* The Forum. Home of the Lakers and the Kings from 1967 to 1999, built by their then-owner, Jack Kent Cooke, who went on to sell them and buy the NFL's Washington Redskins. From 1988 to 2003, it was named the Great Western Forum, after a bank. The Lakers appeared in 14 NBA Finals here, winning 6, with the Knicks clinching their last title over the Lakers here in 1973. The Kings appeared in just 1 Stanley Cup Finals here, in 1993, losing it to the Montreal Canadiens.

Now owned by the Madison Square Garden Corporation, thus run by James Dolan, which means it's going to be mismanaged. Elvis Presley sang here on November 14, 1970 and May 11, 1974. The Forum is not currently being used by any professional team, but was recently the stand-in for the Sunshine Center, the arena in the ABC sitcom Mr. Sunshine. 3900 W. Manchester Blvd. 


* City of Champions Stadium. This is the current name (which will almost certainly be tossed aside for a corporate one) for the project to build a new stadium for the Rams in Inglewood, on the site of the Hollywood Park horse racing track.

Set to seat 70,000, it will have a retractable roof, and be expandable to 100,000 for Super Bowls and NCAA Final Fours. It is scheduled to open for the Rams and Chargers in time for the 2020 NFL season. It has been awarded Super Bowl LVI, to be played on February 6, 2022. If the U.S. ever gets to host another World Cup (the next available one is 2026), it would likely be a site, possibly even for the Final (as the Rose Bowl was in 1994).

Prairie Avenue and Arbor Vitae Street, across Pincay Drive from the Forum. For both facilities, use Metro Silver Line to Harbor Transitway station, switch to Number 115 bus. (Be careful, this transfer is in South Central.)


Before the Rams, the Los Angeles Buccaneers were admitted to the NFL in 1926, but were a "traveling team," and never played a game in Los Angeles. They were made up of players from California colleges, but were based in Chicago. The Los Angeles Wildcats of the 1st American Football League were the same deal, a traveling team made up of West Coast athletes, naming them for George "Wildcat" Wilson of the University of Washington. Both teams folded the next year.

That same year, Abe Saperstein would found a basketball team in Chicago, but, like the Bucs and the Cats, make them a traveling team, and name them for a place that wasn't their real home: Since they were all-black, he named them the Harlem Globetrotters.

* Staples Center. This new downtown arena has been home to the Lakers, Clippers and Kings since 1999. The Lakers have won 5 Championships here, to go with the 6 they won at the Forum, and the 5 they won in Minneapolis. The Clippers, as yet, have won 2 Division Championships, but have never reached a Finals in any city since their founding in 1970 (as the Buffalo Braves, San Diego or L.A.). The Kings finally won a Stanley Cup in 2012, although, as a Devils fan, I'm trying to put that fixed Finals out of my mind. They've now won another, although, if you're a Ranger fan, you may want to do the same.

According to a recent New York Times article, there is not one place where the Clippers are more popular than the Lakers. Not in the City of Los Angeles, not in the County of Los Angeles, not in Orange County, not even in the Clippers' former home of San Diego (City or County). In fact, there are places in Southern California where the Chicago Bulls, as a holdover from the 1990s, have almost as many fans as the Clippers -- but not, despite all that LeBron James achieved, the Miami Heat or the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Staples Center holds the Grammy Awards every other year (alternating with New York), and hosted the 2000 Democratic Convention, which nominated Al Gore. 1111 S. Figueroa Street, Los Angeles. The nearest Metro stop is Westlake/MacArthur Park, 8 blocks away.

(Yes, that MacArthur Park, the one where songwriter Jimmy Webb used to take the girlfriend who ended up leaving him and inspiring the song of the same title recorded by Richard Harris and later Donna Summer. Their relationship also inspired Webb to write "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" and "Where's the Playground Susie" by Glen Campbell, and "The Worst That Could Happen" by Johnny Maestro's later group, the Brooklyn Bridge. The worst that could happen there now, you don't want to know: Since the 1980s the park has been a magnet for gang violence, although this was significantly reduced in the 2000s.)

* Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Home of the Angels since 1966, and of the Rams from 1980 until 1994, it was designed to look like a modernized version of the old Yankee Stadium, before that stadium's 1973-76 renovation. The football bleachers, erected in 1979, were demolished in 1997 and replaced with a SoCal-esque scene that gives the place some character. Unfortunately, the old "Big A" scoreboard that stood in left field from 1966 to 1979 was moved out to the parking lot, and now stands as a message board.

It was known as Anaheim Stadium from 1966 to 1997, and Edison International Field of Anaheim from 1998 to 2003. 2000 E. Gene Autry Way at State College Boulevard. Metrolink's Orange County Line and Amtrak share a train station just to the north of the stadium.

* Honda Center. Previously known as the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim, it is across the railroad, the Orange Freeway and Katella Avenue from Angel Stadium. It has been home from the beginning of the franchise in 1993 to the NHL's Anaheim Ducks – formerly the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, and I still tend to call them the Mighty Dorks and the Mighty Schmucks.

The Clippers, with their typical luck, had to move one of their few home Playoff games there in 1992 during the South Central riot. It also hosted the NCAA's hockey version of the Final Four, the Frozen Four, in 1999. 2695 E. Katella Avenue. Anaheim Metrolink stop.

* Titan Stadium. On the campus of California State University, Fullerton, this 10,000-seat facility is better known for soccer, having been used for NCAA Tournament games, U.S. Open Cup matches by the Los Angeles Galaxy, and 8 games by the U.S. national team -- which is undefeated there, winning 4 and drawing 4. 800 N. State College Blvd. Metrolink Blue Line from L.A. to Buena Park, then Number 24 bus. Or Number 57 bus from Angel Stadium.


* StubHub Center. Formerly the Home Depot Center, this 30,500-seat stadium has been home to MLS' Los Angeles Galaxy since it opened in 2003, and Chivas USA from its formation in 2004 until it went out of business in 2014. Now, for the 2017, '18 and '19 seasons, it will be the home field of the Los Angeles Chargers, until the City of Champions Stadium opens.

Aside from the regular-season title of the Western Conference in 2007, Chivas USA, a subsidiary of the legendary Guadalajara, Mexico-based Chivas, won nothing. But the Gals -- yes, they get that feminized nickname -- have won more MLS Cups than any other team, 5: 2002, 2005, 2011, 2012 and 2014, all but the 1st while playing here. They also won the CONCACAF Champions League, in 2000, and the U.S. Open Cup in 2001 and 2005.

It's hosted the MLS Cup Final in 2003, 2004, 2008, 2011, 2012 and 2014. It's hosted 12 games by the national team, most recently a win over Canada on February 5, 2016, winning 8, losing 2 and drawing 2. It hosted 6 games of the 2003 Women's World Cup, including the Final, in which Germany beat Sweden.

18400 Avalon Blvd. in Carson, adjacent to Cal State-Dominguez Hills. Public transport is difficult. You'd have to take 2 buses: First, the 910 or 950 Silver Line from downtown to the Harbor Gateway Transit Center, then the 246 San Pedro-Point Fermin line. That will get you to the corner of Avalon Blvd. and Victoria Street, the northwestern corner of the stadium's property. 


* Veterans Memorial Stadium. This 11,600-seat stadium, opening in 1948, was the home field for the football program at California State University at Long Beach, a.k.a. Cal State-Long Beach, CSU-Long Beach or Long Beach State, from 1955 until the program was folded in 1991.

On April 28, 1957, it was the site of the 1st game for the U.S. soccer team against Mexico on home soil. Of the 10 previous meetings, starting at the 1934 World Cup, 1 (the 1st ) was in Italy, 1 was in a tournament in Cuba, and the rest were in Mexico City. It was a qualifier for the 1958 World Cup, and it didn’t go so well: About 12,500 fans attended, most of them Mexicans coming over the border or Mexican-Americans choosing heritage over homeland, and Mexico won 7-2. Aside from that 1st match in 1934, the U.S. would not beat Mexico until 1980.

