Friday, June 30, 2017

Yankees Lose a Game and a "Prospect"

Dustin Fowler is one of those Yankee "prospects" you've been hearing so dang much about. A guy who's already being compared to some of the great names in baseball history.

Well, for the moment, he's being compared to 2 guys: Gleyber Torres, who's out for the rest of this season with an injury, before having reached the major leagues at all; and Archie "Moonlight" Graham, the guy who played 1 inning in the outfield, without coming to bat, for the 1905 New York Giants, and never played another major league game, and was eventually immortalized in W.P. Kinsella's book Shoeless Joe and the film based on it, Field of Dreams.

With 2 out in the bottom of the 1st, Jose Abreu hit a fly ball down the right field line. Fowler, playing right field, placed 6th in the batting order, and wearing Number 34 in his major league debut, chased it, saw it go foul, and crashed into the short sidewall. He got up, and discovered he couldn't put any weight on his right knee.

A tendon had been severed. He had surgery after the game. He's out for the season.

This is why you don't pin your hopes on "prospects." Things happen. They've now happened to Torres and Fowler within a few days.

Of course, the likeliest thing to happen to any of the Yankees' "prospects" is that they simply will not pan out. There's more Hensley "Bam-Bam" Meulenses in my lifetime than Brien Taylors. But there's been enough of both for me to tell anyone excusing the inexcusable trades Brian Cashman made last year that there is no such thing as a "can't-miss prospect."

It is worth pointing out, though, that Fowler was not one of the "prospects" Cashman threw last (and this?) season away for last July. He is a Yankee scoutee and draftee. More a Gene Michael product. Gee, maybe "Stick" should be the general manager again. Hell, even his initials are GM.

UPDATE: Fowler was sent to Oakland on July 31, in the Sonny Gray deal. He has played for Oakland, but not much.


As for the game: Luis Cessa was the starting pitcher for the Yankees, and he didn't get out of the 5th inning. Between them, Chasen Shreve, Ronald Herrera, Tyler Clippard (seriously) and Tyler Webb (ditto) pitched 4 1/3rd innings, allowing just 1 baserunner, an infield single by Willy Garcia off Herrera in the bottom of the 6th.

But it was too late, because the Yankee bats couldn't do much against the ChiSox starter, our old pain in the neck from the Tampa Bay Rays, James Shields; or their bullpen: Dan Jennings, our own former pathetic reliever, Anthony Swarzak, who pitched a scoreless 8th inning; and our own former closer, who would come in real handy right about now, Brian Cashman: David Robertson.

The Yankees got a run on "small ball" in the 1st, a run on a long single by Ronald Torreyes in the 4th, and another on a Jacoby Ellsbury triple and an Austin Romine groundout in the 6th. But that was it. White Sox 4, Yankees 3. WP: Shields (2-1). SV: Robertson (12). LP: Cessa 0-3.

With the loss, and the Boston Red Sox winning last night, the Yankees are once again a game behind the Sox in the American League Eastern Division, although tied in the all-important loss column.


Now, the Yankees have to play a weekend series away to the team with the best record in baseball, the Houston Astros. The Astros also beat the Yankees in the 2015 AL Wild Card Game. They got good the old-fashioned way: Not by trading away their best players for prospects like Brian Cashman is trying to do, but by stinking for several years, drafting well, and keeping their good players.

Here are the projected starting pitchers:

* Tonight, 8:10 PM New York time (7:10 Houston): Michael Pineda vs. Lance McCullers Jr.

* Tomorrow, 7:15 (6:15): Jordan Montgomery vs. Francis Martes.

* Sunday, 2:10 (1:10): Luis Severino vs. Mike Fiers.

This could easily be a sweep. For them, not for us. We need good pitching, good hitting, good defense, and no more injuries.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

How to Be a Red Bulls Fan In New England -- 2017 Edition

Last night, the New York Red Bulls beat the Philadelphia Union on penalties to advance to the Quarterfinal of the U.S. Open Cup, America's version of England's FA Cup.

They will play the New England Revolution on Thursday, July 13, at Harvard Stadium in Boston. That is where the Revs play all their Open Cup matches.

Before that, however, the teams will face each other in a Major League Soccer regular-season game at Gillette Stadium, in the Boston suburb of Foxboro, Massachusetts, this coming Wednesday night at 7:30 PM.

Red Bulls fans view D.C. United, not the league's Boston team, as their arch-rivals. Revs fans don't see it that way: They're also Red Sox fans -- and Patriots, Celtics, and Bruins fans -- and they hate all New York Tri-State Area teams, even the ones that play in New Jersey like the Giants, the Jets, the Devils and the Red Bulls.

So I urge a great deal of caution for anyone going up for this games. Be mindful of what you do, say and wear, and where you go. If you follow these instructions, the worst you should get is a bit of verbal abuse.


Before You Go. Boston weather is a little different from ours, being a little bit further north. Mark Twain, who lived the last few years of his life in nearby Hartford, said, "If you don't like the weather in New England, wait a minute."

You should check the websites of the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald before you leave. For the moment, they're predicting temperatures in the high 70s for daylight and the mid-60s for the evening. However, the predictions include a 60 percent chance of rain, and Gillette Stadium has no protection for the fans, no roof at all. Fortunately, it's only listed as "showers," not "thunderstorms."

Wind is sometimes an issue inside Fenway Park and outside the TD Garden, but it shouldn't be a big issue in Foxboro, which isn't close to the Charles River like the former or Boston Harbor like the latter.

Packing your Red Bulls jersey, cap, whatever else you've got if you're staying overnight, or simply wearing it in the car if you're driving up and back, shouldn't be an issue. I don't think anyone will try to fight you just for wearing your Metro Gear.

What you do not want to wear is the kind of T-shirt you see sold at the souvenir stands on River Avenue across from Yankee Stadium, with messages like "BAHSTON SAWKS CACK" or "There never was a curse, the Sox just sucked for 86 years!" If you have one (or more) of these, leave them at home. The Chowdaheads are already antagonized by our mere presence on their turf, and there's no reason to make it that much worse. Besides, this isn't even a baseball game.

Massachusetts is in the Eastern Time Zone, so you won't have to change your timepieces. And, of course, despite the silliness of the concept of "Red Sox Nation," you do not need a passport to cross the New Haven City Line, or to change your money.

Tickets. The Revs averaged 20,185 fans per home game last season. That doesn't sound like much when you consider that Gillette Stadium can hold about 68,000 people. But their soccer capacity is listed as 20,000, so that's a sellout. They can open the upper deck, and they have done so for Revs' playoff games, U.S. National Team games, international tournaments and friendlies involving visiting European clubs.

Visiting fans are put in the southwest corner, in Sections 126 and 127. Tickets are $29. This will put you all the way across the stadium from "The Fort," the Revs' supporters' section in the north end.

Getting There. Boston, like Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, is too close to fly from New York, and once you factor in fooling around with everything you gotta do at each airport, it doesn't really save you much time compared to driving, the bus or the train. It certainly won't save you any money.

It's important to remember that the Revs do not play in Boston, but in Foxboro, about halfway between Boston and Providence, Rhode Island. (In fact, it's a little bit closer to Providence's Kennedy Plaza than to Boston's Downtown Crossing.) Unlike in Boston proper, where I would never
recommend driving, when going to Foxboro, driving is almost mandatory.

It's 217 miles from Red Bull Arena to Gillette Stadium. Unlike Boston proper, where the best way to go is to take Interstate 95 to New Haven, switch to I-91 until Hartford, switch to I-84 to I-90/Massachusetts Turnpike, if you're going to Foxboro, it's best to take I-95 almost all the way up, along Long Island Sound in Connecticut, across Rhode Island including through Providence, into Massachusetts.

Once in Massachusetts, take Exit 6B onto I-495 (Boston's "beltway") North toward Worcester. Take Exit 14A onto U.S. Route 1 North. (Yes, the same Route 1 that goes through New Jersey, including the George Washington Bridge you'll be using early on, but it's not nearly as fast to take 1 all the way up as it is 95.) The stadium will be about 4 miles ahead on your right, as will the Patriot Place mall.

I don't know where you're starting from, in New York or New Jersey. But if you do it right, once you get over the GW Bridge, the drive should take about 3 hours and 45 minutes: Half an hour in New York State, 2 hours in Connecticut, 45 minutes in Rhode Island, and half an hour in Massachusetts before reaching the stadium parking lot. How long it takes you to get from wherever you are to the GW Bridge, or to the Cross Bronx Expressway if you're already in The City, through a rest stop (New London is about the halfway point of the journey), and then off Route 1 into the stadium parking lot, remains to be seen.

