Sunday, December 31, 2017

Number 563

And now, my 563rd and last post of the calendar year 2017. Interestingly enough, it matches the career home run total of my all-time favorite athlete, Reggie Jackson.

It's been a typical year, full of good things and bad things. But it's also been a very atypical year, full of things that had never happened before, and never should have happened.

Goodbye, 2017. So long, farewell, auf wiedersehn, get lost!


Days until the Alex Rodriguez Contract From Hell officially runs out, and the Yankees can spend his salary on new players: 0! It's over!

Days until The Arsenal play again: 3, this Wednesday afternoon at 2:45 PM our time, home to West London club Chelsea. Today, they were robbed of a win against West Midlands side West Bromwich Albion, due to a bogus penalty from the worst referee in sports on planet Earth, Mike Dean.

Days until the New Jersey Devils next play a local rival: 7, this coming Sunday night, against the New York Islanders, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Their next game against the Philadelphia Flyers will be on Saturday, January 13, 2018, at the Prudential Center. They won't play the New York Rangers again until the last week of the regular season, on Tuesday, April 3, at the Prudential Center.

Days until Phil Murphy is inaugurated as Governor of New Jersey: 16, on Tuesday, January 16. Goodbye, Chris Christie, and stay out.

Days until the U.S. national soccer team plays again: 28, on Sunday night, January 28, at 9:30 PM Eastern Time, a friendly against Bosnia and Herzegovina (that's 1 country), at the StubHub Center in the Los Angeles suburb of Carson, California. Just 4 weeks. After that, no matches are scheduled. They were supposed to play at the World Cup in June 2018. Alas...

Days until the next Winter Olympics begins in Pyeongchang, Korea: 40, on February 9. Under 6 weeks.

Days until the next North London Derby: 41, on Saturday, February 10, at Wembley Stadium in West London, where Spurs are playing their "home games" until the new stadium they're building on the site of White Hart Lane opens the following August. Two things could change this day-count: The game could be moved due to the British TV networks' demands.

Days until the New York Red Bulls play again: 69. They open at home against the Portland Timbers on March 10. Just under 10 weeks.

Days until the Red Bulls next play a "derby": Unknown, as the rest of the 2018 MLS regular season schedule has yet to be released, so we don't yet know when they'll next play New York City FC, the Philadelphia Union, D.C. United or the New England Revolution.

Days until Opening Day of the 2018 Major League Baseball season: 88on Thursday night, March 29, as the Yankees open away to the Toronto Blue Jays. Under 3 months.

Days until the Yankees' 2018 home opener: 92, on Monday afternoon, April 2, against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Days until the next Yankees-Red Sox series begins: 100, on Tuesday, April 10, at Fenway Park.

Days until the next World Cup kicks off in Russia: 165, on June 14. Under 6 months. But the U.S. team won't be playing. At least now, Donald Trump doesn't have to choose, and can root for his favorite country, the host nation, Russia.

Days until September 2018 roster call-ups, when we can finally start to expect seeing most of these wonderful "prospects" that Yankee general manager Brian Cashman wanted: 244. Just 8 months.

Days until Rutgers University plays football again: 244, on Saturday, September 1, home to Texas State University. 

Days until East Brunswick High School plays football again: Unknown. The 2018 schedule hasn't been released yet. But the season opener is usually on the 1st Friday in September. that would be September 7, which is 250 days from now.

Days until the next Congressional election, when we can elect a Democratic Congress that can impeach and remove Donald Trump from the Presidency: 310, on November 6. A little over 10 months.

Days until the next Rutgers-Penn State game: 321, on Saturday, November 17, at High Point Solutions Stadium in Piscataway, New Jersey.

Days until the next East Brunswick-Old Bridge Thanksgiving high school football game (after tomorrow's): 326, on Thursday, November 22.

Days until the Baseball Hall of Fame vote is announced, electing Mariano Rivera: 388, on January 23, 2019. A little over a year, or a little over 12 months.

Days until the next Women's World Cup kicks off: 523, on June 7, 2019, in France. A little under a year and a half, or a little over 17 months. The U.S. team, as 3-time and defending Champions, has, as usual, a better chance than the men's team would have had in 2018 anyway.

Days until the Baseball Hall of Fame vote is announced, electing Derek Jeter: 752on January 22, 2020. A little over 2 years, or a little over 24 months.

Days until the next Summer Olympics begins in Tokyo, Japan: 936on July 24, 2020. A little over 2 1/2 years, or a little over 30 months.

Days until the next Presidential election, when we can dump the Trump-Pence regime and elect a real Administration: 1,048on November 3, 2020. Under 3 years, or 34 months.

Days until Liberation Day: 1,116at noon on January 20, 2021. A little over 3 years, or 36 months. Note that this is liberation from the Republican Party, not just from Donald Trump. Having Mike Pence as President wouldn't be better, just differently bad, mixing theocracy with plutocracy, rather than mixing kleptocracy with plutocracy.

Days until the next World Cup for which the American team will be eligible is scheduled to kick off: 1,784, on November 21, 2022, in Qatar. Under 5 years, or about 59 months. The charges of corruption against Qatar may yet mean that they will lose the tournament, in which case it will be moved to a nation where it would not be too hot to play it in June and July.

How Long It's Been: The Buffalo Bills Made the Playoffs

As was pointed out a few hours ago on Twitter...

Here's something no one has ever truthfully said on Twitter, or Facebook, or in a blog, or in a streaming video, until today:

The Buffalo Bills are in the Playoffs!

Yes, Jim Mora Sr., I'm talking about Playoffs!

The Bills were the only team in the 4 North American major league sports that hadn't made the Playoffs in a calendar year within the 21st Century, until today, when they beat the Miami Dolphins 22-16 at Hard Rock Stadium, and got the benefit of the Cincinnati Bengals beating the Baltimore Ravens 31-27, to knock the Ravens out of contention. The Bills last made the Playoffs in the 1999 season.

The Bills' last Playoff game was against the Tennessee Titans on January 8, 2000, at what's now named Nissan Stadium in Nashville, the game known as the Music City Miracle, for its incredible last play.

The Bills clinched a Playoff berth in the regular season finale, on January 2, 2000. They beat the Indianapolis Colts 31-6 at Ralph Wilson Stadium, now named New Era Field.

