Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Should Yankee Fans Be Worried?

Should Yankee Fans be worried? After winning 21 out of 24, the team has now lost 4 out of 5, and 3 in a row. All the bad habits of October 2010 to April 2022 seem to have come back.

You would think that being at home, with Gerrit Cole starting, against the Baltimore Orioles, the Yankees should be favored. And if I told you that Cole would go 8 innings, striking out 11 and walking none, you probably would have thought that the Yankees would win easily.

They didn't. Cole allowed 4 runs in the 4th inning, and a home run in the 6th. Aaron Judge hit 2 home runs, but that only got the Yankees to a 4-4 tie, before the Ramon Urias homer that Cole allowed in the 6th. The O's added a run in the 9th, and despite getting a leadoff walk, the Yankees did not live up to the Cliché Alert.

Orioles 6, Yankees 4. WP: Jordan Lyles (3-4). SV: Jorge Lopez (6). LP: Cole (4-1). And with the Tampa Bay Rays winning last night, the Yankees now lead the American League Eastern Division by 4 1/2 games.

The series continues tonight. Jordan Montgomery starts -- don't expect a lot of runs -- against Bruce Zimmerman.

*

Days until the next New York Red Bulls game: 1, tomorrow night, at 8:00, home to expansion team Charlotte FC, in the U.S. Open Cup.

Days until the Red Bulls again play a nearby rival: 4, this Saturday night, at 7:00 PM, away to D.C. United, at Audi Field in Washington.

Days until the next game of the U.S. National Soccer Team: 7, a week from tonight, at 7:30 U.S. Eastern Time, against Morocco at TQL Stadium, home of FC Cincinnati. The USMNT have qualified for the 2022 World Cup.

Days until the Yankees' next series against the Boston Red Sox begins: 44, on Thursday, July 7, at Fenway Park.

Days until the next Arsenal game that counts: 81, on Saturday, August 13; time, opponent and location unknown, as the 2022-23 Premier League schedule hasn't been released yet.

Days until the next North London Derby: Unknown, but it almost certainly won't be the opening game.

Days until the New Jersey Devils play again: Unknown, as the 2022-23 NHL schedule hasn't been released yet. Usually, the new season starts on the 2nd Friday in October, which would be October 7, which is 136 days from now.

Days until the New Jersey Devils again play a local rival: Unknown, but it probably won't be the season's opening game.

Days until the next Rutgers University football game: 102, on Saturday, September 3, 2022, away to Boston College. A little over 3 months.

Days until the next East Brunswick High School football game: 108, on Friday, September 9, 2022, against arch-rival Old Bridge. Under 4 months. Hopefully, our home field, under renovation through the entire 2021 season, will be ready, so we don't have to go back to the purple pit.

Days until the next East Brunswick-Old Bridge game: See the previous answer.

Days until the next elections for the U.S. Congress and for the Governors of most States in the Union, including New York and Pennsylvania: 168, on Tuesday, November 8, 2022. A little over 5 months.

Days until the next World Cup opens: 181, on Friday, November 21, 2022, in Doha, Qatar. Under 6 months.

Days until the next Rutgers-Penn State football game: 186, on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, November 26, at 12:00 noon, at SHI Stadium in Piscataway, New Jersey. Just over 6 months.

Days until the next Women's World Cup opens: 412, on Friday, July 10, 2023, jointly held in the neighboring nations of Australia and New Zealand. Under a year and a half, or under 14 months.

Days until the next Summer Olympic Games: 794, on Friday, July 26, 2024, in Paris, France. Under 2 and a half years, or a little over 26 months.

Days until the next Presidential election: 895, on Tuesday, November 5, 2024. Under 3 years, or a little over 29 months.

Days until the next elections for Governor of New Jersey and Mayor of New York City: 1,260, on Tuesday, November 4, 2025. Under 3 1/2 years.

Days until the next Winter Olympics open in Milan, Italy: 1,354, on Friday, February 6, 2026. Under 4 years.

Monday, May 23, 2022

How to Be a Yankee Fan In Tampa Bay -- 2022 Edition

This coming Thursday, the Yankees had down to Florida, to play a 3-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays are chasing the Yankees for 1st place in the American League Eastern Division, so this could be a chance for the Yankees to set things right.

A few years ago, I saw a blog post (don't know who wrote it) by someone who called San Diego "the Tampa of California." I think he owes San Diego an apology.

Before You Go. While the games will be indoors, you'll still have to get around, so you should know about the weather.

For the 4 days over which this series will be played, the Tampa Bay Times (formerly the St. Petersburg Times) and the Tampa Tribune are both predicting rotten weather: The high 80s for daytime and the mid-70s for night, and a chance of rain all 4 days, increasing as the weekend goes on. None of that will be a problem during the game, but you won't be indoors the entire day.

Florida must be where the cliché, "It's not the heat that's so bad, it's the humidity" began. So even if you manage to avoid the rain, be prepared to sweat when you're outside the dome, especially if your visit is later in the season.

The Tampa Bay region is in the Eastern Time Zone, so you don't have to change your watch, or the clock on your smartphone. And while Florida was a Confederate State, you won't need to bring your passport or change your money.

Tickets. The Rays averaged just 15,306 fans per home game in 2019, the last pre-COVID season -- 29th out of 30 in the major leagues, ahead of only their cross-State "rivals," the Miami Marlins.

Aside from their 1st season, 1998, when they could count on the novelty of even having Major league Baseball, and drew an average of 30,942, their peak attendance is 23,147 in 2009, the year after they won their Pennant.

This was disgraceful support of a winning team, and if they can't draw fans to a lousy ballpark with a winning team, it begs the question, "Can they draw fans to a good ballpark with a winning team?"

Considering the trouble they've had getting a location, let alone a deal, we may never find out. Along with the Oakland Athletics, the Rays are the current MLB team most likely to move in the next few years. The factor that may keep them in the Tampa Bay area is that nobody else seems to have a suitable ballpark ready for them, unless MLB wants to go back to Montreal and its Olympic Stadium.

So, even with all the ex-New Yorkers and ex-New Jerseyans in the Tampa Bay area, you can probably show up at the Trop on the day of the game and get a decent ticket.

The Rays classify a game against the Yanks as a "Diamond Game," meaning they will charge their highest prices: Lower Boxes (infield) are $105, Lower Corners are $87, Outfield seats are $64, Press Level are $120, and the upper deck is no longer sold at all.

Getting There. It is 1,136 road miles from Times Square in Manhattan to downtown Tampa, and 1,167 miles from Yankee Stadium II in The Bronx to Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. Sounds like you're gonna be flying.

If you play your cards right, you can get a round-trip flight for only $400 -- cheap, especially considering the distance. More likely, you'll have to pay nearly twice that. (Tampa International Airport was originally named Drew Field, after John H. Drew, a land developer who gave it to the Army.)

If you want to take a side-trip to Disney World, you could fly to Orlando (it's 92 miles between the downtowns of Orlando and Tampa) and rent a car, but I suspect that hotels will be cheaper in the Tampa Bay area, and get more expensive the closer you get to Disney.

Amtrak is longer, $300 round-trip. Tampa's Union Station is at 601 N. Nebraska Avenue, and you'll need a bus to get across the bay to St. Petersburg. Amtrak's Silver Star train leaves Penn Station at 11:02 every morning, and arrives in Tampa at 12:55 the following afternoon. That's 26 hours.

Greyhound takes 29 1/2 hours, costing $453 round-trip, $453, but it can drop to as low as $292 with advanced purchase. The catch is that you'd have to change buses 3 times: In Richmond, Orlando and Tampa. Unless you get a hotel in Tampa, in which case you'd only have to change buses twice. And the layover in Richmond is 3 hours and 15 minutes. And I don't like the Richmond Greyhound station, and I doubt that you will, either. There's also hourlong layovers in Fayetteville, North Carolina and Jacksonville.

Greyhound's St. Petersburg station at 180 9th Street North, a 5-block walk from Tropicana Field. The Tampa Greyhound station is at 610 E. Polk Street, 4 blocks from the Amtrak station. To get from either to the Trop without a car, you'll have to take the 100X bus to Gateway Mall, then transfer to the 74 bus. It will take an hour and a half.

If you do prefer to drive, see if you can get someone to split the duties with you. Essentially, you'll be taking Interstate 95 almost all the way down, turning onto Interstate 10 West at Jacksonville and then, after a few minutes, onto Interstate 75 South.

Taking that into Tampa, you'll soon go onto Interstate 275, and cross the Howard Frankland Bridge – a bridge named for the local businessman who proposed it, built in 2 spans, 1960 and 1990, and so traffic-ridden it's known locally as "the Howard Frankenstein Bridge" and "the Car-Strangled Spanner" – over Tampa Bay itself and into St. Pete. Take Exit 23B onto 20th Street North, and it's just a matter of blocks until reaching The Trop at 16th Street South and 1st Avenue South.
The Car-Strangled Spanner

It should take about 2 hours to get through New Jersey, 20 minutes in Delaware, an hour and a half in Maryland, 3 hours in Virginia, 3 hours in North Carolina, 3 hours in South Carolina, 2 hours in Georgia, and a little over 5 hours between crossing into Florida and reaching downtown Tampa.

Given proper 45-minute rest stops – I recommend doing one in Delaware, and then, once you're through the Washington, D.C. area, doing one when you enter each new State, and then another around Orlando, for a total of 7 – and taking into account city traffic at each end, your entire trip should take about 26 hours. Maybe you can do it in 24 if you speed and you limit your rest stops to half an hour each, especially if one of you drives while the other sleeps, but I wouldn't recommend this.

Once In the City. "Tampa" is believed to be a Native American name meaning "sticks of fire," while St. Petersburg, like the city of the same name in Russia that was known as Leningrad in the Soviet era, is named after the first Pope, the Apostle Peter.

Tampa, founded in 1849, is home to 380,000 people; St. Petersburg, founded in 1888, is home to 260,000; and the metro area as a whole 3.1 million, so while neither city is big, it's a decent-sized market, and thus should be drawing a lot more people for baseball games.

One of the reasons it's not is that, much like the Miami area, Tampa Bay has a justly-deserved reputation for having a lot of retirees, people who either are too old, and thus possibly too frail or at least too tired, to leave their houses and drive into St. Petersburg; or have just had it with the inconveniences of life, and are satisfied to get their baseball on television. Nearly 1 in 5 residents of the Tampa Bay area, 19.4 percent, is age 65 and over.

Ethnically, the region is 76 percent white, 11 percent black, 11 percent Hispanic (considerably lower than Miami), and 2 percent Asian. Another difference is within the Hispanic community: Unlike the Cuban-dominated Miami, Tampa Bay's is 30 percent Mexican, 28 percent Puerto Rican, 13 percent Cuban, and 29 percent all others (Central and South American). Separately, the cities of Tampa and St. Petersburg both report being about 58 percent white, 23 percent Hispanic, 16 percent black and 3 percent Asian.

It's easy to forget that Central Florida is still The South. Tampa was among the cities that had a race riot in the Summer of 1967, from June 11 to 15, and, like most of the others, was caused by an act of police brutality by a white cop on an unarmed black citizen. Tampa was luckier than most of those cities, with only 1 death attributable to the rioting. Under similar circumstances, there was a riot in St. Petersburg in October 1996.

In Tampa, Whiting Street divides the city's streets into North and South, and the Hillsborough River into East and West.  In St. Petersburg, as I said, Central Avenue divides the city into North and South, and while there appears to be no East-West divider, 1st Street seems to set off a section with Northeast addresses. Although Interstate 75 must be crossed to enter either Tampa or St. Petersburg, the region does not have a "beltway."

HART, Hillsborough Area Regional Transit, runs buses, $2.00 Local and $3.00 Express. PSTA runs $2.00 buses around St. Petersburg. So taking the 100X bus from downtown Tampa to St. Pete ($3.00) and transferring to the 59 to the stadium ($2.00) will be $5.00 each way.
The sales tax in Florida is 6 percent. ZIP Codes in Tampa begin with the digits 335, 336 and 346; in St. Petersburg, 337; in nearby Lakeland, 338. The Area Code for Tampa is 813, 727 for the St. Petersburg side of the Bay, and 941 south of Tampa Bay.

Going In. Tropicana Field has an official address of 1 Tropicana Drive, 2 miles northwest of downtown St. Petersburg and 22 miles southwest of downtown Tampa. It is bounded by 1st Avenue South on the north (Central Avenue, St. Pete's north-south divider, is 1 block north), 16th Street South on the west, Stadium Drive on the south, and a service road and a creek to the east.

Opened in 1990 as the Florida Suncoast Dome, and nicknamed the White Elephant because of its exterior color and lack of a tenant for the sport for which it was intended, the name was changed in 1993 when the NHL's Lightning came in, making the stadium the ThunderDome. But they were only there for 3 seasons, until the building now known as the Amalie Arena opened.
The roof slopes from behind home plate to center field.

In their home opener, October 10, 1993, the Bolts set what was then an NHL record of 27,227 fans in the quirky seating configuration the place had at the time. So an expansion hockey team -- in Florida, mind you -- in the era before you could buy game tickets online, managed to outdraw a winning, Internet-era baseball team.

Anyway, when the Devil Rays (as they were known from 1998 to 2007) arrived, the stadium's name was changed to Tropicana Field -- but, make no mistake, this blasted thing (or, more accurately, this thing that should be blasted) is a dome. In 1999, it became the only building in Florida (so far) to host an NCAA Final Four, in which Connecticut beat Duke in the Final.

According to the team website, the Rays provide carpoolers access to free parking in team-controlled lots, Lots 2, 6, 7, 8 & 9. Vehicles with 4 or more passengers may park free for all Sunday games. For all other games, the first 100 cars with 4 or more people park for free up to an hour before game time, with other main lot Tropicana Field parking rates ranging from $15 to $30 per vehicle. Fans attending games at Tropicana Field are encouraged to arrive early to enjoy tailgating and baseball activities.

Gate 1, the Rotunda, is at the northeast corner of the stadium, dead center field. Gate 2 is at 1st base, Gates 3, 4 & 5 behind home plate, and Gate 6 at 3rd base. Gates 1 & 4 are Will Call pickup areas. However, unless you're a season ticket holder (and, being a Yankee Fan, you're not), the only gate by which you can enter is Gate 4.