If you are spending more than one day in Boston (and Friday night is the start of the weekend, so it might be an option), and you're driving in from there (if you are that nuts), take I-93 South to Exit 1B, then I-95 North to Exit 9, then Route 1 South.

For any of the other Boston teams, the train is a very good option. New York's Penn Station to Boston's South Station is currently $202 round-trip, and it will take roughly 4½ hours each way.
South Station also has a bus terminal attached, and it may be the best bus station in the country – even better than New York's Port Authority. If you take Greyhound, you'll leave from Port Authority's Gate 84, and it will take about 4½ hours, most likely making one stop, at Hartford’s Union Station complex, or in the Boston suburbs of Framingham, Worcester or Newton. New York to Boston and back is tremendously cheaper on the bus than on the train, just $68 round-trip for this coming Wednesday (it could drop to just $40, with advanced purchase, making it even cheaper than BoltBus and Megabus), and is probably Greyhound's best run.

Boston's South Station is at 700 Atlantic Avenue, corner of Summer Street, at Dewey Square. It was named for Admiral George Dewey, naval hero of the Spanish-American War, not New York Governor and 1944 & '48 Presidential candidate Thomas E. Dewey, and not for former Red Sox right fielder Dwight "Dewey" Evans, either.

Sounds great, right? Well, in the immortal words of ESPN's Lee Corso, "Not so fast, my friend!" You would still have to get from South Station to Gillette Stadium. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) runs gameday service from South Station to Foxboro (the station is right outside the stadium), $15 round-trip -- on Patriots gamedays. Not on Revs gamedays!
I found this out the hard way on May 29, 2010, when I saw the Red Bulls play the Revs in Foxboro. I had to take the MBTA commuter-rail service to the closest stop to Foxboro, in Walpole, Massachusetts, and then had to take a taxi the remaining 4 miles -- there and back, $18 each way. That $36 cost me almost as much as my Boston-to-Walpole round-trip train ticket and my game ticket combined. (MLS tickets are considerably cheaper than the 4 big North American sports.) The service also doesn't run on gamedays for the University of Massachusetts (a.k.a. UMass), which plays home games at Foxboro.

So if you're willing to go through that nonsense, you should look up the names of local taxi companies now, make sure they're willing to take you from Walpole to the stadium and back. A train leaves Walpole for South Station at 9:09 PM, but, unless you leave early, there's no way you're getting out of the stadium and to the station in time. Better to wait for the end of the game, and head over to one of the restaurants at the adjacent mall, and call a cab at 9:30, so that it will get there by 10:00, and you can get to Walpole in time to catch the 10:33 train back to South Station, which will arrive at 11:06.

Bottom line: If you can drive, this is a good Red Bulls roadtrip; if you can't, it can still be done, but you've been warned.

Once In the City. Named for the town of the same name (a shortened version of "St. Botolph's Stone") in Lincolnshire, in England's East Midlands, Boston is home to a little under 700,000 people, with a metropolitan area (including the areas of Hartford, Providence, and Manchester, New Hampshire) of a little over 8 million, making it the largest metro area in the country with only one MLB team in each sport (trailing the 2-baseball-teams areas of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and the San Francisco Bay Area).
Boston is easily the largest city not just in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, but in all of New England. The next-largest are Worcester, Massachusetts and Providence, Rhode Island, each with around 180,000. The largest in Connecticut is Bridgeport with 145,000; New Hampshire's largest is Manchester with 110,000; Maine's is Portland with 66,000, and Vermont's is Burlington with a mere 42,000. Of New England's 100 largest cities and towns, 53 are in Massachusetts, 30 in Connecticut, 9 in Rhode Island, 4 in New Hampshire, 3 in Maine and 1, Burlington, in Vermont; only 2 of the top 17 are outside Massachusetts and Connecticut.
The Massachusetts State House, overlooking Boston's Beacon Hill

Counting New England as a whole -- except for the southwestern part of Connecticut, which tilts toward New York -- there are about 12.8 million people in "Red Sox Nation." This isn't even close to the top, when "markets" are viewed this liberally -- the Yankees have close to 20 million in theirs, and the Atlanta Braves lead with over 36 million -- but it does rank 7th out of 30 MLB markets, and aside from the Yankees none of the pre-expansion teams has as big a market.

Boston is also one of the oldest cities in America, founded in 1630, and was the earliest to have been truly developed. (New York is actually older, 1626, but until City Hall was built and the grid laid out in 1811, it was pretty much limited to the 20 or so blocks from the Battery to Chambers Street.)

It's got the history: The colonial era, the Revolutionary period its citizens did so much to make possible, the abolitionist movement prior to the Civil War, Massachusetts' role in that conflict, the Industrial Revolution, the immigrant experience, the homefront of the World Wars, the Depression, civil rights struggles. Aside from New York, it was the only city on the Eastern Seaboard to have grasped the concept of the skyscraper until the 1980s.

It also has America's 1st college, Harvard University, across the Charles River in Cambridge, and a few other institutions of higher learning of some renown in or near the city: Boston College, Boston University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Northeastern University, Tufts University, College of the Holy Cross, and so on. The particular instance of Harvard, funded by Boston's founding families, resulted in Boston and the surrounding area having a lot of "old money." And then there's all those Massachusetts-based writers.

All this gives Boston an importance, and a self-importance, well beyond its interior population. One of those aforementioned writers, Oliver Wendell Holmes (grandfather of the great Supreme Court Justice of the same name), named the city "the Hub of the Solar System"; somehow, this became "the Hub of the Universe" or just "The Hub."

Early 19th Century journalist William Tudor called Boston "the Athens of America" -- but, as a Harvard man, he would have studied ancient Greece and realized that, while contributing greatly to the political and literary arts, Athens could be pretty dictatorial, warmongering, and slavery-tolerating at times. Later sportswriters have called the Sox-Yanks (in that order) rivalry "Athens and Sparta." Remember, if not for Sparta, all of Greece would have fallen to the Persian Empire at the beginning of the 5th Century BC, and, at the end of that Century, Sparta kicked Athens' ass in the Peloponnesian War -- with Athens having pissed off so many people that the Persians actually allied with Sparta to teach Athens a lesson.

Ah, but today, the Spartans are remembered as crazy warriors with no regard for anything except their own honor, while the Athenians are held up as an ideal society -- which they had been, but allowed themselves to become corrupted. It should be noted, though, that Sparta's allies demanded that Athens be burned to the ground and its people enslaved -- and Sparta refused. They only wanted to end Athens as a threat to them, not punish them.

Boston, "The Hub of the Universe"? To hell with that: We are New Yorkers. (I'm counting people from North and Central Jersey in as "New Yorkers," especially where sports is concerned.) New York is the greatest city in the world, and we don't even have to capitalize that, the way Bostonians do with "The Hub of the Universe."

Foxboro? (Or "Foxborough"? The former name is usually affiliated with the stadium, but the latter name is actually the official spelling.) According to the 2010 Census, it's home to 16,865 people, making it nearly twice the size of East Rutherford, New Jersey, home of the Meadowlands Sports Complex. It was founded in 1778, and named for Charles James Fox, a prominent British politician of the era who had stood up for the rights of British America before independence. It's the hometown of singer Joanna "JoJo" Levesque, who has sung the National Anthem at Patriots games. It was where South Vietnam's President Nguyen Van Thieu and his family lived after they had to flee after the fall of Saigon.

Oddly (for our purposes), it was the hometown of Seth Boyden, who moved to Newark and became New Jersey's leading industrialist in the mid-19th Century. A housing project named the Seth Boyden Houses was built -- and is currently targeted for demolition and replacement -- at 130 Dayton Street, across from Weequahic Park. This was the site of Dreamland Park, where the NFL Giants played their 1st game on September 25, 1925. (They beat a non-NFL team called the New York Red Jackets, 3-0. It was counted in the NFL standings.)

ZIP Codes in Massachusetts start with 01 in the West, and 020 to 027 in the East. Famously, the 1972-78 PBS kids' show Zoom, taped at WGBH-Channel 2, told its viewers who had ideas for the show, "Write Zoom! Z-double-O-M! Box 350, Boston, Mass 0-2-1-3-4! Send it to Zoom!"

The State's Area Codes are 617 and 857 for Boston proper and the immediate Western suburbs, 339 and 781 for Boston and the South Shore, 351 and 978 for the Northeast, 413 for the West, and 508 and 774 for the Worcester area and Cape Cod. 