That's 18 years. How long has that been?


The Bills' coach was Wade Phillips. The starting quarterback was Doug Flutie, the 1984 Heisman Trophy winner. Thurman Thomas, Andre Reed and Bruce Smith, heroes of their 4 straight AFC Championship seasons of 1990 to 1993, were still with them.

Current Bills coach Sean McDermott was 25 years old, and a scout for the Philadelphia Eagles. Their oldest current player, linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, now 34, was a junior in high school in Oakland. Current starting quarterback Nathan Peterman was 5 years old, and living in the Jacksonville area.

The New England Patriots, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the New Orleans Saints and the Seattle Seahawks had not yet won a Super Bowl. Nor had the Rams since their move to St. Louis. Nor had the Colts since their move to Indianapolis. Nor had the Baltimore Ravens since moving from being the original Cleveland Browns.

The Bucs, the Seahawks, the Saints; the Rams, Colts and Ravens since moving, and the Carolina Panthers had never been to a Super Bowl. The Arizona Cardinals hadn't been to an NFL Championship Game under any name in 51 years, and that was 2 cities earlier. The Houston Texans only existed on paper. All of those facts are no longer true.

The Patriots, the Seahawks, the Texans, the Cardinals, the Colts, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Denver Broncos, the Detroit Lions, the Chicago Bears, the Philadelphia Eagles, the Dallas Cowboys, and the New York Giants and Jets have all opened new stadiums since. The Rams and Chargers have moved back to Los Angeles. The Oakland Raiders have announced they are moving to Las Vegas.

The Montreal Expos have become the Washington Nationals, the Vancouver Grizzlies the Memphis Grizzlies, the original Charlotte Hornets the New Orleans Hornets and now the New Orleans Pelicans, and the Atlanta Thrashers the new Winnipeg Jets.

The Charlotte Bobcats have been established, and become the new Charlotte Hornets. The NHL has added the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Minnesota Wild and the Vegas Golden Knights, the 1st major league team in Nevada. The Jackets, unless you count MLS' Columbus Crew, were the 1st major league team in Columbus since the NFL's Pandhandles in the 1920s.

Sammy Baugh, Steve Van Buren, Chuck Bednarik, Otto Graham, Elroy "Crazylegs" Hirsch, Dick "Night Train" Lane, Roosevelt Brown, Johnny Unitas, Jim Parker, Deacon Jones, Merlin Olsen, John Mackey, George Blanda, Gene Upshaw, Mike Webster and Reggie White had recently been named to The Sporting News' 100 Greatest Football Players. They were all still alive then. They're all dead now.

Tom Brady and Drew Brees were still in college; Eli Manning, Troy Polamalu, Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers in high school. Matt Ryan was 14 years old, Clay Matthews 13, Sam Bradford 12, Richard Sherman and Russell Wilson 11; Cam Newton, Rob Gronkowski and Andrew Luck 10; Odell Beckham Jr. and Johnny Manziel 7, Dak Prescott and Marcus Mariota 6, Joey Bosa and Kareem Hunt 5.

Current Giants coach Steve Spagnuolo was an assistant coach with the Philadelphia Eagles, Todd Bowles of the Jets the defensive coordinator for Grambling State University, Alain Vigneault of the Rangers was head coach of the Montreal Canadiens, John Hynes of the Devils was an assistant coach at Boston University, Jeff Hornacek of the Knicks was playing for the Utah Jazz, Doug Weight of the Islanders was playing for the Edmonton Oilers, Aaron Boone of the Yankees was playing for the Cincinnati Reds, Mickey Callaway of the Mets was playing for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, and Kenny Atkinson of the Nets was playing in France's basketball league.

The defending World Champions were the Denver Broncos in the NFL, the Yankees in MLB, the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA, and the Dallas Stars in the NHL. The Heavyweight Champion of the World was Lennox Lewis.

The Olympics have since been held in America, Canada, Britain, Australia, Greece, Italy, China, Russia and Brazil. The World Cup has since been held in Japan, Korea, Germany, South Africa and Brazil.

Four of the Justices then on the Supreme Court are still on it now: Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer. The idea was corporations were "people," and entitled to the rights thereof, was ridiculous -- but neither was the idea that two consenting adults of the same gender could get married taken seriously.

The President of the United States was Bill Clinton. George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, their wives, and the widow of Lyndon Johnson were still alive. George W. Bush was Governor of Texas, and had launched his campaign for President. Barack Obama was in the Illinois State Senate. Donald Trump had been talking about running for President someday. Most people thought he was joking. After all, the idea of a failed businessman with no political qualifications becoming President was ridiculous.

The Governor of the State of New York was George Pataki. The Mayor of the City of New York was Rudy Giuliani. The Mayor of Buffalo was Anthony Masiello, and he's now a lobbyist. Current Mayor Byron Brown was just elected the 1st black member of the City Council.

Current Governor Andrew Cuomo was U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. The Governor of New Jersey was Christine Todd Whitman. Current outgoing Governor Chris Christie was a lobbyist for deregulating the energy industry. (That shouldn't surprise you.) Current Governor-elect Phil Murphy was President of Goldman Sachs. And current New York Mayor Bill de Blasio was on the Board of Education.

There were still living veterans of World War I, the Mexican Revolution, the Easter Rising, the Bolshevik Revolution, and Benito Mussolini's March On Rome. There were living survivors of the Galveston Hurricane of 1900, the General Slocum fire of 1904, the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911, the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, the Ludlow Massacre of 1914, and the builders of the Panama Canal.

Doctors Without Borders had just been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The Pope was John Paul II. The current Pope, Francis, was Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the Archbishop of Buenos Aires.

The Prime Minister of Canada was Jean Chretien, and of Britain Tony Blair. The monarch of both was Queen Elizabeth II -- that hasn't changed.

Manchester United was coming off the only "European Treble" in English soccer history, having won the Premier League, the FA Cup and the UEFA Champions League. In the season then underway, Man U would win the Premier League again, but West London club Chelsea would win the FA Cup, and Real Madrid would win the Champions League. There have since been 4 Presidents of the United States, 4 Prime Ministers of Britain, and 3 Popes.

Recent fiction bestsellers included Timeline by Michael Crichton, Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason by Helen Fielding and Hannibal by Thomas Harris. All would be made into major motion pictures.