The official current seating capacity is 31,042, but that's with several sections of seats tarped over. The actual number of seats is 42,735, but even the reduced capacity doesn't give the Trop an "intimate setting." Like the hardly-mourned Kingdome in Seattle, the high, gray roof gives the stadium the look of a bad shopping mall.
Those "catwalks" around the rim don't help. And that awful field -- one of the few ever to have a dirt infield with the rest of the field being artificial turf, instead of just dirt cutouts around the bases -- may make you nostalgic for Giants Stadium's awful experiments with real grass. But the seating design itself may look familiar to you, in shape if not in color: It was copied from Kauffman Stadium (formerly Royals Stadium) in Kansas City. Don't look for fountains in the outfield, though: That would be too classy for this joint.
The Trop may turn out to be the last MLB stadium built with the bullpens in foul territory, which was always a bad idea. It is also, with the Minnesota Twins having gotten out of the damn Metrodome, currently the only non-retractable domed stadium in Major League Baseball, with Houston, Miami, Milwaukee, Phoenix, Seattle and Toronto having retractable roofs. And, with Toronto planning to put real grass down at the Rogers Centre in time for the 2018 season, a year from now, The Trop will turn out to be the last MLB stadium with artificial turf. Good riddance.

Yes, that is a pool in center field, which is reminiscent of the one in right field in Phoenix. No, it is not for people. They have a live cownose ray in there. No, I'm not kidding. It's called the Rays Touch Tank, and while they do let people touch the ray (very carefully), it is not the kind that killed "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin, so you can relax. If you're into that sort of thing. I am not.
The roof slopes downward toward center field. The field is not symmetrical. The left field pole is just 315 feet from home plate, the right field pole only 322. In spite of this, it's generally a pitcher's park, which goes against the trend of the domes built in the 1970s and '80s. The power alleys are 370, and center is 404. In 2017, Nelson Cruz hit what remains the dome's longest home run, going 482 feet.

Food. Whatever I say about this ballpark being bad, I cannot fault it for its food, which reflects the Tampa Bay region's Spanish and Hispanic heritage. Cuban sandwiches, featuring freshly sliced ham, pork, and Genoa salami on toasted Cuban bread with Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard, are sold throughout the stadium. According to a recent Thrillist article detailing the best food at each MLB stadium, that's it at Tropicana Field.

Stands for Everglades BBQ serve barbecue-themed items. The right field concession area has a Checkers burger stand. Both the First Base and Third Base Food Courts have stands for Papa John's Pizza, if you don't mind giving money to a billionaire who raised his prices to offset the cost of Obamacare, because he was too cheap to provide his employees with health insurance.

The First Base Food Court has the Del Ray Cantina, a full-service bar specializing in tropical drinks, and the Third Base Food Court has the similar Oasis Bar and the Outback Steakhouse Food Court -- in recognition of Outback's Tampa headquarters and the NFL Buccaneers' hosting of the Outback Bowl, which was known as the Hall of Fame Bowl when it was held at the Bucs' old stadium.

The thought of having an Outback Steak appeals to me -- especially since I watched the 1st 5 innings of the 2009 World Series clincher at the now-closed Outback at 56th & 3rd on the East Side -- and the idea of having a Bloomin' Onion at a ballgame, while hardly healthy, also has, pardon the pun, appeal.

Oddly, considering the stadium's name, there is no juice bar. I'm reminded of the time the Yankees played the Houston Astros, and Charlie Steiner said to his radio broadcast partner John Sterling, "You know, John, I understand that, at Minute Maid Park, the balls are juiced." Sterling didn't miss a beat: "Ah, that's just pulp fiction."

Team History Displays. Stop laughing. The Rays are now in their 25th season, so they do now have some history. The area could have had more, but near-miss moves by the Chicago White Sox for the 1989 season, the San Francisco Giants for the 1993 season, and seriously considered moves by the Minnesota Twins in the 1980s and the Seattle Mariners in the 1990s all fell through.

(Can you imagine the Yanks and the Tampa Bay Mariners -- the region's nautical heritage means they wouldn't have had to change the name of the team -- being AL East opponents? All the Jeter and A-Rod comparisons? Plus all those times having to face Ken Griffey Jr., Edgar Martinez, Randy Johnson and Ichiro Suzuki?)

The Rays' 2008 and 2020 AL Pennants; their 2008, '10, '20 and '21 AL Eastern Division titles; and their 2011, '13 and '19 AL Wild Card banners are to the left of the center field scoreboard and the "K Counter" on a small wall.
Over the Captain Morgan Deck, the Rays post their 2 retired numbers, plus the universally-retired Number 42 of Jackie Robinson. The 1st was the Number 12 they retired for Tampa native Wade Boggs, who played the last 2 years of his career (1998-99) with the Devil Rays and got his 3,000th career hit at the Trop. (Boggs was also named to The Sporting News' 100 Greatest Players in 1999, and named the Rays' fans choice for the DHL Hometown Heroes poll in 2006.)

They've also retired a number for Don Zimmer. A native of Cincinnati, Zim and his wife, the former Carol Jean Bauerle, a.k.a. "Soot," had long lived in Tampa, where the Cincinnati Reds used to have their Spring Training camp. When Zim finally had enough of George Steinbrenner after the 2003 season, he decided enough was enough as far as all of baseball was concerned.

But, in recognition of his institutional memory, the Rays offered to let him coach in uniform, and told him he wouldn't have to take roadtrips. He accepted, and continued the shtick he'd been doing since becoming part of the inaugural coaching staff of the Colorado Rockies in 1993: Making his uniform number the number of seasons he'd spent in professional baseball. He died after his 66th season, and so 66 was the last number he wore, and the Rays retired it.
But the stadium's big feature, history-wise, is the Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall of Fame. It was moved to the Trop after its original facility in Hernando, Florida (the town where Ted lived the last few years of his life), went bankrupt. It houses exhibits on Ted's careers both with the Boston Red Sox and the United States Marine Corps during World War II and the Korean War, and the monuments to the members of the Hitters Hall of Fame, complete with memorabilia. Ted did not induct himself into his own Hitters Hall of Fame, and was inducted in 2003 only after he died.
The museum is only open on game days, opening at the same time as the park and closing after the 7th inning with the concession stands. Admission is free, and the museum is open to all ticketholders.

The Florida Sports Hall of Fame is located at Lake Myrtle Sports Park in Auburndale, 48 miles northeast of downtown Tampa and 70 miles northeast of Tropicana Field. There are 6 figures connected with the Rays who are members: Boggs, Lou Piniella (the former Yankee outfielder and manager managed the Rays from 2003 to 2005), Tino Martinez (played for the Rays in 2004), Fred McGriff (played for the Rays 1998 to 2001 and again in 2004), Johnny Damon (2011), and Hal McRae (coach and manager 2001-02). McRae is from Avon Park, and Damon is from Orlando, so they're at least from Central Florida. The rest of those are from Tampa. And, except for McRae, all of those also have Yankee connections.

That Hall also includes a pair of Als: Al Lang, the businessman who brought spring training to Tampa Bay; and Al Lopez, Hall of Fame catcher and manager.

The Rays did not name a 20th Anniversary All-Time Team. Maybe they'll do one for their 25th in 2023.

There is no trophy for the winner of the "Citrus Series" between the Marlins and the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays have won it 13 times, the Marlins 10, and there's been 1 split. In overall games, the Rays lead 71-58. The Yankees lead the series with the Rays, 242-181, but the Rays have won the only Playoff series between the teams, the 2020 AL Division Series. You want to put an asterisk on that, as "The COVID Year," go ahead. Nobody else does. Now, if the Yankees had won it, everybody would put an asterisk on it.

Stuff. The main Team Store is located in Center Field Street near Gate 1, and is open during Rays home games and special public events. Additional merchandise locations and novelty kiosks are open throughout the stadium during all home games.

As you might guess, having been to one World Series (and lost it) thus far, the Rays don't have team history videos on sale. But there have been a few books written about the Rays, and they may be available at the Trop. Most notable, probably, is The Extra 2%: How Wall Street Strategies Took a Major League Baseball Team from Worst to First, by Jonah Keri.

During the Game. A recent Thrillist article listed the Rays 21st on a list of "Baseball's Most Intolerable Fans": "After all these years and some pretty good teams, the few real Rays fans that exist have come to terms with the fact that they're still the best place to see your real favorite team after you retire, thanks to the lowest attendance in all of MLB."

Although the locals -- the ones who are not transplanted New Yorkers or New Jerseyans, anyway -- really, really hate the Yankees and Yankee Fans for repeatedly "taking over their ballpark" (as if it were much of a task, or much of a prize, and the cure for it is simple: Buy tickets, show up, and sit in the seats before opposing fans can do those things), they will not fight you. Aside from the occasional brawl between football players in the "hate triangle" between the University of Florida, Florida State University and the University of Miami, there is rarely violence at sporting events in Florida.

Nevertheless, these people are more laid-back Floridian than chip-on-their-shoulder Southern: They won't try to stop you from cheering on your team. After all, you probably outnumber them.

"The Happy Heckler" is a fan by the name of Robert Szasz, a Clearwater real estate developer. He has season tickets near home plate, and is known for his rather boisterous heckling. He is so loud that he is clearly audible on both TV and radio broadcasts. Of course, that's possible because the Rays get small crowds, so individual fans can be heard, much as Cleveland phone-company worker John Adams could be heard on his drum all the way out in the bleacher of Cleveland Municipal Stadium when he was surrounded by 65,000 empty seats, less so now that the Indians are in Jacobs Field and drawing much better.

Szasz is considered an "ethical" heckler, heckling opposing players only based on their play, and never throwing personal insults. Despite this, he has drawn the ire of some opposing players.

Just as the Yankees have Bleacher Creature Milton Ousland and his cowbell, and the Mets have Eddie Boison, with "COW-BELL MAN" and the Number 15 on his Met jersey, the Rays have cowbells as well. It was originally a promotional idea thought up by principal owner Stuart Sternberg, who got the idea from the Saturday Night Live "More Cowbell" sketch. Since then, it has become a standard feature of home games. Like the Happy Heckler, this is an annoyance.

The most famous proponent of the cowbell is Cary Strukel, who is known as "The Cowbell Kid." Strukel can be seen at most home games sitting in right field and wearing some kind of costume, typically topped with a neon colored wig (like former JOHN 3:16 banner guy Rollen Stewart) or Viking horns. The cowbells are rung most prominently when the opposing batter has two strikes, when the opposing fans try to chant, and when the Rays make a good play.

The Saturday night game will be a Throwback night, with "Special Devil Rays Uniforms." Sure, remind the fans of when your team truly stunk. As Wayne Gretzky might say (and it's more appropriate, given their proximity to Disney World), they're putting a Mickey Mouse operation on the field. It will also be Tropical Shirt Night, as they give away what most of us call Hawaiian shirts. The Sunday game will be Snapback Hat Day.

The Rays hold auditions for National Anthem singers, rather than having a regular. Their mascot is Raymond -- at least the name makes sense. He's not a ray -- manta, sting- or otherwise -- he is a furry blue creature wearing a large pair of sneakers and a backwards baseball cap, completed with a Rays jersey. He is described officially as a "seadog," and bears a physical, though not in color, resemblance to Slider, the mascot of the Cleveland Indians.

They also have a secondary mascot, a disc jockey in a cat suit. No, not a nice-looking woman playing records while wearing a catsuit. I mean a man in a cat costume, D.J. Kitty, based on a video showing a real cat, with help from special effects, spinning records while wearing a tiny Rays jersey.
Raymond and D.J. Kitty. This, among many other reasons,
is why Rays fans can't have nice things.

The Rays have a "mascot race" between people dressed as Pepsi products: Pepsi, Pepsi Max, Aquafina and Sierra Mist. I guess they didn't want Diet Pepsi in the race, figuring, being on a diet, he'd be in better shape, and thus have an unfair advantage.

The Rays do not have a regular song to sing after "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the 7th inning stretch. Their postgame victory song is "Feel the Heat," by Derren Moore.

On occasion, the Rays will wear "throwback uniforms," even though they've only been in the majors since 1998. In 2000, when the Mets came in for an Interleague series, to promote the film Frequency, which uses the 1969 Mets as a plot device, they had the Mets wear copies of their 1969 uniforms, while the Rays wore copies of the uniforms of a team the Mets never played, the 1969 Tampa Tarpons, who, as a Cincinnati Reds farm team, wore uniforms that looked like those of the Reds. They played in the Florida State League from 1957 to 1988. Sometimes, it will be the Tampa Smokers of the 1920s. Sometimes, it will be the St. Petersburg Pelicans.
But their usual "throwback," or, as some would say, "fauxback," is a variation on the uniform of the 1978 San Diego Padres. Only, if you can believe this, even more ridiculous, due to the color combination.
Don't say I didn't warn you.

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

There aren't a lot of interesting places to relax with a postgame snack and drinks near the Trop, although Ferg's Sports Bar & Grill, at Central Avenue and 13th Street, a 10-minute walk from the dome, is described by one source as "a popular haunt right after a game, for the Rays fans and Rival fans alike."

If you're looking to spend time with others from the Tri-State Area, Bobalouie's Grille & Sports Garden is the home of the New York Giants Fan Club of Tampa Bay. But it's at 1913 E. Bearss Avenue, on the north side of Tampa, about 10 miles due north of the arena. The home of the New York Jets Fan Club of Tampa Bay, Peabody's Bar & Grill, is similarly far away, at 15333 Amberly Drive on the north side of Tampa, 14 miles northeast of downtown Tampa, and 35 miles from The Trop.

The Birchwood Hotel, at 340 Beach Drive NE at 4th Avenue, caters to New Yorkers, including at its rooftop bar, The Canopy. It's a mile and a half from the ballpark, though -- but that still makes it a lot closer than Bobalouie's and Peabody's.

If  you visit during the European soccer season (which is now drawing to a close, but will start up again in mid-August), and want to see your favorite club play on TV, the best soccer bar in the Tampa Bay area is MacDinton's, in Hyde Park, about 2 miles over the Hillsborough River and west of downtown. 405 S. Howard Avenue at Azeele St. Bus 30 to Kennedy Blvd. & Howard Avenue, then 3 blocks south on Howard. Unless you're a Liverpool fan, in which case you might prefer Pokey's, at 100 E. Madison Street, downtown, near the Hillsborough River waterfront.