The sales tax in Massachusetts is 6.25 percent, less than New Jersey's 7 percent and New York City's 8.875 percent. However, aside from that, pretty much everything in Boston and neighboring cities like Cambridge, Brookline and Quincy costs about as much as it does in New York City, and more than in the NYC suburbs. In other words, a bundle. So don't get sticker-shock.

When you get to South Station, if you haven't already read The Boston Globe on your laptop or smartphone, pick it up. It's a great paper, with one of the country's best sports sections. There's probably no paper that covers its local baseball team better, although the columns of Dan Shaughnessy (who did not coin but certainly popularized the phrase "The Curse of the Bambino" and wrote a book with the title) and Tony Massarotti (who started at the rival Herald and whose style is more in line with theirs) can be a bit acerbic.

You will also be able to pick up the New York papers at South Station, if you want any of them. If you must, you can also buy the Boston Herald, but it's a tabloid, previously owned by William Randolph Hearst and Rupert Murdoch. Although neither man's company still owns it, it carries all the hallmarks of the papers that they have owned (Murdoch still owns the New York Post, the Hearst Corporation owned the New York Journal and its successor, the New York Journal-American, which went out of business in 1966). In other words, the Herald is a right-wing pack of sensationalism, frequently sloppy journalism, and sometimes outright lies, but at least it does sports well (sometimes).

Once you have your newspapers, take the escalator down to the subway. Boston had the nation's 1st subway service, in 1897, along Boston Common on what's now named the Green Line. Formerly known as the Metropolitan Transit Authority, leading to the folk song "MTA," in 1965 it became the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), or "the T," symbolized by the big T signs where many cities, including New York, would have M's instead.

(Here's a link to the most familiar version of the song, done by the Kingston Trio in 1959. Keep in mind that Scollay Square station is now named Government Center, and that the reason Mrs. Charlie doesn't give him the extra nickel along with the sandwich isn't that she keeps forgetting, but that they're acting on principle, protesting the 5-cent exit fare -- my, how times have changed.)

Boston was one of the last cities to turn from subway tokens to farecards, in 2006, a decade after New York's switch was in progress. They cheekily call the cards CharlieCards, after the song character. A ride costs $2.75 with cash, the same as New York's subway, and if you're there for the entire series, it may be cheaper to get a 7-day pass for $21.25. The MBTA 1-day pass is $12, so the 7-day pass is a better option.

There are 4 lines: Red, Green, Orange and Blue. Don't worry about the Silver Line: That's basically an underground bus service designed to get people to Logan International Airport. (General Edward L. Logan was a South Bostonian who became a hero of World War I and then the commander of the Massachusetts National Guard. Boston kept the name on their airport in spite of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, leaving New York to name an airport after that great Bostonian.) Chances are, you won't be using the Blue Line at all on your trip, and the Orange Line might not be used, either.

It's important to remember that Boston doesn't have an "Uptown" and "Downtown" like Manhattan, or a "North Side," "East Side," "South Side" or "West Side" like many other cities. It does have a North End and a South End (which should not be confused with the separate neighborhood of South Boston); and it has an East Boston, although the West End was mostly torn down in the late 1950s to make way for the sprawling complex of the new Massachusetts General Hospital.

Note also that Boston doesn't have a "centerpoint," where all the street addresses start at 1 and move out in 100-segments for each block. It doesn't even remotely have a north-south, east-west street grid like New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Chicago, and so on.

So for subway directions, remember this: Any train heading toward Downtown Crossing (where the Red and Orange Lines intersect), Park Street (Red and Green Lines), State Street (Blue and Orange Lines) or Government Center (Blue and Green Lines), is "Inbound." Any train going away from those 4 downtown stations is "Outbound." This led to a joke that certain Red Sox pitchers who give up a lot of home runs have "been taken downtown more than the Inbound Red Line."
Red Line train, crossing the Charles River
via the Longfellow Bridge

South Station is on the Red Line. If you're coming by Amtrak or Greyhound, and are up only for one game and are going directly to Fenway, take the Red Line to Park Street – known locally as "Change at Park Street Under" (or "Change at Pahk Street Undah" in the local dialect) – and then take the Green Line, either the B (terminating at Boston College and having that on its marquee), C (Cleveland Circle) or D (Riverside) train. Do not take the E (Huntington Avenue), because it breaks off before reaching Kenmore Square.
Green Line D Train at Pahk Street Undah

Going In. Gillette Stadium is 21 miles southwest of Downtown Crossing. It's actually closer, 20 miles, to downtown Providence, Rhode Island. This difference becomes greater in Providence's favor if you drove on the recommended road routes: 24 to 27.

The official address is 1 Patriot Place. (The old stadium was 60 Washington Street -- Washington Street being U.S. Route 1.) Also, don't be confused by the spelling: While New Englanders may spell the town's name "Foxborough," and that is the official spelling of the town, it's the same place as "Foxboro."

Parking for Patriots games is a whopping $38.50 -- but for Revs games, it's free! Tailgating is allowed, starting 2 hours before kickoff, and in designated areas only. So if you want to tailgate, do not do so in the Patriot Place mall parking lot: Get as close to the stadium as you can. If you get routed into the mall lot, you're out of luck for tailgating purposes. As New England is known for seafood, tailgating in Foxboro is known for serving things like shrimp, clams, scallops, and, of course, clam chowder. If you're rich, lobster rolls.
At the northeast corner of the stadium is a structure with the Patriots Pro Shop (more on that in "Stuff") on the ground floor. On the 2nd floor is The Hall at Patriots Place, a hall of fame and museum for the team. Admission is free with your game ticket, and on non-game days, and admission is $10.

The stadium, like most NFL and MLS stadiums, is laid out (roughly) north-to-south. You're most likely to enter at either the northeast corner (the Patriot Place Ramp) or the northwest corner (the Bank of America Ramp).

At the north end zone, to the right of the scoreboard, is a structure designed to look like an old New England lighthouse. The end zone seats below it become "The Fort," the leading supporters' section for the New England Revolution soccer team, filled by their biggest supporters' group, the Midnight Riders (named for Paul Revere and his April 19, 1775 compatriots).

The Pats are now 1 of 3 NFL teams that shares its stadium with a pro soccer team. The others are Seattle's Seahawks and Sounders at CenturyLink Field, and Atlanta United sharing Mercedes-Benz Stadium with the Falcons. Minnesota United will, at first, share TCF Bank Stadium with the University of Minnesota, although that's not a pro football team.
The north end scoreboard and lighthouse, during a Revs game

A statue of a soccer player stands by the lighthouse, which won't seem as odd to you if soccer is more your type of "football." Eusébio da Silva Ferreira -- usually just known by his first name -- was born in Mozambique, then a colony of Portugal, and starred for the Portuguese national team and the capital city's team Sport Lisboa e Benfica in the 1960s, making Benfica one of the most popular clubs in the world. He also turned heads in the 1966 World Cup, leading Portugal to the Semifinals, its best performance ever (matched in 2006).

In 1975 (the year of Mozambique's independence), past his prime, "the Black Panther" came to America and played for the Boston Minutemen of the North American Soccer League, who played some (but not all) of their home games at the old Foxboro Stadium. He played for some other American teams, and closed his career in 1979 with the New Jersey Americans of the American Soccer League -- playing home games at Memorial Stadium in New Brunswick, just 8 miles from where I grew up. I could have seen him play, but I never heard of him until 2008, and never knew he played in New Brunswick until 2011. That's how poorly soccer was covered in America until the 1990s.

The statue of Eusébio is identical to the one outside Benfica's Estadio da Luz (Stadium of Light). So why a statue for a man who played just 1 season in Boston, in the area's 5th-most-popular sport? Because there is a large Portuguese community in New England, especially in the strip from New Haven through eastern Connecticut, Rhode Island, and the Boston-to-Providence corridor in which Foxboro sits. Most people in "Greater Boston," including Portuguese-Americans, never saw him play, but it's a tribute to them and their sporting spirit as much as to him. And, of course, having a statue of the greatest soccer player Africa has ever produced hasn't exactly hurt race relations in the area. He died last year, but he lived long enough to see the statue's dedication, and it was already there in 2010 when I first visited.
Eusébio and his Foxboro statue

The Revs have the east sideline, the visiting team the west. The playing surface is FieldTurf. The stadium, as are the Revs and the Patriots, is owned Robert Kraft's Kraft Sports Group.