Stephen King combined his loves of fantasy and baseball, publishing The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. J.K. Rowling had published 3 Harry Potter novels, George R.R. Martin 2 A Song of Ice and Fire books. There had not yet been any Hunger Games, Millennium or Twilight books.

Recently premiered films included The Green Mile, The Cider House Rules, Bicentennial Man, a live-action version of Stuart Little, the football film Any Given Sunday, the Andy Kaufman biopic Man On the Moon, the science-fiction spoof Galaxy Quest, the Rubin Carter biopic The Hurricane, The Talented Mr. Ripley, and Angela's Ashes.

Star Wars had recently resumed with Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Pierce Brosnan had just played James Bond again in The World Is Not Enough, which featured Sophie Marceau as the 1st female main "Bond villain." It also featured Denise Richards as a nuclear scientist, which was almost as ridiculous as Jar Jar Binks.

Star Trek had recently wrapped up Deep Space Nine, but Voyager was still going. Dean Cain was the most recent live-action Superman, but George Clooney's Batman nearly killed the franchise.

Recently-debuted TV shows included Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Angel, Roswell, The Parkers, Judging Amy, Relic Hunter, Freaks & Geeks, Courage the Cowardly Dog, and, perhaps the greatest TV show ever made, The West Wing.

The Number 1 song in America was "Smooth," by Carlos Santana, with Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty singing. Former Beatle George Harrison had just survived getting stabbed by a home invader. Boy George had also narrowly avoided death, as a 62-pound disco ball fell from the stage during a rehearsal, and nearly hit his head.

Sean Combs (whatever he was calling himself at the time) and his then-girlfriend were arrested on weapons charges. People ask me why I don't like him. Here's a good reason: He got Jennifer Lopez arrested.

New Millennium's Eve shows included Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden, the Eagles at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Barbra Streisand at The MGM Grand Las Vegas, Neil Diamond at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Elton John at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Metallica with local boys Ted Nugent and Kid Rock at the Pontiac Silverdome, and Phish in front of 75,000 people at the Big Cypress Indian Reservation in South Florida.

Inflation was such that what $1.00 bought then, $1.46 would buy now. A U.S. postage stamp cost 33 cents, and a New York Subway ride $1.50. The average price of a gallon of gas was $1.22, a cup of coffee $1.93, a McDonald's meal (Big Mac, fries, shake) $5.69, a movie ticket $5.22, a new car $20,900, and a new house $204,800. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed that day at a record high of 11,497.12.

The tallest building in the world was the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. We had the Internet, but there was, as yet, no Wikipedia, no iPod, no Skype, no MySpace, no Facebook, no YouTube, no Twitter, no Tumblr, no iPhone, no Pinterest, no Instagram, no Vine. The original Sony PlayStation was the leading home video game system of the time.

In the last days of 1999 and the first days of 2000 -- at the turn of the 20th to the 21st Century -- Tori Murden became the 1st woman to cross the Atlantic Ocean alone in a rowboat, going from the Canary Islands off the coast of Spain to Guadeloupe in the Caribbean. An Indian airliner was hijacked between Kathmandu and Dehli, and held for 7 days, before the passengers were released in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

Portugal turned its colony of Macau over to China. America turned control of the Panama Canal over to Panama. Both of these were mandated in treaties concluded years earlier. And Boris Yeltsin retired as President of Russia, handing control over to his Prime Minister... Vladimir Putin.

Joseph Heller, and Curtis Mayfield, and former All-Star Met 1st baseman John Milner died. Nobody particularly famous yet was born during those days, but new Devils star Nico Hischier, and Red Bulls player Tyler Adams, and AC Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma were born in 1999.

January 2, 2000. The Buffalo Bills clinched a Playoff berth. It didn't happen again for just under 18 years.

Now it has happened again. Can they possibly do something with it? Stay tuned.

Most Playoff Appearances -- NFL Teams, 1920-2017

The Buffalo Bills clinched a Playoff berth today. The last time they did that was in 1999. They were the last major league sports team to have not made the Playoffs in the 21st Century -- although their last Playoff game was the game of January 8, 2000 against the Tennessee Titans known as the Music City Miracle.

Now, the teams with the longest droughts are: MLB, Seattle Mariners, 2001; NFL, Cleveland Browns, 2002 (they completed the NFL's 2nd 0-16 season today); NBA, Minnesota Timberwolves, 2004; NHL, Carolina Hurricanes, 2009.

On this list, ties are broken by more NFL Championships (not just most Super Bowls), then more NFL Championship Game (including Super Bowl), appearances, then more Conference Championship Game appearances, then more Division Championships, then by fewer seasons of play. This also includes NFL Championships won in the pre-Playoff era, 1920-31:

1 Green Bay Packers 35
2 New York Giants 33
3 Dallas Cowboys 32
4 Pittsburgh Steelers 31, including this season
5 Minnesota Vikings 29, including this season
6 Cleveland Browns 28
Rams combined 28
7 Chicago Bears 27
Colts combined 27
8 San Francisco 49ers 26
9 New England Patriots 25, including this season
10 Philadelphia Eagles 25, including this season
11 Washington Redskins 24
12 Miami Dolphins 23
13 Denver Broncos 22
Raiders combined 22
14 Los Angeles Rams 22, including this season
Oilers/Titans combined 22
15 Kansas City Chiefs 20, including this season
16 Detroit Lions 18
17 Buffalo Bills 18, including this season
Chargers combined 18
18 Indianapolis Colts 17
19 Seattle Seahawks 16
20 Oakland Raiders 15
21 New York Jets 14
22 Atlanta Falcons 14, including this season
23 Cincinnati Bengals 14
24 New Orleans Saints 11, including this season
25 Baltimore Ravens 10
26 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10
Cardinals combined 10
27 Carolina Panthers 8, including this season
28 Tennessee Titans 7, including this season
29 Jacksonville Jaguars 7, including this season
30 Arizona Cardinals 5
31 Houston Texans 4
32 Los Angeles Chargers 1 (1960)


Of course, some context is needed. Of course, "most times made Playoffs" is weighted toward the older teams. So how about percentage?

The 1st column to the right of the team's name is the number of times they've made the Playoffs. The next is their number of seasons. The last is, on the average, every how many years they make the Playoffs.