Sidelights. The Yankees' spring training home, George M. Steinbrenner Field (formerly Legends Field), is at Dale Mabry Highway and Tampa Bay Blvd., across from the home of the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Raymond James Stadium. (Raymond James is a financial holding company, not a person native to Tampa who deserved the naming rights.) Steinbrenner Field is also the home of the Tampa Tarpons of the Class A Florida State League.

Major League Baseball has been pressuring MLB teams to take their parent club's name off their minor-league teams. As a result, starting last year, the former Tampa Yankees took on the Tarpons name, that of a former team in the city.

The official address is 1 Steinbrenner Drive. It's on the 4300 block of North Dale Mabry Highway (U.S. Route 92) and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. (Florida Route 574). It's about 5 1/2 miles northwest of downtown Tampa, across the Hillsborough River. From downtown, take Bus 8 to MLK Blvd. & Hines Avenue.

The University of South Florida (USF) also plays football at Raymond James. It also hosted the 2016-17 College Football National Championship Game, in which Clemson beat Alabama.

The U.S. national men's soccer team has played there, and has won a friendly with Ecuador, 3-1 on March 25, 2007; won a friendly with El Salvador, 2-1 on February 24, 2010; lost a CONCACAF Gold Cup match to Panama, 2-1 on June 11, 2011; won a World Cup Qualifier with Antigua & Barbuda, 3-1 on June 8, 2012; and won a CONCACAF Gold Cup match over Martinique, 3-2 on July 12, 2017. It hosted 2 games each in the Gold Cup in 2011 and 2017.

The women's team has won a friendly with South Korea, 1-0 on November 8, 2008; won a friendly with France, 1-0 on June 14, 2014; a SheBelieves Cup match with England, 1-0 on March 3, 2016; and another SheBelives Cup match, with Brazil, on March 5, 2019.

It hosted Super Bowl XXXV (Giants lost to Baltimore Ravens) and XLIII (Pittsburgh Steelers beat Arizona Cardinals). It is currently scheduled to host Super Bowl LV on February 7, 2021.

North of Raymond James was Al Lopez Field. North of that was the Buccaneers' first home, Tampa Stadium, known as The Big Sombrero because of its weird shape. It was built in 1967 with 46,000 seats, and expanded to 74,000 when the Bucs were expanded into existence in 1976. The United States Football League's Tampa Bay Bandits also played there.

The Giants won Super Bowl XXV there. It also hosted Super Bowl XVIII, in which the Los Angeles Raiders beat the Washington Redskins; the 1984 USFL Championship Game, in which the Philadelphia Stars beat the Arizona Wranglers; and 3 games of the U.S. soccer team. It was demolished in 1999.

The entire group of current and former stadium sites is north of downtown Tampa, near the airport. Take the Number 30 bus from downtown to the Number 36 bus to the complex.

One of the legendary homes of spring training baseball, Al Lang Field (now Progress Energy Park), named for the Mayor who promoted St. Pete as a spring training site, is at 1st Street SE & 2nd Avenue S., 2 miles east of the Trop, in downtown St. Pete on the shore of Tampa Bay.
The spring home of the Yankees from 1947 to 1961, the Mets from 1962 to 1987, and the St. Louis Cardinals from 1947 to 1997, it is no longer used as a major league spring training or Florida State League regular season facility. In fact, the new Rays ballpark was supposed to be built on the site, but they haven't been able to get the funding, so Al Lang Field remains standing. It is the home of the new version the Tampa Bay Rowdies, in the new version of the North American Soccer League, the second division of North American soccer. Bus 100X to Bus 4.
Tampa Bay-based teams have won these Florida State League Pennants:

* Tampa Smokers, 1920 and 1925.
* St. Petersburg Saints, 1922, 1928 and 1964.
* Tampa Tarpons, 1957, 1959 and 1961.
* St. Petersburg Cardinals, 1966, 1967, 1973, 1975 and 1986.
* Clearwater Threshers, 1993 (as the Phillies, winning a Pennant in the same year as their parent club in Philadelphia) and 2007 (presaging their parent club's success).
* Tampa Yankees (now the new Tarpons), 1994, 2001, 2004, 2009 and 2010.
* St. Petersburg Devil Rays, 1997 (winning a Pennant before their parent club had even played a game).
* Bradenton Marauders, 2016.
* Dunedin Blue Jays, 2017.

In 2021, the FSL was folded, and replaced by the Low-A Southeast League, whose 1st title was won by the Bradenton Marauders.

The Amalie Arena, formerly the Tampa Bay Times Forum, formerly the St. Pete Times Forum, formerly the Ice Palace, home of the NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning, is at 401 Channelside Drive in downtown Tampa, near the Convention Center, the Tampa Museum of Art, the Tampa Bay History Center, and a mall called Channelside Bay Plaza. They're a 15-minute walk from the Greyhound station, or 5 minutes on the Number 8 bus. The Forum hosted the 2012 and 2016 NCAA Frozen Four, and the 2012 Republican Convention, at which Mitt Romney was nominated for President. Due to Canadian COVID protocols, the Toronto Raptors played their 2020-21 "home games" at the Amalie Arena.

Tampa Bay does not have an NBA team, nor is it likely to try for one in the near future, even though it would rank 22nd in NBA markets. The Orlando Magic play 93 miles from downtown Tampa, while the Miami Heat are 279 miles away. Yet, mainly due to LeBron James (but also due to Shaquille O'Neal being much more recently in Miami than in Orlando), the Heat are more popular in the Tampa Bay region than the Magic are -- and the Los Angeles Lakers are nearly as popular as the Magic, probably because of Shaq and Kobe. If Tampa Bay was an NBA market, it would rank 20th in population.

The Beatles never played a concert in the Tampa Bay region. Elvis Presley played many: In Tampa, at the Fort Homer Hesterly Armory on May 8 and July 31, 1955, and on February 19 and August 5, 1956; and at Curtis Hixon Hall on September 13, 1970, April 26, 1975 and September 2, 1976; in St. Petersburg, at the Floridian Theater on August 7, 1956, and the Bay Front Center on September 3, 1976 and February 14, 1977; in Sarasota at the Florida Theater on February 21, 1956; and in Lakeland, at the Polk Theater on August 6, 1956, and at the Lakeland Civic Center on April 27 and 28, 1975 and September 4, 1976.

This should provide you with a couple of non-sports things to do in the Tampa Bay region. And, if you want to go there, Walt Disney World is 70 miles up Interstate 4, an hour and 15 minutes by car from downtown Tampa.

No President has ever come from Florida. Two men who served as Governor ran for the Democratic Party's nomination for the office, but neither came particularly close to the nomination: Reubin Askew dropped out after the 1984 New Hampshire Primary, and Bob Graham didn't even make it to calendar year 2004, much less the Iowa Caucuses.

Malio's, in downtown Tampa at 400 N. Ashley Drive at Kennedy Blvd., is a locally famous restaurant, known around there as George Steinbrenner's favorite. He had a private room there, as does the still-living Tampa native and Yankee Legend Lou Piniella.

Steinbrenner is buried at Trinity Memorial Gardens, 12609 Memorial Drive, in New Port Richey, in Trinity, 28 miles northwest of downtown Tampa and 41 miles north of Tropicana Field. It is not reachable without a car.

The Tampa Bay region doesn't have a lot of tall buildings. The tallest, at 579 feet, is 100 North Tampa, named for its address at Whiting Street downtown, formerly named the Regions Building.

As far as I know, the only major-network TV show set in the Tampa Bay region  has been Second Noah, ABC's 1996-97 series starring Daniel Hugh Kelly as a veterinarian at Busch Gardens. Cougar Town was set in fictional Gulf Haven, supposedly in Sarasota County, which would put it about 60 miles from Tampa. Quite a few films have been set there, though, including Cocoon, Edward Scissorhands and A Time to Kill.

Oh, and, get this: As New York is known as the Big Apple, Tampa likes to call itself the Big Guava. In the words of the immortal Jack Paar, I kid you not.

*

So, if you can afford it, go on down and join your fellow Yankee Fans in taking over the Rays' stadium. Let's just hope the Yankees' bats and arms are as good as their fans. We need to make a statement against these guys. Tell them, as Cameron Frye (Alan Ruck) said in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, "You'd better mind your P's and Q's, buster, and remember who you're dealing with!" 

Bad Signs for Yankees Yesterday

The Yankees looked so good for so long, winning 21 out of 24 at one point, that all their flaws were buried under great performance.

But yesterday, in 18 innings against the Chicago White Sox, at home, no less, they scored 1 run, and had a bullpen meltdown in each game. In the opener, it was Aroldis Chapman in the 9th inning. In the nightcap, it was Jonathan Loáisiga in the 8th.

Luis Severino had a fantastic start, going 7 innings, allowing 8 hits, but no walks, and no runs, striking out 5. It was a performance worth of an offensive explosion, or at least a couple of runs.

No such luck. White Sox started Michael Kopech took a perfect game into the 6th inning, when, with 2 outs, Rob Brantly doubled to center. It was still 0-0 at this point, so a hit in the next at-bat would have been big. But DJ LeMahieu flew out.

With 2 out in the 7th, Kopech walked Giancarlo Stanton and Gleyber Torres, but struck Estevan Florial out to end the threat. (Florial is one of those "prospects" that Brian Cashman so loves, but never seems to pan out.)

Severino had thrown 94 pitches. Boone took him out, and replaced him with Loáisiga. One of the keys to the Yankees' making the Playoffs the last 2 seasons, he has been a shell of his former self this season. He allowed a single, got a strikeout, allowed another single, got a lineout, and then allowed single, single, home run -- to Tim Anderson, the subject of the previous day's controversy, who made a "Sh!" sign with his finer as he approached his alleged antagonist, Josh Donaldson, at 3rd base.

Marwyn Gonzalez singled with 1 out in the 8th, but could not be brought around to score. Aaron Judge doubled to lead off the bottom of the 9th, but that would be it. White Sox 5, Yankees 0. WP: Kopech (1-1). No save. LP: Loáisiga (1-2).

So, here's how things stand, with 6 of the regular season's 26 weeks gone:

* The Yankees still have the best record in baseball, 29-12, and are in 1st place in the American League Eastern Division, by 5 games over the Tampa Bay Rays, 7 over the Toronto Blue Jays, 10 over the Boston Red Sox, and 12 1/2 over the Baltimore Orioles. Their Magic Number to clinch the Division is 117.

* The nasty habit of the offense disappearing cropped up again yesterday.

* The bullpen remains a question mark. Can Aroldis Chapman be trusted, in any situation? Is Clay Holmes fit to be the new closer? What is wrong with Loáisiga?

* Boone continues to make baffling decisions, perhaps on Cashman's orders.

Tonight, the Yankees begin a 3-game home series against the Baltimore Orioles. Gerrit Cole starts against Jordan Lyles, before going down to Tampa Bay, for a 4-game series that might tell a great deal about whether the Yankees will be ready for the postseason.

Yes, we have to think about the postseason now. We know the Yankees can get there, because they have, in 6 of the last 7 seasons. But they haven't won a Pennant since the World Series win of 13 years ago. Sweeping the Rays, or at least taking 3 out of 4, would be a good sign, though hardly definitive.

We need good signs, not the bad signs of yesterday.

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Yankee Attack, Chapman Blow It

Today, in the 1st game of a rain-forced doubleheader with the Chicago White Sox at Yankee Stadium, the Yankees confused Jameson Taillon for Jordan Montgomery, and failed to provide him with sufficient run support.

In 7 innings, Taillon allowed just 1 run on 5 hits and 1 walk, striking out 7. But the Yankees couldn't get it done. They wasted men on 1st and 2nd with 1 out in the 1st inning, a leadoff single by Aaron Hicks in the 2nd, an Aaron Judge 2-out single in the 3rd, a Jose Trevino 2-out single in the 5th, an Anthony Rizzo 1-out walk in the 6th, and men on 1st and 2nd with nobody out in the 7th.

With the White Sox having scored in the top of the 4th, the Yankees went into the bottom of the 8th trailing 1-0. With 1 out, Judge hit a home run, and Rizzo followed this with a double. Giancarlo Stanton was intentionally walked to set up the double play. It was unnecessary: Josh Donaldson flew out to center, and Hicks popped up to 3rd.

Manager Aaron Boone took 2 big risks with the bullpen. First, he trusted Lucas Luetge with the 8th inning, after Luetge's last outing was a loss. It worked: The White Sox did not score in the inning. Then, Boone trusted Aroldis Chapman with holding the 1-1 tie in the 9th, after Chapman had blown the last 1-1 tie he'd been given, and Clay Holmes, rather than Chapman, had been trusted with the last 2 save opportunities.

This gamble did not pay off. Chapman immediately allowed a home run to AJ Pollock. (Like CC Sabathia, he doesn't use periods for his initials.) Chapman got a flyout, then gave up a walk, followed by a wild pitch, and then a passed ball by Molina, and then an RBI double by Adam Engel. Boone pulled Chapman for Ron Marinaccio, who got a popup, then threw a wild pitch of his own, and finally got out of the inning with a strikeout.

The Yankees went down quietly in the bottom of the 9th. White Sox 3, Yankees 1. WP: Kendall Graveman (1-1). SV: Liam Hendriks (13). LP: Chapman (0-2).

The series concludes tonight. Luis Severino starts against Michael Kopech.

White Sox Overreact, Yankees Win

The Yankees were supposed to open a 3-game home series with the Chicago White Sox on Friday night, but the game was rained out. It will be played as part of a doubleheader today.

I had considered going to this game, but, given how hot it was supposed to be, I decided to make it a beach day instead. I made the right choice, but the result had nothing to do with that. I liked the result.

But there was an ugly incident in the 1st inning. Josh Donaldson called the White Sox' Tim Anderson "Jackie," as in Jackie Robinson. "What's up, Jackie?" Donaldson was alleged to have said, Anderson got upset, and there would be shoving, if not an actual fight. Anderson called it a racist comment.

Donaldson said the comment was in reference to a 2019 interview with Sports Illustrated, in which Anderson described himself as feeling like "today's Jackie Robinson" in how he's "getting to a point where I need to change the game." As if that was true: No player has ever changed the game as much as Robinson did, not even Babe Ruth -- at least, not since the pioneers of the game, the men who wrote the rules or caused the rules to be written. Because of Robinson, no one will ever have to change baseball on that kind of level again.

Donaldson said it was a reference about which he's "joked around" with Anderson about it in the past. And Anderson did not deny that part of it.