Gillette Stadium was built next-door to the facility known as Schaefer Stadium, Sullivan Stadium and Foxboro Stadium, which was torn down and replaced by the Patriot Place mall. The Pats played at the old stadium from 1971 to 2001 (their last game, a Playoff in January 2002, being the Snow Bowl or Tuck Game against the Oakland Raiders).

In addition to the Minutemen, it was home to the New England Tea Men of the North American Soccer League and, from 1996 to 2001, of MLS' Revs. The 1st MLS Cup Final was held at the old stadium on October 20, 1996, and D.C. United beat the Los Angeles Galaxy. The old stadium hosted it again in 1999, with the same result: D.C. over L.A. Gillette Stadium hosted it in 2002, and this time, L.A. won, beating New England at their place in extra time.
Schaefer/Sullivan/Foxboro Stadium, 1971-2002

The U.S. national soccer team played 10 games at Foxboro Stadium, winning 7. They've now played 12 at Gillette as well, winning 7, most recently losing to Brazil this past September 8. The MLS Cup Final was played at Gillette in 2002, and the Revs qualified for it, but lost it to the L.A. Galaxy. Games of the 1994 World Cup and the 1999 Women's World Cup were held at the old stadium, and of the 2003 Women's World Cup at the new one.
The Fort, during a U.S. national team game

The new stadium was originally named CMGI Field, named for a supply chain management services company based in the Boston suburbs, but it had to sell off the naming rights, and Gillette bought them.

Boston College played a couple of football games at the old stadium in the early 1980s, thanks to the popularity of quarterback Doug Flutie. The old stadium was basically an oversized version of a high school stadium, complete with aluminum benches for fans, and it was terrible. The new stadium is so much better.

Food. Gillette Stadium is one of the few NFL stadiums I've actually been to, although it was for an MLS game. And yet, I don't remember much about the food options -- and the Patriots' website is woefully inadequate to explaining the options.

I was only at the north end and on the east sideline of the lower level. But I do remember that they had McDonald's stands at both. There was also a Dunkin Donuts stand, a Premio Italian Sausage stand, and a stand selling that New England standby, clam chowder.

Team History Displays. The Revs won the U.S. Open Cup, America's answer to England's FA Cup, in 2007. But that's it. They've reached 5 MLS Cup Finals, and lost them all: 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2014. And they lost the 2016 U.S. Open Cup Final to FC Dallas.

Even with a typical New England team's cheating (their players dive for penalties and are notoriously dirty tacklers), they can't win an MLS Cup, or even a Supporters' Shield (even the Red Bulls have done that -- twice). And they have no retired numbers or team hall of fame, despite being over 20 years old now. So the only title displays you're going to see belong to the Patriots, at the south end of the stadium.
Easily the greatest player in Revs history -- and that's total legend and in what he did with them -- is Clint Dempsey, who began his top-flight career with them, 2004 to 2006.
Stuff. As I said, the Patriots Pro Shop is at the northeast corner of the stadium, on the ground floor, below the Hall. But they don't sell Revs stuff. You'll have to go to an ordinary souvenir stand for one of those. And there are no good books or videos about the team.

During the Game. Red Sox fans, well, if you're a Yankee Fan, you know how they can be. Bruin fans can be nasty. Celtic fans can be arrogant. As a recent Thrillist article points out, Patriots fans might be the most obnoxious in the NFL.

Revs fans? Well, not having won anything except that 1 Open Cup (and that, 9 years ago), they don't have reason to be arrogant about this team. For the most part, though, safety will probably not be an issue. I've worn Red Bulls gear on the grounds and inside the stadium, and faced no problem because of that. Most Revs fans will accept visiting fans as fans of the sport, and a natural brotherhood will develop. So if you don't start anything, neither will they.
Slyde with a young fan

The Revs' mascot is Slyde the Fox. They hold auditions for National Anthem singers instead of having a regular. They have cheerleaders called the Rev Girls. As I said, their supporters' area is The Fort, in the north end. Revs fan groups include the Midnight Riders, the Rev Army, and The Rebellion.
The Midnight Riders, named for Paul Revere and his April 18, 1775 compatriots, were an original MLS supporters' group, founded in 1995, thus predating MLS play itself. They occupy Section 143.

Their songs include "Glory, Glory, Revolution" (to the tune of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic") and "When the Revs Go Marching In" -- less a tribute to the New Orleans Saints as it is to Liverpool ("Oh when the Reds... "), which had a heavy support in the Boston area well before the Fenway Sports Group bought them.
There new (introduced this year) theme song goes as follows:

ONE New England!
ONE New England!
Revolution we all scream!
ONE New England!
ONE New England!
Revolution is our team!

The Fort was the site of one of the league's biggest controversies, which was dubbed "FortGate." It revolved around "the YSA Chant": When the visiting team goalie was mere feet away from them, getting ready for a goal kick, the fans would yell, "Ahhhhhhhh... " and when the ball was finally kicked, yell, "You suck, asshole!"

Caring more about bringing families -- both in the stadium and watching on television -- than the hardcore support that made its existence even possible, the league cracked down. The leadership of the Midnight Riders and the Rebellion worked with club management, and that communication defused things fairly quickly, and actually made things better between the team and the fan groups.

At the first game after the ban on the YSA chant was announced, the Riders used this chant: "We all got together and decided that, among the two goalkeepers in this particular game, you are the one of lower skill and aptitude!" It didn't work too well -- certainly not as well as a 1980s chant by Duke basketball fans at referees, after North Carolina coach Dean Smith complained about their vulgarity, leading Duke fans to chant, "We beg to differ!" at their next game with UNC -- and, after a suggestion that the chant be printed on the backs of T-shirts, so fans could read it aloud while it's in progress, the whole thing was just dropped.

After the Game. Since Foxboro is suburban, you're not likely to face a crime issue. Both you and your car should be safe. However, since this is still the New York-Boston sports rivalry, even without it being a baseball game, don't get caught napping.

If you're looking for a postgame meal, snack, or just a pint, the mall next-door has several places to eat, including a Five Guys (yum), a Red Robin (eh), an Olive Garden (boo hiss), and that great New England-born, New York-loved institution Dunkin Donuts. However, this being a midweek night game, it may be closed, so you may have to look elsewhere.

While you won't be as familiar with them, Capriotti's Sandwich Shop is a New England institution, and they have a Patriot Place outlet. D'Angelo's subs doesn't, but they're also a New England treasure. And, while one normally doesn't think of country singers in New England, the mall also has Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill.

Dunkin Donuts, founded in 1950 in Quincy, is all  over the place -- including inside the stadium. While Dunkin doesn't serve booze of any kind, it does serve snacks, and coffee, which you may need if you're driving back.

Just as the Riviera Café off Sheridan Square in the West Village and Professor Thom's on 2nd Avenue in the East Village are Sox-friendly bars in New York, there are places in Boston that welcome Yankee Fans. The following establishments were mentioned in a Boston Globe profile during the 2009 World Series:  Champions, at the Marriott Copley Place hotel at 110 Huntington Avenue (Green Line to Copley); The Sports Grille, at 132 Canal Street, across from North Station and the Garden (Green Line to North Station); and , right across from Fenway itself, Game On! at 82 Lansdowne Street (Green Line to Kenmore).

The local Giants fan club meets at The Greatest Bar, 262 Friend Street off Canal, a block from the Garden. M.J. O'Connor's, at 27 Columbus Avenue next to the Boston Park Plaza Hotel, is the local home of Jets fans. (Green Line to Arlington.) The Kinsale, at 2 Government Center, is also said to be a Jet haven.

If you're visiting during the European soccer season (which starts up again in mid-August), the following bars are renowned for showing the games:

* The Phoenix Landing in Cambridge is the original Boston-area footie pub. As other supporters' groups have found their own places, they appear to be down to hosting mainly Liverpool fans, although they welcome all who behave themselves. I watched Wigan's 2013 FA Cup Final shocker over Manchester City there. 512 Massachusetts Avenue. Red Line to Central.

* The Banshee Pub in Dorchester is home to supporters of Chelsea, West Ham, Everton, Manchester City and Celtic. (When I last visited, the head of the Boston CSC brought a dog named Jinky, after Celtic legend Jimmy Johnstone.) 934 Dorchester Avenue. Red Line to JFK/UMass.

* McGann's Irish Pub is the Boston area's main Manchester United pub. 197 Portland Street, across from the TD Garden. Green or Orange Line to North Station.

* Crossroads Irish Pub in the Back Bay is described as an "unfussy watering hole with sports on TV." Except when the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics, Bruins, Revs or... ugh, as if those options weren't obnoxious enough... Manchester United are on. 495 Beacon Street. Green Line B, C or D to Hynes.