Like the old Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, it is locally known as simply "The Vet." 5000 E. Lew Davis Street, about 19 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles. Not easy to get to by public transportation: Bus 910 or 950 to Harbor/Century Transitway Station, then Metro Green Line to Lakewood Blvd., then Bus 266 to Lakewood & Michelson, then Bus 112 to Clark & Lew Davis.

* Gersten Pavilion. This 4,156-seat arena opened in 1981 as the home court for Loyola Marymount University, best known for their 1990 postseason run that included the death of Hank Gathers. For this reason, it is known as Hank's House. 1 LMU Drive. Bus 733 to Venice & Lincoln, then Bus 3 to Manchester & Loyola.

* Hollywood Bowl. This 17,376-seat outdoor amphitheater in the Hollywood Hills, with the HOLLYWOOD sign in the background, is one of the best-known concert venues in the world. Opening in 1922, it should be familiar to anyone who’s seen the original 1937 version of A Star Is BornDouble Indemnity, Xanadu, and Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl.

The Beatles played here on August 23, 1964, and again on August 29 & 30, 1965. 2301 N. Highland Avenue. Metro Red Line to Hollywood/Highland Station, then walk almost a mile up Highland.

* Academy Award ceremony sites. The Oscars have been held at:

** 1929, Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, 7000 Hollywood Blvd. (Metro Red Line to Hollywood/Highland).

** 1930-43, alternated between the Ambassador Hotel, 3400 Wilshire Blvd.; and the Biltmore Hotel, 506 S. Grand Avenue, downtown.

** 1944-46, Grauman's Chinese Theater (more about that in a moment).

** 1949-60, Pantages Theatre, 6233 Hollywood Blvd. (Metro Red Line to Hollywood/Highland).

** 1961-68, Santa Monica Civic Auditorium (which also hosted The T.A.M.I. Show in 1964), 1855 Main Street, Santa Monica (Number 10 bus from Union Station).

** 1969-87, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Avenue, downtown.

** 1988-2001, Shrine Auditorium, 665. W. Jefferson Blvd. (Metro Silver Line to Figueroa/Washington, transfer to Number 81 bus; Elvis sang here on June 8, 1956.)

** 2002-present, Kodak Theater (which also hosted American Idol), 6801 Hollywood Blvd. (Metro Red Line to Hollywood/Highland).

All of these still stand, except the Ambassador, demolished in 2005. The site of a legendary nightclub, the Cocoanut Grove, and filming site of a lot of movies, the last movie filmed there was Bobby, in honor of the building's real-life most tragic event, the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy on June 5, 1968. (Directed by Emilio Estevez, one of its stars was his father Martin Sheen, who may be the only actor ever to play both Jack and Bobby Kennedy, although he didn't play either in this film.)

In addition to the above, Elvis sang at the Long Beach Municipal Auditorium on June 7, 1956; November 14 and 15, 1972; and April 25, 1976 (300 E. Ocean Blvd.); the Pan Pacific Auditorium on October 28 & 29, 1957 (7600 Beverly Blvd near CBS and the Gilmore stadiums, 1935-89); the Anaheim Convention Center on April 23, & 24, 1973 and November 30, 1976 (800 W. Katella Avenue, not reachable by public transit); and the Swing Auditorium in San Bernardino on November 12 & 13, 1972, and May 10 & 13, 1974 (1949-81, demolished, 689 S. E Street, 58 miles east of downtown L.A.).

Oh yeah: He also sang at NBC's Burbank Studios, a complex which also includes, among other things, the studio where Johnny Carson from 1972 to 1992, and Jay Leno from then until 2014, hosted The Tonight Show. Elvis taped his "Comeback Special" there on June 24 and 25, 1968. 3000 W. Alameda Avenue. Metro Red Line to North Hollywood, then Bus 501 to Alameda & Olive.

The Los Angeles area is home to a few interesting museums, in addition to those mentioned at Exposition Park. The Getty Center is an art museum at 1200 Getty Center Drive, off I-405. The Autry National Center, 4700 Western Heritage Way, was founded by the Singing Cowboy and Angels founder-owner to celebrate and study the Western U.S. and Native Americans. (Metro Red Line, Hollywood/Western.) Also at Griffith Park, the Griffith Observatory, at 2800 E. Observatory Avenue, should be familiar from lots of movies (including Rebel Without a Cause) and TV shows.