1 Dallas Cowboys 32 58 1.81
2 Minnesota Vikings 29 57 1.97
3 Baltimore Ravens 10 22 2.20
4 Miami Dolphins 23 52 2.26
5 New England Patriots 25 58 2.32
6 Cleveland Browns 28 72 2.57
7 Seattle Seahawks 16 42 2.63
8 Indianapolis Colts (combined) 27 71 2.63
9 Denver Broncos 22 58 2.64
10 Oakland Raiders (combined) 22 58 2.64
11 Tennessee Titans (combined) 22 58 2.64
12 Pittsburgh Steelers 31 85 2.74
13 San Francisco 49ers 26 72 2.77
14 Green Bay Packers 35 97 2.77
15 New York Giants 33 93 2.82
16 Carolina Panthers 8 23 2.88
17 Los Angeles Rams (combined) 28 81 2.89
18 Kansas City Chiefs 20 58 2.90
19 Buffalo Bills 18 58 3.22
20 Los Angeles Chargers (combined) 18 58 3.22
21 Jacksonville Jaguars 7 23 3.29
22 Philadelphia Eagles 25 85 3.40
23 Cincinnati Bengals 14 50 3.57
24 Washington Redskins 24 86 3.58
25 Chicago Bears 27 98 3.63
26 Atlanta Falcons 14 52 3.71
27 Houston Texans 4 16 4.00
28 New York Jets 14 58 4.14
29 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10 42 4.20
30 New Orleans Saints 11 51 4.64
31 Detroit Lions 18 84 4.67
32 Arizona Cardinals (combined) 10 98 9.80

How to Be a Devils Fan In Brooklyn -- 2018 Edition

The New York Islanders don't play at the Nassau Coliseum anymore. For New Jersey Devils fans, this is good news: Not that the building long past the days when it could be called "Fort Neverlose" was a tough place to play the last few years, or that Islander fans were particularly inhospitable, the way they are to fans of the New York Rangers.

No, the problem was that getting there, and back, was not half the fun. Or any of it. Trying to get from New Jersey, across New York City, to Hempstead/Uniondale in the heart of Long Island was a pain in the ass.

The Islanders now play in the Barclays Center. However, those days are already numbered. There is a plan to build an 18,000-seat arena for the team adjacent to Belmont Park racetrack. If all goes well, it should open for the 2020-21 season.

At any rate, an Islanders game in Brooklyn is be a very different experience from what it was on Long Island, as you may find out if you go in the Devils' 1st visit of this season, which, oddly, wasn't scheduled to be held until this coming Sunday. It's a 6:00 PM start, not a 1:00 matinee or a traditional 7:00 PM start.

Before You Go. In New York and North Jersey, anything is possible as far as the weather goes, but since you'll be mainly indoors, and you'll probably be taking the Subway to the Barclays Center, it won't be nearly as much of an issue as it would be going to Yankee Stadium, Citi Field or MetLife Stadium.

The current cold snap, set to give New York its coldest New Year's Eve and Day in half a century, is forecast to break by next Sunday. The temperatures are expected to be in the mid-20s for Sunday afternoon, and the high teens for the evening. You know, regular New York Winter weather.

It's the Eastern Time Zone, so you don't have to worry about fiddling with your timepieces.

Tickets. The Islanders are averaging 11,789 fans per home game this season -- 31st and dead last in the NHL. They are averaging 74.6 percent of capacity, and only the Carolina Hurricanes, with a much larger seating capacity, are doing worse.

Ordering tickets online is almost certainly going to be better than just walking up to the ticket window, plunking down some cash or your card, and saying, "One, please." But you could probably do that with no trouble.

In the lower level, the 2-digit sections, and in the 100 sections above them, seats between the goals are $110. Behind the goal, they're $60. In the upper level, the 200 sections, they're $45 between the goals, $39 in the corners, and $29 behind the goal.

Getting There. Sad to say, if you're a Devils fan going to Brooklyn to see them play the Islanders, or an Islander fan going to Newark to see them play the Devils, and you're not taking a car, you may still have to go through Penn Station and thus under Madison Square Garden, home of the Rangers, who (both sets of fans agree) suck!

Once In the City. About 2.6 million people live in Brooklyn, about 8.6 million in the entire City, about 2.8 million on Long Island, and about 23.8 million in the entire New York Tri-State Area.

Kings County was named for King Charles, but the Dutch name Breuckelen stuck, and it became the City, and after 1898 the Borough, of Brooklyn.

ZIP Codes for Brooklyn begin with the digits 112. The Area Code used to be 212, but in 1984, Area Code 718 was split off to serve Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island. The Bronx joined it in 1992. 718 is now overlaid by 347, 917 and 929. Long Island's Area Code was 516, and 631 is now an overlay.

I-278 and I-678, the Belt Parkway, is the "beltway" for Brooklyn and Queens. It includes the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE), the Grand Central Parkway, the Van Wyck Expressway and the Shore Parkway.

The Subway fare is $2.75 for a one-way ride, but do yourself a favor and get a multiple-ride card. And there's a $1.00 surcharge for a new card, so if you live within the Northeast Corridor, and expect to be back in Ne York within the next year (cards are good for one full year from the date of purchase), it's probably better to keep your card at the end of your trip. A 7-Day Unlimited Pass is $31. Whichever kind you get, they can be used on both Subway trains and buses.
Going In. The address of the Barclays Center, perhaps the weirdest-looking building in the entire city, and named for a London-based banking and financial services company, is 620 Atlantic Avenue, at the southern edge of Downtown Brooklyn, intersecting with Flatbush Avenue. It's about 5 miles southeast of Midtown Manhattan, across the street from the LIRR's Atlantic Terminal, and several Subway lines meet there: The 2, 3, 4, 5, B, D, N, Q and R lines.
Very weird-looking.

The best way to get there from Penn Station is to take the 2 or 3; from Port Authority, take the tunnel connecting the 8th and 7th Avenue lines and take the 2, 3, N or Q; from Grand Central, take the 4 or 5.
I mean, really weird-looking.

Since the main Subway exit is at the northwest corner of the arena, that's most likely where you'll be walking in. The arena has been home of the Nets since it opened in 2012 (delayed a few days due to Hurricane Sandy), several concerts have been held there, and the Islanders just moved in, making it 1 of 11 arenas to currently host both an NBA team and an NHL team.