* Lir On Boylston, in the Back Bay, is Gooner Central for New England. They all follow The Arsenal, over land and sea (and recently-successful Leicester). 903 Boylston Street. Green Line B, C or D to Hynes.

* McGreevy's, 2 doors down from Lir at 911 Boylston, is an attempt at recreating what's often been called the 1st sports bar, the Third Base Saloon, which saloonkeeper Michael T. McGreevy ran across from Boston's ballpark, the South End Grounds, in the late 19th and early 20th Century. "I call it Third Base because it's the last place you go before you go home. 'Nuff said." He used that expression so often that he became known as Nuf Ced McGreevy, and had the nickname, spelled that way, laid in tile on his barroom floor. This McGreevey's caters to Manchester United fans as well as Red Sox fans. In other words, they accept cheating.

* The Kinsale Irish Pub & Restaurant is kind of tucked away in the Government Center complex, which is good, because it's home to Tottenham fans. It's on Cambridge Street, but its mailing address is 2 Center Plaza. Green or Blue Line to Government Center.

* The White Horse Tavern, at 116 Brighton Avenue in the Allston section, shows FC Barcelona matches. Green Line B to Harvard Avenue.

* Caffe Paradiso, at 255 Hanover Street, and Caffe dello Sport (cash-only), at 308 Hanover, show Italian games. In the historically-Italian North End. Green or Orange Line to Haymarket.

* Champions, at Copley Place at 110 Huntington Avenue, shows Bayern Munich matches, and possibly the other German clubs. Orange Line to Back Bay.

Sidelights. Foxborough itself isn't especially historic, no matter what its municipal website says. But Boston is probably America's best sports city, per-capita. Which doesn't make it an easy place to be a fan of a non-New England team.

On February 3, 2017, Thrillist made a list ranking the 30 NFL cities (New York and Los Angeles each having 2 teams), and Boston came in 8th, in the top 1/3rd. They said: 

Have you ever walked through the Public Garden onto the cobblestone streets of Beacon Hill on a crisp fall day, and found a cannoli from Mike's that you didn't even realize you'd purchased hours before, and thought that you were in the greatest city in the world; the Hub, if you will, of the universe? 
And then did you get hit in the head by a Sam Adams bottle thrown by a 320lb liquored-up dude wearing a Marchand jersey over a Welker jersey over a Foulke jersey over a Scalabrine jersey, who'd just gotten so fired up rattling off Deflategate conspiracy theories that he missed the last Red Line train to the Quincy Adams station, and thought that you might not care if this city burned to the ground? Then congratulations, you truly understand the ups and downs of the Boston experience. 

The number of sports-themed sites you might want to check out is large:

* Fenway Park. Fenway is one of the most historic sports sites in America. Although, when there's a Sox home game going on, as Alec Guinness put it in Star Wars, "You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy."

In addition to the Red Sox, it was home to the Boston Braves' home games in the 1914 World Series (as they'd abandoned the antiquated South End Grounds and Braves Field wasn't ready yet), and football games were played there by Boston College, Boston University, and the Boston Redskins before they moved to Washington in 1937. It's hosted college hockey and, on New Year's Day 2010, the NHL Winter Classic, with the Bruins beating the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1 in overtime. (This remains, through 2014, the only Winter Classic to be won by the home team.)

Tours are available year-round, and depart at the top of every hour from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Admission is $17 for the regular tour, and $25 for the Premium Tour that includes allowing children to take pictures with their mascot, Wally the Green Monster. You can also go on the warning track (but not the actual field), see the left field Wall -- the original Green Monster -- up close, and even touch it, and they'll take you to the seats on top of it, where they used to have netting to protect the buildings across the street from being hit by home run balls. That netting, which was the only thing that caught Bucky Dent's October 2, 1978 home run, is now gone. (I wonder where the ball is today. Hopefully, in the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.)

I took the regular tour in 2002, before the Sox ended The Curse of the Bambino, kept my Yankee fandom to myself, and enjoyed it a lot. A tip: Stick a dollar bill in one of the Jimmy Fund boxes, as it's a charity raising money to fight pediatric cancer, with which the Red Sox have been involved since 1953 (and the Boston Braves before that since 1948).

4 Yawkey Way -- the address used to be 24 Jersey Street, and a Number 24 can still be seen on the big oak door that used to be the park's main entrance. Green Line B, C or D train to Kenmore Station. (Don't take the E, and, for some weird reason, there is no A.) When you come out of the station, hang a left onto Brookline Avenue, cross over the Mass Pike, and then the 2nd left onto Yawkey Way. (The 1st left is Ted Williams Way, formerly Lansdowne Street, which is fronted by the Monster, although you'll never recognize it from that angle. The field is below street level, so the Wall won't look its famous 37 feet, 2 inches of height.)

* Solomon Court at Cabot Center. This is part of Northeastern University's athletic complex, and was the site of the Huntington Avenue Grounds, the only other home the Boston Red Sox have ever known, from their founding in 1901 to 1911. When the Sox won the first World Series in 1903, it was clinched here. At roughly the spot where the pitcher's mound was, there is a statue of Cy Young, who pitched for the Sox in their 1903 and 1904 World Championship seasons. Huntington Avenue at Forsyth Street. Green Line E train to Northeastern.

* South End Grounds. This is still the most successful baseball location in Boston history. It was home to 3 ballparks, all named the Sound End Grounds. In 1871, the first such park was built there, and was home to the Boston Red Stockings of the first professional baseball league, the National Association. This team featured half the members of the first openly professional team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings (hence the name), and also had a young pitcher named Al Spalding, who would later co-found the team now known as the Chicago Cubs and the sporting-goods empire that still bears his name. Those Boston Red Stockings team won Pennants in 1872, '73, '74 and '75, and its strength (domination, really) was one of the reasons the NA collapsed.

When the National League was founded in 1876, the Red Stockings were a charter member. They won Pennants in 1877 and '78, and by the time they won the 1883 Pennant, they were popularly known as the "Boston Beaneaters." No, I'm not making that name up. Building a new park on the site in 1888, they won Pennants in 1891, '92 and '93. But on May 15, 1894, in a game against the NL version of the Baltimore Orioles, a fight broke out, and no one noticed that some kids had started a fire in the right-field seats. (Or maybe it was the ashes of a grown man's cigar. Both have been suggested, probably nobody knew for sure.) It became known as the Great Roxbury Fire, and the story goes that the park and 117 (or 170, or 200) buildings burned to the ground, and 1,900 people were left homeless – but nobody died. (I don't buy that last part at all.)

A new park was hastily built on the site, while the Beaneaters temporarily played at the home of the city's team in the 1890 Players' League. This last South End Grounds hosted the Braves' 1897 and '98 Pennant winners, and lasted until 1914, when, with the team now called the Braves (owner James Gaffney had been a "Brave," or officer, in New York's Tammany Hall political organization), decided it was too small for the crowds the team was now attracting. So he moved the team to Fenway, and played their 1914 World Series games there, and opened Braves Field the next season. Overall, 12 Pennants were won here, in a 44-year span -- one more than the Red Sox have won at Fenway Park in 102 seasons.

Parking for Northeastern University is now on the site -- and save your Joni Mitchell jokes. Columbus Avenue at Hammond Street. Orange Line to Ruggles.

* Third Base Saloon. There's some question as to what was the first "sports bar": St. Louis Brown Stockings (the team now known as the Cardinals) owner Chris von der Ahe's place on the grounds of Sportsman's Park, or Michael T. McGreevy's establishment that opened just outside the South End Grounds, both in the 1880s. "I call it Third Base because it's the last place you go before home," McGreevy would tell people. "Enough said." McGreevy used that phrase to settle any and all arguments to the point where not only did "Nuf Ced" become his nickname, but he had it (spelled that way) laid in mosaic tile on the bar's floor.

Third Base Saloon became the headquarters of the Royal Rooters, a Beaneaters' booster club, founded in 1897. In 1901, when the American League and the team that became the Red Sox was formed, Beaneaters founder-owner Arthur Soden made one of the dumbest mistakes in sports history: Despite competition practically next-door to his team, he raised ticket prices. This infuriated the working-class Irish fan base of the NL club, and they immediately accepted Nuf Ced's suggestion of switching to the AL outfit. (I wonder if they built their park near Nuf Ced's place for just that reason, to get his customers?)