This was not a racist comment. Anderson did compare himself to Jackie Robinson. This is like when Jim Bouton wrote Ball Four, and most players objected to what he wrote, and Pete Rose yelled, "Fuck you, Shakespeare!" at him from across the field -- not face-to-face, as Rose is a coward at heart. Or, or, if (as did not happen, as far as I know) a Red Sock had yelled at Reggie Jackson in 1977, "Hey, Straw, stirred any drinks lately?"

*

At any rate, yesterday was a Nasty Nestor day. Nestor Cortes allowed 3 runs and 6 hits in 5 innings, but also struck out 7 with no walks. He was going to need run support.

He got it, starting in the bottom of the 2nd. Giancarlo Stanton led off with a single, Donaldson grounded out, Gleyber Torres singled, and Isiah Kiner-Falefa singled Stanton home. Kyle Higashioki grounded out to move the runners over, Aaron Hicks drew a walk, and DJ LeMahieu hit a grand slam home run to make it 5-0 Yankees.

The South Siders got a 3-run homer in the top of the 3rd, but you know what I say about leadoff walks. Anthony Rizzo led off the bottom of the 3rd, Stanton singled him over to 3rd, and Donaldson grounded to short, which got Rizzo home. 6-3 Yankees.

Michael King replaced Cortes in the 6th inning, and he did not have good stuff, allowing 3 doubles that resulted in 2 runs. But in the bottom of the 6th, the Yankees again triggered my favorite Cliché Alert. Higashioka drew a leadoff walk, Hicks grounded out, LeMahieu walked, Aaron Judge singled, and Rizzo hit a sacrifice fly to score Higgy.

That would produced the final score, as the Yankee bullpen allowed the Pale Hose only 2 baserunners, both singles, from that point onward: Yankees 7, White Sox 5. WP: Cortes (3-1). SV: Clay Holmes (4 -- again, Aaron Boone trusted Holmes with a save situation rather than Aroldis Chapman). LP: Dallas Keuchel (2-4).

The series concludes with a doubleheader today. Hopefully, without incident. The opener is set for 3:05 PM, with Jameson Taillon starting against Johnny Cueto. The nightcap, which had already been set as the ESPN Sunday Night Baseball game, is listed as a 7:08 start. Luis Severino starts against Michael Kopech.

Friday, May 20, 2022

When Supporting Jordan Montgomery Is Not Enough

All good things must come to an end. And it's good that the Baltimore Orioles showed a little pride in the finale of the Yankees' 4-game visit.

Jordan Montgomery started the game for the Yankees. For once, he got what should have been enough run support. He went 5 innings, allowing 3 runs on 7 hits -- but no walks. He left with the Yankees leading 5-3, on a Giancarlo Stanton single that brought home 2 runs in the 1st inning, a leadoff home run from Stanton in the 4th, and a 2-run single by Isiah Kiner-Falefa in the 6th.

All season long, the Yankees' biggest strength has been the bullpen. Not yesterday afternoon, it wasn't. Miguel Castro faced 3 batters, and couldn't get an out. Chad Green added to that, and blew the lead.

The Yankees took the lead back in the top of the 9th, on a leadoff walk and a stolen base by IKF, and a single by DJ LeMahieu. But in the bottom of the 9th, instead of Aroldis Chapman, manager Aaron Boone trusted Lucas Luetge to close it out. Josh Donaldson began the inning with an error at 3rd base, and then Luetge got a strikeout, allowed a single, and gave up a walkoff home run to Anthony Santander, his 3rd homer against the Yankees in the last 2 weeks.

Orioles 9, Yankees 6. WP: Felix Bautista (1-1). No save. LP: Luetge (1-1). This time, giving Montgomery the run support he needed wasn't enough.

Tonight, the Yankees come home, to begin a series against the Chicago White Sox. They still have the best record in baseball, and remain in 1st place in the American League Eastern Division, 5 games ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays. The Magic Number to clinch the AL East is 120.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

How to Be a Met Fan In San Francisco -- 2022 Edition

Next Monday, the Mets, who replaced the New York Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers as the National League team in New York, go out to San Francisco to play the Giants.

Before You Go. The San Francisco Bay Area has inconsistent weather. San Francisco, partly because it's bounded by water on three sides, is the one city I know of that has baseball weather in football season, and football weather in baseball season. Or, as Mark Twain, who worked for a San Francisco newspaper during the American Civil War, put it, "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco." Fortunately, the Giants' ballpark, while right on the Bay, doesn't have the same kind of whacked-out weather as their former home of Candlestick Park.

In spite of the city's weather reputation, for this series, sfgate.com, the website of the San Francisco Chronicle, is predicting very good weather: High 60s in the afternoon, mid-50s at night, and hardly any chance of rain.

If you're going to San Francisco, be sure to note that it is no longer 1967, so you do not have to wear flowers in your hair. Considering that the Giants were then playing at Candlestick, it would have been pointless for hippies to go there: Anything on, or in, their heads, from flowers to headbands to joints, would have been blowin' in the wind, or even blown away by it.

But you should also note that the entire State of California is on Pacific Time, 3 hours behind New York. Adjust your timepieces accordingly.

Tickets. The Giants seriously dropped in attendance following the breakup of the team that won the 2010, 2012 and 2014 World Championships. They averaged 33,420 fans per home game in 2019, the last pre-COVID season. But they have gotten better since, so tickets may prove hard to get.

Giants tickets used to be among the most expensive in MLB; now, they're among the least. Lower Boxes are listed at $44 (anything closer to home plate on that level is sold out); by the foul poles, $24. View Boxes (upper deck) seats go for $16. View Reserved go for $14 in the infield, $11 in the outfield. The "Arcade" seats along that narrow right field barrier separating the field from the Bay are among the more expensive tickets, $32 -- and they don't provide quarters for the video games. (Just kidding: There are no video games, because it's not that kind of arcade.)

Getting There. It's 2,918 miles from Citi Field to AT&T Park. This is the longest regular roadtrip that either of the New York baseball teams has -- in fact, the only roadtrip in all of MLB that is longer is Seattle to Tampa Bay, or vice versa: 3,113 miles. (This does not count the possibility of Seattle playing Miami in Interleague play: That would be 3,297 miles.) This will remain the case, unless some future Commissioner decides to create a World League of Baseball and the Tokyo-based Yomiuri Giants come in. In other words, if you're going, you're flying.

You think I'm kidding? 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, get onto Interstate 80 West in New Jersey, and – though incredibly long, it's also incredibly simple – you'll stay on I-80 for almost its entire length, which is 2,900 miles from Ridgefield Park, just beyond the New Jersey end of the George Washington Bridge, to the San Francisco end of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.

Getting off I-80, you'll need Exit 2C for Folsom Street. Turn left on Folsom, right on The Embarcadero, bear right on King Street, left on 3rd Street, and left onto Willie Mays Plaza. The official address for AT&T Park is 24 Willie Mays Plaza, in honor of Mays' uniform number.

Not counting rest stops, you should be in New Jersey for an hour and a half, Pennsylvania for 5:15, Ohio for 4 hours, Indiana for 2:30, Illinois for 2:45, Iowa for 5 hours, Nebraska for 7:45, Wyoming for 6:45, Utah for 3:15, Nevada for 6:45, and California for 3:30. That's 49 hours, and with rest stops, and city traffic at each end, we're talking 3 full days.

That's still faster than the bus or the train. You can get a round-trip Greyhound ticket from Port Authority to the San Fran station at 200 Folsom Street at Main Street (13 blocks from the ballpark) for $778 round-trip, but it could drop to $530 with advanced-purchase. It takes 60 1/2 hours, and it includes changing buses 3 times.

On Amtrak, you could leave Penn Station on Tuesday on the Lake Shore Limited at 3:45 PM Eastern Time, and arrive at Union Station in Chicago at 9:50 AM Central Time on Wednesday. You would then board the California Zephyr at 2:00 PM Central Time on Wednesday, and arrive at Emeryville, California at 4:10 PM Pacific Time on Friday.

You would then transfer to a bus leaving Emeryville at 4:25, arriving in downtown San Francisco at 5:05. Total time: 77 hours. Round-trip price: $482. That 5:05 arrival should give you enough time to get to your hotel, check in, grab a quick shower, change, and get down to the ballpark for the 6:45 first pitch.

Except, this week, those Amtrak trains are sold out. So you can't go by rail.

So, as you can see, flying is best. But. this week, it's really expensive: You would be lucky to get a flight out of Newark on United Airlines, on any day of the series, and any day back out, nonstop in each direction, for under $1,000. There is a BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) station at San Francisco International Airport (SFO). It costs $8.65 to ride it into downtown.

Once In the City. Believe it or not, San Francisco -- founded in 1776 by the Spanish as a Catholic mission, and named for St. Francis of Assisi -- has fewer people living within its city limits than neighboring San Jose. It's now the 4th-largest city in California, behind Los Angeles, San Diego and San Jose -- whereas, not that long ago, it trailed only L.A. in the entire Western U.S. But that's due to those cities' growth, not to San Fran's shrinkage: It's home to 875,000 people, and there are 9.5 million people in the Bay Area overall, including Oakland, San Jose, and the suburbs of all 3 cities.

Important to note: Do not call the city "Frisco." They hate that. "San Fran" is okay. And, like New York (sometimes more specifically, Manhattan), area residents tend to call it "The City." For a time, the Golden State Warriors, then named the San Francisco Warriors, actually had "THE CITY" on their jerseys. They will occasionally bring back throwback jerseys saying that.

The sales tax in California is 6.5 percent, and it rises to 8.75 percent within the City of San Francisco. However, food and pharmaceuticals are exempt from sales tax. (Buying marijuana from a street dealer doesn't count as such a "pharmaceutical," and pot brownies wouldn't count as such a "food." Although he probably wouldn't charge sales tax -- then again, it might be marked up so much the sales tax would actually be a break.)

Since 2003, the San Francisco Examiner, once the starting point of William Randolph Hearst's media empire, has been a free daily, run outside Hearst Media. Ironically, Hearst Media now owns the paper's longtime competitor, the San Francisco Chronicle. Other Bay Area papers include the Oakland Tribune and the San Jose Mercury News.

There isn't really a "city centerpoint," although street addresses seem to start at Market Street, which runs diagonally across the southeastern sector of the city, and contains the city's 8 stops on the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) subway system. There's also the MUNI (short for "Municipal") light rail system. Interstates 280 and 680 form a "beltway" for San Jose, but San Francisco and Oakland don't have them.
The MUNI "Worm Logo"

BART rides are accessed with a Clipper Card. An initial purchase fee is $3.00. A BART ride within San Francisco is $2.10; going from downtown to Daly City, where the Cow Palace is, is $3.50; going from downtown SF to downtown Oakland is $3.70, from downtown SF to the Oakland Coliseum complex is $4.50; and from downtown SF to Berkeley is $4.35.

The maximum fare, if you stay on the West side of the Bay, is $5.05 from Embarcadero to Millbrae. The highest fare, other than for trips to San Francisco and Oakland International Airports, is $8.85. The BART system switched from subway tokens to farecards in 2005.
A BART train

ZIP Codes for San Francisco start with the digits 940 and 941, and the Area Code is 415, overlaid by 628. San Francisco's electric company is called Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E). In addition to being the wealthiest metro area in the country, ahead of New York and Washington, the Bay Area is one of the most ethnically diverse, with 32 percent of the population being foreign-born.

Of the 9 Counties usually included in "the Bay Area," 42 percent of the population is white, 24 percent Hispanic (the vast majority of those being of Mexican descent), 18 percent East Asian (highest in the world outside of Asia, except for Vancouver), 7 percent black, 4 percent South Asian, 4 percent Middle Eastern, and half a percent each Native American and Pacific Islander.

San Francisco became well-known for its Chinatown, as Chinese and Chinese Americans are the largest ethnic group in San Francisco itself, with 21 percent. Daly City, just south of the city, home to the Cow Palace arena, is 58.4 percent Asian, the highest percentage in the U.S. outside of Hawaii. San Jose has more Filipinos than any city outside the Philippines, and more Vietnamese than any city outside Vietnam. In total numbers of Asians, New York ranks 1st in the nation, Los Angeles 2nd, San Jose 3rd and San Francisco 4th.

The City also became well-known for its North Beach neighborhood, which became its "Little Italy," and the West Coast hub of the Beat Generation in the 1950s. The Mission District, once mostly Irish, is now mostly Central American, particularly Salvadoran and Guatemalan.

Despite its name, Russian Hill hasn't had much of a Russian presence in over 200 years. That was not the case with the Castro District, where even after Russia sold Alaska to the U.S. in 1867, there were significant numbers of people from the Russian Empire, including, at the time, Finland. In the early 20th Century, it was known as Little Scandinavia, because Norwegians, Swedes and Danes joined the Finns there.

During the Great Depression, just as Southerners went to Southern California in search of work, working-class people of Irish, Italian and Polish descent went to San Francisco, especially the Castro. And many closeted soldiers and sailors, returning from the Pacific Theater of World War II, decided to stay instead of going home, and built the largest gay village in America except for New York's Greenwich Village. Just as Haight-Ashbury led the way for the Hippies, for gay America, the Seventies were their "Sixties."

Oakland has a black majority, and became known as the birthplace of the Black Panther Party and, along with South Central Los Angeles, the West Coast rap scene. As recently as 1970, 1 out of 7 San Franciscans was black, but as the black middle class grew, they were able to afford better places to live, and, in recognition of Oakland's role, abandoned "The Harlem of the West," once the home of a thriving jazz scene (part of what attracted the Beat writers), and headed for the East Bay. San Jose has a Hispanic plurality, which may be a big reason why Major League Soccer put a team there, instead of in San Francisco or Oakland.

Despite its image as a city of peace and love, San Francisco, and the surrounding Bay Area, have had their share of civic strife. There were riots in Watsonville, outside Santa Cruz, against Filipinos in 1930; the Berkeley Police crushing the People's Park movement in 1969; the "White Night" in 1979, after the acquittal-on-lesser-charges of former San Francisco Supervisor Dan White for his assassination the year before of Mayor George Moscone and openly gay Supervisor Harvey Milk; and a riot in Oakland in 2009.