But its seating capacity is too low (15,795 for hockey, as opposed to 17,732 for basketball), the seats aren't properly aligned for hockey (behind-the-basket seats had to be removed at one end), and the scoreboard, while on-center for basketball, is off-center for hockey. I suppose it wouldn't be an Islander game if the building wasn't whacked-out in some way.
Groundsharing can be fun. In this case, it isn't.

The rink is aligned east-to-west. The Isles attack twice toward the east end.

The Barclays Center opened on September 28, 2012, with a concert by Brooklyn's own Jay-Z. Concerts in 2016 included Brooklynite Barbra Streisand, Bruce Springsteen, Rihanna, Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez (not with former boyfriend Bieber), and Demi Lovato with former boyfriend Nick Jonas. But the most famous musical performance there was the MTV Video Music Awards on August 25, 2013, when Miley Cyrus twerked to teddy bears and reverse-humped Robin Thicke as he sang "Blurred Lines."

The arena hosted its 1st Heavyweight Championship fight on January 16, 2016, as WBC Champion Deontay Wilder knocked out Artur Szpilka. On November 4, 2017, Wilder returned, and knocked out Bermane Stiverne.

UPDATE: On March 3, 2018, Wilder scored a 3rd knockout at the Barclays Center, of Luis Ortiz. Remains WBC Heavyweight Champion.

Food. New York is one of the world's great food cities, and the Barclays reflects this far better than does "The World's Most Famous Arena" across town. Nets part-owner Jay-Z turned the old 40/40 Club nightclub into an upscale dinner & a show chain, and put an outlet in the Barclays. If you can't afford that, there are other options.

The Ticketmaster Main Concourse has Brooklyn Burger (behind Section 3), Calexico (a Brooklyn-based Mexican chain, 3), Avenue K Deli (Jewish, 6), Fatty Cue BBQ (7), Brooklyn Bangers & Dogs (hot dogs & sausages, 8), Paisano's Meat Market (Italian sandwiches, 10), Bud Stuy Grill (17), Buffalo Boss (wings and fries, 22), Nathan's (the famous Coney Island-based hot dog chain with the wonderful crinkle-cut fries, 24), Habana Outpost (Cuban sandwiches, 25), Junior's, Blue Marble & More (another New York legend, 26), Fresco's by Scotto (Italian, 29), and Brooklyn Burger (29).

The Metro PCS Upper Pavilion has L&B Spumoni Gardens (whose base restaurant is in the Gravesend section of Brooklyn, here they serve pizza and ice cream -- not mixed together, Section 206/207 and 225/226), Nathan's (Section 206/207), Habana Outpost (Section 209/210), Brooklyn Burger (Section 209/210), Prospect Heights Grill (Section 222/223), Fatty 'Cue (Section 222/223), and Brooklyn Bangers & Dogs (Section 225/226).

Team History Displays. The Islanders' history is summed up in 4 moments: The 1975 Playoff upset over the Rangers; the 4 and oh-so-close to 5 straight Stanley Cups of 1980 to 1984, including 3 Playoff wins over the Rangers; the 1987 "Easter Epic" Game 7 win over the Washington Capitals; and the run to the 1993 Conference Finals. But since the dawn of the Clinton Administration, they've won nothing.

The Islanders' 4 Stanley Cup banners now hang on the south side of the arena, alongside the retired number banners of the Nets. Also hanging are single banners for division and conference titles, as opposed to the banners for all of those that hung in the Coliseum: The Conference titles of 1980, '81, '82, '83 and '84; and the Division titles of 1978, '79, '81, '82, '84 and '88. (That's regular-season Division titles, not the "Patrick Division Playoff Champions" that were also available, and which they won in 1978, '79, '80, '81, '82, '83, '84 and '93.)
On the north side of the arena, alongside the Nets' championship banners, the Isles feature their retired number banners. All of them are from their Stanley Cup wins: 5, defenseman and Captain Denis Potvin (who, it should be pointed out, did not suck); 9, left wing Clark Gillies; 19, center Bryan Trottier; 22, right wing Mike Bossy; 23, right wing Bob Nystrom; and 31, goaltender Billy Smith. Gillies, Trottier and Bossy formed "the Trio Grande Line."
The Isles also honor coach Al Arbour and general manager Bill Torrey with banners. Torrey's banner has a bowtie, which he always wore, and the words "The Architect." Arbour, a good defenseman who usually wore Number 3 in his playing days, had been represented by a banner with the number 739 on it, for his coaching wins.

In 2007, when it was noticed that he had coached 1,499 games in the NHL, coach Ted Nolan asked the Isles and the League to allow him to step aside for 1 game, so that Arbour could be a head man for a 1,500th time. It was set up, and the Isles won. A new banner went up with Arbour's name and the number 1500. It made him the oldest man to coach in the NHL, and only Scotty Bowman has coached, or won, more games.
All of these men, except Nystrom, scorer of the goal that clinched the 1st Cup in 1980, are in the Hockey Hall of Fame. So is Pat LaFontaine, whose number has not been retired, but he has been elected to the Islanders' Hall of Fame. So have Bob Bourne, Ken Morrow, Patrick Flatley and Kenny Jonsson. Tomas Jonsson, a defenseman from the Cup teams, and no relation to Kenny, has been elected to the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Hall of Fame. Torrey, Arbour, Morrow and LaFontaine have been awarded the Lester Patrick Trophy for contributions to hockey in America. All of these honorees are still alive, except for Arbour, who died in 2015.

Unfortunately, the plaques for the Islanders' Hall of Fame are next to the team's locker room, and are not accessible to the general public.

Morrow played for the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team. Potvin, Bossy, Trottier and Smith were named to The Hockey News' 100 Greatest Players in 1998. So were Sweeney Schriner and Nels Stewart of the old New York Americans. Potvin, Trottier, Smith, Bossy and LaFontaine were named to the NHL's 100th Anniversary 100 Greatest Players last year. (Oddly, LaFontaine is not yet in the Hockey Hall of Fame.)

Stuff. There are lots of souvenir stands at the Barclays, and even though the Isles are decidedly the building's 2nd team, after the Nets, they should have whatever you might be interested in. If anything: You are, after all, a Devils fan.

