Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Yanks Make It 5 Straight Before Last Night's Loss

On Monday night, the Yankees flew to Kansas City to play a rainout-makeup against the Royals. Michael Pineda continued his return from injury. Starting for KC was James Shields, the former Tampa Bay Rays ace who is the biggest reason the Royals are leading the AL Central and threatening for their 1st postseason berth in 29 years.
The teams traded single runs in the 4th inning -- the New York run coming on Stephen Drew's 6th home run of the season -- and the Yankees got another in the 5th. But the 7th inning was the decisive one. Martin Prado homered for the 2nd straight game, his 9th of the year, part of a 4-run outburst. Jacoby Ellsbury added a homer in the 9th, his 11th -- and some of you were afraid he wouldn't reach double figures all season.
The big lead meant that Joe Girardi could, more or less, rest the bullpen in spite of Pineda still working his way back up to full fitness. Pineda pitched into the 7th, and David Huff held the Royals scoreless the rest of the way.
Yankees 8, Royals 1. WP: Pineda (3-2). No save. LP: Shields (12-7).

And then the Yankees began the regularly-scheduled part of their roadtrip: 3 games in Detroit against the Playoff-contending Tigers, followed by 3 games in Toronto against the hopeless, but probably still pesky, Blue Jays.
Brandon McCarthy started for the Yankees. He was okay for 5 innings, but fell apart in the 6th. Rick Porcello was really on his game for the Tigers, allowing only 2 runs, both solo homers by Ellsbury (giving him 13 round-trippers on the season).
Tigers 5, Yankees 2. WP: Porcello (15-8). SV: Joe Nathan (28). LP: McCarthy (8-13).
With 32 games to go, the Yankees are 7 games behind the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East, and 3 1/2 games (3 in the loss column) behind the Seattle Mariners for the 2nd AL Wild Card spot.
It's still possible that the Yankees can make the Playoffs.
The series with the Tigers continues tonight at Comerica Park. Shane Greene starts for us, David Price for them.
Come on you Bombers!

Yanks Sweep ChiSox, Including On Joe Torre Day

My apologies for the delay in posting again. The computers at my residence are running on a modem that isn't working right, making using them an incredibly annoying experience.

I'll cover the Yankees' weekend home series with the Chicago White Sox in this post, and the subsequent games in the next one.

On Friday night, the opposing starters were Shane Greene for the Pinstripes, and John Danks for the Pale House. Neither pitched especially well, neither got an out in the 6th inning, and neither figured in the decision.

Martin Prado hit a home run for the Yankees, his 8th of the season. But, going to the bottom of the 9th, this game was all tied up.

Ichiro Suzuki led off with a hit. Brett Gardner bunted him over to 2nd base. Up to bat, Captain Clutch, Derek Jeter.

Except he hit a very unclutch soft liner to the center fielder, the starter's brother, Jordan Danks. And Jacoby Ellsbury was intentionally walked to set up the double play.

But Mark Teixeira drew a most unintentional walk, loading the bases. And Prado came up again, and singled Ichiro home.

Yankees 4, White Sox 3. WP: David Robertson (2-4). No save. LP: Daniel Webb (5-4).

Yankee broadcaster John Sterling called the night's hero "The Prado the Yankees," a play on one of Lou Gehrig's nickname, the one that became the title of the movie about him, The Pride of the Yankees.

As his broadcast partner, Suzyn Waldman, would say, "Oh my goodness, goodness gracious."


Saturday afternoon was Joe Torre Day. The former manager got his Number 6 retired, and his Plaque for Monument Park. It reads as follows:

WORLD CHAMPIONS, 1996, 1998-2000
A.L. PENNANTS, 1996, 1998-2000, 2001, 2003
AUGUST 23, 2014

On hand were Yogi Berra, Gene Michael, Reggie Jackson, Ron Guidry, and many of Torre's players: Paul O'Neill, Bernie Williams, David Cone, Tino Martinez, Jorge Posada, Hideki Matsui, and, of course, current manager Joe Girardi and Derek Jeter. Oddly, Mariano Rivera was not there; without him, as Yogi would say, Joe couldn't have thanked everyone for making this day necessary.

Also on hand were Joe's wife Allie, his children (most from his first marriage, but a daughter from his second), his grandchildren, and Soot Zimmer, Don's widow. Mel Stottlemyre sent a video message. (I'm a little concerned that he wasn't there: He didn't look ill, but he has battled cancer before.)

Joe's speech was long, but thoughtful, and hit all the right notes. Among the things he said was gratitude to George Steinbrenner for hiring him. Among the things he didn't say was that George need him as much as he needed George: Without each other, each man's legacy would be very different. George might still be the guy who built a Dynasty and let it fall apart, and the Yankees might still be without a title since 1978. Joe might still be a really good, but not quite Hall of Fame level, player, and a good but not great manager whose uniformed career ended a while ago, without ever winning a Pennant. Instead, together, along with Stick Michael, they built a new Dynasty.

Oh yes, there was a game. Hiroki Kuroda started for the Yankees, and he had good stuff. Carlos Beltran hit his 15th homer of the season in the 6th inning. No late heroics necessary this time.

Yankees 5, White Sox 3. WP: Kuroda (9-8). SV: Robertson (34). LP: Scott Carroll (5-8).


On Sunday afternoon, late heroics would be necessary. Chris Capuano started against ChiSox ace Chris Sale, so I was convinced a defeat was coming.

Instead, Capuano pitched decently, and Sale didn't have his best stuff. It was 4-3 Yanks going into the 9th, and it looked like we had the sweep. But Robertson decided he wanted a Tony Award, and gave us some drama. He blew the save.

So the game went to extra innings. David Huff pitched a scoreless 10th. The Yankees got 2 men on, and Girardi sent Brian McCann up to pinch-hit for Francisco Cervelli. (Had the game continued, McCann would also have taken Cervelli's place behind the plate.) Replacing a .278 hitter with a .235 hitter, albeit one with power. McCann had 14 home runs on the season.

Make it 15. McCann did, sending a screaming liner to the right-field corner. A true short-porcher. Sterling didn't even have time to go into, "It is high! It is far!" before realizing it was gone. Game-winning home run.

Yankees 7, White Sox 4. WP: Huff (4-1). No save. LP: Jake Petricka (0-3).

So the Yankees had now won 4 straight, and headed off on a roadtrip. I'll discuss that in my next post.

Friday, August 22, 2014

McCarthy Masterpiece Snaps Yanks Out of It

On Wednesday night, the Yankees found a way to lose a 2nd straight game to the 2010s Houston Astros.

You're supposed to beat the crap teams. Not just when you're the New York Yankees, but when you're any team worth its salt.

Michael Pineda made his 2nd start after coming of the Disabled List, and this time Joe Girardi let him pitch 6 full innings. He allowed a run in the top of the 4th, but the Yankees tied the game with a home run in the bottom of the inning by Stephen Drew.

In the 5th, Ichiro Suzuki singled, stole 2nd, and advanced to 3rd on a Derek Jeter groundout. Jacoby Ellsbury put on the suicide squeeze, and not only did Ichiro score, but the play was to the plate, so Ellsbury got to 1st. But a Mark Teixeira groundout ended the threat.

Still, it was 2-1 Yankees going into the 7th inning. And Girardi let Pineda stay in.

Now he makes the opposite mistake: Leaving him in too long. It wasn't a mistake because of the risk to his arm, but because he got tired. He walked the leadoff man.

And then Girardi brings in David Huff. He got a strikeout, but then allowed a single.

And then Girardi, probably reading the damned binder again, pulls Huff for Esmil Rogers. He allowed 4 straight singles, to make it 5-2 Astros, before he finally struck out the last 2 batters.

Only the Yankee bullpen under Joe Girardi could strike out the side while allowing 4 runs and blowing the game.

The Yankees got 2nd & 3rd in the 7th, but Ellsbury struck out. And they got 1st & 2nd in the bottom of the 9th, bringing up the tying run. But it was Ellsbury again, and he flew out.

WP: Scott Feldman (7-9). SV: Jose Veras -- yes, the former Yankee (1). LP: Huff (2-1).


Going into yesterday afternoon, the Yankees were as bad as they've been all season. In order to have any real hope of the Playoffs, a win was necessary.

Brandon McCarthy started for the Yankees. Dallas Keuchel started for the Astros. Yes, a pitcher named Dallas started for Houston. (Reggie Cleveland pitched for several teams, but never for Cleveland or Cincinnati.)

What's stranger: That a Yankee game in the 21st Century lasted only 2 hours and 7 minutes, or that a Major League Baseball game in the 21st Century saw both starting pitchers pitch complete games?

McCarthy was masterful. He went the entire way, allowing no runs, just 4 hits, and no walks. He struck out 8, although that's just a footnote.

But you gotta give your pitcher runs, or it doesn't matter how good he is. Teix led off the 2nd inning with a single. Martin Prado doubled. Chase Headley doubled them home. Francisco Cervelli grounded out, pushing Headley to 3rd with only 1 out. Ichiro hit a sacrifice fly to get him home.

After that, it was the Brandon McCarthy Show. The Astros couldn't touch him. This guy, who was 1-10 on the season before the Yankees got him, has been fantastic. Even when he's lost for us, he's been more unlucky than ineffective. We Yankee Fans get on general manager Brian Cashman's case a lot, but this was a good pickup.

Yankees 3, Astros 0. WP: McCarthy (5-2 as a Yankee -- 6-12 overall). No save. LP: Keuchel (10-9).


The Yankees are 8 1/2 games behind the Baltimore Orioles in the American League Eastern Divison, and 4 games behind the Detroit Tigers for the 2nd AL Wild Card slot.

There are 27 games left. In other words, to win the Division, we would have to gain a game every 3 games; and to win the Wild Card, we would have to gain a game ever 7 games.

The former is incredibly unlikely. The latter is still possible.

Tonight, we begin a 3-game home series with the Chicago White Sox. Here are the projected starting pitchers:

* Tonight, 7:05:  Shane Greene vs. John Danks.

* Tomorrow, 1:05: Hiroki Kuroda vs. Scott Carroll.

* Sunday, 1:05: Chris Capuano vs. Chris Sale. (Yeah, forget about the Yankees winning that one.)

After that: A travel day, 3 games in Detroit, 3 in Toronto, a travel day, 3 at home to Boston, 3 at home to Kansas City, a day off, 3 at home to Tampa Bay, 3 in Baltimore, 3 in Tampa Bay, 4 at home to Toronto, 4 in Baltimore (Jeter's last home series unless we make the Playoffs), and we close the season with 3 in Boston (Jeter's last series period unless we make the Playoffs).

It's still possible. Come on you Pinstripes!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Astronomically Bad

So the Yankees returned home last night. Having a homestand against the Houston Astros and the Chicago White Sox should have been a good chance to win at least 4 out of 6, and make up ground in the American League Wild Card race.

After 4 innings, the Yankees led 2-0, thanks to a home run by Brian McCann. It was his 14th of the season, but he's batting only .235 with an on-base percentage of .290. He thinks he's on the old TV show: "It's a home run or nothing, here on Home Run Derby."

The Astros got a run in the 5th, and 3 in the 6th to take a 4-2 lead. Chris Capuano, to no one's surprise (except maybe Brian Cashman's), did not have it last night.

But in the bottom of the 6th, Martin Prado doubled home 2 runs to tie the game. So we went to the 9th tied 4-4.

But David Robertson allowed 2 runners, getting only 1 out, and then Chris Carter bombed a 436-foot home run to left field. True, it was his 30th of the year, but the fact that it came off our closer is bad.

Astros 7, Yankees 4. WP: Josh Fields (3-6). SV: Chad Qualls (14). LP: Robertson (1-4).

This game was, pardon the pun, Astronomically bad.

The Yankees are now 4 games behind the Detroit Tigers for the 2nd AL Wild Card. There are 39 games to go: We will have to make up 1 game in every 10 to have a chance.

The series continues tonight, with Michael Pineda starting for the Yankees (and, knowing Joe Girardi, he'll take him out after the 3rd innings with a 2-0 lead, and then use up the bullpen in losing 8-3), and Scott Feldman for the Astors.

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

Finally: This season, for the first time, I have done all 30 Major League Baseball teams in my "How to Be a Yankee (or Met) Fan In (Name of City)" series. Ironically, this year's last was last year's first (aside from the Yankees themselves, that is): The Detroit Tigers.