Nuf Ced and the Rooters stayed with the Sox after their 1912 move to Fenway, until 1920 when Prohibition closed him down. He died in 1930, and to this day, no Boston baseball team has ever won a World Series without him being present at all home games. (Not legitimately, anyway.) A park with a bike trail is now on the site, so the address, 940 Columbus Avenue, is no longer in use. As with the site of South End Grounds, take the Orange Line to Ruggles.

A new version, named McGreevy's 3rd Base Saloon, was founded by Dropkick Murphys member Ken Casey, with "an exact replica of McGreevy's original barroom." 911 Boylston Street. Green Line B, C or D train to Hynes-Convention Center.

* Matthews Arena. Opened on April 16, 1910 as the Boston Arena, this is the oldest currently-used multi-purpose athletic building in use in the world. Northeastern still uses it, while BC, BU, Harvard, MIT and Tufts all once played home games here. It was the Bruins' 1st home, from 1924 to 1928, making it the only remaining original arena of one of the NHL's "Original Six" teams. (The Montreal Forum and Maple Leaf Gardens still stand, but neither was their team's original arena.) It was also the 1st home of the WHA's New England Whalers, now the Carolina Hurricanes. They won the 1973 WHA Championship there.

The Celtics played the occasional home game here from 1946 to 1955, on occasions when there was a scheduling conflict with the Garden. In 1985, the Celtics played an alumni game here, with the opposing teams coached by Red Auerbach (his players wearing the white home jerseys) and Bill Russell (who didn't play, his players wearing the road green).

A gift from NU alumnus George J. Matthews led the school to rename the arena for him. In spite of its age, the building is fronted by a modern archway. 238 St. Botolph Street at Massachusetts Avenue. Green Line E train to Symphony. Symphony Hall, Boston's answer to Carnegie Hall, is a block away at Massachusetts and Huntington Avenues.

* Site of Braves Field/Nickerson Field. Although Boston University no longer has a football team, it still plays other sports at Nickerson Field, which opened in 1957. Its home stand is the surviving right field pavilion of Braves Field, where the Braves played from 1915 until they left town. In return for being allowed to play their 1914 World Series games at Fenway, the Braves invited the Sox to play their Series games at Braves Field, which seated 40,000, a record until the first Yankee Stadium was built. The Sox played their home Series games there in 1915, '16 and '18. The Braves themselves only played one World Series here, in 1948, losing to the Indians, who had just beaten the Sox in a one-game Playoff for the AL Pennant at Fenway, negating the closest call there ever was for an all-Boston World Series.

The Braves' top farm team was the Triple-A version of the Milwaukee Brewers, and, with their team in decline after the '48 Pennant and the Sox having the far larger attendance, they gave up the ghost and moved just before the start of the 1953 season, and then in 1966 to Atlanta.

But they already had Warren Spahn and Eddie Mathews, and, ironically, if they'd just hung on a little longer, they would have had Hank Aaron (they'd already integrated with Sam Jethroe in 1948, 11 years before the Sox finally caved in to the post-1865 world and added Pumpsie Green). They could have played the 1957 and '58 World Series in Boston instead of Milwaukee.

If this had happened, once Ted Williams retired in 1960, interest in the declining Sox would have faded to the point that Tom Yawkey, not a New Englander, could have gotten frustrated, and the Red Sox could have moved with the Braves staying. If so, while the 1967, '75, '86, 2004, '07 and '13 World Series would have been played somewhere else, Boston would have gained the 1957, '58, '91, '92, '95, '96 and '99 World Series, and, because of the proximity, there would be a big New York-Boston rivalry in baseball, but it would be Mets-Braves. (Of course, this would have meant the Yankees' main rivals would be the Baltimore Orioles -- who are, after all, the closest AL team to them, closer than the Red Sox.)

Instead, the Braves moved, and BU bought the grounds and converted it into Nickerson Field. The NFL's Boston Redskins (named for the Braves) played their first season, 1932, at Braves Field, before playing 1933-36 at Fenway and then moving to Washington. The NFL's Boston Bulldogs played there in 1929, before folding due to the Depression. The AFL's Boston Patriots played at Nickerson 1960-62, and then at Fenway 1963-68. The former Braves Field ticket office still stands, converted into the BU Police headquarters. Unfortunately, the field is now artificial.

Commonwealth Avenue at Babcock Street and Harry Agganis Way. (Agganis was a BU quarterback who briefly played for the Red Sox before getting sick and dying at age 24 in 1955.) Green Line B train at Pleasant Street.

* TD Garden and site of Boston Garden. The TD Garden, formerly the Shawmut Center, the FleetCenter and the TD Banknorth Garden (TD stands for Toronto-Dominion Bank), opened in 1995, atop Boston's North Station, as a replacement for the original Boston Garden, home to the NHL's Bruins starting in 1928, the NBA's Celtics starting in 1946, and the WHA's New England Whalers in the 1973-74 season.

The old "Gahden" (which stood on the site of the parking lot in front of the new one) and the new one have also, since 1953, hosted the Beanpot hockey tournament, contested by BC, BU, Northeastern and Harvard. The old Garden hosted the NCAA's hockey version of the Final Four, now known as the Frozen Four, in 1972, 1973 and 1974. The new one has done so in 2004 and 2015.

The Celtics finally ended their drought in 2008, winning their 17th NBA Championship 22 years after winning their 16th in the old Garden, and the Bruins ended a drought in 2011, winning their 6th Stanley Cup 39 years after winning their 5th. (However, they still haven't clinched at home since Bobby Orr's "Flying Goal" in 1970, 2 days after Willis Reed limped onto the court and gave the Knicks their 1st title).

The Beatles played the old Garden on September 12, 1964. Elvis Presley played it on November 10, 1971. The new Garden is also home to the Sports Museum of New England. It hosted the Democratic Convention in 2004, nominating home-State Senator John Kerry for President. 150 Causeway Street. Green (outbound, so no letter necessary) or Orange Line to North Station.

Elvis also sang in Massachusetts at the Springfield Civic Center (now the MassMutual Center) on July 14 and 15, 1975; and July 29, 1976.

NCAA basketball tournament games have been held at the TD Garden, the Hartford Civic Center (now the XL Center), the Providence Civic Center (now the Dunkin Donuts Center), the Worcester Centrum (now the DCU Center), and the University of Rhode Island's Keaney Gymnasium in Kingston. But no New England building has ever hosted a Final Four, and none ever will, due to attendance requirements, unless the Patriots put a dome on Gillette Stadium.

No school within the city limits of Boston has ever reached the Final Four. One Massachusetts school has, at least according to current NCAA records: Holy Cross, in Worcester, winning the National Championship in 1947 with George Kaftan, "the Golden Greek," and reaching the Final Four again in '48 with Bob Cousy (a freshman in '47 and ineligible under the rules of the time).

The University of Massachusetts, with its main campus in Amherst, 93 miles west of Downtown Crossing, made the Final Four in 1996, under coach John Calipari, but had to vacate the appearance when later Knick Marcus Camby admitted he'd accepted money and gifts from agents.

The University of Connecticut (UConn, in Storrs, 83 miles southwest, closer to Boston than to Manhattan) has made it 5 times, winning it all in 1999, 2004, 2011 and 2014, and losing in the Semifinal in 2009. The only New Hampshire school to make it is Dartmouth, in Hanover, 126 miles northwest, in 1942 and 1944, losing in the Final both times. The only Rhode Island school to make it is Providence, in 1973 and 1987 (coached by future Big East Commissioner Dave Gavitt and future preening schmo Rick Pitino, respectively). No school from Maine or Vermont has ever reached the Final Four.

* Garden Bars. Several noted drinking emporiums are near TD Garden. Perhaps the most famous, and once rated the best sports bar in America by Sports Illustrated, is The Fours, at 166 Canal Street. It's named for "the Miracle of the Fours": 1970 Stanley Cup Finals, Game 4, overtime (therefore the 4th period), winning goal scored by Number 4, Bobby Orr, while tripped up by Noel Picard, Number 4 of the St. Louis Blues, to clinch the Bruins' 4th Stanley Cup. (Some people like to point out that it was Orr's 4th goal of the Finals; in fact, it was his 1st.)

As mentioned, the Sports Grille Boston is at 132 Canal Street. McGann's is at 197 Portland Street; while The Greatest Bar – a name, if not an apt description – is at 262 Friend Street.

* Alumni Stadium. Boston College has played football here since 1957, and the Patriots played their 1969 home games here. Prior to 1957, BC played at several sites, including Fenway and Braves Field.