But there's only a Nets Shop on the Flatbush side of the arena -- as yet, no Islanders Shop, like the Islanders Pro Shop on the east side of the Coliseum. Again, this "groundsharing" agreement has the Islanders as something they haven't been since the Nets moved out of the Coliseum in 1977, something the Jets always were at the Polo Grounds, Shea Stadium and Giants Stadium: The undisputable junior partner.

In 2012, to commemorate the team's 40th Anniversary, Greg Prato wrote Dynasty: The Oral History of the New York Islanders, 1972-1984. In 2005, Peter Botte of the Daily News and Alan Hahn of MSG Network picked up the story from the end of the dynasty with Fish Sticks: The Fall and Rise of the New York Islanders.

To celebrate their 15th Anniversary in 1987, the team released Pride of the Island: The New York Islanders Story, which is available on, but only in VHS form. So is Never Say Die: The Story of the New York Islanders, released in 1996.

In 2009, the NHL released the DVD New York Islanders: 10 Greatest Games, but Amazon says it is currently not available. It includes all 4 Cup clinchers, the 1982 Game 5 comeback against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the overtime Playoff clincher against the Rangers in 1984, the 4-overtime Game 7 "Easter Epic" against the Washington Capitals in 1987, the 1993 overtime winner against the Penguins in 1993, a 2002 Playoff win over the Toronto Maple Leafs that featured a penalty shot by Shawn Bates, and Arbour's 1,500th game in 2007 (also against the Penguins). It doesn't, however, include the Game 7 overtime winner against the Capitals by Pierre Turgeon (and his subsequent clobbering by Dale Hunter), the Islanders' most consequential win of the last 30 years.

During the Game. A November 19, 2014 article on The Hockey News' website ranked the NHL teams' fan bases, and listed the Islanders' fans 22nd -- 1 place below the Devils, and well below the Rangers, dead last in the Tri-State Area: "Maybe improved team, move to Brooklyn finally gets people interested in Isles." This prediction proved to be, at the very least, premature.

Islander fans hate the Rangers. They also don't like the Devils -- but their jealousy of our 3 Stanley Cups since 1995 leads them to say we are jealous of them for their 4 Cups, now long ago. Riiiight.

At any rate, they don't especially hate us any more than they hate Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington or Boston. They certainly don't hate us as much as they hate the Rangers. A Ranger fan, wearing a Ranger jersey, took his life into his hands in and around the Nassau Coliseum. That hasn't changed at the Barclays Center. A Devils fan, wearing Scarlet & Black, should be fine, as long as he doesn't provoke Islander fans.

The January 7 game with the Devils is Law Enforcement Appreciation Night, aiding the New York Police and Fire Widows' and Children's Benefit Fund as we fight to support the families of New York City's first responders who have been lost in the line of duty.

The number of concession stands and bathrooms increased greatly in the move from the Coliseum to the Barclays. Convenience was key, and no longer will a game with only 12,000 fans feel like rush hour on the Subway.

The Islanders used to have mascots. Nyisles (pronounced like Frasier's brother) was "a seafaring islander." He was replaced by Sparky the Dragon, who had already been the mascot for the other team playing at the Coliseum -- no, not the Nets (though the New Jersey version had tried Duncan the Dragon), the Arena Football League's New York Dragons. But the character was retired, and didn't make the trip down the LIRR to Brooklyn.

Amanda Kaletsky is the regular National Anthem singer for the Islanders. Their goal song is "Crowd Chant" by Joe Satriani. The fans have a deep attachment to their cheerleaders/cleanup crew, the Ice Girls.

At least once every period, the whistle to which we have all become accustomed at the Prudential Center, and before that at the Meadowlands, will ring out in the arena where it originated, followed by the chant: "RANGERS SUCK!" (Which... they do.) Islander fans do not, however, add what we add, because they simply don't hate the Flyers as much as we do.

Inevitably, at some people, the Barclays sound system will play "The Chicken Dance," and at the point where most people would do the 4 claps, Islander fans shout, "The Rangers suck!" (Which, as I said, they do.)

After the Game. Brooklyn's reputation as a high-crime place is not nearly as true as it was up until the mid-1990s. Certain parts of Brooklyn still manage to defy this, but if you manage to avoid anybody who got drunk during the game, you'll probably be safe. Besides, it's only a short walk from the arena to the Subway or (if you came by LIRR) the Atlantic Terminal. Despite Brooklyn's image as a place for tough guys, white and black alike, Islander fans are mostly mouth. They're not going to fight you, with the possible exception of if you're wearing a Ranger jersey.

Unlike The Garden, there aren't many places around the Barclays Center where you can get a postgame meal, or just a pint. Jay-Z had The 40/40 Club, named for a legendary Atlantic City nightclub (which he also revived down there), built into the arena. But it's a little upscale for the average fan, especially one who's just spent a lot on tickets and arena food. Alchemy, at 56 5th Avenue at Bergen Street, is listed as serving "Comfort food in a pub style atmosphere," but that's about it. You may have to head into the Subway and look for something elsewhere.

If you're visiting New York during the European soccer season, as we are now in, there are many places where you can watch your favorite team. The best "football pub" in The City, and, indeed, in the country, is The Football Factory, downstairs at Legends NYC, at 6 West 33rd Street, across from the Empire State Building, and 2 blocks east from The Garden. B, D, F, N, Q or R train to 34th Street-Herald Square. The best one in Brooklyn is Woodwork, at 583 Vanderbilt Avenue in Prospect Heights. A or C train to Clinton-Washington Avenues.

Sidelights. This is where I discuss other sports-related sites in the metropolitan area in question, and then move on to tourist attractions that have no (or little) connection to sports. Since most people reading this will be from the Tri-State Area, I'll keep it short as possible. Indeed, since the focus is on the Brooklyn team, I'll focus on stuff in Brooklyn -- but also mention the former home of the Islanders.

I should note that the site of the Barclays Center was desired by Brooklyn Dodger owner Walter O'Malley as the site of what would have been America's 1st domed baseball stadium. Officially listed in plans as The Brooklyn Sports Center, it was nicknamed O'Malley's Pleasure Dome (the name taken from Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem about Kublai Khan, "Xanadu").