Disclaimer: While I have been to Detroit, and I did see a game at Tiger Stadium, it was not against the Yankees, and the Tigers' new home, Comerica Park, was then still under construction. I have no firsthand knowledge of what the ballpark is like. I have, however, been around Tiger fans, both at the old yard and in their visits to the old Yankee Stadium. So I have a pretty good idea of what the game experience will be like.

Before You Go. The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press (or "Freep") websites should be consulted before you decide whether to go. Heavy storms have hit the Detroit area lately, and many roads, including Interstates 75 and 96, have sustained flooding. And, according to both papers' sites, rain is expected through the beginning of next week -- right before this series starts. Be advised that this may continue. However, since this will be late August, rather than in the fall, winter, or early spring, Detroit's placement in the Midwest snowbelt should not be a problem.

This will be the Yankees' only visit to Detroit this season. If you've gone before, and can only afford one roadtrip this season, this series should not be a priority. If you haven't gone before, and money is an issue, wait until next season, or a later season, to do this one, as flying to Detroit can be expensive.

Since the July 1967 race riot, Detroit has become known as a city of poverty, crime, decay, and poor city services, the kind of place where even Batman would fear to tread. The legendary comedian Red Skelton once said, "In Detroit, you can go 10 miles and never leave the scene of the crime." It's no wonder the RoboCop film series was set there.

There was a Nike commercial a few years back, in which young basketball players were seated, yoga-style, in front of a TV screen, on which their "master," a fat black man with a turban and sunglasses who looked nothing like an athlete, was dispensing wisdom. At the end, after the Swoosh logo was shown, the camera went back to one of the students, who asked, "But, Master, what if we behave badly?" And the Master lowered his shades, looked over them, and said, "You go to Detroit." This was in the early 1990s, when the Pistons had begun to fall from their 1989-90 "Bad Boys" championship teams, and going to Detroit was not a good option in any sport -- indeed, the only Detroit team doing well at the time was, strangely, the Lions, who were then a perennial Playoff team thanks largely to Barry Sanders.

I once saw a T-shirt that read, "I'm so bad, I vacation in Detroit." As I mentioned, I have. (I'm not saying I'm "bad," or a "hard man," just that I went.) Newark had a race riot 2 weeks before Detroit's. In May 1999, I saw Detroit, and I realized just how far back Newark had come, by seeing how far Detroit had not.

In the 1950 Census, Detroit was the 4th-largest city in America, after New York, Chicago and Philadelphia, with over 2 million people just within the city limits. "White flight" after the '67 riot has led to the Detroit metropolitan area having roughly the same number of people it had then, about 5.3 million, but within the city limits the number has dropped from over 2 million to just 680,000. The suburbs are beautiful, but the city itself is a hole, and good men (and a few bad ones) have busted their humps trying to get it back on its feet.

One of the good men who's tried is Mike Ilitch, probably the most famous American of Macedonian descent, who runs Little Caesar's Pizza, and owns the Tigers and Red Wings. He rebuilt the city's historic Fox Theater, put Little Caesar's headquarters in the building above it, and had Comerica Park built across the street. He, and many others, including Pistons Hall-of-Famer turned major area businessman Dave Bing, who served a term as Mayor, are trying, they really are. But Governor Rick Snyder, a Tea Party Republican, has ordered a State takeover of Detroit's finances. Apparently, he didn't learn the lesson of Hugh Carey, New York's Governor in 1975, who found another way to get New York City's finances back on their feet. In Detroit's case, as in every other place in which it's tried, austerity hasn't worked.

As for you, the potential visitor, the fear of crime should not keep you away. As with Yankee Stadium during the depth of New York's crime wave from the late 1970s to the early '90s, the ballpark is probably the safest, best-protected place in town.

I should also note that Detroit is a border city. The Detroit River, connecting Lakes Huron and Erie, is one of the few places where you can cross from north to south and go from America to Canada. Windsor, Ontario -- the closest thing to a "South Detroit," making that line in the Journey song "Don't Stop Believin'" problematic -- is considerably safer, and, like Detroit itself, has a gambling casino. If you want to visit, you'll need to bring your passport. You can use either the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel or the Ambassador Bridge.

Tickets. The Tigers have usually been good since their 2006 American League Pennant season. In spite of this, due to how hard the Bush Recession hit Michigan, attendance had not been all that strong. Until their 2012 Pennant season. But it is coming back: The Tigers are averaging 35,659 fans per game this season, in a ballpark that officially seats 41,782 (but can be boosted to over 45,000 with standing room).

You would think that, considering these factors, and the "majority-minority" status and poverty even in good times that has stricken Detroit, tickets would generally be affordable. They're not, especially with the Yankees being in town, triggering "dynamic pricing": Infield Boxes are $134, Outfield Boxes are $94, Lower Baseline Boxes (in the outfield corners) are $64, Right Field Grandstands (bleachers) are $49, Upper Boxes are $47, Pavilion (left field bleachers) are $44, Mezzanine (upper right field) are $40, Kaline's Corner (a small right field family section named for the legendary Tiger right fielder) are $34, Bleachers (upper right field) are $34, and the cheapest section, the Jungle Rooftop Bleachers (reminiscent of the apartment buildings across from Wrigley Field, also copied in Philadelphia) are $20.

Getting There. Detroit is 600 land miles from New York. Specifically, it is 616 miles from Times Square to Cadillac Square. Knowing this, your first reaction is going to be to fly out there.

Except... Wayne County Metropolitan Airport is 22 miles southwest of downtown. A taxi to downtown will set you back a bundle. There is a bus, SMART (Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation) bus Number 125, that goes directly from the airport to downtown, but it will take an hour and 20 minutes.

Also, do you remember the Seinfeld episode where George Costanza had a girlfriend, played by a pre-Will & Grace Megan Mullaly (using her real voice, you'd never recognize her as W&G's Karen), and he had to accompany her to a funeral in her hometown of Detroit? "It's kind of an expensive flight," George said. This was not just George being his usual cheap self: At the time, over 20 years ago (wow, it's been that long), it was expensive, more expensive from New York to Detroit than it was to the further-away Chicago.

It's actually cheaper now, but not by much: A check of airline websites shows that, while flights can by had for under $700 round-trip, most will be more like $1,300 -- and you'll have to change planes in Chicago. That's right, you'll have to overshoot Detroit to go to Detroit.

Too rich for your blood? The news gets worse: There is no good way to get to Detroit, and that's got nothing to do with the city's reputation. Forget the train. The only Amtrak route in and out of Detroit is to and from Chicago, which in the opposite direction.

The most direct route is the Lake Shore Limited, formerly known as the Twentieth Century Limited when the old New York Central Railroad ran it from Grand Central Terminal to Chicago's LaSalle Street Station. It leaves New York's Penn Station at 3:40 every afternoon, and arrives at Union Terminal in Toledo at 5:55 every morning. From there, you have to wait until 6:30 to get on a bus to Detroit's Amtrak station, arriving at 7:35. The station is at 11 W. Baltimore Avenue, at Woodward Avenue, 2 1/2 miles north of Comerica, so walking there is not a good option; the number 16 or 53 bus would take you down Woodward. In reverse, the bus leaves Detroit at 9:45 PM, arrives in Toledo at 10:50, and then you have to hang around there until the Lake Shore Limited comes back at 3:20 AM, arriving back in New York at 6:23 PM. Total cost: $199. A lot cheaper than flying, but a tremendous inflammation in the posterior.

How about Greyhound? Yeah, ride a bus for 14 hours to Detroit, there's a great idea. (Rolleyes.) Actually, having done it, I can tell you that it's not that bad. Two Greyhound buses leave Port Authority every day with connections to Detroit. One is at 5:15 PM, and arrives at 7:20 AM, with a 1 hour and 35 minute stopover in Cleveland in the middle of the night (but you won't have to change buses, in case you want to stay on the bus and sleep). The other leaves Port Authority at 10:15 PM, and you will have to change buses in Cleveland, arriving 6:50 AM and leaving 7:50, arriving at 11:25 AM. Despite having to change buses, this one is actually faster, taking 13 hours and 10 minutes, as opposed to the single through bus ride, taking 14 hours and 5 minutes.

Compared to most of Detroit, the bus terminal, at 1001 Howard Street, is relatively new and quite clean. It was just about within walking distance of Tiger Stadium, which really helped me in 1999. It's also not a long walk from Comerica Park, but I wouldn't recommend this. Better to take a cab, especially if you're getting a hotel.

The first bus to leave Detroit after the Thursday afternoon game is at 5:40 PM, and you won't have to change buses, arriving at Port Authority at 7:40 Friday morning. Round-trip fare: $150 if you make an advanced purchase, $209 if you're buying at Port Authority. So Greyhound is also far cheaper than flying, possibly cheaper (and definitely not much more expensive) than Amtrak, and less of a pain than Amtrak -- especially on this roadtrip.

If you decide to drive, the directions are rather simple, down to (literally) the last mile. You'll need to get into New Jersey, and take Interstate 80 West. You'll be on I-80 for the vast majority of the trip, through New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Ohio. In Ohio, in the western suburbs of Cleveland, I-80 will merge with Interstate 90. I point this out merely to help you avoid confusion, not because I-90 will become important -- though it is for "How to Be a Yankee Fan in Chicago" and some other cities. In Ohio, you'll take I-80's Exit 64, and get onto Interstate 75 North. This will take you into Michigan. Take Exit 50 for Grand River Avenue. Follow the ramp to Woodward Avenue.

If you do it right, you should spend about an hour and a half in New Jersey, 5 hours and 15 minutes in Pennsylvania, 3 hours in Ohio and an hour in Michigan. That’s 10 hours and 45 minutes. Counting rest stops, preferably halfway through Pennsylvania and in the Cleveland suburbs, and accounting for traffic in both New York and Detroit, it should be about 12 hours.

I strongly recommend finding a hotel with a good, secure parking garage, even if you're only staying for one game.

Once In the City. The city, and its river, were founded in 1701 as Fort Ponchartrain du Detroit du Lac Erie (Day-TWAH, strait of Lake Erie), by Antonie de La Mothe Cadillac, for whom the downtown Cadillac Square and the brand of car was named.

Detroit's centerpoint, in culture and in terms of address numbers, is the Woodward Fountain, where Woodward, Michigan and Gratiot Avenues come together, with Cadillac Square just off to the east. Woodward is the East-West divider.

The suburbs are nearly all-white; the city itself, nearly all-black. If there is another city on the planet that is so segregated, I'm not aware of it. The sales tax in the State of Michigan is 6 percent, and does not go up in either the County of Wayne or the City of Detroit.

Detroit is a weird city in some ways. It often seems like a cross between a past that was once glorious but now impossible to reach, and a future that never quite happened. (That observation was once made about the remaining structures from New York’s 1964-65 World’s Fair and the Astrodome in Houston.) Art Deco structures of the 1920s and ‘30s, such as the Penobscot Building (the tallest building outside New York and Chicago when it opened in 1928, the tallest in Michigan until 1977) stand alongside abandoned, boarded-up or chained-up stores.

But alongside or across from them, there are glassy, modern structures such as the Renaissance Center, shown in the photo above: A 5-tower complex that includes, at its center, the 750-foot tallest building in Michigan (the tallest all-hotel skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere), and, in one of its 4 outer towers, the headquarters of General Motors (although the RenCen was originally financed by Ford).

Downtown also has the Detroit People Mover, a monorail system that is part of the suggestion of Detroit trying to get from 1928 to 2028 while jumping over the difficult years in between. Like the Washington and Montreal Metro (subway) systems, the company running it prides itself on the artwork in its stations. It has a stop called Times Square, but it won’t look anything like the one in New York. It has a stop called Bricktown, but it won’t look anything like Brick Township, the sprawling Jersey Shore suburb off Exits 88 to 91 on the Garden State Parkway. The Grand Circus Park and Broadway Street stations are both 3 blocks from Comerica Park. The DPM also has a stop at Joe Louis Arena, home of the Red Wings. It’s cheap, only 75 cents, and it still uses tokens, although it also accepts cash. Be advised, though, that it stops running at midnight, except on Fridays and Saturdays, when it runs until 2:00 AM. Bus fare is $1.50.