Going In. Pacific Bell Park opened in 2000, and the naming rights changed as the phone company got bought out: SBC Park in 2003, AT&T Park in 2006, and Oracle Park in 2019. The ballpark is just outside of downtown, in an area called SoMa (South of Market Street), South Beach or China Basin. The official address is 24 Willie Mays Plaza, for the Giants' greatest player and his uniform number. (Had it a regular city address, it would likely be 200 King Street.)
The closest BART stop to the ballpark is Montgomery Street, 20 blocks up 2nd Street. However, the J and N streetcar lines stop outside the park, and the Transbay Terminal (entry-and-exit point for commuters on the peninsula that leads to Stanford and San Jose) is just a block away.

Most likely, you will enter the ballpark on King Street/Willie Mays Plaza, at either 2nd street (left field corner) or 3rd street (home plate). The stadium faces due east, away from San Francisco, so while you won't see the city's impressive skyline, you will get a spectacular view of the Bay.
Parking at AT&T Park depends on where you park: It can run as high as $40, and as low as $5.75. Lots of small boats drop anchor in the section of San Francisco Bay known as McCovey Cove, beyond the right field wall. This is a reasonable thing to do -- if you live nearby and you own a boat.
But if you hardly ever, or never will except for this trip, get to San Francisco, why would you go all the way there to see a game at AT&T Park, and not see a game in AT&T Park? That's like going to Chicago to see a game at Wrigley Field, and only seeing a game from a rooftop across the street.

Home plate is the same one from Candlestick Park, so it's been used since 1960. The field is natural grass, and not symmetrical. Outfield distances are 339 feet to the left field pole, 364 to straightaway left, 404 to left-center, 399 to straightaway center, 421 to right-center, 365 to straightaway right, and a mere 309 to the right-field pole.
Along with PNC Park and its view of the Pittsburgh skyline,
this may be the best view of any MLB stadium.

In order to offset how short the distance to right field is, the right field wall is 24 feet high -- again, the number in honor of Mays. (Making it 44 feet high to honor McCovey would make it taller than Fenway Park's Green Monster.) Ignore the steroid-inflated stats of Barry Bonds, including the park's longest homer, a 2001 shot measured at 499 feet: Oracle Park is a pitchers' park. The longest at Candlestick Park, also a pitcher's park due to the wind turning long fly balls into popups, was a shot of exactly 500 feet by Willie McCovey, on September 16, 1966. That was a 5-4 Mets win, in which the teams used a record 8 pinch-hitters between them in the 9th inning.

In the park's 23 seasons (including the current one), there have been 93 "Splash Hits" into McCovey Cove by Giants players, 53 of them by the opposition. Barry Bonds did it 35 times, including being the only one to hit 2 in a game. Best among (apparently) honest men is Brandon Belt with 10. Pablo Sandoval with 7. Adam LaRoche, Ryan Klesko and former Met Carlos Delgado lead opposing players with 3.

The park was borrowed by the University of California football team in 2011, while Memorial Stadium in Berkeley was being rebuilt. It hosted a 2006 game by the U.S. national soccer team, a win over Japan.
The Coke Bottle, with the Glove,
and the Bay Bridge in the background,
makes for a neat segue into "Food."

Food. San Francisco, due to being a waterfront city and a transportation and freight hub, has a reputation as one of America's best food cities. The ballpark benefits from this.

The Giants' signature food item, going back to the middle Candlestick years, is Gilroy Garlic Fries, available all over the park. They have the regionally-themed California Cookout at Sections 107 and 315, and the Cable Car Bar at 114, 143 and 318. You can reactivate your New York appetite with Hebrew National hot dogs at 112.

The Giants also get cute: They have a stand just for clam chowder at Section 110, a Chinese stand called Edsel Ford Fong at 118, Japanese at Mashi's Sushi Bistro at 210, a Cognac Bar and a Long Taters Baked Potato at 232, and a seafood stand called Crazy Crab'z in center field. A recent Thrillist
article on the best food at each major league ballpark said that the best thing to eat at AT&T Park is the crab sandwich at Crazy Crab'z.

Like Boog Powell in Baltimore, Greg Luzinski in Philadelphia, Luis Tiant in Boston, Gorman Thomas in Milwaukee and Randy Jones in San Diego, the Giants have a barbecue stand with a legendary player's name on it. In fact, they have two. One is Orlando's Caribbean BBQ, at 142 and 315, and the other is McCovey's 44 BBQ, in center field.

Unlike most of those, the star in question does not oversee operations at the stand and shake hands with visitors: Orlando Cepeda entrusts the cooking and management to others, while McCovey died last year, and a bad back and countless knee surgeries (seriously: He said he'd lost count, but it's at least 12) had confined him to a wheelchair. There's also Say Hey! Sausage Specialties, named for Mays' signature expression, at 127 and 320.

Team History Displays. The Giants have displays of their 2010, 2012 and 2014 World Championships on the left field wall. They also have baseball-shaped stanchions with their retired numbers, near the left field corner at the bottom of the upper deck.
From the San Francisco era, these include: Center fielder Mays (24, 1951-72), 1st basemen-outfielders McCovey (44, 1959-80) and Cepeda (30, 1958-66), and pitchers Juan Marichal (27, 1960-73), Gaylord Perry (36, 1962-71), and the newly-retired Number 25 worn by father and son, Bobby Bonds (right field, 1969-74) and Barry Bonds (left field, 1993-2007). On July 30 of this year, they will retire 22 for Will Clark (1st base, 1986-93).

From the New York era, they are: Mays, 1st baseman Bill Terry (3, 1923-36, manager 1932-41), right fielder Mel Ott (4, 1926-45, manager 1941-48), pitcher Carl Hubbell (11, 1928-43), left fielder Monte Irvin (20, 1949-55), and two figures from the pre-uniform number era, for whom the letters "NY" for "New York" stand in for their numbers: Manager John McGraw (1902-32) and pitcher Christy Mathewson (1900-16).
All of these are Hall-of-Famers, except the Bondses. They also honor Hall of Fame broadcasters Russ Hodges, Lon Simmons and Jon Miller with representations of old-style microphones.

McGraw, Mathewson, Hall of Fame right fielder Ross Youngs (1917-26, died of kidney disease the next year) and infielder Eddie Grant (1913-15), who was killed in combat in World War I, were honored with plaques or, in Grant's case, a monument on the field, at the Polo Grounds. Also so honored were a pair of football Giants killed in World War II, Al Blozis and Jack Lummus; and State Senator and Mayor Jimmy "Beau James" Walker.

Why Walker, rather than the much more accomplished and far less scandalous Fiorello LaGuardia? Well, LaGuardia was a Yankee Fan, Walker a Giant fan. Walker was deeply involved with New York sports, at one point running the State boxing commission while he was also a State Senator, and was one of the few people to manage to become a friend of both McGraw and Babe Ruth. Supposedly, it was a scolding from Walker at a postseason banquet in 1922 that got Ruth to curtail his carousing and get in shape, leading to the Yankees winning the 1923 World Series. So if you're a Met fan, that's a better reason to hate Walker than his corruption and womanizing.

After the last Giants game at the Polo Grounds on September 29, 1957, the plaque on Grant's monument was removed. A photo taken of 4 Mets before the team's 1st game at the old stadium, on April 13, 1962, shows the marble slab, but no plaque on it. It's not certain what happened to the plaque; the most notable claim to it has been debunked.

Some people thought the Giants were under "The Curse of Captain Eddie," saying that, as long as Grant's plaque was not restored at the Giants' ballpark, they would not win another World Series. A replica was put up at then-AT&T Park in 2006, and the Giants won 3 World Series in the following 9 seasons. Make of that what you will.
Outside the King Street/Willie Mays Plaza (3rd base) side of the park are plaques honoring the 54
 members of the San Francisco Giants Wall of Fame. It includes:

* From the 1962 National League Pennant winners: Mays, McCovey, Marichal, Cepeda, Perry, outfielder Felipe Alou, 3rd baseman Jim Davenport, catcher Tom Haller, and pitchers Bobby Bolin, Mike McCormick and Stu Miller. Alou had his brothers Mateo (Matty) and Jesus as teammates, and, in a 1963 game, with Mays given the day off, they became the only 3 brothers ever to fill an outfield together. Felipe also managed the Giants to the 2003 NL West title.

* From the 1971 NL Western Division Champions: Mays, McCovey, Marichal, Perry, Bobby Bonds, 2nd baseman Tito Fuentes, shortstop Chris Speier, 3rd baseman Jim Ray Hart, catcher Dick Dietz, and pitcher Jim Barr.

* From between the 1971 and 1987 NL West titles: 1st baseman Jack Clark, shortstop Johnny LeMaster, 3rd baseman Darrell Evans, and pitchers Vida Blue, John "the Count" Montefusco, Gary Lavelle and Randy Moffitt -- tennis legend Billie Jean King's brother. Speier remained with the team through 1977, and returned in time for the 1987 title. Bob Lurie, who bought the team in 1976, has also been elected.

* From the 1987 NL West title, but not the 1989 Pennant: Lurie, Outfielders Jeffrey Leonard and Chili Davis, and pitcher Greg Minton.

* From the 1989 Pennant winners: Lurie, Speier, 1st baseman Will Clark (no relation to Jack, although he played the same position and wore the same number, 22), 2nd baseman Robby Thompson (not to be confused with 1951 Giant hero Bobby Thompson or longtime Yankee coach Rob Thomson), 3rd baseman Matt Williams, left fielder Kevin Mitchell, catchers Bob Brenly and Kirt Manwaring, and pitchers Mike Krukow, Rick Reuschel, Scott Garrelts, Atlee Hammaker and Jeff Brantley. Krukow became a beloved broadcaster for the Giants.

* From the 1993 NL West title: Clark, Thompson, Williams, Manwaring, Brantley, Barry Bonds, pitchers John Burkett and Rod Beck, and owner Peter Magowan. Burkett had a 3-game "cup of coffee" with the Giants in 1987, then spent 1988 and 1989 in the minor leagues, missing the 1987 and 1989 postseasons, before being called back up in 1990.

* From the 1997 NL West Champions: Bonds, Beck, Magowan, 1st baseman J.T. Snow, 2nd baseman Jeff Kent, shortstop Rich Aurilia, outfielder Marvin Benard, and pitchers Kirk Rueter and Shawn Estes.

* From the 2000 NL West Champions: All of the '97 honorees except Beck, plus pitcher Ryan Vogelsong. He was traded before the 2002 Pennant, but would return.

* From the 2002 Pennant winners: Bonds, Snow, Kent, Aurilia, Benard, Rueter, Magowan, Estes, Nen, and pitcher Jason Schmidt. All but Kent and Nen would also play on the 2003 NL West title.

* From the 2010s titlists: From the 2010 World Champions, the only honorees thus far are pitchers Matt Cain and Brian Wilson. They and Vogelsong are the honorees from the 2012 World Champions. Cain and Vogelsong are the honorees from the 2014 World Champions. As more of the '10, '12 and '14 Giants age and retire, including Buster Posey, they will be added.

There are 5 statues outside the park: Mays', at the front entrance; McCovey's, in the right field corner by the Cove; Cepeda's, at the corner of 2nd & King; Marichal's, at the Lefty O'Doul Gate at the right field corner; and one of a seal, in center field, honoring the former Pacific Coast League team, the San Francisco Seals.

The gate is named for Francis Joseph O'Doul, a San Francisco native who played with the Seals as a pitcher, but couldn't make it in the majors, pitching for the Yankees from 1919 to 1922 and the Red Sox in 1923, before heading back to the minors and reinventing himself as an outfielder. He came back to the majors with the Giants in 1928, then starred with the Phillies, Dodgers, and back with the Giants, whom he helped win the 1933 World Series.
The O'Doul Gate, with Marichal's statue

He won 2 batting titles, and played in the 1st All-Star Game in 1933. His lifetime batting average is a smoking .349. From 1937 to 1951, he managed the Seals, winning 4 straight Pennants, 1943-46. In spite of his achievements, he has not been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York -- though he should be.

He opened Lefty O'Doul's Restaurant and Cocktail Lounge, which I will describe in "After the Game," one of the all-time greatest sports bars & restaurants. Legend has it that O'Doul invented -- no, not non-alcoholic beer -- the Bloody Mary. (This is almost certainly untrue.) A bridge near AT&T Park is named the Lefty O'Doul Bridge.

The Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame (BASHOF) is unusual in that its exhibits are spread over several locations, including AT&T Park. The ones honored there, on the walls of the Park's concourse, are Mays, Marichal, McCovey, Cepeda, Kent, Magowan and Blue -- even though Blue is better known with the A's.

This is flipped, as Frank Robinson and Bill Rigney, both of whom managed the Giants in San Francisco -- Robinson, the first black manager in each league, becoming so the first in the NL with the Giants; and Rigney, the manager at the time of the move -- were Oakland natives and are thus honored with plaques at the Oakland Coliseum. Will Clark's plaque is at San Francisco International Airport. Perry, Matt Williams, Matt Cain and Bob Brenly have been elected, but no plaque has yet been dedicated.

Also elected: O'Doul; Barry Bonds, but not Bobby; New York Giants shortstop and Alameda native Dick Bartell; New York Giants catcher and Oakland native Ernie Lombardi; Oakland native Joe Morgan, who played for both Bay Area teams; San Francisco native and Yankee Hall-of-Famer Tony Lazzeri; Will Clark; Jeff Kent; Matt Williams; Matt Cain; pitcher Dave Dravecky; manager Dusty Baker; San Jose native, pitching coach and former Yankee pitcher Dave Righetti; and owners Bob Lurie (who saved the Giants from being moved to Toronto in 1976) and Peter Magowan (who saved them from being moved to Tampa Bay by Lurie in 1992).

When the 1st All-Star Game was played in 1933, New York Giants Terry, Hubbell, O'Doul and Hal Schumacher (known as Prince Hal to Hubbell's King Carl) were named to the National League team. Mathewson and Mays were named to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team in 1999. That same year, they, Terry, Ott, Hubbell, Marichal, Perry, McCovey, Bonds and 1920s New York 2nd baseman Frankie Frisch were named to The Sporting News' 100 Greatest Baseball Players. And Giant fans selected Mays in the poll for DHL Hometown Heroes in 2006.

In 2022, ESPN named its 100 Greatest Baseball Players. Among players who played significant time for the Giants, Mays was ranked 2nd behind Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds 8th, Mathewson 25th, Ott 62nd, McCovey 73rd and Marichal 74th.

The Giants-Dodgers rivalry goes back to a postseason series in 1889, when the New York Giants were the Champions of the National League, and the Brooklyn Bridegrooms (so named because several players had gotten married in the 1887-88 off-season) were the Champions of the American Association. The Giants won, 6 games to 3.