Attached to the west stand of Alumni Stadium is their basketball arena, the Conte Forum, named for a BC grad, longtime Congressman Silvio Conte, a native of Pittsfield, across the State in the Berkshire Mountains. It was built on the site of BC's original arena, the McHugh Forum, which hosted the 1963 edition of the NCAA's hockey version of the Final Four, now called the Frozen Four.

Across the street is a library named for Conte's friend and fellow Congressman from Massachusetts, Cambridge native and 1977-86 House Speaker Thomas "Tip" O'Neill. Beacon Street at Chestnut Hill Drive. Green Line B train to Boston College.

* Harvard Stadium. The oldest continually-used football stadium in America -- the University of Pennsylvania’' Franklin Field is on the oldest continually-used football site -- this stadium was built in 1903, and renovations (funded by those wealthy Harvard alums) have kept it in tip-top condition, if not turned it into a modern sports palace.

This stadium is responsible for the legalization of the forward pass in football. When the organization that became the NCAA was founded in 1906, rules changes were demanded to make the game safer. One suggestion was widening the field, but Harvard – at the time, having as much pull as Notre Dame, Michigan and Alabama now do, all rolled into one – insisted that they'd just spent all this money on a new stadium, and didn't want to alter it to suit a rule change. Much as Notre Dame has sometimes been a tail wagging college football's dog, the Crimson were accommodated, and someone suggested the alternative of legalizing the forward pass, which had occasionally been illegally done.

Today, the stadium is best known as the site of the 1968 Harvard-Yale game, where the two ancient rivals both came into the game undefeated, and a furious late comeback from 29-13 down led to the famous Harvard Crimson (school newspaper) headline "HARVARD BEATS YALE 29-29" and a tie for the Ivy League Championship. (Actor Tommy Lee Jones, then listed as "Tom Jones," started at guard for Harvard in that game. His roommate at Harvard was future Vice President Al Gore.) The Patriots played 1970, their first season in the NFL and last under the name "Boston Patriots," at Harvard Stadium.

Although its mailing address is 79 North Harvard Street in "Allston, MA," and the University is in Cambridge, the stadium is actually on the south, Boston side of the Charles River. Harvard Street at Soldiers Field Road. Unfortunately, it's not that close to public transportation: Your best bet is to take the Red Line to Harvard Square, and walk across the Anderson Memorial Bridge.

A short walk down Soldiers Field Road, at 65 N. Harvard Street, is Jordan Field, the 4,000-seat home of the Harvard men's and women's soccer teams, and of the Boston Breakers -- not a descendant of the USFL team, but the local XI in Women's Professional Soccer. The Breakers previously (2009-11) played at Harvard Stadium. In 2013, the Revolution and the Red Bulls played a U.S. Open Cup game at Jordan Field, the only time the Revs have actually played a competitive match within the city limits of Boston. (The Revs won, 4-2.)

Boston College has won the NCAA Championship in hockey in 1949, 2001, 2008 and 2010; Boston University in 1971, 1972, 1978, 1995 and 2009; Harvard in 1989. Northeastern has never won it.

* Suffolk Downs. Opened in 1935, this is New England's premier horse-racing track. On their last tour, on August 18, 1966, the Beatles played here. However, as horse racing has declined, so has the track, to the point that New England's best known race, the Massachusetts Handicap (or the Mass Cap) hasn't been run since 2008. Previously, it had been won by such legendary horses as Seabiscuit, Whirlaway, Riva Ridge and Cigar.

So, unless you really loved the film Seabiscuit or are a huge Beatlemaniac, I'd say that if you don't have the time to see everything on this list, this is the first item you should cross off. 525 McClellan Highway, at Waldemar Avenue, in the East Boston neighborhood, near Logan Airport. Blue Line to Suffolk Downs station.

* Museum of Fine Arts. This is Boston's equivalent to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I'm not saying you have to visit, but you should see one major Boston tourist site that doesn't involve sports, and it's a 10-minute walk from Fenway and a 5-minute walk from the sites of the Huntington Avenue and South End Grounds. 465 Huntington Avenue at Parker Street. Green Line E train to Museum of Fine Arts station.

* Freedom Trail. Boston's most familiar tourist trap is actually several, marked by a red brick sidewalk and red paint on streets. Historic sites include Boston's old and new City Halls, Massachusetts' old and new State Houses (old: Built 1713, with the State Street subway station somehow built into it; "new": 1798), the Old North Church (where Paul Revere saw the two lanterns hung) and the Old South Meeting House (where Samuel Adams started the Boston Tea Party and would be horrified at the right-wing bastards using the "Tea Party" name today), Revere's house (said to be the oldest standing house in Boston), the Boston Tea Party Ship, the U.S.S. Constitution, and the Bunker Hill Monument.

The Trail starts at Boston Common, at Park and Tremont Streets. Green or Red Line to Park Street.

* Cambridge. Home to Harvard and MIT, it is not so much "Boston's Brooklyn" (that wouldn't be Brookline, either, but would be South Boston or "Southie" and neighboring Dorchester) as "Boston's Greenwich Village," particularly since Harvard Square was the center of Boston's alternative music scene in the Fifties and Sixties, where performers like Joan Baez and the aforementioned Kingston Trio became stars. Later, it would be rock acts like Aerosmith, the J. Geils Band and the Dropkick Murphys that would make their names in Cambridge.

The city is also home to the Longfellow House, home of the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. And while it is worth a visit, no, you cannot, as the old saying demonstrating the Boston accent goes, "Pahk yuh cah in Hahvuhd Yahd." Harvard Yard does not allow motorized vehicles. Centered around Harvard Square at 1400 Massachusetts Avenue. Red Line to Harvard Square.

* John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. Unlike the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, which is a 2-hour drive north of Midtown Manhattan in Hyde Park, closer to Albany, the JFK Library is much more accessible – not just to drivers and non-drivers alike, but to anyone. Maybe it's because it's more interactive, but maybe it's also because FDR is a figure of black-and-white film and scratchy radio recordings, while JFK is someone whose television images and color films make him more familiar to us, even though he's been dead for over 50 years now. (Incredibly, he's now been dead longer than he was alive.)

Sometimes it seems as though his Library is less about his time than it is about our time, and the time beyond. While I love the FDR Library, there's no doubt in my mind that this is the best Presidential Library or Museum there is. Columbia Point, on the Boston campus of the University of Massachusetts. Red Line to JFK/UMass, plus a shuttle bus.

Also on the UMass-Boston campus is the Clark Athletic Center, which hosted one of the 2000 Presidential Election's debates between Al Gore and George W. Bush. 100 Morrissey Blvd., 4 blocks from the JFK Library.

Other Massachusetts Presidential sites include the JFK Tour at Harvard, JFK's birthplace at 83 Beals Street in Brookline (Green Line B train to Babcock Street), those involving John and John Quincy Adams in Quincy (Red Line to Quincy Center – not to "Quincy Adams"), the house at 173 Adams Street in Milton where George H.W. Bush was born (Red Line to Milton, now has a historical marker, although the house itself is privately owned and not available for tours), and the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Library and Museum, in Northampton where he was Mayor before becoming the State's Governor and then President (20 West Street, 100 miles west of Boston, although Greyhound goes there). Closer than Northampton are sites relating to Franklin Pierce in Concord and Hillsboro, New Hampshire.

Salem, home to the witch trials, is to the north: MBTA Commuter Rail Newburyport/Rockport Line out of North Station to Salem. Plymouth, where the Pilgrims landed and set up the Massachusetts Bay Colony, is to the south: MBTA Kingston/Plymouth Line out of South Station to Kingston, then switch to FreedomLink bus.

Lexington & Concord? Lexington: Red Line north to its terminal at Alewife, then switch to the 62 or 76 bus. Concord: MBTA Fitchburg/South Acton Line out of North Station to Concord. Bunker Hill? 93 bus on Washington Street, downtown, to Bunker Hill & Monument Streets, across the river in the Charlestown neighborhood, then 2 blocks down Monument.

The Bull & Finch Pub, which was used for the exterior shot and the basis for the interior shot of Cheers, was at 84 Beacon Street at Brimmer Street, across from Boston Common and near the State House. It's since been bought and turned into an official Cheers, with the upstairs Hampshire House (the basis for the show's rarely-seen seafood restaurant Melville's) also part of the establishment. Green Line to Arlington. A version designed to look more like the one on the show, complete with an "island bar" instead of a "wall bar," is at Faneuil Hall. Congress & Market Streets. Orange or Blue Line to State, since Government Center is closed for renovations.

The Suffolk County Court House, recognizable from David E. Kelley's legal dramas Ally McBeal, The Practice and Boston Legal, is at the Scollay Square/Government Center complex. The official address is 3 Pemberton Street, at Somerset Street. Again, use State, due to the closure of Government Center.