Going In. The closest parking lots to the park are $25, but most nearby lots can be had for as little as $15. This is a far cry from parking at Tiger Stadium, which usually had people boxed in, resulting in tremendous traffic jams both before and after the game (and, every bit as much as the crime and the condition of the stadium, was why the Lions wanted to get out and built the Silverdome). It also involved local kids being willing to "Watch your car, Mister?" for a small fee. Translation: "If you pay me $5.00, I'll make sure nobody damages your car. If you don't pay me, I'll make sure somebody, namely myself, does."

The area around Comerica Park (named for a Midwest-based bank) and Ford Field (home of the NFL's Lions, across Brush Street from Comerica, and named for the automaker), at the northern edge of downtown Detroit, is called Foxtown, after the Fox Theater, which, as I said, Tigers/Wings/Little Caesars owner Mike Ilitch had restored. The ballpark can be entered at Gate A on Witherell (that’s the 1st base stands), Gate B at Witherell & Adams (right field corner), Gate C at Adams & Brush (left field corner), or Gate D on Montcalm (home plate). The official street address is 2100 Woodward Avenue, even though the park is not on Woodward.

There are a lot of distractions in the park, from the huge Tiger statues to the Comerica Carousel, near the Big Cat Food Court under the 1st base stands, to the Fly Ball Ferris Wheel, with baseball-shaped compartments, under the 3rd base stands. But, not being a kid (except maybe at heart), you’re interested in the baseball, so let’s move on.

The ballpark faces southeast, as did Tiger Stadium. Unlike Tiger Stadium, Comerica is not fully enclosed, so you can see out, and some of Detroit’s taller buildings can be seen from the seats behind the plate, including the RenCen and the Penobscot. Much of Detroit’s financial district, including the Penobscot, was built in the 1920s and ‘30s and, like many of New York’s buildings of the same period, were heavily influenced by the Art Deco movement. Some of these structures show just how much of a shame it is that Detroit has so badly fallen apart in the last half-century.

Unlike Tiger Stadium, whose overhanging upper deck in right field and close left-center power alley made it a hitter's park, Comerica favors pitchers. Outfield distances are as follows: Left, 345 feet; left-center, 370; center, 420; right-center, 365; right, 330. Actually, the dimensions are not all that different from Tiger Stadium, but the lack of an outfield upper deck means not only is there no batter-aiding overhang, but air can circulate better, and when the wind comes in off the Detroit River, it makes it tough to hit one out. Carlos Pena hit Comerica's longest home run, in 2005, 461 feet. (It's not clear who hit the longest homer at Tiger Stadium: It's been credited to Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Norm Cash and Cecil Fielder.)

The field is natural grass. In the early 20th Century, most ballparks would have a strip of dirt between home plate and the pitcher's mound, known as a "keyhole." Comerica Park added this feature, and so did the home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, now known as Chase Field.

In center field, the Tigers have the Chevrolet Fountain, a takeoff on the fountain in Kansas City, and honoring the automobile industry's contributions to the city that got it nickname "The Motor City" and "Motown." In solidarity, the Chrysler and Ford logos now flank the Chevy ad on top.

Food. When I visited Tiger Stadium in its final season, 1999, it had great food, including the very best ballpark hot dog I've ever had. Since they're owned by Little Caesars mogul Ilitch, and before that were owned by Domino's Pizza boss Tom Monaghan, food is taken very seriously by the club. This is, after all, Big Ten Country, where college football tailgate parties are practically a sacrament.

Their big feature is the Big Cat Food Court, under the 1st base stands, featuring Little Caesars, naturally; Sliders, a stand featuring that Midwest staple, the Coney dog (hot dog with chili and onions, though they're not that popular at the actual Coney Island); the Brushfire Grill, with barbecue specialties; a stand selling "Chicago Style Hot Dogs," with the little pickle slice, the tomato slice, and the celery salt (and, no, I don't know why Detroit's ballpark would sell a Chicago-themed item); Asian Tiger, with Chinese food and sushi; a Mexican food stand; and "Lemons & Ears," which sells lemonade and "elephant ears," a Midwestern variation on that Middle Atlantic States standard, funnel cake.

The Tigers also have numerous in-park restaurants, but, like the ones at Yankee Stadium II, you can only get in with certain tickets. But if you go to a Detroit Tigers home game and you don't find something good to eat, you're not trying hard enough.

Team History Displays. The main concourse features a Walk of Fame, showing great moments in Detroit baseball history, from the 1887 National League Champion Detroit Wolverines, through the Pennants the Tigers won with Ty Cobb Pennants in 1907-08-09, to the Hank Greenberg years of 1934-45, to the amazing 1968 "Year of the Tiger," to the "Bless You Boys" of 1984, and the 2006 and 2012 Pennants.

Along the left-center-field wall are statues of the 5 Tiger players who have had their uniform numbers retired: 2, Charlie Gehringer, 2nd base, 1924-42; 5, Greenberg, 1st base, 1933-46; 6, Al Kaline, right field, 1953-74 and broadcaster 1975-2002; 16, Hal Newhouser, pitcher, 1939-53; and 23, Willie Horton, left field, 1963-77 (and grew up in Detroit). There is also a statue of Cobb, center field, 1905-26, who played before uniform numbers were worn (though I once saw film of him at an old-timers' game, wearing a Tiger uniform, Number 25). Their names and their numbers are on a wall in left field.

Not with those statues, but rather at the 1st base entrance, is a statue of the late Ernie Harwell, the broadcaster whose very voice meant "the Detroit Tigers" from 1960 to 2002. His name is on a matching wall in right field, along with those of 1979-95 manager Sparky Anderson, Number 11 retired; and the names of Tigers who, while their numbers have not been retired by the team, are, like the preceding (with Horton the lone exception) also in the Baseball Hall of Fame: Sam Crawford, right field, 1903-17; Hugh Jennings, manager, 1907-20; Harry Heilmann, right field, 1914–29 and broadcaster 1934-50; Henry "Heinie" Manush, left field, 1923–27; Gordon "Mickey" Cochrane, catcher 1934-37, manager 1934-38; and George Kell, 3rd base, 1946–52 and broadcaster 1959-96. Jackie Robinson's universally retired Number 42 is also with these names. These walls, in left-center and right-center, serve as Detroit's answer to Yankee Stadium's Monument Park.

Not included, although he is in the Hall of Fame, is 1934-37 left fielder Leon "Goose" Goslin. He, Greenberg and Gehringer, in those early days of the FBI, were nicknamed the G-Men.

The first great Tiger announcer was Edwin "Ty" Tyson, who announced from 1927 to 1953. Unlike Harwell, he has not been honored on these walls or received the Hall of Fame's Ford Frick Award for broadcasters.

The Tigers have removed from circulation, but not officially retired, the following uniform numbers: 1, Lou Whitaker, 2nd base, 1977-95; 3, worn by Cochrane, Dick McAuliffe (2nd base, 1960-73), and Alan Trammell (shortstop, 1977-96 and manager 2003-05); and 47, worn by Jack Morris, pitcher, 1977-90. Perhaps they're waiting for Whitaker, Trammell and Morris to be elected to the Hall of Fame, but they probably won't be elected, and they retired Horton's number without him getting in. Number 23 was also worn by Kirk Gibson, right field, 1979-87 and 1993-95, but there's no mention of him on the wall. People forget, after that home run in the 1988 World Series, but Gibson, now manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks, first became a World Series home run hero with the Tigers in 1984.

In 1999, Cobb was named to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team. That same year, he, Crawford, Heilmann, Cochrane, Gehringer, Greenberg, Goslin, and Kaline were named to The Sporting News' 100 Greatest Baseball Players.

Stuff. The Tigers have 5 team stores located throughout the ballpark. Stuffed tigers are a natural to sell, and jerseys, jackets, T-shirts and caps abound. You can also buy DVDs of the official World Series highlight films of 1945, 1968 and 1984 (they come in 1 disc, with the 1935 edition preceding the start of official films sponsored by MLB which started in 1943) and "The Essential Games of the Detroit Tigers."

Unlike the "Essential Games" series for the old Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium, instead of 6 games, there's only 4, and, due to the limitations on what Major League Baseball Productions has, they only go back to 1968. Despite it not being "The Essential Games of Tiger Stadium," they still limit it to home games. Thus the 1984 clincher, Game 5 at Tiger Stadium, is included; 1968's Game 5 at Tiger Stadium, the only home game the Tigers won in that Series, is included; but the Game 7s of 1945 (at Wrigley Field) and 1968 (at Busch Stadium) are not. They do, however, include the Tiger Stadium finale in 1999 and Game 4 of the 2006 American League Championship Series, which was won by Magglio Ordonez hitting a walkoff homer to cap a series sweep. The Bonus Features include highlights from the 1971 All-Star Game (future Yankee Reggie Jackson hitting the Tiger Stadium roof off future Yankee Dock Ellis), the 1976 "Mark Fidrych Game" in which "the Bird" beat the Yankees on ABC Monday Night Baseball; the Comerica Park opener in 2000; a tribute to Trammell and Whitaker; a big moment from the career of Curtis Granderson, now a former Tiger and a former Yankee; and a brief Tiger Stadium retrospective.

Books about the Tigers are plentiful. In 1989, then-manager Sparky Anderson collaborated with legendary Detroit sportswriter Joe Falls on The Detroit Tigers: An Illustrated History, probably the best single-volume history of the ballclub.

Charles C. Avison wrote Detroit: City of Champions, telling of how the city produced champion after champion in the Great Depression and World War II: The Tigers winning Pennants in 1934, '35, '40 and '45; the Lions debuting in 1934 and winning the NFL Championship in 1935; the Red Wings winning the Stanley Cup in 1936, '37 and '43; and Alabama-born, Detroit-trained Joe Louis winning the Heavyweight Championship of the World in 1937 and keeping it until his first retirement in 1948. Back then, Detroit was a city where anything was possible.

Even as late as 1968, in the middle of the golden age of muscle cars and Motown Records, it still seemed like the 1967 riot might be a brief setback to a great city. Earlier this year, George Cantor published The Tigers of '68: Baseball's Last Real Champions, the title based on the fact that 1968 was the last season before Divisional Play began. In contrast, by the time the Tigers won it all again in 1984, Detroit was unquestionably a city of the past, falling apart, torn by racial strife and poverty, and surpassed as an automotive center by Germany and Japan. And, as it did during the Depression, The War, and after the riot, Detroit once again needed a winner. Mark Pattison, David Raglin, Gary Gillette and Richard L. Shook recently published Detroit Tigers 1984: What a Start! What a Finish! (based on the fact that the Tigers won 35 of their first 40 and then won the World Series in 5 games).

Ernie Harwell published several books, including Tuned to Baseball (1984) and Ernie Harwell: Stories from My Life In Baseball (2001). While neither book is solely about his experiences with the Tigers, the man was a born storyteller. He also collaborated with Jim Hawkins on Al Kaline: The Biography of a Tigers Icon, telling the story of the most beloved athlete in Detroit history -- ahead of Ty Cobb, Gordie Howe, Steve Yzerman, Isiah Thomas and every Lions player.

Charles C. Alexander's Ty Cobb, published in 1984, remains the best biography of the Georgia Peach. He recently collaborated with historian Rick Huhn on The Chalmers Race, about Cobb's 1910 duel with Cleveland star Napoleon Lajoie for the AL batting title, and thus for a brand-new Chalmers 30 car (roughly the equivalent of winning Lexus today). Both My Life In Baseball: The True Record, which Cobb wrote with Al Stump, and Cobb: A Biography, which Stump left to be published after his own death, should be discounted as full of tall tales. In contrast, Hank Greenberg: The Story of My Life is a fair self-assessment, and John Rosengren's recent Hank Greenberg: The Hero of Heroes tells the complete tale, including a comparison of Greenberg's injury-shortened career with more recent, drug-aided sluggers.

During the Game. You do not have to worry about wearing Yankee gear in Comerica Park. Maybe if it was a Pistons game and you were wearing Chicago Bulls stuff. Or if it was a Lions game and you were wearing Chicago Bears or Green Bay Packers stuff. Or if it was a Red Wings game and you were wearing Chicago Blackhawks or (due to their nasty late 1990s, early 2000s matchups) Colorado Avalanche stuff. But for a Tigers game, you can wear just about any opposing team's cap, jersey, jacket, whatever, and no one will give you a hard time based on that.

The Tigers' mascot is Paws the Tiger, and not only is he one of the less ridiculous mascots in the major leagues, but he's a better dancer than the Phillie Phanatic.