By being across from the Atlantic Terminal and on top of a major Subway junction, it would have eliminated what was, along with the limited seating capacity, the biggest problem with Ebbets Field: Only 750 parking spaces. With so many Dodger fans having come back from World War II and gotten housing loans on the G.I. Bill, allowing them to move out to Queens and Long Island proper, instead of having to drive in to Flatbush, they could drive to their local LIRR station and take the train in, thus being able to celebrate their Dodgers in Brooklyn without having to "be in Brooklyn."

But Robert Moses, New York's construction czar, didn't want a stadium there -- probably because it wouldn't have been "his stadium," it would have been O'Malley's. He wanted one out in Flushing Meadow-Corona Park, across from the site of the 1939-40 World's Fair he designed, to correlate with the 1964-65 World's Fair he was planning. O'Malley had a point: If the Dodgers were going to go to Queens, they wouldn't be the Brooklyn Dodgers anymore. Their identity would be gone. They might as well leave The City, they might as well leave the East Coast. And they did.

To make matters worse, Moses never offered his Flushing Meadow stadium to the Giants, who had better reasons to replace the Polo Grounds than the Dodgers had to replace Ebbets Field: Although it had the largest seating capacity in the National League at the time, it, and its neighborhood, were falling apart.

So while the move (some would say "theft") of the Dodgers was O'Malley's fault, first and foremost, Moses was, however indirectly, an accomplice. Some blame him more than O'Malley, which is stupid. He can be blamed 2nd, but not 1st.

* Site of Ebbets Field. It's hard for those of us under the age of 65, who have no memory of the Dodgers in Brooklyn or the Giants at the Polo Grounds, to realize that Shea Stadium, Dodger Stadium and Candlestick Park have all now lasted longer than Ebbets Field did (47 years) -- and that Dodger Stadium has now surpassed the final version of the Polo Grounds in age as well (53 years).

Ebbets Field gets romanticized by all those Dodger fans who made it big in media and entertainment, all of them now old or dead. The Giants don't get remembered as well because nobody wrote a book about them the way Roger Kahn wrote The Boys of Summer about the 1950s Dodgers, and because, while the Mets replaced the Giants as a representative of all of New York, there is no representative specifically of Brooklyn. (Had the Mets' permanent stadium been in Brooklyn instead of Queens, it might have been another story.)
Yes, that's a real color photograph of Ebbets Field. Not colorized.

Ebbets Field was flawed. Built in 1913, it had most of the flaws of the stadiums built in the ballpark building boom of 1909 to 1915, when 14 of the 16 teams then in existence built or moved into new stadiums of concrete and steel. (The St. Louis Cardinals waited until 1920 to move into the newer, larger ballpark in their town, and the Philadelphia Phillies waited until 1938, both remaining in wooden stadiums that opened in the 1890s.)

It only had 31,497 seats and 750 parking spaces, and it was a 6-block walk from the closest Subway stations -- now serviced by the B and Q to Prospect Park, and the 2, 3, 4 and 5 to Franklin Avenue. And if you've ever been to Fenway Park or Wrigley Field, with narrow iron seats and narrow rows, not exactly built with 21st Century tushes and legs in mind, you'll get an idea of what it was like to sit through 9 innings there.

But also had an intimacy that few ballparks had, even then. Most of the players lived not that far from the ballpark, instead of in Manhattan high-rises or on New Jersey or Long Island estates, as present-day Yankees and Mets tend to do these days. The furthest seats were close enough to see the players' facial expressions. The fans felt that they knew the players, and that the players knew them. And the characters, from noisy bleacherite Hilda Chester to the awful musicians that Dodger broadcaster Red Barber named "the Dodger Sym-Phony Band, with the emphasis on the 'Phony'!"

My grandmother was a Dodger fan from Queens. She told me that the Polo Grounds was a dump, but that, despite O'Malley not spending any money on upkeep -- aside from being naturally cheap, what did he need to do that for, since he was going to be out by the 1960s anyway? -- Ebbets Field was not falling apart, even toward the end. I asked her, point-blank: If the price for keeping the Dodgers in Brooklyn was building a modern ballpark, and sacrificing your beloved Ebbets Field, would you have paid that price? Without hesitation, she gave me an emphatic, "Yes." She would have liked Citi Field, the Mets' new ballpark, with its exterior designed to look like Ebbets Field, and its home-plate rotunda, designed to resemble the one at the Flatbush ballyard.

The Dodgers left after the 1957 season, and demolition began on February 23, 1960. Four years later, on April 11, 1964, the same demolition company used the same wrecking ball, still painted to look like a baseball, to begin tearing down the Polo Grounds.

In 1962, Ebbets Field Apartments opened on the site. Low-income housing, and long noted for drug sales, it's liveable again, although I would suggest visiting in daylight. 1720 Bedford Avenue, bordered by Bedford, Sullivan Place, McKeever Place and Montgomery Street. (The McKeever brothers, Ed and Steve, along with Charles Ebbets, owned the team in the 1910s and '20s.) The home-plate entrance was at McKeever and Sullivan. Across McKeever is an intermediate school named for Ebbets Field, formerly named for Jackie Robinson. A playground named for Jackie is just to the north of the school, behind where the left-field stands used to be. (At roughly the same spot in comparison to the Polo Grounds Towers is a playground named Willie Mays Field).

* MCU Park and Coney Island. Named for the iconic Brooklyn-based company formerly known as KeySpan, and before that as Brooklyn Union Gas, this is the home of the Brooklyn Cyclones, established in 2001 as the Class A farm team of the Mets, and as the 1st professional sports team, at any level, in Brooklyn since the Dodgers left. Ironically, along each baseline there is a zigzag roof, similar to the ones over the bleachers at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.

The park was built on the site of Steeplechase Park, one of the amusement parks that made Coney Island America's 1st summer resort. It's not actually an island, but a peninsula. The original Dutch settlers named it "Conyne Eylandt" -- Rabbit Island. The rabbits, like Steeplechase and the old Dreamland and Luna Park to the east, are long gone. Only Astroland remains, and even that has been significantly redeveloped in the last few years.