The Prudential Tower, a.k.a. the Prudential Center (not to be confused with the Devils' arena in Newark), at 749 feet the tallest building in the world outside New York when it opened in 1964, contains a major mall. 800 Boylston Street. The finish line of the Boston Marathon, and the site of the 2013 bombing, is at 755 Boylston at Ring Road. Green Line B, C or D to Copley, or E to Prudential.

There are two John Hancock Buildings in Boston, although neither officially has the name on it anymore. The older one, at 197 Clarendon Street at St. James Avenue, went up in 1947 and is better known as the Berkeley Building. It is 495 feet high counting a spire that lights up, and is a weather beacon, complete with poem:

Steady blue, clear view.
Flashing blue, clouds due.
Steady red, rain ahead.
Flashing red, snow instead.

If it's flashing red during baseball season, when snow is not expected (except maybe in April), that means that day's Red Sox game has been postponed. When the Sox won the Series * in 2004, '07 and '13, it flashed red and blue.

The glass-facaded newer building, at 200 Clarendon across from the old one, was completed in 1976 and is 790 feet tall, making it not just the tallest in Boston, in Massachusetts, or in New England, but the tallest in North America east of Manhattan. Green Line to Copley.


I know lots of people in New York and New Jersey hate New England. This is unfair: The region is a terrific place, even if you don't like their sports teams.

American soccer fans have -- with the notorious except of NYCFC last year, the idiots -- gone out of their way to not be hooligans in the English style. Keep it clean, and Revs fans will welcome you as honorable opponents.

Just don't be surprised if the Revs players play dirty. The fans won't.

Good luck, but, just in case, remember: Safety first. Despite Boston's reputation of having several fine medical centers, if given a choice, it's better to be an uninjured coward than a hospitalized tough guy.

Too Many Tylers Do Not Spoil the Game

After one game where Joe Girardi's bullpen idiocy almost cost the Yankees a win, and another where it did, the Yankees needed a great all-around performance against the Chicago White Sox at Comisk... at U.S. Cell... at Guaranteed Rate Field last night.

They got it. The pitching game through, with Masahiro Tanaka pitching his 2nd straight strong game after struggling so hard this season: 6 innings, 2 runs, 6 hits, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts -- and no home runs. Chasen Shreve got the 1st out in the 7th, and Chad Green the other 2 and all 3 in the 8th.

A White Sox error led to 3 Yankee runs in the 1st before Tanaka even had to throw a pitch. Rookie left fielder Tyler Wade got his 1st major league hit and RBI with a 6th inning double, part a a 5-run inning that also included another Aaron Judge home run, his 27th. The Yankees scored 4 more runs in the 9th, including the 9th home run of the season by Didi Gregorius.

The Yankees took a 10-run lead in the bottom of the 9th. Now, I have said on a number of occasions that Joe Girardi is an idiot. But, having gotten success out of Tyler Wade, I was concerned that he might put Tyler Clippard into the game.

He didn't. He did, however, put rookie Tyler Webb in. And, for a moment, I was worried that he might be as bad as Tyler Clippard -- or that even Tyler Austin, who is not a pitcher, would be a better option. Fortunately, Webb allowed just 1 run, and we all calmed down. We didn't have too many Tylers spoiling the game.

Yankees 12, White Sox 3. WP: Tanaka (6-7). No save. LP: Carlos Rodon (0-1). And, with the Boston Red Sox losing last night, the Yankees are again tied for 1st place in the American League East, a game ahead of the Sox in the all-important loss column.

The series concludes tonight. Luis Cessa starts for the Bronx Bombers, and former Tampa Bay pain in the neck James Shields for the Pale Hose. Then, it's off to Houston for a weekend series against the rampaging Astros, which could be a harbinger of things to come -- either way.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Anthony Young, 1966-2017

The unluckiest man in baseball has been unlucky for the last time.

Anthony Wayne Young was born on January 19, 1966 in Houston. He went to the University of Houston in the mid-1980s, a time when Carl Lewis, Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler were recent graduates. He was drafted as a righthanded pitcher by the New York Mets in 1987.

He made his major league debut on August 5, 1991. He pitched 2 1/3rd innings in relief of Pete Schourek, and allowed a run. As a result of a double switch, he was placed in the 5th spot in the batting order, but did not come to the plate. The Mets lost 7-2 to the Chicago Cubs at Shea Stadium.

The next season, he switched from Number 33 to 19. Unfortunately, these were the 1992 Mets, The Worst Team Money Could Buy, according to the title of a book by sportswriter Bob Klapisch. On April 19, he was the winning pitcher, despite allowing 2 runs in 3 1/3rd innings of relief, as the Mets beat the Montreal Expos 11-6 at the Olympic Stadium. This was followed by relief appearances without decisions in Philadelphia and Atlanta.

Then, on May 6, he was the losing pitcher as the Mets lost 5-3 to the Cincinnati Reds at Riverfront Stadium. He kept losing, finishing the year with a record of 2-14, although he did have 15 saves.

The streak continued into 1993. He broke the record of 23 consecutive losing decisions, by Cliff Curtis of the 1910-11 Boston Doves (forerunners of the Braves). He eventually lost 27 straight decisions: 0-14 as a starter and 0-13 as a reliever.

If 1992 was a competitive disaster for the Mets, 1993 was one both competitively and morally. It was the year Bobby Bonilla threatened Klapisch in the locker room, captured on video; Bret Saberhagen put bleach in a water gun and squirted it at reporters and Vince Coleman set off a firecracker in the Dodger Stadium parking lot, injuring a toddler.

Manager Jeff Torborg was fired, and noted disciplinarian Dallas Green was brought in. Green was able to stop the tomfoolery, but not the losing. And it was hardly just Young: Even stars like Saberghagen and future Hall-of-Famer Eddie Murray were underachieving.

It's not that Young was particularly bad, either: Included in that streak was 12 straight save opportunities successfully converted, and a streak of 23 2/3rds consecutive scoreless innings. Those 27 losses included 13 "quality starts," but the Mets went just 4-23 in those games -- and in none of those 4 wins could the win be credited to Young. I don't remember the details, but I do remember that either the 24th, 25th or 26th straight loss was one in which he stood to be the winning pitcher, but he was betrayed by his defense.

Fans sent him good luck charms: Four-leaf clovers, horseshoes, rabbits' feet. Psychics called the Met offices, offering their help. No less than Hall-of-Famer Bob Feller, one of the greatest pitchers then living, wrote him a letter of encouragement. He was introduced to Cliff Curtis' descendants, who wished him well. Jay Leno invited him to appear on The Tonight Show when the streak ended, and he accepted. It got to be like the stories of Catholics praying for Gil Hodges of the Brooklyn Dodgers during his hitless run in the 1952 World Series.

"Finally!" I remember Len Berman saying on WNBC-Channel 4 on the night of July 28, 1993. Young was 0-13 on the year, 0-for-his-last-27, and Green brought him in to pitch the 9th inning against the expansion Florida Marlins at Shea. He didn't help himself, but an error by catcher Todd Hundley also contributed to the Marlins scoring a run. But in the bottom of the 9th, Jeff McKnight singled, Dave Gallagher sacrificed him to 2nd, Ryan Thompson tied the game with a single, and Murray doubled Thompson home with the winning run. Mets 5, Marlins 4. WP: Young (1-13).

After the game, reporters asked Young if it felt like "the monkey is off your back." He said, "It wasn't a monkey, it was a zoo."

Years later, he said, "I got a bad rap on that. I always said I didn't feel like I was pitching badly. It just happened to happen to me. I don't feel like I deserve it, but I'm known for it."

The Mets traded him to the Cubs before the 1994 season, and he finished his career with the Houston Astros in 1996. His career record was 15-48 -- 15-21 without the streak -- but his career ERA was 3.89, giving him an ERA+ of 100, exactly average, and his WHIP was 1.387, bad for a reliever, but for a guy who was a starter and a reliever, not especially shabby.

He returned to the Houston area, married, had 3 children, worked in a chemical plant, and coached in local youth leagues.
But earlier this year, he was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. It took his life yesterday, June 27, 2017. He was just 51 years old.

Anthony Young did not deserve to lose 27 straight decisions. He did not deserve to have his 51st and 52nd years be full of pain and misery. He certainly did not deserve to have his 52nd year be his last.

May he rest in peace. God knows he earned it.

UPDATE: He was buried in Forest Park Cemetery in Houston.