Whenever the Tigers score a run, the sound of a tiger growling is played through the public address system. It's a bit more intimidating than the really loud variation on the "Westminster chimes" that gets played at Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees inadvertently contributed to the Tigers' version of the Angels' "Rally Monkey." In a June 2006 Yanks-Tigers game at Comerica, Tigers pitcher Nate Robertson (not to be confused with former Knick Nate Robinson) was featured on FSN Detroit's "Sounds of the Game," in which the TV station puts a microphone on a coach, or a player not in the game. To get the fans going, Nate began to stuff Big League Chew into his mouth, hoping to spark a late-inning rally. The trend caught on, with Jeremy Bonderman, Zach Miner and Justin Verlander all chewing from time to time. The Tigers came back to tie the game, and the phrase "It's Gum Time" has become a new rallying cry for the team, along with 1935's "Hold That Tiger," 1968's "Sock It to 'em Tigers" and 1984's "Bless You, Boys."

The Tigers do not have a regular song to play in the 7th inning stretch after "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." However, when they take the field, "Detroit Rock City" by KISS is played. And, following a Tiger win, they play "Lifelong Tiger Fan Blues," written by actor Jeff Daniels, who grew up in suburban Chelsea, Michigan, and attended Central Michigan University.

While Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" is played at Red Wings games, it is not played at Tiger games. Lead singer Steve Perry wrote the part about the "city boy, born and raised in South Detroit" about a Detroit-born roadie for the band. As for the messed-up geography, he's said, "I tried 'North Detroit,' I tried 'East' and 'West,' and it didn't sing, but 'South Detroit' sounded so beautiful. I loved the way it sounded, only to find out later it's actually Canada."

After the Game. With Detroit's rough reputation, I would recommend not hanging around downtown after a night game. If you want a postgame drink or meal, you're better off sticking to your hotel.

You may have heard of Detroit's classic sports bar, the Lindell Athletic Club, better known as the Lindell AC. USA Today once called it the Number 1 sports bar in America. The late Lions star and actor Alex Karras had a part-ownership, and it got him in trouble with gambling that led to his suspension for the 1963 season. Shortly thereafter, it moved from its original 1949 location to its more familiar one, at Cass & Michigan Avenues. The owners gave out free drinks the night the Tigers clinched the 1968 Pennant.

In 1969, former Yankee player and future Yankee manager Billy Martin, then managing the Minnesota Twins, saw his pitcher Dave Boswell sucker-punch 3rd baseman Bob Allison there, and Martin knocked Boswell out, leading to his own firing. Ironically, Martin's next managing job was with the Tigers. It was Lindell owner James "Jimmy B" Butsicaris who recommended to Billy that he sign speedy center fielder Ron LeFlore, then doing time for armed robbery at Michigan's infamous Jackson State Penitentiary. (LeVar Burton starred in the film One in a Million: The Ron LeFlore Story, and Billy played himself.)

Sadly, it's gone. But the move of the Tigers out of Tiger Stadium hurt the bar, and it closed in 2002. The Stanley Cup, which the Wings had won a few months earlier, was a guest of honor at the closing ceremony. Another famous Tiger Stadium bar is still open: Nemo's, at 1384 Michigan Avenue at 8th Street. By all means, visit the Tiger Stadium site in daylight -- but not at night.

Giants gather at the Town Pump Tavern, 100 W. Montcalm Street at Park Avenue, 2 blocks from Comerica Park. Harry's Detroit Bar is also said to be a Giants' fan haven. It's right over the Fisher Freeway overpass from Comerica and the Town Pump, at 2482 Clifford Street, near the famous Cass Tech High School. Be warned, though, that over the freeway is not an area to traverse at night.

Expatriate Jet fans are said to gather at Cobo Joe's Smokehouse BBQ & Sports Bar, 422 W. Congress Street at Cass Avenue, across from the Joe Louis Arena/Cobo Hall complex. Cheli's Chili Bar is owned by hockey legend and Detroit native Chris Chelios, at 47 E. Adams Avenue, across Witherell from Comerica and thus a short walk from Ford Field.

Sidelights. For all its problems, Detroit is a great city, not just a great baseball city or even a great sports city. Check out the following – but do it in daylight:

* Site of Tiger Stadium. The first ballpark on the site was called Bennett Park, after Charlie Bennett, a catcher for the NL’s Detroit Wolverines, who didn’t play there. Bennett Park opened in 1896, for the Detroit team in the Western League, which became the American League in 1901. However, the team we know as the Tigers (so named because the orange stripes on their socks evoked not just tigers but the teams at New Jersey’s Princeton University, also called the Tigers) are officially dated from 1901.

After the 1911 season, the wooden Bennett Park was demolished, and replaced with a concrete and steel structure, opening on April 20, 1912 (the same day as Fenway Park in Boston) and named Navin Field, after Tiger owner Frank Navin. He died in 1935, and his co-owner, Walter Briggs, expanded the place to its more familiar configuration in 1938, renaming it Briggs Stadium. In 1961, new owner John Fetzer renamed it Tiger Stadium.

The Tigers played there from 1912 to 1999, and the NFL’s Lions did so from 1938 to 1974. The Tigers won the World Series while playing there in 1935, 1945, 1968 and 1984; the Lions won the NFL Championship while playing there in 1952, 1953 and 1957. (The ’52 Championship Game was played in Cleveland against the Browns; the ’53 and ’57 editions, also against the Browns, at Tiger Stadum.) Northwest corner of Michigan Avenue and Trumbull Street, 1 mile west of Cadillac Square down Michigan Avenue (U.S. Route 12). Number 29 bus from downtown.

* Ford Field.  Home to the NFL's Detroit Lions since 2002, it has mainly seen horrible football, although the Lions did make the Playoffs in 2011, just 2 years after going 2-14 and 3 after the only 0-16 season in NFL history. It hosted Super Bowl XL in 2006, with Detroit native Jerome Bettis leading the Pittsburgh Steelers over the Seattle Seahawks and then retiring on top. It's also hosted the only Final Four ever held in the State of Michigan, in 2009; the Frozen Four in 2010; and the U.S. soccer team's win over Canada on June 7, 2011.

2000 Brush Street, across Brush from Comerica Park, also bounded by Beacon, St. Antoine and Montcalm Streets.

* Joe Louis Arena and Cobo Center. Opening in 1979, while Louis was still alive, this 20,000-seat building was considered very modern at the time. There has been talk of a replacement for "The Joe," but it doesn't look likely that an agreement for one will be reached anytime soon.

The Red Wings have come a long way from the building’s early days, when they were nicknamed the Dead Things, winning 4 Stanley Cups in 6 trips to the Finals between 1995 and 2009. It’s considered one of the loudest arenas in the NHL: In 1992, a writer for Hockey Digest compared it to Chicago Stadium, the now-demolished home of their arch-rivals, the Chicago Blackhawks, and said that, if the visiting team scores 2 early goals, the Chicago fans quiet down, but Detroit fans stay loud throughout the game.

The Joe hosts college hockey, including the Great Lakes Invitational, in the week between Christmas and New Year's. Michigan Tech is the host, with Michigan and Michigan State usually participating, and a 4th team in rotation -- this year, it's Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan. (Comerica Park hosted it in 2013, since the NHL Winter Classic of January 1, 2014 was being held there between the Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs.) It hosted the NCAA Frozen Four in 1985, 1987 and 1990.

The Joe also hosted the 1980 Republican Convention -- right, the GOP meeting, and nominating union-buster Ronald Reagan no less, in a majority-black, heavily union city, in an arena named for a boxer who struck a blow for racial equality. (Then again, in 2012, the Democrats met in conservative Charlotte.)

The Joe was built next-door to Cobo Center, which was named for Albert E. Cobo, Mayor from 1950 to 1957. Its centerpiece, a building originally known as Cobo Hall, has been Detroit’s major convention center since its opening in 1960, and, following the rejection of a plan to demolish it and put a new Pistons-Red Wings arena on the site, it recently underwent a renovation and expansion.

It includes a 12,000-seat arena that was home to the Pistons from 1961 to 1978, and a convention complex that includes the city’s famed annual auto show. It is known for some legendary rock concerts, including the KISS album Alive! and area native Bob Seger’s Live Bullet. Unfortunately, it may be best known for the January 6, 1994 attack on Nancy Kerrigan during a practice session for the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. 600 Civic Center Drive at Jefferson Avenue. Each arena has its own station on the Detroit People Mover.

* Site of Olympia Stadium. From the outside, it looked more like a big brick movie theater, complete with the Art Deco marquee out front. But "The Old Red Barn" was home to the Red Wings from 1927 to 1979, during which time they won the Stanley Cup in 1936, '37, '43, '50, '52, '54 and '55. In 1950, they hosted Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, and Pete Babando’s overtime winner defeated the Rangers. In '54, they had another overtime Game 7 winner, as "Tough Tony" Leswick hit a shot that deflected off Doug Harvey, the great defenseman of the Montreal Canadiens. (In hockey, the shooter is still credited; in soccer, this would have been officially listed as an "own goal"” on Harvey.)

The Olympia was also home to the Pistons from 1957 to 1961; the NCAA Frozen Four, although it wasn't called that yet, in 1977 and '79; and the site of some great prizefights, including Jake LaMotta’s 1942 win over Sugar Ray Robinson – the only fight Robinson would lose in his career until 1952, and the only one of the 6 fights he had with LaMotta that LaMotta won.

Elvis Presley did 2 shows there early in his career, an afternoon and an evening show on March 31, 1957. (If you think that's a lot for one day, he did 3 shows at the Fox Theater on May 25, 1956.) He returned to the Olympia on September 11, 1970; April 6, 1972; September 29 and October 4, 1974; and April 22, 1977. The Beatles played there on September 6, 1964 and August 13, 1966. (However, it was in the Detroit area -- specifically, on the University of Michigan's radio station in Ann Arbor -- that a disc jockey started the 1969 rumor that Paul McCartney was dead. In a 1989 interview, Paul said, "'Paul is dead'? I didn't believe that one for a minute.")

It was the neighborhood, not the building, that was falling apart: Lincoln Cavalieri, its general manager in its last years, once said, "If an atom bomb landed, I'd want to be in Olympia." It was not a nuclear attack, but an ordinary demolition crew, that took it down in 1987. The Olympia Armory, home of the Michigan National Guard, is now on the site. 5920 Grand River Avenue, corner of McGraw Street, on the Northwest Side. Number 21 bus. If you’re a hockey fan, by all means, visit – but do it in daylight.

* Silverdome. Originally Pontiac Metropolitan Stadium, this stadium was home to the Lions from 1975 to 2001 (after which they moved back downtown to Ford Field), and very nearly became home to the Tigers as well, before owner John Fetzer decided to commit himself to Tiger Stadium. Heisman-winning running backs Billy Sims and Barry Sanders ran wild for the Lions here, but the closest they got to a Super Bowl was reaching the NFC Championship Game in January 1992 – unless you count hosting Super Bowl XVI, 10 years earlier, the beginning of the San Francisco 49er dynasty led by Bill Walsh and Joe Montana.

The Pistons, playing here from 1978 to 1988, had a little more luck, reaching the NBA Finals in their last year there. It seated 80,000 for football, set an NBA attendance record (since broken) of 61,983 between the Pistons and Boston Celtics in 1988, and 93,682 for a Mass by Pope John Paul II in 1987. In 1994, it hosted 4 World Cup matches, including 1 by the U.S. and 1 by eventual winner Brazil. It hosted a U.S. soccer draw with Russia in 1992. Elvis had his biggest crowd ever at the Silverdome, 60,500, on New Year's Eve, December 31, 1975.

Without the Lions and Pistons, its future is unclear. It hosted a Don King-promoted boxing card in January 2011, and in August 2010 hosted a friendly between Italian soccer giant A.C. Milan and leading Greek club Panathinaikos – appropriate, considering the area’s ethnic makeup. In 2013, the roof was deflated as an energy-saving measure; if a new tenant is found, a new roof will be put in as part of renovations. A current rumor is that a group trying to get an MLS expansion franchise for Detroit will use it, or demolish it and build a new facility on the site. But in March of this year, the owners announced that they would be auctioning off the contents of the facility, including seats and fixtures -- suggesting that they're not optimistic that anything new will be coming anytime soon.