The team that would become the Dodgers (for dodging Brooklyn's trolleys) was admitted to the NL the following season. Under the 154-game schedule of 1904 to 1957 (well, 1960, but they moved after 1957), they faced each other 22 times a season (but nobody ever called these regular-season games a "Subway Series"), and the fans were all over the New York Tri-State Area, not confined to their respective Boroughs (in the Giants' case, Manhattan).

It was more intense than Yankees-Red Sox, because of the proximity. You lived next-door to a rival, or worked alongside one, or even became part of an intermarried family. And even if it was peaceful, you always talked about it -- never more so than in 1951, when a Giant surge forced a tie for the Pennant, and a Playoff won by a home run by Bobby Thomson.

But with the Polo Grounds, and the neighborhood around it, falling apart, and not having enough money to maintain the ballpark, Giant owner Horace Stoneham planned to move after the 1957 -- to where they had their top farm team, in Minneapolis. But when Dodger owner Walter O'Malley decided to move to Los Angeles, he needed another team on the West Coast to save travel costs, so he talked Stoneham into San Francisco instead.

Suddenly, the rivalry, which was 13 miles of Subway, became 380 miles of Interstate 5. In the 60 years since the move:

* The were Dodger-aided and/or Dodger-benefiting Giant chokes in 1959, 1965, 1966, nearly in 1971 (but the Giants won the Division anyway), 1978, 1993, 2001, 2004 and 2014 (but the Giants won the Wild Card and then the World Series anyway).

* There were Giant-aided and/or Giant-benefiting Dodger chokes in 1962 (including a West Coast sequel to the 1951 Playoff series), 1980, 1991, 1997 and 2012.

* They knocked each other out of the NL West race on back-to-back days of the final series of the season in 1982, benefiting the Atlanta Braves.

* And, last season, they finally met in an official postseason for the 1st time, a National League Division Series that the 106-win, Wild Card-winning Dodgers won over the 107-win, NL Western Division-winning Giants, 2 games to 1.

Overall, the series between them is close: The Giants have won 1,272 games, the Dodgers 1,250. That includes both coasts. Since moving to California, the Dodgers lead 585-556. The Dodgers have won the season series 59 times, the Giants 54, with 24 splits. Since moving to California, the Dodgers lead 33 to 19 with 17 splits. There is no trophy for winning the season series.

The Giants and the Athletics faced each other in the World Series in 1905 (the Giants won), 1911 (the A's won) and 1913 (the A's won again). The A's moved from Philadelphia to Kansas City in 1955 and then to Oakland in 1968. The A's swept the Giants 4 straight in the earthquake-marred 1989 World Series. In addition, the Giants and A's have both made the Playoffs in the same season in 1971, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2012 and 2014.

Since the institution of Interleague Play in 1997, the A's lead the series 72-66. The season series has been been won by the A's 9 times, the Giants 6, and there have been 10 splits. Counting the 1989 World Series, the A's lead in games 76-66, and in season series won 10-6-10. The 2019 season marked the 1st awarding (to the A's) of The Bridge, a trophy made from metal removed from the recent renovation of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, connecting their cities.
Stuff. The Giants have Dugout Stores at Willie Mays Plaza, at the Marina Gate at center field, and at Sections 28, 134 and 315. They also have Dugout Stores at the Embarcadero, at Union Square, in Palo Alto, and in a few other places.

Having a fascinating (if occasionally controversial) history, even if you only count the San Francisco years, the Giants have had several books written about them, although these books don't always put the team in a good light.

Giant broadcasters Andrew Baggerly and Duane Kuiper (you may remember him as a weak-hitting 2nd baseman for the Giants and Cleveland Indians) wrote A Band of Misfits: Tales of the 2010 San Francisco Giants (with the "SF" in "Misfits" in alternating color with the rest of the title, to point out the city's initials). Brian Murphy wrote a Golden Anniversary tribute to the team: San Francisco Giants: 50 Years, in 2008.

There are 2 books that detail the 1962 Giant-Dodger Pennant race, culminating in a Playoff that echoed the one across the country in 1951: Chasing October by David Plaut, and A Tale of Three Cities: The 1962 Baseball Season in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco by Steven Travers. This book is also recommended for Met fans wanting to understand their team's beginnings. (If you don't want to understand them, that's understandable.)

Be warned, however, that, despite the Giants having beaten the Dodgers in 1962, Travers' book is heavily pro-Los Angeles, mercilessly insulting San Francisco for its longstanding liberal politics and permissiveness. (As if L.A. isn't a liberal city, although those who've had to deal with its police force would say places like Hollywood, the Sunset Strip, Venice Beach and South Central, all with varying degrees of permissiveness, mask a cruel lean toward fascism.)

I have often remarked that, for fans who aren't old enough to remember it, the New York era of the Giants revolves around 2 games: Game 3 of the 1951 NL Playoff against the Dodgers, and Game 1 of the 1954 World Series. In other words, we think of the New York Giants as having just 3 moments: Bobby Thomson's home run, Willie Mays' catch, and Dusty Rhodes' walkoff pinch-hit homer -- and even Rhodes' homer sometimes gets lost in he discussion of Mays' catch 2 innings earlier.

The reason for this is twofold: The Giants' great moments before that seemed to stop with the 1937 Pennant (the 3rd they won in a 5-year stretch), and you rarely see moments from before the Baby Boom era on television (except maybe on PBS and the History Channel); and no one ever wrote a Boys of Summer for the 1950s New York Giants, the way Roger Kahn did for the final years of the Brooklyn period of the Dodgers.

Kahn's Dodger book came out in 1972, as those Dodgers were in their late 40s and early 50s, and starting to die (within a year of its publication, both Gil Hodges and Jackie Robinson would fall to heart attacks). There have been some good books about Willie Mays, and Leo Durocher published his self-serving if fascinating memoir Nice Guys Finish Last in 1975; but nobody published a loving, Kahnesque memoir about them. And it's not like there weren't candidates: George Plimpton was a Giant fan, and so was Roger Angell, who has written beautifully about baseball, including a heartrending essay on the final Giants game at the Polo Grounds in 1957.

The best book about the New York Giants is The Giants of the Polo Grounds, by Noel Hynd -- and that didn't come out until 1988. By that point, the team had been gone for 30 years, most of the big names of the club were either approaching or past age 60 (or dead), and the Dodgers had "won the historical argument": No matter how good the 1951-54 Giants were, or how good at integration they were (bringing in several black players before the Yankees did), they were doomed, by the Yankees' dynastic achievements, the fawning over the 1941-56 Dodgers, and the historical significance of the Dodgers' Jackie Robinson, to be New York's 3rd team, even though they were the 1st team almost continuously from 1902 to 1937. But I do recommend the Hynd book, if only to see just how good these guys were.

The Giants have DVD collections for their 2010, 2012 and 2014 World Championships, and a DVD of Matt Cain's recent perfect game. They also have a DVD of the official highlight film of the one World Series they won between 1943 (the start of official World Series highlight films) and 2010: 1954, the one sparked by Game 1, with Mays' catch and Rhodes' walkoff. As yet, there is no Essential Games of the San Francisco Giants or Essential Games of Candlestick Park (or AT&T Park) DVD collection.

During the Game. A recent Thrillist article on "Baseball's Most Intolerable Fans" ranked Giants fans 6th -- 2 places less tolerable than Met fans, but 2 places more tolerable than Yankee Fans. It cites "tech dudes wearing VIP lanyards, fired up because their tech sales team is being taken out by another tech sales team" and "lots of real, old-school, crusty-as-bread-bowl fans who have that eclectic SF weird-as-hell unpredictability in their eyes."

This is a similar mix to what you find at 49ers games, less so now in Santa Clara than when they were still playing at Candlestick Park, with rich guys from Marin County and the Peninsula having tailgate parties with the products from the nearby California Wine County and, yes, actual candlesticks, mixed with the blue-collar guys who fit in better with bigoted fireman-turned-Supervisor Dan White than with the guys he killed at City Hall in 1978, Mayor George Moscone and openly gay Supervisor Harvey Milk.

Giant fans have a rough reputation. This is mainly due to the Pacific Coast's largest media center being Los Angeles, and full of Dodger fans, who hate the Giants. All those years of frustration (52 years, just 3 Pennants, and no World Series wins), combined with the subsequent success (3 World Series wins in 5 years), plus the cool ballpark, plus the nasty regional rivalry, gives the Giants and their fans sort of the atmosphere of being "the Red Sox of the National League." (Phillies and Cubs fans, also flush with recent success, might dispute that.)

Giant fans don't particularly like the Mets, but you're not Dodger fans. Don't provoke them, and they almost certainly will not fight you. Unless you're wearing Dodger Blue, they'll be all mouth. Plenty of mouth, to be sure, but that will be it.

From 1983 to 1999, the Giants gave out a "Croix de Candlestick" pin to fans leaving after an extra-inning night game at Candlestick Park, due to that stadium's tendency toward wind-aided cold. It carried the Latin motto, "Veni, Vidi, Vixi," meaning, "I came, I saw, I lived." But the move to AT&T Park means far fewer frigid nights, and the pins haven't been given out since the last Giants game at Candlestick.
Note the snow on the SF logo.

The Barry Bonds era is over. The cloud that hung over the facility that was born as Pacific Bell Park in 2000, became SBC Park and now AT&T Park -- the one that made Giant fans say, "We know he's cheating, but he's our cheat, and we have to defend him" -- is gone.

The happy-go-lucky team of 2010 totally changed the atmosphere. No longer are they a franchise whose biggest active star is a suspected crook and a surly churl. No longer are they a franchise that has never won a World Championship in its current city. No longer are they a team with a fan base that has to be jealous of the more successful (at least, in total) franchise across the Bay, or the one down the Coast in L.A. And no longer does the malefactory spirit of Candlestick infect them.

They are now survivors of what they call "torture" (which is different from Dick Cheney's definition -- or Keith Olbermann's). If not quite the hippies that San Francisco became known for in the 1960s -- or the beatniks of the 1950s -- they do have the leftover cool that those groups gave that city.

The Monday game is Greek Heritage Night, which may resonate with Met fans, especially those from Astoria, Queens. The Tuesday game is Metallica Night, in honor of the San Francisco-based metal legends, even though, due to their best-known song, "Enter Sandman," they are more associated with the Yankees, especially Mariano Rivera. It is hard to believe that the golden age of heavy metal is not draped in nostalgia, but it has been around 40 years, depending on whether you think that's sometime in the '80s, or perhaps 30 years if you think it was the early '90s. The Wednesday afternoon game will not feature a promotion.

In 1984, the Giants had a weird-looking thing called the Crazy Crab, and it was perhaps the most hated mascot in baseball history. It was abandoned after a year, and they wanted until 1997 to establish another mascot, Lou Seal. Lou has proved much more popular.

Lou Seal was named after "Lucille," B.B. King's guitar, and the old San Francisco Seals, themselves named for nearby Seal Rock. There was also a minor-league hockey team called the San Francisco Seals, and in 1967 an NHL franchise was born, known at various times as the Oakland Seals, the California Seals and the California Golden Seals, but they moved in 1976.
The A's mascot Stomper and Lou Seal.
Apparently, friendly rivals.

The Giants hold auditions for National Anthem singers, rather than having a regular. It was notable that, in 1993, after a last-minute sale of the team saved it from being moved to Tampa Bay, they emphasized their connection to San Francisco by having The Grateful Dead sing the Anthem on Opening Day.

They don't have a special song played after "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" at the 7th Inning Stretch, but in the middle of the 8th, they play "Lights" by Journey, and occasionally play that band's most famous song, "Don't Stop Believin'." Lead singer Steve Perry is a big Giant fan, and accepted an invitation to participate in their 2010 World Series victory parade. After the game, win or lose, they play Tony Bennett's legendary version of "I Left My Heart in San Francisco."

After the Game. AT&T Park is in the China Basin section of town, and should be safe. There are plenty of places in San Francisco to get a postgame meal, or even just a pint. The Polo Grounds Pub & Grill is across King Street from the ballpark, at 747 3rd Street.

San Francisco native Joe DiMaggio had a restaurant with his name on it at 601 Union Street at Stockton Street, but it closed in 2007, and has been replaced by a relocated version of another San Fran institution, Original Joe's. A park named for DiMaggio is 4 blocks away from AT&T Park, at Powell & Greenwich.

There are two bars in the Lower Nob Hill neighborhood of San Francisco that are worth mentioning. Aces Bar, at 998 Sutter Street & Hyde Street in San Francisco's Lower Nob Hill neighborhood, is said to have a Yankee sign out front and a Yankee Fan as the main bartender, and to also be friendly to Giants, Knicks and Rangers fans; whether they will welcome Met fans, I do not know.

R Bar, at 1176 Sutter & Polk Street, is the official local Jets fan hangout, and maybe be more accommodating to 7 Liners. The Wreck Room, at 1390 California Street at Hyde Street, is also said to be a place for Jet fans. And Greens Sports Bar, at 2239 Polk at Green Street, is also said to be a Yankee-friendly bar. 

The Kezar Pub is rated by many as the best sports bar in San Francisco. It's at 770 Stanyan Street, at Waller Street, in the Haight-Ashbury, across from Golden Gate Park and the new version of the stadium from whence comes its name. Number 7 bus.

The Kezar Pub is also rated as one of the best bars to watch European soccer games. If you visit the Bay Area during that sport's season (which is about to get underway), these San Francisco bars are also recommended, due to their early openings: Maggie McGarry's, 1353 Grant Avenue, Bus 30; The Mad Dog in the Fog, 530 Haight Street, MUNI N Line or Bus 6; and Danny Coyle's, 668 Haight Street, MUNI N Line or Bus 6.

Lefty O'Doul's, named for the legendary ballplayer who was the longtime manager of the Pacific Coast League's San Francisco Seals, long stood at 333 Geary Street, corner of Powell Street, just 3 blocks from the Powell Street BART station and right on a cable car line. A a dispute between the operators of the restaurant and the owners of the building meant its closing in 2017. A a new version has opened at 555 California Street, downtown.