The Hollywood section of town (not a separate city) has a few interesting sites, and the studio tours may be worth it, but do yourself a favor and skip the tours of stars' homes. You’re probably not going to see any of the celebrities. You've got a better chance of seeing one back home on the streets of New York.

And you don't need to see the HOLLYWOOD sign. You might remember the shot of it in the ESPN film The Bronx Is Burning, when the Yankees went out to L.A. to play the Dodgers in the 1977 World Series. Their shot of the sign was accurate: In 1977, it was falling apart, a genuine ruin. A year later, it was restored, but it's still no big deal up close. It was meant to be seen from afar.

Grauman's Chinese Theater, with its cemented signatures and footprints of stars, is the centerpiece of the Hollywood Walk of Fame at the legendary intersection of Hollywood Blvd. & Vine Street (6931 Hollywood Blvd., also at the Hollywood/Highland Metro stop).

Jackie Robinson grew up in Pasadena, at 121 Pepper Street. In a bit of foreshadowing, Pepper Street and Claremont Street are connected by an alley named Progress Lane. Pepper Street extends from Sunset Avenue, and at its foot is Brown Memorial AME Church, which the Robinsons attended. Gold Line from Union Station to Del Mar, then Bus 260 to Fair Oaks & Claremont. Be advised that this is still a private residence, not a museum dedicated to Jackie, and the people living there now will not want to be bothered.

Casey Stengel, the 1st manager of the Mets and the greatest manager of the Yankees, retired to Glendale, in Los Angeles County, and after his death on September 29, 1975, he was buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery. So was Don Drysdale, and early 1950s Brooklyn manager Chuck Dressen.

Also laid to rest there are Lou Gehrig's successor Babe Dahlgren, football star turned actor Johnny Mack Brown, 1930s boxing champion Jimmy McLarnin, Chicago Cubs owners William Wrigley Jr. and Philip K. Wrigley, Laverne and Maxene Andrews of the Andrews Sisters, James Arness, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, Clara Bow, Lon Chaney Sr., Nat King Cole and Natalie Cole, Sam Cooke, Sammy Davis Sr. and Jr. and Sammy's widow Altovise, Walt Disney and other members of his family (he was not cryogenically frozen), W.C. Fields, Larry Fine (the other members of the Three Stooges are buried elsewhere in Los Angeles County), Errol Flynn, Clark Gable and Carole Lombard, Jean Harlow, Rex Harrison, Phil Hartman, Michael Jackson, Ted Knight, Harold Lloyd, Chico and Gummo Marx (but not Groucho or Harpo), Aimee Semple McPherson, Tom Mix, Lone Ranger star Clayton Moore, Mary Pickford, Will Rogers, David O. Selznick, Norma Shearer and Irving Thalberg, Red Skelton, Jimmy Stewart, Elizabeth Taylor and Spencer Tracy. 1712 S. Glendale Avenue. Bus 90, 91, 92 or 94 from downtown.

Roy Campanella is interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in the Hollywood Hills. So is another Hall-of-Famer associated with the Dodgers, Leo Durocher. So is John Roseboro, who succeeded Campy as Dodger catcher. So are John Wooden, Gene Autry, longtime Lakers owner Jerry Buss, Steve Allen, Lucille Ball, David Carradine, Bette Davis, Annette Funicello, Marvin Gaye, Andy Gibb, Batman creator Bob Kane, Buster Keaton, Jack LaLanne, Dorothy Lamour, Charles Laughton, Stan Laurel (but not Oliver Hardy), Liberace, Ed McMahon, Ozzie Nelson, Harriet Nelson, Ricky Nelson, Freddie Prinze, John Ritter, Telly Savalas, Lee Van Cleef, Dick Van Patten, Paul Walker and Jack Webb.