1200 Featherstone Road, Pontiac. Getting there by public transportation is a pain: The Number 465 bus takes an hour and 25 minutes, and then you gotta walk a mile down Featherstone from Oakland Community College. So if you didn't drive in (or rent a car at the airport), unless you have to see everything on this list, or if you're a Lions fan living in New York who has to see it one more time, or if you're a soccer nut on a pilgrimage to all World Cup sites, I'd suggest skipping it.

* The Palace. Home to the Pistons since 1988, they won the 1989, 1990 and 2004 NBA Championships here, and almost won another in 2005. The Detroit Shock won 3 WNBA Championships here, and, as a result, every time a title is won, the address changes: Currently, it's "Six Championship Drive, Auburn Hills, MI 48326." However, the Shock moved to Tulsa in 2010, so unless the NBA tries again with a new WNBA team, only the Pistons (theoretically) will be able to change the address to "Seven Championship Drive."

Unfortunately, the 22,000-seat building’s best-known event isn’t a Pistons title or a rock concert, but the November 19, 2004 fight between the Pistons and the Indiana Pacers that spilled into the stands, becoming known as "the Malice at the Palace." Even the WNBA had a rare brawl there, between the Shock and the Los Angeles Sparks in 2008. Lapeer Road and Harmon Road, Auburn Hills, off I-75. Don’t even think about trying to reach it by public transportation: You’d need 2 buses and then a half-hour walk.

Detroit is the largest metropolitan area in North America without a Major League Soccer team. Detroit City FC plays in the 4th tier of American soccer, at Keyworth Stadium in Hamtramck, a 7,000-seat high school football stadium 5 1/2 miles north of downtown. Number 10 bus. The closest MLS team to Detroit is the Columbus Crew, 204 miles away. However, the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry may complicate that.

* Motown Historical Museum. As always, I’m going to include some non-sports items. Detroit is generally known for 3 good things: Sports, music and cars. The Motown Historical Museum is the former Motown Records studio, which company founder Berry Gordy Jr. labeled “Hitsville, U.S.A.” His sister, Esther Gordy Edwards, now runs it, and it features records and costumes of performers such as the Supremes, the Temptations and the Four Tops. 2648 W. Grand Blvd., on the North Side. Number 16 bus.

* Henry Ford Museum. The centerpiece of the nation’s foremost automotive-themed museum is a replica of Independence Hall in Philadelphia. Henry Ford himself established the museum: “I am collecting the history of our people as written into things their hands made and used... When we are through, we shall have reproduced American life as lived, and that, I think, is the best way of preserving at least a part of our history and tradition.”

It contains the fascinating, including early cars and bicycles, Henry Ford's first car (his 1896 "Quadricycle"), Igor Sikorsky's prototype for the helicopter, the bus Rosa Parks was riding in when she refused to give up her seat to start the 1955-56 Montgomery Bus Boycott, and a Buckminster Fuller "Dymaxion house." It also contains the macabre, with the chair Abraham Lincoln was supposedly sitting in when he was assassinated at Ford’s Theater in Washington (the theater owner was no relation to Henry); and the chair, and the rest of the car as well, that John F. Kennedy was definitely sitting in when he was assassinated, the back seat of in the 1961 Lincoln Continental convertible limousine he was riding in through downtown Dallas.

Next door to the museum is Greenfield Village, which Ford imagined as a kind of historical park, a more modern version of Colonial Williamsburg – that is, celebrating what was, in 1929 when it opened, considered modern American life, including a reconstruction of the Menlo Park, New Jersey laboratory of his good friend Thomas Edison. Ford and Edison were both friends of rubber magnate Henry Firestone (whose tires certainly made Ford’s cars easier to make), and Firestone’s family farm is reconstructed on the site.

Please note that I am not excusing Henry Ford’s control-freak attitude toward his employees' private lives, nor his despicable anti-Semitism, nor his failed union-busting in the 1930s. To be fair, he did give his black auto workers the same pay and benefits as his white ones. But I am recommending the museum. It's a tribute to the role of technology, including the automobile, in American life, not to the man himself. Oakwood Blvd. and Village Road. Number 200 bus to Michigan Avenue and Oakwood Blvd., then a short walk down Oakwood.

* Greektown Historic District. Although Detroit is famed for its Irish (Corktown, including the site of Tiger Stadium) and Italian communities, and has the largest Arab-American community of any major city, its best-known ethnic neighborhoods are Greektown and the Polish community of Hamtramck. New York’s Astoria, Queens has nothing on Detroit’s Greektown, which not only has some of the country’s finest Greek restaurants, but also the Greektown Casino, which is at 555 E. Lafayette Street, at Beaubien Street. Greektown Station on the People Mover.

* Hamtramck. Pronounced “Ham-TRAM-ick,” this city is actually completely surrounded by Detroit. When the Dodge Brothers (who later sold the car company bearing their name to Chrysler) opened an auto plant there in 1914, it became a hub for Polish immigration. However, the Polish population of the city has dropped from 90 percent in 1970 to 22 percent today. And Arabs and South Asians have moved in, making it Michigan’s most internationally diverse city. Nevertheless, if you want the best kielbasa, kapusta, golumpkis and paczkis this side of the Oder, this is the place to go. Hamtramck Town Shopping Center, Joseph Campau Street and Hewitt Street. Number 10 or 34 bus.

* Mariners’ Church. On my 1999 visit to Detroit, I discovered this church by accident, walking past it without realizing it was there until I saw the historical marker. Every March, it holds a Blessing of the Fleet for every person and ship going to sea. Every November, it holds a Great Lakes Memorial Service for those who have lost their lives at sea within the past year.

The most famous of these ceremonies was for the 29 men lost on the iron ore freighter SS Edmund Fitzgerald in Lake Superior on November 10, 1975. Built and homeported in Detroit, the Big Fitz was commemorated by Gordon Lightfoot, whose 1976 song “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” mistakenly, but poetically, called the church “The Maritime Sailors’ Cathedral.” (Edmund Fitzgerald himself was the president of Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, which invested in the ship's construction, because it was heavily invested in the ore industry.)

170 E. Jefferson Avenue, at Randolph Street, across from the Renaissance Center. If you're going to visit the church, be careful, because Randolph Street empties into the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel.

* Spirit of Detroit. In front of the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center, the city hall named for the 1974-93 Mayor, stands a marble monument with a bronze statue of a kneeling man, the seals of the City of Detroit and Wayne County, and a Biblical inscription, from 2nd Corinthians 3:17: "Now the Lord is that spirit, and where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." In his left hand, the 26-foot-high kneeling figure holds a gilt bronze sphere emanating rays, to symbolize God. The people in the figure's right hand are a family group. The statue was dedicated in 1958, 4 years after the Municipal Center opened. In recent years, a large jersey has been placed over it when the Tigers, Pistons or Wings have been in their sport's finals. (As yet, this has never been done for the Lions, who haven't been to an NFL Championship Game since 1957, 9 seasons before they started calling it the Super Bowl.) 2 Woodward Avenue at Jefferson Avenue.

* Monument to Joe Louis. Erected in 1986, on a traffic island at the intersection of Woodward & Jefferson, it is a 24-foot-long arm with a fisted hand suspended by a 24-foot-high pyramidal framework. Since it is a monument to Louis, the great black heavyweight champion, the arm and fist are black bronze.

* Colleges. The University of Michigan is 44 miles west of downtown Detroit, in Ann Arbor.  It is possible to reach it from Detroit by bus, but it will take 2 hours: You can take the 851 bus to the airport, and transfer there to the 787.

Gerald Ford was President from August 9, 1974 to January 20, 1977, and was a graduate of (and an All-American football player at) Michigan in the 1930s. His Presidential Library, and a School of Public Policy named for him, are on the Ann Arbor campus, at 1000 Beal Avenue. However, he is the only President whose Library and Museum are separated, and his Presidential Museum is in his hometown of Grand Rapids, at 303 Pearl Street NW, 158 miles northwest of Detroit. You'll need Greyhound if you want to visit Grand Rapids.

Michigan Stadium is at 1201 S. Main Street at Stadium Blvd. "The Big House" has hosted UM football since 1927. Its peak attendance is 115,109 for Michigan's 2013 win over Notre Dame. This past year, it set new records for highest U.S. attendance for soccer (109,318 for Manchester United beating Real Madrid in the International Champions Cup), and for highest attendance anywhere on the planet for hockey (105,491 for the NHL Winter Classic, the Toronto Maple Leafs beating the Detroit Red Wings).

Adjacent is Crisler Arena, named for Herbert "Fritz" Crisler, the UM football coach from 1938 to 1947, who, in another connection between Princeton University sports and the State of Michigan, had previously coached Princeton's Tigers, and brought his "winged" helmet design with him, making Michigan's "maize and blue" helmets among the most famous in college football. Elvis sang at Crisler Arena on April 24, 1977. The other sports facilities, including Yost Arena (hockey) and Fisher Stadium (named for Ray Fisher, who pitched for the Yankees in the 1910s before they got good and then coached at Michigan, including Charlie Gehringer), are adjacent.

Michigan State University is 88 miles northwest of Detroit, in East Lansing, adjacent to Lansing, the State capital.  Greyhound runs 4 buses a day from Detroit to East Lansing, at 8:00 AM, 12:10 PM, 2:20 PM and 7:40 PM, and it takes about 2 hours. Two buses go back to Detroit, at 3:40 and 5:55 PM. $38 round-trip.

Spartan Stadium, formerly Macklin Field, is at 325 W. Shaw Lane at Red Cedar Road, which is named for the river that bisects the MSU campus. Jenison Field House (the old basketball arena, where Magic Johnson starred on their 1979 National Champions), Breslin Events Center (their new arena), and Munn Arena (hockey) are a short walk away, at Kalamazoo Street & Birch Road.

In addition to the preceding, Elvis sang in Michigan at Wings Stadium (a minor-league hockey arena, now named Wings Event Center) in Kalamazoo on October 21, 1976 and April 26, 1977; and the Saginaw County Event Center (now the Dow Event Center) in Saginaw on April 25 and May 3, 1977.

* Home Improvement.  The 1991-99 ABC sitcom is easily the best-known TV show to have been set in Detroit, with Tool Time's studio being in the city and the Taylors' house in the suburbs, possibly Bloomfield Hills. But, as far as I know, there were no location shots, not even in the episode in which the Taylors got to see the Lions' Thanksgiving game from a Silverdome skybox. So if you're looking for the Taylors' house, you're not going to find it -- if there was ever a house, not just a studio set, it was likely in or around Los Angeles. Other shows set in Detroit have included Martin, Freaks and Geeks, Sister, Sister, and 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter.

Several films have been set, but not necessarily filmed, in Detroit. Axel Foley, Eddie Murphy's character in the Beverly Hills Cop films, was a Detroit police detective, but most of the film, including the Detroit scenes, was shot in Los Angeles. While RoboCop was set in Detroit, it was filmed in Dallas. (And you thought "Dallas sucks" was just a sports chant.)

Billy Crystal's movie about the 1961 home run record chase, 61*, used Tiger Stadium as a stand-in (with computer-generated help) for the original Yankee Stadium (since the 1973-76 renovation left it looking very little like it did in 1961). Other recent movies set in Detroit include Eminem's Roman à clef 8 Mile, and Clint Eastwood's retired autoworker vs. gangs film Gran Torino.

* Windsor. Across the Detroit River is Windsor, Ontario. Most Americans know it for Caesar's Windsor, one of 4 casinos in the area.  Like its namesakes in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, it has a Roman theme. It may be only 2 miles from downtown Detroit, but because it's in Canada, where they have things like sensible gun laws and national health care, it may feel like the other side of the world (if not Rome itself). And, because it's in Canada, you'll need a passport.

377 Riverside Drive East. There is bus service available -- less for Michiganders wanting to gamble, more for Windsorites wanting to go to Red Wings games and concerts -- and you can contact Transit Windsor at

The Wings' first home was actually in Windsor: They played their first season, 1926-27, at the Border Cities Arena, which still stands, and is now named Windsor Arena. Like a lot of old arenas (this one was built in 1924), it looks like a barn, and so is nicknamed The Barn. It seats only 4,400 people in its current configuration, but it still hosts the University of Windsor hockey team. Its longest-term tenant, the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League, now play elsewhere. 334 Wyandotte Street East, at McDougall Street.