Sidelights. On November 30, 2018, Thrillist published a list of "America's 25 Most Fun Cities," and, as you might expect from the nation's 4th largest metropolitan area, the San Francisco Bay Area came in 4th. The San Francisco Bay Area, including the East Bay (which includes Oakland), has a very rich sports history. Here are some of the highlights, aside from the Giants' park:

* Seals Stadium. Home of the PCL's San Francisco Seals from 1931 to 1957, the Mission Reds from 1931 to 1937, and the Giants in 1958 and '59, it was the first home professional field of the DiMaggio brothers: First Vince, then Joe, and finally Dom all played for the Seals in the 1930s.
The Seals won Pennants there in 1931, '35, '43, '44, '45, '46 and '57 (their last season; they also won 7 Pennants before the park opened, between 1909 and 1928). It seated just 18,500, expanded to 22,900 for the Giants, and was never going to be more than a stopgap facility until the Giants' larger park could be built. It was demolished right after the 1959 season, and the site now has a Safeway grocery store.

Bryant Street, 16th Street, Potrero Avenue and Alameda Street, in the Mission District. Hard to reach by public transport: The Number 10 bus goes down Townsend Street and Rhode Island Avenue until reaching 16th, but then it's an 8-block walk. The Number 27 can be picked up at 5th & Harrison Streets, and will go right there.

* Candlestick Park. Home of the Giants from 1960 to 1999, the NFL 49ers since 1970, and the Raiders in the 1961 season, this may be the most-maligned sports facility in North American history. Its seaside location (Candlestick Point) has led to spectators being stricken by wind (a.k.a. The Hawk), cold, and even fog.
1962-70 configuration

It was open to the Bay until 1971, including the 1962 World Series between the Yankees and the Giants, and was then enclosed to expand it from 42,000 to 69,000 seats for the Niners. It also got artificial turf for the 1970 season, one of the 1st stadiums to have it – though, to the city's credit, it was also the 1st NFL stadium and the 2nd MLB stadium (after Comiskey Park in Chicago) to switch back to real grass, in 1978.
1971-99 baseball configuration

It is easily the most-hated venue in the history of North American sports. But its finest hour came on October 17, 1989, just before Game 3 of the World Series, when the Loma Prieta Earthquake struck. Over 60,000 people were inside the stadium, and they all got out okay, because the stadium's reinforced concrete held, with only minor damage.

The Giants only won 2 Pennants there, and never a World Series. But the 49ers won 5 Super Bowls while playing there, with 3 of their 6 NFC Championship Games won as the home team. The NFL Giants did beat the 49ers there in the 1990 NFC Championship Game, scoring no touchdowns but winning 15-13 thanks to 5 Matt Bahr field goals. ABC and ESPN hosted Monday Night Football at Candlestick 36 times, the most of any stadium.

The Beatles played their last "real concert" ever at the 'Stick on August 29, 1966 – only 25,000 people came out, a total probably driven down by the stadium's reputation and John Lennon's comments about religion on that tour. The Giants got out, and the 49ers have now done the same, with Levi's Stadium ready for the 2014 season.
1971-2014 football, soccer and concert configuration

The U.S. national soccer team played their 4th and final match there in 2014, a win over Azerbaijan. MLS' San Jose Earthquakes are scheduled to do so on July 27, which ended up being the last competitive sporting event held there. On July 12, nearly 30 years after their Super Bowl XIX matchup, legendary quarterbacks Joe Montana of the 49ers and Dan Marino of the Miami Dolphins led teams in a flag football game there, with the proceeds going to charity. And Paul McCartney, having played its 1st concert with the Beatles 48 years earlier, played its last concert on August 14, the last scheduled show before the place was demolished.

A plan to build retail and housing units on the site has stalled, and it remains vacant. Ironically, since it replaced the original Kezar Stadium, 5,000 of Candlestick's seats went to the new Kezar.

The best way by public transport isn't a good one: The KT light rail at 4th & King Streets, at the CalTrain terminal, to 3rd & Gilman Streets, and then it's almost a mile's walk down Jagerson Avenue. So unless you're driving/renting a car, or you're a sports history buff who has to see the place, I wouldn't blame you if you crossed it off the list.

* Emeryville Park. Also known as Oaks Park, this was the home of the PCL's Oakland Oaks from 1913 until 1955. The Oaks won Pennants there in 1927, '48, '50 and '54. Most notable of these was the 1948 Pennant, won by a group of players who had nearly all played in the majors and were considered old, and were known as the Nine Old Men (a name often given to the U.S. Supreme Court).

These old men included former Yankee 1st baseman Nick Etten, the previous year's World Series hero Cookie Lavagetto of the Brooklyn Dodgers (an Oakland native), Hall of Fame catcher Ernie Lombardi (another Oakland native), and one very young player, a 20-year-old 2nd baseman from Berkeley named Billy Martin. Their manager? Casey Stengel. Impressed by Casey's feat, and by his managing of the minor-league Milwaukee Brewers to a Pennant, Yankee owners Dan Topping and Del Webb hired Casey to manage the Bronx Bombers in 1949. Upon leaving Oakland, Casey told Billy that if he ever got the chance to bring him east, he would, and he was as good as his word.

Pixar Studios has built property on the site. 45th Street, San Pablo Avenue, Park Avenue and Watts Street, Emeryville, near the Amtrak station. Number 72 bus from Jack London Square.

* Oakland Coliseum complex. The Raiders played at the Coliseum from 1966 to 1981, and have done so again since 1995. The A's have played there since 1968, although they are looking to get out. The Oakland Clippers, the only champions the National Professional Soccer League would know, played there in 1967 and 1968, beating the Baltimore Bays 4-1 in the 2nd leg of the 1967 NPSL Final to win 4-2 on aggregate, before the NPSL merged with the North American Soccer League the next year. The Coliseum has also hosted 3 games of the U.S. national soccer team, all wins, most recently over China in 2001.

The Warriors have played most of their home games since 1971 at the Oakland Coliseum Arena. You don't have to know what those buildings are called now; they're "the Coliseum" and "the Coliseum Arena." It's worth noting that Elvis Presley sang at the Coliseum Arena on November 10, 1970 and November 11, 1972.

* New Oakland Ballpark. On November 28, 2018, the A's announced that they'd chosen the Howard Terminal as the site for a 34,000-seat ballpark, which, presuming they clear all the necessary permissions, and come up with all the funding themselves as they say they will -- no government money and therefore no taxes -- they can begin construction in time to open for the 2023 season.

1 Market Street, 3 blocks west of the Clay Street Ferry Terminal, 5 blocks west of Jack London Square, and 8 blocks south of downtown. From Oakland City Center: Bus 72 to Jack London Square. By BART: Lake Merritt Station, then Bus 62 or 72 to 7th & Market, then 8 blocks south.

* Chase Center. The new home of the Warriors is expected to open for the 2019-20 season -- that is, next year. It will seat 18,064, and be located off the Central Basin of San Francisco Bay, on land bordered by South Street, 3rd Street (north-south), 16th Street (east-west) and Terry A. Francois Blvd., across from the campus of the University of California at San Francisco, and 8 blocks south of the Giants' AT&T Park. Light Rail K or T to UCSF/Mission Bay.

In spite of the Raiders' return, the 49ers are more popular -- according to a 2014 Atlantic Monthly
article, even in Alameda County. This is also true for the Giants, more popular in Alameda County than the A's. The Raiders remain more popular in the Los Angeles area, a holdover from their 1982-94 layover, and also a consequence of L.A. not having had a team since, although this is no longer the case.

* Kezar Stadium. The 49ers played here from their 1946 founding until 1970, the Raiders spent their inaugural 1960 season here, and previous pro teams in the city also played at this facility at the southeastern corner of Golden Gate Park, a mere 10-minute walk from the fabled corner of Haight & Ashbury Streets.

High school football, including the annual City Championship played on Thanksgiving Day, used to be held here as well. Bob St. Clair, who played there in high school, college (University of San Francisco) and the NFL in a Hall of Fame career with the 49ers, compared it to Chicago's Wrigley Field as a "neighborhood stadium."

After the 49ers left, it became a major concert venue. Rocky Marciano defended the Heavyweight Championship of the World there on May 16, 1955, knocking British fighter Don Cockell out in the 9th round.

The original 60,000-seat structure was built in 1925, and was torn down in 1989 (before the earthquake, so there's no way to know what the quake would have done to it), and was replaced in 1990 with a 9,000-seat stadium, much more suitable for high school sports. The original Kezar, named for one of the city's pioneering families, had a scene filmed there for the Clint Eastwood film Dirty Harry. Frederick & Stanyan Streets, Kezar Drive and Arguello Blvd. MUNI light rail N train.

* Frank Youell Field. This was another stopgap facility, used by the Raiders from 1962 to 1965, a 22,000-seat stadium that was named after an Oakland undertaker – perhaps fitting, although the Raiders didn't yet have their deathly serious image. Interestingly from a New York perspective, the first game here was between the Raiders and the forerunners of the Jets, the New York Titans.

It was demolished in 1969. A new field of the same name was built on the site for Laney College. East 8th Street, 5th Avenue, East 10th Street and the Oakland Estuary. Lake Merritt BART station.

* Cow Palace. The more familiar name of the Grand National Livestock Pavilion, this big barn just south of the City Line in Daly City has hosted just about everything, from livestock shows and rodeos to the 1956 and 1964 Republican National Conventions, nominating Dwight D. Eisenhower and Barry Goldwater, respectively, for President. (Yes, the Republicans came here, not the "hippie" Democrats, although they did hold their 1984 Convention downtown at the George Moscone Convention Center, 747 Howard Street at 4th Street, nominating Walter Mondale.)

The 1964 Republican Convention is where New York's Governor Nelson Rockefeller refused to be booed off the podium when he dared to speak out against the John Birch Society, the Tea Party idiots of their time. When Senator Goldwater, buoyed by the Birchers and other conservative activists, made his speech accepting the Presidential nomination, he told the delegates and the people in the stands, "I would remind you, my fellow Republicans, that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And I would remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue." (Personally, I think that extremism in the defense of liberty is no defense of liberty.)

Built in 1941, the Cow Palce is one of the oldest former NBA and NHL sites still standing, having hosted the NBA's Warriors from 1962 to '71, the NHL's San Jose Sharks from 1991 to '93 until their current arena could open, and several minor-league hockey teams. It hosted 1 fight for the Heavyweight Championship of the World, with Ezzard Charles defending the title by beating Pat Valentino on October 14, 1949.

The 1960 NCAA Final Four was held here, the only one to date held in the Bay Area, culminating in Ohio State, led by Jerry Lucas and John Havlicek (with future coaching legend Bobby Knight as the 6th man) beating local heroes and defending National Champions California, led by Darrall Imhoff.

The Beatles played here on August 19, 1964 and August 31, 1965, and Elvis sang here on November 13, 1970 and November 28 & 29, 1976. It was the site of Neil Young's 1978 concert that produced the live album Live Rust and the concert film Rust Never Sleeps, and the 1986 Conspiracy of Hope benefit with Joan Baez, Lou Reed, Sting and U2. The acoustics of the place, and the loss of such legendary venues as the Fillmore West and the Winterland Ballroom, make it the Bay Area's holiest active rock and roll site. 2600 Geneva Avenue at Santos Street, in Daly City. 8X bus.

In addition to the preceding, Elvis sang at the Auditorium Arena (now the Kaiser Convention Center, near the Laney College campus in Oakland) early in his career, on June 3, 1956 and again on October 27, 1957; and the San Francisco Civic Auditorium (now the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, 99 Grove Street at Polk Street) on October 26, 1957. This is also where the 1920 Democratic Convention was held, nominating James M. Cox, who lost to Warren Harding.

While Fresno is nearly 200 miles southeast, it's closer to San Francisco than it is to Los Angeles. Elvis sang at Fresno's Selland Arena on April 25, 1973 and May 12, 1974. 700 M Street at Ventura Street.

* SAP Center at San Jose. Formerly named the San Jose Arena and the HP Pavilion, this building has hosted the NHL's San Jose Sharks since 1993. If you're a fan of the TV show The West Wing, this was the convention center where the ticket of Matt Santos and Leo McGarry was nominated. The Three Tenors -- Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo and José Carreras -- sang there on December 29, 1999. 525 W. Santa Clara Street at Autumn Street, across from the Amtrak & CalTrain station.

* Spartan Stadium. Home to San Jose State University sports since 1933, it hosted both the old San Jose Earthquakes, of the original North American Soccer League, from 1974 to 1984; and the new version, of Major League Soccer, from 1996 to 2005. It was a neutral site hosting Soccer Bowl '75, in which the Tampa Bay Rowdies beat the Portland Timbers 2-0. It's hosted 3 games of the U.S. national team, most recently a 2007 loss to China, and games of the 1999 Women's World Cup.

1251 S. 10th Street, San Jose. San Jose Municipal Stadium, home of the Triple-A San Jose Giants, is a block away at 588 E. Alma Avenue. From either downtown San Francisco or downtown Oakland, take BART to Fremont terminal, then 181 bus to 2nd & Santa Clara, then 68 bus to Monterey & Alma.

On November 19, 2018, Moneywise compiled a list of their Worst College Football Stadiums, the bottom 19 percent of college football, 25 out of 129. Spartan Stadium, now named CEFCU Stadium, came in 5th: The article called the New Deal era stadium "tired," and cited bad concessions and the fact that the field was Astroturf, the original artificial turf that has proven so dangerous, and not a more modern, safer synthetic grass like FieldTurf.

* PayPal Park. The new stadium for the Earthquakes opened in 2015, as Avaya Stadium. It is soccer-specific and seats 18,000 people. On July 28, 2016, it hosted the MLS All-Star Game, with North London giants Arsenal defeating the MLS All-Stars 2-1.

It's hosted the U.S. men's national soccer team twice: March 24, 2018, a 6-0 win over Honduras in a 2018 World Cup Qualifying match; and February 2, 2019, a 2-0 win in a friendly over Costa Rica. It has hosted matches of the U.S. women's soccer team, and has also hosted rugby.

1123 Coleman Avenue & Newhall Drive. It is 3 1/2 miles from downtown San Jose, 41 miles from downtown Oakland, and 46 from downtown San Francisco. ACE (Altamont Commuter Express) to Great America-Santa Clara.

Despite all its contributions to women's soccer, the Bay Area no longer has a professional women's team. The San Jose CyberRays of the Women's United Soccer Association (WUSA), captained by 1999 penalty hero Brandi Chastain, played at Spartan Stadium from 2001 to 2003, winning the 2001 league title.