Despite his connections to L.A., Jackie Robinson is buried in Brooklyn, at Cypress Hills Cemetery, which is bisected by the Interborough Parkway, now named the Jackie Robinson Parkway. Gil Hodges is also buried in Brooklyn, at Holy Cross Cemetery. Pee Wee Reese is buried in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. Duke Snider lived in Fallbrook, California during his retirement, and is buried there, at Masonic Cemetery, about 100 miles southeast of Los Angeles. New York-born baseball legend Hank Greenberg, often called the 1st Jewish baseball star, is buried at Hillside Memorial Park & Mortuary, 6001 West Centinela Avenue. Bus 45 to Broadway & Slauson, then Bus 108 to Bristol Parkway & Green Valley Circle.

Among the sports-themed movies set and/or filmed in or around Los Angeles is the 1976 kids' baseball film The Bad News Bears, whose home field was Mason Park, 10500 Mason Avenue in Chatsworth, 29 miles northwest of downtown (Bus 92 to 1st & Olive, then Bus 164 to Victory & Woodman, then Bus 158 to Mason & Devonshire); and the basketball hustlers' film White Men Can't Jump, filmed at the courts at the Boardwalk in Venice Beach (Bus 733). 

If you're interested in American history, especially recent history, Southern California is home to 2 Presidential Libraries. Richard Nixon's is not far from Anaheim, built adjacent to the house where he was born in 1913 at 18001 Yorba Linda Blvd. in Yorba Linda, Orange County. Metrolink Orange County Line from Union Station to Fullerton, then Number 26 bus to Yorba Linda.

Nixon's "Western White House" at San Clemente can be reached by I-5 or by Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner to San Juan Capistrano (the former Spanish mission where, as the song goes, the swallows return on the first day of spring), and then transferring to the Number 191 bus. However, the house, which Nixon called La Casa Pacifica, is privately owned (no longer by the Nixon family), and is not open to the public. So unless you're a major Tricky Dick fan, I'd suggest skipping it, as you'd only be able to stand outside it.

Ronald Reagan's Presidential Library is at 40 Presidential Drive in Simi Valley in Ventura County. (Reagan was born in Tampico, Illinois, about 130 miles west of Chicago.) Unfortunately, the Reagan Library is next to impossible to reach without a car.

Reagan's Western White House, Rancho del Cielo outside Santa Barbara, is owned by a private foundation that can be contacted for tours. The Reagans lived together at 668 St. Cloud Road, in the Bel Air section of L.A., until Ron's death in 2004. Nancy continued to live there until her death earlier this year. 668 St. Cloud Road, in Bel Air. Metro Red Line to Vermont & Sunset, then Bus 2 to Sunset & Bel Air, and then nearly a half-hour walk. It's been remarked that the ranch was his home, whereas anyplace they lived in "Hollywood" was her home.

The tallest building on the West Coast, for now, is the U.S. Bank Tower, formerly named the Library Tower. It stands at 1,018 feet at W. 5th Street & Grand Avenue downtown. The Wilshere Grand Tower will surpass it in 2017, at 1,100 feet -- unless a tower planned for San Francisco the same year ends up taller -- at 900 Wilshere Blvd. at Figueroa.

However, the two most famous tall buildings in Los Angeles are 444 S. Flower Street, at 5th Street, famous as the location for the law firm on L.A. Law; and City Hall, recognizable from LAPD badges, the early police series Dragnet, and as the stand-in for the Daily Planet building on the George Reeves Adventures of Superman series in the 1950s. 200 S. Spring Street at Main Street.

Did I forget anything important? Oh yeah, Southern California's original tourist destination, outside of the Hollywood studios. Most people I've talked to who have been to both Disneyland in Anaheim and Walt Disney World outside Orlando, Florida have said that the Florida one is a LOT better. Anyway, the address is 1313 S. Harbor Blvd. in Anaheim, and if you're staying in Los Angeles, just drive down I-5. Public transportation is possible, but it's a mile and a half from the closest bus stop to Disneyland's gates.

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So, if you can afford it, go on out and join your fellow Met fans in going coast-to-coast, and enjoy the Mets-Dodgers matchup, and enjoy the sights and sounds of Southern California. Just don't yell out, "Go back to Brooklyn where you belong!" After all, if the Dodgers had never left Brooklyn, there never would have been a New York Mets.

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