* Jimmy Hoffa. No, I don't know where Hoffa is buried. All I know for sure is that, when they demolished Giants Stadium in 2010, they found no human remains. Hoffa, who was born in Indiana but lived most of his life in and around Detroit, was last seen alive on July 30, 1975, sitting in his car in the parking lot of Machus' Red Fox. A fine-dining establishment open from 1965 to 1996, the building is still there, occupied by an Italian restaurant named Andiamo's. 6676 Telegraph Road (U.S. Route 24) at Country Club Drive, Bloomfield, 22 miles northwest of Cadillac Square. As with most sites in Detroit's outer suburbs, getting there by public transportation is a hassle: In this case, you'd need 3 buses.


There it is: I've now done this for all 30 teams. It only took me 4 years to get it right.

A visit to Detroit does not have to be a scary experience. These people love baseball. They don’t like the Yankees, but they love baseball, and their city should be able to show you a good time.

Monday, August 18, 2014

If a Team Takes 2 Out of 3 In Tampa Bay, and No One's There to See It, Does It Still Count In the Standings?

So 28,812 fans came out to see the series finale between the Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. That's 3,000 fewer than the day before but 11,000 more than the Rays usually get at home.

There was plenty of cheering for the Yankees, and, in particular, for Derek Jeter. In other words, "Take that, Joe Maddon."

The Rays got a run in the 1st, but Hiroki Kuroda cruised after that, pitching into the 7th. The Yankees took a 3-1 lead in the 5th, thanks to RBI singles by Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury. The Rays added a run in the 7th, but Mark Teixeira put it away in the 8th with a Teix Message, his 20th home run of the season. It was also the 361st home run of his career, tying Joe DiMaggio. (Which means he also recently surpassed 2 other Yankee Legends: Yogi Berra at 358 and Johnny Mize at 359.)

Yankees 4, Rays 2. WP: Kuroda (8-8). SV: David Robertson (33). LP: Jeremy Hellickson (1-2).

The Yankees have to make one more trip to Tampa Bay this season, on September 15, 16 and 17. Most likely, the crowds will drop further by then: School will have started, and those are weeknights.

The Rays' support is lousy, and if you think the stadium and its location are the problem, they're not. The San Diego Padres had a bad team playing in a football stadium in the middle of nowhere for years, and they did better than the Rays are doing now. The Milwaukee Brewers play in an airplane hangar, not exactly close to downtown, without subway access, and they've done better.

If a team goes down to Tampa Bay and takes 2 out of 3 from the Rays, and no one's there to see it, it still counts in the standings.


There are 6 weeks left in the regular season. The Yankees are 7 games behind the Baltimore Orioles for the American League Eastern Division title, so that looks very unlikely.

Then again, you never know: On September 12, 2007, the Mets led the Phillies by 7 games with 17 to go, and the Phillies won the Division, while the Mets missed the Playoffs completely.

Yes, such a thing requires not just a great run by the trailing team, but a great collapse by the leading team. But the Orioles are playing at a .574 pace -- that's 93 wins if it holds up throughout the season. That's not a great pace.

It is, however, usually enough to win the AL East. Since the start of Divisional play in 1969, the average number of wins by the 2nd place team in the AL East has been 92 -- both before and after the 3-Division setup began in 1994. So the average number of wins necessary to win the Division is 93. Not that the average Division winner has won 93, but that the average Division winner needed to top 92 wins.

The Yankees are 3 games behind the Detroit Tigers for the 2nd AL Wild Card spot. This seems much more likely at this point, if we want to get Derek Jeter one last trip to the postseason.

The Yankees have today off, and come home to begin a 6-game homestand: 3 against the Houston Astros, and 3 against the Chicago White Sox. Both teams are doing badly, so this is a good chance to get at least 4 out of 6, and boost our chances.


Days until Arsenal play again: 1, tomorrow, in the 1st leg of the Champions League play-in game, away to Besiktas in Istanbul, Turkey. On Saturday, The Arsenal opened the 2014-15 Premier League season by beating Southeast London club Crystal Palace, 2-1 at the Emirates Stadium in North London.

Days until the Red Bulls play again: 5, this Saturday night at 7:00 PM, home to the Montreal Impact.

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

Days until the Red Bulls next play a "derby": 13, on Sunday, August 31, at 2:30 PM, away to D.C. United.

Days until the next Yankees-Red Sox series begins: 15, on Tuesday, September 2, at 7:00 PM, at Yankee Stadium II. A little over 2 weeks. It will be Derek Jeter's last home series against the Sox.

Days until the U.S. national soccer team plays again: 16, on Wednesday, September 3, a friendly, away to the Czech Republic in Prague. The Czechs have given the U.S. trouble before, including a 3-0 humiliation at the 2006 World Cup. But things are different now. There will also be an away game against Ireland away later in the year.

Days until East Brunswick High School plays football again: 17 on Thursday, September 4, home to Woodbridge. It's on a Thursday night, rather than a Friday night, because of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

Days until Rutgers makes its Big Ten Conference debut: 26, on Saturday, September 13, at 8:00 PM, against old enemy Penn State. Under 4 weeks.

Days until Derek Jeter's last regular-season home game (barring injury): 38, on Thursday, September 25, against the Baltimore Orioles. A little over 5 weeks.

Days until the next North London Derby between Arsenal and Tottenham: 40, on Sunday, September 28, at the Emirates Stadium. It had been the day before, but was rescheduled for TV purposes.

Days until Derek Jeter's last regular-season game (barring injury): 41, on Sunday, September 28, against the Red Sox at Fenway Park. Under 6 weeks.

Days until the Devils play again: 52. They open on Thursday, October 9, away to the Philadelphia Flyers. A little over 7 weeks. They once again get screwed by Commissioner Gary Bettman and his schedulemakers, this time having to play 4 road games before their home opener, on Saturday, October 18, at 7:00 PM, vs. the San Jose Sharks.

Days until the Devils play another local rival: See the previous answer. The first game against The Scum is Tuesday night, October 21, at the Prudential Center. The first game against the Islanders is Saturday night, November 29, at the Nassau Coliseum. The Devils' last trip to Uniondale, before the Isles move to Brooklyn, is Monday night, December 15.

Days until Game 7 of the 2014 World Series -- the absolute latest you can ever again see Derek Jeter in a competitive game: 72, on Wednesday, October 29. A little over 10 weeks, and no more Jeter -- not as an active player, anyway.

Days until the next East Brunswick vs. Old Bridge Thanksgiving game: 101, on Thursday morning, November 27, at 10:00 AM. A little over 3 months.

Days until New York City FC make their Major League Soccer debut: Unknown, but a new MLS season usually begins on the 2nd Saturday in March, which would be March 14, 2015. That's 208 days. Under 7 months. Whether it will be a home game, and thus at the new Yankee Stadium, is yet to be determined.

Days until Alex Rodriguez is eligible to play for the Yankees again: 226 -- presuming, that is, that 2015's Opening Day is on April 1, and wouldn't it just work out that way, that A-Rod is again allowed to play a regular-season game for the Yankees on April Fool's Day? Anyway, that's a little over 7 months.

Days until the New York Islanders' last game at the Nassau Coliseum: 236, on April 11, 2015, at 7:00 PM, against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Under 8 months.

Days until the Islanders' first home game at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn: Unknown, but an NHL regular season usually begins on the 1st Friday in October, which would be October 2, 2015. That's 411 days. That's under 14 months. Or, to put it another way, "411 Sleeps Till Brooklyn." Until then, even with their 4 straight long-ago Stanley Cups, they're just a Small Club In Hempstead.

Days until Euro 2016 begins in France: 663, on Friday, June 10.

Days until the next Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: 720, on Friday, August 5, 2016. Under 2 years.

Days until the next World Cup begins in Russia: 1,393, on Friday June 8, 2018. Under 4 years.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Jeter a Hero, Maddon a Zero (Which Is Not Much Less Than the Rays' Attendance)

Yesterday's game against your 2018 Montreal Expos (known, for the moment, as the Tampa Bay Rays) looked like it was going to be one of those games. Where the Yankees got good pitching and it didn't matter because they didn't score enough runs.

Shane Greene pitched 6 innings, allowing just 2 runs on 7 hits and 1 walk, striking out 10. And Shawn Kelley actually pitched a scoreless 7th inning.

But Drew Smyly, whom the Rays got in the David Price deal, was equal to the task, as the only runs he allowed came on a Martin Prado home run in the 2nd inning (his 2nd as a Yankee).

Dellin Betances pitched a scoreless 8th, but the game went to the 9th tied.

Brett Gardner led off the top of the 9th by beating out a grounder that Rays 2nd baseman Logan Forsythe -- a soap opera character's name if I ever heard one -- threw away, allowing Gardner to get to 2nd.

Then some guy named Derek Jeter singled Gardner home. 3-2 Yankees.

I like this Jeter guy. He could be a big star for the Yankees. Maybe even a Hall-of-Famer.

David Robertson closed the Rays down in the bottom of the 9th. WP: Betances (5-0). SV: Robertson (32). LP: Jack McGee (3-1).

For those of you old enough to remember the late 1970s and early 1980s, as I am: Jack McGee was also the name of the reporter, played by Jack Colvin, who chased The Incredible Hulk, the Lieutenant Girard to Bill Bixby's/Lou Ferrigno's Dr. Kimble: "Mr. McGee, don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry."

The attendance was 31,042. According to Tropicana Field's official regular-season capacity, that's
91 percent.

The problem is, most of them were Yankee Fans. And Rays manager Joe Maddon didn't like that:

Yeah it's great. It's great that it's sold out. And I understand that the people like Derek Jeter. But you've got to come out and root for the Rays, too, you understand. I mean, I totally understand what's going on. But I'm not going to sit here and defend all of that noise in the Yankees' favor in our ballpark. I'm not going to defend that. So we're going to come out and root for the Rays. We'd appreciate that.

The greatest per-home-game attendance the Rays have ever had was 23,147, in 2009, the year after they won their one and only Pennant. They are now averaging less than 18,000, and that's counting games against the Yankees.

The locals will not support a winning team, never mind the mediocre one they have now. Having a bad stadium in downtown St. Petersburg, instead of in or near downtown Tampa, is no excuse.

The San Diego Padres have won 2 Pennants in over 40 years, and used to play in a football stadium out in the suburbs, and they did better at the box office.

The Kansas City Royals have done the same (at least they've won 1 World Series), and still play in a ballpark out in the suburbs, and they've nearly always done better.

The Texas Rangers took almost 40 years to win their 1st Pennant, and their stadium is in the middle of nowhere (halfway between Dallas and Fort Worth, with poor public transportation), and they did better even before they started winning.

The Miami Marlins have a new stadium, fairly close to downtown, and while their attendance is bad, it's not as bad as their cross-State "rivals"; indeed, they did better than the Rays when they were playing in the Dolphins' stadium out in the suburbs.

Even when the San Francisco Giants were playing at Candlestick Park, the most hated stadium in baseball history, in the 1990s, they had better attendance.

The excuses that the few Rays fans use to explain their pathetic attendance do not hold up to scrutiny. They need to stop telling me their excuses, and start telling their friends to come to a game with them. Make me look like the idiot, not themselves.

If not for people coming to The Trop and rooting for the Yankees, the Rays would almost have to move. (They should, anyway. The Montreal Olympic Stadium is a less ridiculous ballpark -- and that's saying something.)

The series concludes this afternoon. Hiroki Kuroda starts for the Yankees, Jeremy Hellickson for the Expos -- I mean, the Rays.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

What the Yankees Are Doing Is Unacceptable

Losing 5 straight is bad enough. But losing 5-0 to the dessicated husk of the Tampa Bay Rays? The ghost of Mickey Mantle demands an explanation for this bullshit!

I don't blame Brandon McCarthy (4-2 since coming to the Yankees). He got into the 7th inning, and allowed only 2 earned runs. But a pair of Yankee errors made him the losing pitcher. (Alex Cobb was the winner for the Rays, 8-6.)

I blame the hitters, and hitting instructor Kevin Long, who really must go. He's been holding the Yankees back, especially from early 2012 onward.

The Yankees went down 1-2-3 in the 1st and the 6th. They wasted leadoff singles by Mark Teixeira in the 2nd and the 7th, Stephen Drew in the 3rd, Derek Jeter in the 4th and Chase Headley in the 5th. Thanks to a wild pitch, Jeter actually reached 2nd with nobody out. It was only 2-0 Tampa at that point, and the Yankees were very much in the game.

The Yankees had the bases loaded with 1 out in the 8th, when it was 4-0 and a home run would have tied the game, and had Jacoby Ellsbury and then Teix coming up. But both of them struck out. And then they went down 1-2-3 in the 9th.