FC Gold Pride won the 2010 title in the league named Women's Professional Soccer (WPS), but couldn't sustain itself financially, and folded immediately thereafter. Pioneer Stadium, Hayward. 25800 Carlos Bee Blvd., on the campus of California State University-East Bay, in Hayward. About 28 miles from San Francisco, 19 from Oakland, 28 from San Jose. BART to Hayward, then Bus 60.

* Levi's Stadium. The new home of the 49ers, whose naming rights were bought by the San Francisco-based clothing company that popularized blue jeans all over the world, opened in 2014. It is nicknamed "The Field of Jeans." This past February, it hosted Super Bowl 50, with the Denver Broncos beating the Carolina Panthers; and an NHL Stadium Series outdoor hockey game there this past February, with the Sharks losing to their arch-rivals, the Los Angeles Kings.

On June 3, it hosted a game of the 2016 Copa America, its 1st match by the U.S. national soccer team, but we lost 2-0 to Colombia. It annually hosts the Pacific-12 Conference Championship Game, and in 2019 (for the 2018 season) it will host the College Football Playoff National Championship. It has been selected by the U.S. Soccer Federation as a finalist to be one of the host venues for the 2026 World Cup.

Before construction, the address of the site was 4701 Great America Parkway at Old Glory Lane in Santa Clara, next to California's Great America park, outside San Jose. Now, the official address of Levi's Stadium is 4900 Marie P. DeBartolo Way, after the mother of former 49ers owner and newly-elected Pro Football Hall-of-Famer Eddie DeBartolo. If you're going to apply to the U.S. Postal Service to make it 4900, why not 4949? The intersection is Marie P. DeBartolo Way and Tasman Drive. It's 46 miles southeast of downtown San Francisco, 39 miles southeast of downtown Oakland, and 9 miles northwest of downtown San Jose.

CalTrain from downtown San Francisco to Santa Clara station. California's Great America theme part is next-door. From downtown San Jose, take the 916 trolley.

* Stanford Stadium. The home field of Stanford University in Palo Alto, down the Peninsula from San Francisco, was first built in 1921. It was home to many great quarterbacks, from early 49ers signal-caller Frankie Albert to 1971 Heisman winner Jim Plunkett to John Elway. It hosted Super Bowl XIX in 1985, won by the 49ers over the Miami Dolphins – 1 of only 2 Super Bowls that ended up having had a team that could have been called a home team. (The other was XIV, the Los Angeles Rams losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers at the Rose Bowl.)

It also hosted San Francisco's games of the 1994 World Cup, a game of the 1999 Women's World Cup, and the soccer games of the 1984 Olympics, even though most of the events of those Olympics were down the coast in Los Angeles. It's hosted 10 games by the U.S. national team.

The original 85,000-seat structure was demolished and replaced with a new 50,000-seat stadium in 2006. Arboretum Road & Galvez Street & Nelson Road. Caltrain to Palo Alto. Maples Pavilion is right around the corner, at Galvez & Campus Drive. Stanford won college basketball's National Championship in 1942, but didn't get back to the Final Four until 1998.

No President has ever been born, or has ever grown up, in the San Francisco Bay Area. But Herbert Hoover, 1929-33, was part of the 1st class at Stanford, from 1891 to 1895, and he and his wife, Lou Henry Hoover, maintained a home there from 1920 until her death in 1944, at which point he moved to the Waldorf Towers in New York. The house is now the official residence of the president -- of Stanford. It is not open to the public. 623 Mirada Avenue, across the campus from the stadium.

Stanford runs a think tank named for the 31st President, the Hoover Insitution, and exhibits inside the Hoover Tower on campus. 550 Serra Mall.

* California Memorial Stadium. Home of Stanford's arch-rivals, the University of California, at its main campus in Berkeley in the East Bay. (The school is generally known as "Cal" for sports and "Berkeley" for most other purposes.) Its location in the Berkeley Hills makes it one of the nicest settings in college football.

But it's also, quite literally, on the Hayward Fault, a branch of the San Andreas Fault, so if "The Big One" had hit during a Cal home game, 72,000 people would have been screwed, if not all killed. With this in mind, the University renovated the stadium in time for the 2012 season, making it earthquake-safe and ready for 63,000 fans.

The old stadium hosted one NFL game, and it was a very notable one: Due to a scheduling conflict with the A's, the Raiders played a 1973 game there with the Miami Dolphins, and ended the Dolphins' winning streak that included the entire 1972 season and Super Bowl VII. 76 Canyon Road, Berkeley. Downtown Berkeley stop on BART.

Haas Pavilion, formerly Harmon Gym and named for former A's owner Walter Haas, is a 12-minute walk from the stadium, at Bancroft Way & Dana Street. Cal reached the Final Four in 1946, won the National Championship with Darrell Imhoff in 1959, and reached the Final again in 1960.

The University of San Francisco won the National Championship with Bill Russell and K.C. Jones in 1955 and '56, and reached the Final Four again in '57. Santa Clara University reached the Final Four in 1952.

* Mechanic's Pavilion. Knowing that the drying up of the Gold Rush had put many of the original "Forty-Niners" out of work, with no educational background to support them, a group of charitable San Franciscans opened the Mechanics' Institute in 1854. It offered classes in woodworking, mechanical drawing, industrial design, electrical science, applied mathematics and ironwork. It is often said to be the predecessor of the University of California system.

In 1865, the adjoining Mechanic's Pavilion was built, hosting several major events, including a speech by President Theodore Roosevelt on his 1902 tour of the country.

This also included 4 fights for the Heavyweight Championship of the World, each time with a Californian defending the title: "Gentleman Jim" Corbett against Tom Sharkey on June 24, 1896 (a draw, thus allowing Corbett to retain the title); Jim Jeffries against Gus Ruhlin on November 15, 1901; Jeffries against Corbett on August 14, 1903 (the 10th-round knockout turning out to be Corbett's last fight); and Jeffries against Jack Munroe on August 26, 1904 (after which Jeffries retired, only to return and get clobbered by Jack Johnson in Reno in 1910).

The 1906 earthquake and fire destroyed Mechanic's Pavilion, but the men running the Mechanics' Institute kept it going and helped with the rebuilding of the city. Today, membership in the Institute is still open to the pubic, offering the full services of the library, and to the chess room, home of the oldest continuously operating chess club in the Western Hemisphere. 57 Post Street, off Kearny Street, downtown.

Yankee Legend Joe DiMaggio, who grew up in San Francisco and later divided his time between there and South Florida, is buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma, on the Peninsula. Also buried there are 1930s Yankee shortstop and longtime coach Frank Crosetti; George "Highpockets" Kelly, the Hall of Fame Giants 1st baseman of the 1920s; Hank Sauer, All-Star outfielder for the 1950s Cubs and Giants; Charlie Fox, who managed the Giants to the 1971 National League Western Division title; Pat Brown, Governor of California 1959-67 and father of current Governor Jerry Brown; Eugene Schmitz, Mayor from 1902 to 1907, including the 1906 earthquake; John F. Shelley, Mayor from 1964 to 1968, including the 1967 "Summer of Love"; George Moscone, the Mayor assassinated along with Supervisor Harvey Milk in 1978; and jazz musician Vince Guaraldi, composer of the music for the Peanuts TV specials. 1500 Mission Road & Lawndale Blvd. BART to South San Francisco, then about a 1-mile walk.

Yankee Hall-of-Famer pitcher and Monument Park honoree and Vernon "Lefty" Gomez, a native of Rodeo in the East Bay and a former San Francisco Seal, is buried at Mount Tamalpais Cemetery. So is 1920s football legend Ernie Nevers, of Stanford and the Chicago Cardinals. 2500 5th Avenue, San Rafael, in Marin County, 20 miles north of downtown San Francisco. Not easily reachable without a car.

Another San Franciscan who went from the Yankees to the Hall of Fame is Tony Lazzeri. He is buried at Sunset Mausoleum, at 101 Colusa Avenue in El Cerrito. BART to El Cerrito Plaza station. El Cerrito is also the hometown of John Fogerty, who, long after leaving the band for whom he was the heart, soul and brains, Creedence Clearwater Revival, wrote the greatest baseball song ever, "Centerfield," which mentions DiMaggio and Willie Mays.

The Fillmore Auditorium was at Fillmore Street and Geary Boulevard, and it still stands and hosts live music, if not legendary concerts the way it did in the Sixties and early Seventies. Bus 38L. Winterland Ballroom, home of the final concerts of The Band on Thanksgiving Night 1976 (filmed as The Last Waltz) and the Sex Pistols in January 1978, was around the corner from the Fillmore at Post & Steiner Streets. And the legendary corner of Haight & Ashbury Streets can be reached via the 30 Bus, taking it to Haight and Masonic Avenue and walking 1 block west.

San Francisco, like New York, has a Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), at 151 3rd Street, downtown. The California Palace of the Legion of Honor is probably the city's most famous museum, in Lincoln Park at the northwestern corner of the city, near the Presidio and the Golden Gate Bridge. 100 34th Avenue. Number 38 bus. For those of you who are Trekkies, the Presidio is a now-closed military base that, in the Star Trek Universe, is the seat of Starfleet Command and Starfleet Academy.

The Palace of Fine Arts isn't just an art museum, it has a theater that hosted one of the 1976 Presidential Debates between Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter -- the one where Ford said, "There is no Soviet domination in Eastern Europe." 3301 Lyon Street. Bus 30.

San Francisco, like New York, has a Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), at 151 3rd Street, downtown. It's part of Fort Mason, on the north shore of the city, which also includes the Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture. The park's Great Meadow was the site of James Brown's last concert, on August 20, 2006. 1300 Bay Street. Bus 30 from downtown.

And don't forget to take a ride on one of them cable cars I've been hearing so dang much about.
Oakland isn't much of a museum city, especially compared with San Francisco across the Bay. But the Oakland Museum of California (10th & Oak, Lake Merritt BART) and the Chabot Space & Science Center (10000 Skyline Blvd., not accessible by BART) may be worth a look.

The tallest building in Northern California is the new Salesforce Tower, downtown, at 415 Mission Street, rising 1,070 feet. Another new skyscraper, slightly higher, recently opened in Los Angeles, slightly higher, so the Salesforce Tower isn't the tallest building in California, much less the American West. But, in San Francisco, it did supersede the iconic Transamerica Pyramid, 853 feet high, opening in 1972 at 600 Montgomery Street, also downtown.

Because of its picturesque setting, San Francisco has long been a setting for fiction: Books, movies, television shows. The car chase over the hills in Bullitt and the confrontation between Clint Eastwood and the Scorpio Killer in Dirty Harry are legendary -- and were based on the same man, SFPD Inspector Dave Toschi. (He died earlier this year, after running a security service in San Francisco.)

The Golden Gate Bridge, carrying U.S. Route 101 north from the city to Marin County (and south, vice versa), is up there with Los Angeles' HOLLYWOOD sign as the West Coast's greatest icon. (Don't even think about Seattle's Space Needle being a contender.) Movies from The Graduate to
Star Trek IV (not to mention J.J. Abrams' perversions of the Trek mythos)  have used the big red bridge as a cultural marker.

The best-remembered movie set in old, pre-major league, San Francisco is The Maltese Falcon, John Huston's 1941 version of Dashiell Hammett's novel featuring Humphrey Bogart as private detective Sam Spade. According to the novel, Sam's office was at 111 Sutter Street, and the address does exist, at the corner of Montgomery Street: It's known as the Hunter-Dulin Building, and it still hosts commercial offices.

Also downtown, in keeping with the fiction of the film, a plaque on a building on the corner of Burritt Alley and Bush Street reads, "On approximately this spot, Miles Archer, partner of Sam Spade, was done in by Brigid O'Shaughnessy." And, although Sam fell in love with Brigid, he was true to his word: In the end, he did not play the sap for her.

The Fan, about a fan's obsession with a Giants player, did some filming at Candlestick Park. So did Experiment In Terror, Freebie and the Bean, and Contagion.

Probably the most famous TV house in San Francisco is the one from the 1987-95 ABC sitcom Full House, and its new sequel series Fuller House. Unlike a lot of TV houses, it actually is in the city in which the show is based, rather than in or around Los Angeles, at 1709 Broderick Street at Pine Street. (But the show was taped in L.A.) On the show, the address was listed as 1882 Girard Street. Like a lot of TV show addresses, this address has a high last 2 digits, so that show fans won't find a real address and the actual house, and disturb the real-life owners. Girard Street does exist, on the city's southeast side, and if 1882 Girard existed, it would be at Wilde Avenue, accessible by the city's 8X bus. 1709 Broderick is in Pacific Heights, at Bush Street.

If you visit, though, remember that it's a private residence, so don't knock on the door and ask if anybody from the cast is home. As Stephanie Tanner (played by Jodie Sweetin) would say, "How rude!" And, as Michelle Tanner (either Mary-Kate or Ashley Olsen) would say, "You're in big trouble, Mister!" So, please, as Jesse Katsopolis (John Stamos) would say, "Have mercy."

For legal reasons, the CBS medical drama Trapper John, M.D., starring former Bonanza star Pernell Roberts as Dr. John McIntyre, was said to be a sequel to the film version of M*A*S*H, where Trapper was played by Elliott Gould, not the TV show, where he was played by Wayne Rogers. Thus we have the oddity of Trapper working in a hospital in San Francisco, the hometown (well, the neighboring suburb of Mill Valley, in Marin County, was) of the man who replaced him at the 4077th MASH, B.J. Hunnicutt (Mike Farrell).

Wayne Rogers did play a doctor in a series set in San Francisco, after leaving M*A*S*H, starring with Lynn Redgrave in the 1979-82 sitcom House Calls, set it what was then the present day. Other series set in San Francisco include (separated by category, then by chronological order) the police dramas Ironside, The Streets of San Francisco, McMillan and Wife, Hooperman, Nash Bridges and
Monk; the sci-fi/fantasy shows Sliders and Charmed; the family drama Party of Five; and the sitcoms Phyllis, Too Close for Comfort, My Sister Sam, Suddenly Susan, Dhrama & Greg, and Disney's That's So Raven.

The 1957-63 CBS Western Have Gun - Will Travel established the Hotel Carlton in San Francisco as the base of operations for the man known only as Paladin (Richard Boone). Today, there is a hotel by that name in the city, at 1075 Sutter Street in the Nob Hill section.

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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 City By the Bay. Even if you don't accept the connection with the former New York franchise of the National League.