Rays 5, Yankees 0. Do I credit the opposition here? No, because it isn't any good anymore. The Rays have had to struggle to get back to .500. (Soon, the Yankees will, too -- from the other direction!)

So who's to blame? Joe Girardi? Kevin Long? Larry Rothschild? Brian Cashman? Hal Steinbrenner? Hank Steinbrenner?

Something must be done. This is unacceptable.

The series continues today, a 4:10 PM start for the Fox Game of the Week broadcast. Shane Greene starts against Drew Smyly.

Friday, August 15, 2014

How to Be a Met Fan In Los Angeles -- 2014 Edition

Interleague play has messed many things up, including the Mets' trips to the West Coast. The matchups, both in New York and in California, against the former New York teams in the National League, the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York/San Francisco Giants, used to be highlights of the season for Met fans, especially in the 1960s when the Mets did not yet have anything of their own to be proud of (unless they were proud of Shea Stadium, ha ha) and the Dodgers and Giants still had some players from their New York days.

But Interleague play no longer brings 2 trips a year to the West Coast for the New York teams, it brings 3 trips West that include 1 of the West coast teams. The Mets went to San Francisco in early June, as part of a roadtrip that also included Philadelphia and Chicago. They went to San Diego right after the All-Star Break, and then went on to Seattle (which is, at least, also on the West Coast), and then to Milwaukee (which is only on the "coast" of Lake Michigan). And, next week, they'll take another trip that begins in Oakland (again, on the West Coast) before finally hitting L.A., not visiting the home of the former "Dem Bums" until August 22. Last year, due to this unbalanced schedule -- mentally unbalanced -- the Mets' first trip to L.A. didn't take place until August 12, while the Yankees visited 2 weeks later.

Since when does baseball make sense?

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

DISCLAIMER: I have never been to the Pacific Coast, so all of this information is secondhand at best, but much of it does come from the opposing team's website.

Before You Go. Unlike the Seattle and San Francisco Bay Areas, the Los Angeles area has very consistent weather. It’s a nice place to visit. If you don’t mind earthquakes. And mudslides. And wildfires. And smog. Check the weather forecast on the Los Angeles Times' website before you, so you'll know what to bring.

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

Tickets.  With basketball legend Earvin "Magic" Johnson having bought the Dodgers, settling their ownership situation, and injecting some much-needed cash into what had been one of the wealthiest baseball teams from their last few years in Brooklyn until owner Frank McCourt's spectacularly messy divorce, the Dodgers are in 1st place in the National League Western Division.

And, as in days of old (specifically, the 1960s through the 1980s), they currently have the best attendance in baseball, averaging 46,986 fans per home game, at the stadium with the largest current capacity in the major leagues, an even 56,000 seats. (In recent times, there have been a few stadiums with larger capacities that hosted Major League Baseball teams, including the old Yankee Stadium, but all have been replaced, except for nearby Anaheim/Angel Stadium, which has been remodeled and now has a much lower capacity.)

So getting tickets could be tough.  But compared to most teams, including the Angels down the freeway, they're relatively inexpensive. Field Boxes are $120, Infield Boxes $85, Infield Loge Boxes $60, Preferred Loge Boxes (down the baselines) $35, Infield Reserve $25, Preferred Reserve $20, Pavilion (what they call Bleachers) $23. The top deck -- infield-only seats, although they may be the highest in baseball history, even higher than the upper decks at the old Yankee Stadium and Shea -- go for $18.

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

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

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

Assuming you're not going to a hotel first (and you really should), either in Los Angeles or near the stadium or Disneyland in Anaheim), you’ll get off I-15 at Exit 109A, and get on Interstate 10 West, and almost immediately onto U.S. Route 101 North, the San Bernardino Freeway.  Take that road's Exit 3 to State Route 110, the Pasadena Freeway, and Exit 24 will drop you off at Dodger Stadium. The official address is 1000 Elysian Park Avenue.

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

That’s still faster than Greyhound (about 68 hours, changing buses twice, $528 round-trip, but it could drop to as little as $378 with advanced purchase, station at 1716 E. 7th Street at Lawrence Street) and Amtrak (over 77 hours on the Crescent to New Orleans and then the Sunset Limited to Los Angeles, $574 round-trip, Union Station at Alameda & Arcadia Streets).

Flights will be a lot more expensive, around $1,000, and you'll almost certainly have to change planes at least once, probably in Chicago or Dallas. The LAX2US bus will take you, as its name suggests, from Los Angeles International Airport to Union Station, taking 45 minutes and costing $8.00; from there, bus and subway connections can be made to downtown. 

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

The metro area has about 22 million people, and may soon end up passing New York and all others in that regard. The "centerpoint" of the city, where east-west and north-south addresses begin, is 1st Street and Main Street. Numbered streets are east-west.

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

The sales tax in the State of California is 7.5 percent, in the City of Los Angeles 9 percent. A single ride on a bus or subway is $1.50, and a day pass is $5.00. And, yes, L.A. has a subway now, the Metro, with Red, Blue, Green, Gold, Purple and Expo lines. (Expo? It goes from Los Angeles all the way to Montreal? No.)

Going In. Public transportation in L.A. is a lot better than it used to be, with the addition of the Metro -- and now, the Dodger Stadium Express bus. It will pick up fans at the Patsaouras Bus Plaza adjacent to the east portal of Union Station and continue to Dodger Stadium via Sunset Blvd. and Cesar Chavez Avenue. Service will be provided starting 90 minutes prior to the beginning of the games, and will end 45 minutes after the end of the game. Service will be provided every 10 minutes prior to the start of the game and run approximately every 30 minutes throughout the game. Dodger tickets will be honored as fare payment to ride the service. Those without a ticket will pay regular one-way fare of $1.50.

Dodger Stadium is one of those 1960s-70s stadiums that is an island in a sea of parking. Parking will cost you $15 at the gate, but only $10 if you purchase online.

Dodger Stadium points away from downtown, but -- all jokes about L.A.'s infamous smog aside -- on a clear day you'll get a view of the San Gabriel Mountains. It was built in 1962 and is thus more than half a century old -- meaning it has now lasted longer than Ebbets Field, which hosted 45 seasons of baseball. But its age is hidden well, with its architectural style (that zig-zaggy roof over the bleachers can be seen on a few New Jersey public schools built in the JFK years) giving it away much more than its condition.

The Dodgers have usually been nuts on maintenance, including cleanliness. The old saying is, "You can eat off the floor at Dodger Stadium." Begging the question, "Even if you can, why would you want to?"

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

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

The field is symmetrical: 330 feet to the poles, 360 to "Medium Left-Center" and "Medium Right-Center," 375 to "True Left-Center" and "True Right-Center," and 400 to center -- although that 400 mark is not shown, instead there are 395s to either side of dead center.

For a long time, the stadium's status as a pitcher's park, aiding such stars as Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Tommy John, Don Sutton, Fernando Valenzuela and Orel Hershiser, led to suggestions that the Dodgers were cheating: That the pitcher's mound was really closer than the required 60 feet, 6 inches, perhaps as much as 4 feet closer. This has never been proven, and the fact that the Dodgers' pitching hasn't been as good the last 25 years (until Clayton Kershaw came along, that is) suggests 1 of 2 things: Either something happened to change the park's conditions to make it less unfriendly to hitters (what that would be, I dont know); or the Dodgers realized that, sooner or later, someone was going to prove the too-close-mound claim, and the game was up, and they had to move it back.

Oddly, from the park's opening in 1962 to 1970, there were 5 no-hitters pitched there, 3 by Koufax, and all by home pitchers (including Angel Bo Belinsky in '62 and Dodger Bill Singer in '70); from 1971 to 1989, none at all, in spite of all the good Dodger pitching, from 1990 to 1995, 5 more, 3 by Dodgers (Fernando, Kevin Gross and Ramon Martinez) and 2 by opponents (Dennis Martinez and Kent Mercker).
 In spite of its pitcher's park status, 4 home runs have been hit completely out of the stadium. Willie Stargell of the Pittsburgh Pirates did it twice, in 1969 and 1973, the first of these measured at 507 feet, still the park's longest. Mike Piazza hit one all the way out in 1997, and Mark McGwire roided one out in 1999.

Because of its proximity to Hollywood, Dodger Stadium can be seen in lots of movies, including Superman Returns, where the Big Red S safely deposits a distressed airliner on the field. But while it filled in for Anaheim Stadium in The Naked Gun (Reggie... must kill... the Queen), Rookie of the Year had a scene set at Dodger Stadium, but because they were filming all in Chicago, they used the White Sox' U.S. Cellular Field as a stand-in for Dodger Stadium.

It hosted an NHL Stadium Series game earlier this year, a local rivalry game, with the Anaheim Ducks beating the Los Angeles Kings 3-0.

Food.  The Dodgers' hot dogs, the Dodger Dog, is renowned as one of the best in baseball. Last season, they introduced the Brooklyn Dodger Dog. After what O'Malley did to Brooklyn, the natives old enough to remember could say, "Youse got some noive, pal!" (You are showing a considerabout amount of nerve, sir.) This variation has lots of garlic and spices, so an Italian Brooklynite (or otherwise New Yorker, or New Jerseyan) could appreciate it.
 Keeping with the "Dodger Blue" motif, they also have the Big Blue Burger. Despite the name, there isn't bleu cheese on it. Rather, it has tomatoes, caramelized onions (so far, so good), chipotle aioli and pasilla chili peppers (you had me and then you lost me). They serve classic grilled cheese, and "Street Style Carne Asada Tacos" (presumably in the style of L.A. taco trucks).

As for team-themed stands: Campy's Corner (named after Roy Campanella) is behind Section 4, Think Blue at 5, Brooklyn Dodger Pizza (because you can't get a decent pizza in L.A., "California Pizza Kitchen" be damned) at 8 and 130, and Dodgertown Deli (named for their longtime spring training home in Vero Beach) at 47.

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

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

Team History Displays. The outfield fence has notations for the Dodgers' retired numbers: 1, Harold "Pee Wee" Reese, shortstop, 1940-58; 2, Tommy Lasorda, pitcher, 1954-55, and manager, 1976-96; 4, Edwin "Duke" Snider, center field, 1947-62; 19, Jim "Junior" Gilliam, 3rd base, 1952-66, and coach, 1967-78 (making him the first black coach in MLB); 20, Don Sutton, pitcher, 1966-80 (with a brief comeback in 1988); 24, Walter Alston, manager, 1954-76; 32, Sandy Koufax, pitcher, 1955-66; 39, Roy Campanella, catcher, 1948-57; 42, Jackie Robinson, 2nd base (mostly), 1947-56; and 53, Don Drysdale, pitcher, 1956-69.

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

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

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

The Dodgers' 6 World Series Championships are also shown on the outfield walls: 1955 (in Brooklyn), 1959, 1963, 1965, 1981 and 1988. Pennants and Division titles without going all the way are not shown.

Robinson and Koufax were named to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team in 1999. The same year, they, Snider, Campanella, and 1890s Brooklyn star Willie Keeler were named to The Sporting News' 100 Greatest Baseball Players. At 5-foot-4 and maybe 140 pounds, Wee Willie was the earliest and smallest player so honored.

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

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

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

Arnold Rampersad's Jackie Robinson: A Biography is highly regarded, and Jane Leavy's Sandy Koufax: A Lefty's Legacy is fantastic. So is Tom Adelman's Black and Blue: The Golden Arm, the Robinson Boys, and the World Series That Stunned America, which covers the 1966 season (and its leadup), culminating in the shocking World Series upset of the defending World Champion Dodgers by the then-upstart Baltimore Orioles, and is an excellent examination of both cities in that turbulent time (and is nearly as superb as Leavy's work in its discussion of Koufax). Paul Haddad, who grew up in the Seventies and Eighties like I did, recently published High Fives, Pennant Drives and Fernandomania: A Fan's History of the Los Angeles Dodgers' Glory Years. (He was referring to 1977-1981, including outfielder Glenn Burke and his claimed invention of the high five -- and Burke's struggle as the closest thing MLB has yet had to an openly gay player.)

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

As for videos, of particular interest to Met fans is Gil Hodges: The Quiet Man, about the Dodger 1st baseman who became the Mets' first baseman and the manager who brought them the 1969 "Miracle." The Dodgers also have a collection of the official World Series highlight films of their 5 L.A. titles, a collector's edition DVD set of the 1988 World Series, which remains their last Pennant. (This drought, currently 26 years, is their longest period out of the Series since the Series began in 1903. The previous longest was 1920 to 1941.)

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

During the Game. The Dodgers' greatest rivals, in California as in New York City, are the Giants. Their fans go from laid-back Southern Californians to rabid dogs when the Giants are in town. But they have no ill will toward the Mets. Sure, they want to beat New York.  Los Angeles always wants to beat New York -- doesn't everybody? And it's been so long since their last World Series against the Yankees, in 1981, that the animosity of that time (which was quite real) has long since dissipated. Most likely, they will not initiate violence against you. Just don't speak well of the Giants, or ex-owner Frank McCourt, and you should be fine.

The Dodgers don’t have a guy in a suit to act as a mascot, not even unofficially, as the Dodger Sym-Phony Band dressed like "Dodger Bums" in the last 20 or so years in Brooklyn. (The Dodgers don't really need a mascot, as long as Lasorda is still alive.) Like the Yankees, the Dodgers play "God Bless America" before "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the 7th Inning Stretch. In the middle of the 8th inning, they play "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey. This pissed off Journey lead singer Steve Perry, who is from Hanford, about halfway between L.A. and San Fran, and is a big Giants fan. He recently got the last laugh, as the Giants invited him to sing the song during their 2010 victory parade.

Speaking of music, the Beatles played their next-to-last concert at Dodger Stadium on August 28, 1966, before concluding their last tour up the coast at Candlestick Park the next night.

After the Game. Because it's an island in a sea of parking, you won’t be in any neighborhood, much less a bad one. That's the good news. The bad news is, if you're looking for a postgame meal, snack, or even a pint, you won't find any nearby. At least, as I said, there will be cabs waiting in Parking Lot G.

The closest thing I could find to a New York fan-friendly bar nearby is O’Brien’s Irish Pub, at 2226 Wilshire Blvd. in Santa Monica, which is the home of the local fan club of the New York Giants football team, but that's 17 miles west. The local Jets fan club meets at the Federal Bar, at 5303 Lankershim Boulevard at Weddington Street in Sherman Oaks, 13 miles northwest.

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

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

The PCL Angels were a farm team of the Chicago Cubs, and when chewing-gum magnate William Wrigley Jr. bought them both, he built the Angels’ park to look like what was then known as Cubs Park, and then named this one, and then the Chicago one, Wrigley Field. So this ballpark was Wrigley Field first. The Angels won 12 PCL Pennants, the last 5 at Wrigley: 1903, 1905, 1907, 1908, 1916, 1918, 1921, 1926, 1933, 1934, 1947 and 1956. Their rivals, the Hollywood Stars, shared it from 1926 to 1935. It hosted a U.S. soccer loss to England in 1959 and a draw vs. Mexico the next year.
Its capacity of 22,000 was too small for the Dodgers, and the AL Angels moved out after one season. Torn down in 1966, it lives on in ESPN Classic rebroadcasts of Home Run Derby, filmed there (because it was close to Hollywood) prior to the 1960 season. Mickey Mantle was a fixture, but the only other guy thought of as a Yankee to participate was Bob Cerv (then with the Kansas City A’s). Yogi Berra wasn’t invited, nor was Moose Skowron, nor Roger Maris. And while Willie Mays, Duke Snider and Gil Hodges were on it, and all did briefly play for the Mets, the Mets hadn't gotten started yet, so no one on the show will be wearing a Met uniform.

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

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

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

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

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

A crowd of 102,368 on November 10, 1957, for a rivalry game between the Rams and the San Francisco 49ers, stood as a regular-season NFL record until 2005 (when a game was played at the larger Estadio Azteca in Mexico City). Ironically, the first Super Bowl, held here on January 15, 1967 (Green Bay 35, Kansas City 17) was only 2/3rds sold. Super Bowl VII (Miami over Washington) was sold out.

Because of its closeness to Hollywood, many movies with a football theme have filmed at the Coliseum. It also stood in for Baltimore's Memorial Stadium when Billy Crystal made 61*, about the 1961 Yankees.

It has hosted 20 matches of the U.S. soccer team -- only Robert F. Kennedy Stadium in Washington has hosted more. The U.S. has won 9 of those games, lost 7 and drawn 4.

Officially, the Coliseum now seats 93,607, and would likely be a stopgap home for a new or moved NFL team until a modern stadium could be built. Oddly, since both teams moved away after the 1994 season, the Oakland Raiders seem to be the most popular NFL team in Los Angeles County, but the San Diego Chargers -- at 122 miles from downtown L.A., easily the closest -- are the most popular team in Orange County. Both teams have been rumored to be among those moving to Los Angeles, and, like the Raiders, the Rams have also been rumored to be interested in moving back. The Jacksonville Jaguars have also been mentioned as a possibility.

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

The NBA’s Lakers played there from 1960 to 1967, the NHL’s Kings their first few home games in 1967 before the Forum was ready, the NBA’s Clippers from 1984 to 1999, the American Basketball Association’s Los Angeles Stars from 1968 to 1970, the World Hockey Association’s Los Angeles Sharks from 1972 to 1974, the 1968 and 1972 NCAA Final Fours (both won by UCLA, even though it was USC's home court, the 1st over North Carolina, the 2nd over Florida State), USC basketball from 1959 to 2006, and UCLA basketball a few times before Pauley Pavilion opened in 1965, and again in 2011-12 due to Pauley’s renovation.

Due to its closeness to the Hollywood studios, the Sports Arena has often been used for movies that need an arena to simulate a basketball or hockey game, a fight (including the Rocky films), a concert, or a political convention. Lots of real rock concerts have been held here, and Bruce Springsteen, on its stage, has called the building “the joint that don’t disappoint” and “the dump that jumps.”

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

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

UCLA has used it as its home field since the 1982 season. It hosted 5 Super Bowls, including the first ones won by the Raiders (XI) and Giants (XXI), plus the all-time biggest attendance for an NFL postseason game, 103,985, for SB XIV (Pittsburgh over Rams, the "home" field advantage not helping the Hornheads). It hosted the Army-Navy Game in 1983, with Hollywood legend Vincent Price serving as the referee. The transportation of the West Point's entire Corps of Cadets, and of Annapolis' entire Brigade of Midshipmen, was said to be the largest U.S. military airlift since World War II.

It's hosted 17 games of the U.S. soccer team, and several games of the 1994 World Cup, including a Semifinal and the Final. It also hosted several games of the 1999 Women's World Cup, including the Final, a.k.a. the Brandi Chastain Game.

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

* Edwin W. Pauley Pavilion. Following their 1964 National Championship (they would win it again in 1965), UCLA coach John Wooden wanted a suitable arena for his ever-growing program. He got it in time for the 1965-66 season, and it has hosted 9 more National Championships, making for 11 banners (10 coached by Wooden).  The building was named for an oil magnate who was also a Regent of the University of California system, whose donation to its building went a long way toward making it possible.  Edwin Pauley was a friend of, and appointee to several offices by, Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman, but the student protests of the 1960s led him to switch sides and support Ronald Reagan for Governor.

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

Metro Purple Line to Wilshire/Normandie station, switch to the 720 bus, then walk up Westwood Plaza to Strathmore Place. (“Westwood” is the name of the neighborhood that UCLA is in; Wooden was known as “the Wizard of Westwood.”) I should point out that a recent water main break flooded the building, ruining the court, so you may not be allowed inside.

A few steps away is Drake Stadium, the track & field facility that was home to 1960 Olympic Decathlon champion Rafer Johnson and another UCLA track star you might’ve heard of, named Jackie Robinson. On the way up Westwood Plaza, you’ll pass UCLA Medical Center, now named for someone who died there, Ronald Reagan. (Wooden, Michael Jackson and John Wayne also died there.) The UCLA campus also has a Dykstra Hall, but I’m 99 percent sure it wasn’t named after Lenny Dykstra.

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

Now owned by the Madison Square Garden Corporation, thus run by James Dolan, which means it’s going to be mismanaged. Elvis Presley sang here on November 14, 1970 and May 11, 1974. The Forum is not currently being used by any professional team, but was recently the stand-in for the Sunshine Center, the arena in the ABC sitcom Mr. Sunshine. 3900 W. Manchester Blvd. Hollywood Park Racetrack is on an adjacent site. Metro Silver Line to Harbor Transitway station, switch to Number 115 bus. (Be careful, this transfer is in South Central.)

* Staples Center. Home of the Lakers, Clippers and Kings since 1999, and usually the home of the Grammy Awards. The Lakers have won 5 Championships here, to go with the 6 they won at the Forum, and the 5 they won in Minneapolis. The Kings finally won a Stanley Cup in 2012, although, as a Devils fan, I'm trying to put that fixed Finals out of my mind. They've now won another, although, if you're a Ranger fan, you may want to do the same.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Clippers, with their typical luck, had to move one of their few home Playoff games there in 1992 during the South Central riot. 2695 E. Katella Avenue. Anaheim Metrolink stop.

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

* StubHub Center. Formerly the Home Depot Center, this 30,500-seat stadium is the only one in MLS shared by 2 teams, the Los Angeles Galaxy (since it opened in 2003) and Chivas USA (since 2005). It's hosted 11 games by the national team, winning 7, losing 2 and drawing 2. It hosted 6 games of the 2003 Women's World Cup, including the Final, in which Germany beat Sweden. 18400 Avalon Blvd. in Carson, adjacent to Cal State-Dominguez Hills. Metro Silver Line to Avalon/Victoria, then Number 130 bus.

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

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

* Academy Award ceremony sites. The Oscars have been held at: 1929, Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel (7000 Hollywood Blvd.). 1930-43, alternated between the Ambassador Hotel, 3400 Wilshire Blvd.; and the Biltmore Hotel, 506 S. Grand Avenue, downtown. 1944-46, Grauman's Chinese Theater (more about that in a moment). 1949-60, Pantages Theatre, 6233 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles. 1961-68, Santa Monica Civic Auditorium (which also hosted The T.A.M.I. Show in 1964), 1855 Main Street, Santa Monica (Number 10 bus from Union Station). 1969-87, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Avenue, downtown. 1988-2001, Shrine Auditorium, 665. W. Jefferson Blvd., Los Angeles. (Metro Silver Line to Figueroa/Washington, transfer to Number 81 bus; Elvis sang here on June 8, 1956.). 2002-present, Kodak Theater (which also hosts American Idol), 6801 Hollywood Blvd (Metro Red Line to Hollywood/Highland).

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

In addition to the above, Elvis sang at the Long Beach Municipal Auditorium on June 7, 1956, the Pan Pacific Auditorium on October 28 & 29, 1957; the Swing Auditorium in San Bernardino on November 12 & 13, 1972, and May 10 & 13, 1974; the Long Beach Arena on November 14 & 15, 1972 and April 25, 1976; and the Anaheim Convention Center on April 23, & 24, 1973 and November 30, 1976.

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

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

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

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

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

Nixon's “Western White House” at San Clemente can be reached by I-5 or by Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner to San Juan Capistrano (the former Spanish mission where, as the song goes, the swallows return on the first day of spring), and then transferring to the Number 191 bus. However, the house, which Nixon called La Casa Pacifica, is privately owned (not by the Nixon family), and is not open to the public. So unless you're a major Tricky Dick fan, I'd suggest skipping it, as you'd only be able to stand outside it.

Ronald Reagan’s Library is at 40 Presidential Drive in Simi Valley in Ventura County. (Reagan was born in Tampico, Illinois, about 130 miles west of Chicago.) Unfortunately, the Reagan Library is next to impossible to reach without a car. Reagan’s Western White House, Rancho del Cielo outside Santa Barbara, is owned by a private foundation that can be contacted for tours. Nancy Reagan, now 92, still lives at their post-Presidential home in the Bel Air section of L.A., and while I’m no fan of the Reagans, I’ll respect her privacy and not list the address (or how to get there) even though it’s been published elsewhere. It’s been remarked that the ranch was his home, whereas anyplace they lived in “Hollywood” was hers.

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

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

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


So, if you can afford it, go on out and join your fellow Met fans in going coast-to-coast, and enjoy the Mets-Dodgers matchup, and enjoy the sights and sounds of Southern California. In spite of the fact that these 2 weeks may be one of those rare occasions where New York’s weather will be just as good.