The Cyclones have a rivalry with the Staten Island Yankees, with the Yankees-Mets dynamic coming into play. They beat the "Baby Bombers" in the Playoffs in 2007, but lost to them in 2006 and 2011. They have won their Division of the New York-Penn League 5 times, most recently in 2010. In their 1st season, 2001, they had won Game 1 of their championship series with the Pennsylvania-based Williamsport Crosscutters. The next day was September 11. The rest of the series was canceled, and the teams were declared Co-Champions. This is the Cyclones' only Pennant thus far.
MCU Park, with the Parachute Jump over right field,
and the water beyond.

When I first saw their mascot, I thought it was an eagle, named for the legendary newspaper, the Brooklyn Eagle, which, after the Dodgers lost the 1941 World Series to the Yankees, blared in a front-page headline what became the Dodgers' motto until they finally beat the Yanks in 1955 (bittersweetly, mere months after the paper folded): "WAIT 'TIL NEXT YEAR." But it's actually a seagull, Sandy the Seagull, named for the beach. (Not for Brooklyn native Sandy Koufax.) Despite the effects of the 2012 hurricane on the Tri-State Area as a whole, and Coney Island in particular, the mascot's name is still Sandy.

Over the right-field wall is the now-retired (due to safety) Parachute Jump, once a legendary Coney Island ride, which had been designed for the 1939 World's Fair and then moved to the boardwalk. Adjacent to that is a skating rink named for Abe Stark, who rode an advertising sign at Ebbets Field ("HIT SIGN WIN SUIT -- ABE STARK -- Brooklyn's Leading Clothier") to the Presidency of the City Council (where he fought in vain to keep the Dodgers in Brooklyn) and later to the Presidency of the Borough.

Outside the park is a statue of Dodger legends Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese, symbolizing the friendship of the 1st nonwhite player in modern Major League Baseball, and the Southern-born team captain who chose to defy prejudice and assert his friendship with the man. Although Jackie, buried in Brooklyn's Cypress Hills Cemetery, has many honors throughout The City, this was his 1st statue in the Five Boroughs.

1904 Surf Avenue. D, F, N or Q train to Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue. The team is named for the iconic Coney Island roller coaster, at 1000 Surf, visible over the left-field wall. Also nearby, at 1300 Surf, is the original Nathan's hot dog stand, which celebrated its 100th Anniversary in 2016.

On June 9, 1899, James J. Jeffries won the Heavyweight Championship of the World at the Coney Island Athletic Club, knocking out the Champion, Bob Fitzsimmons. On November 3, 1899, he defended the title here, defeating Tom Sharkey. It was located at W. 8th Street and Surf Avenue, in what's now the parking lot for the New York Aquarium.

On May 11, 1900, Jeffries defended the title at the Seaside Athletic Club by knocking out former Champion Jim Corbett. I can find no record of where this place was. It may simply have been the Coney Island A.C., renamed.

* Site of Washington Park. The team now known as the Dodgers -- previously known as the Grays; the Bridegrooms, because 3 of their 1880s players got married in a single off-season; the Superbas, after a circus troupe, Hanlon's Superbas, due to their manager being name Ned Hanlon; and the Robins, in honor of manager Wilbert Robinson -- played in 2 different places named for George Washington. (Ironically, Los Angeles also had a baseball facility named Washington Park.)

The 1st Washington Park was bounded by 3rd & 5th Streets, and 4th & 5th Avenues, in the Gowanus neighborhood. The property contained an old building then called the Gowanus House, which stands today, albeit largely reconstructed. It was Washington's command post during the Battle of Long Island. The proto-Dodgers began here in 1883, and won the American Association Pennant in 1889 and the National League Pennant in 1890.

The 2nd, which the club began using in 1898, opened at 1st & 3rd Streets, and 3rd & 4th Avenues, on the opposite corner of 4th Avenue from its predecessor. There they remained until 1912, winning Pennants in 1899 and 1900 -- Brooklyn's last "world championship" in baseball until 1955. Although its 18,800-seat capacity was big for the 1890s, the ballpark building boom that began in 1909 made it completely inadequate, and Charlie Ebbets began buying up lots in Flatbush where he built the stadium that would bear his name.

The Brooklyn Tip-Tops of the Federal League used it in the 1914 and 1915 seasons, but the league folded, and the park was soon demolished. But there is a remnant, perhaps the only remaining remnant of a 19th Century baseball stadium: Part of the wall still stands on the eastern side of 3rd Avenue, in what's now a Con Edison yard. R train to either Union Street or 9th Street.

* Site of Union Grounds. Built in 1862 as the 1st enclosed baseball ground, and named for the country in that time of Civil War, this was the home of several amateur teams that helped to popularize the game, who were actually "clubs," just as the early soccer teams in Britain still are, and, unlike today's baseball teams, which only call themselves "ballclubs," still have "Football Club" as part of their official names: The Atlantic, the Excelsior, and the Eckford among them. In the winter, it was flooded, and turned into an ice rink.

Harrison Avenue, Rutledge Street, Lynch Street and Marcy Avenue, in the Williamsburg section. Heyward Street now runs through the site, and the Juan Morel Campos Secondary School and the Marcy Avenue Armory are on the site. G train to Broadway.

The 1st baseball stadium, the Elysian Field in Hoboken, New Jersey, was designed for cricket rather than for baseball, and was never enclosed. It did not last long, being demolished in 1883.

* Site of Capitoline Grounds. Named for a famed hill in Rome, this 5,000-seat wooden stadium opened in 1864, meant to rival and surpass the Union Grounds. The Atlantics made it their home, and it was here, on June 14, 1870, that, in the first "greatest baseball game ever played," they ended the 89-game (or 130-game, depending on whose records you believe) unbeaten streak of the 1st professional baseball team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings.

This ballpark, too, became a skating rink in the winter. But its existence was even shorter than its rival's, as it was demolished in 1880. Halsey Street, Marcy Street, Putnam Avenue and Nostrand Avenue, in Bedford-Stuyvesant. A or C train to Nostrand Avenue. While this neighborhood, notorious for crime not that long ago, should be safe during the day, definitely do not visit at night.

* Site of Satellite Grounds. Another early baseball site, more often used by black clubs, including the Uniques and the Monitors. The NYPD's 90th Precinct House is on the site today. 211 Union Avenue, at Broadway & Rutledge Streets. G train to Broadway.

* Brooklyn Paramount. Opened in 1928, this 4,084-seat theater was a major jazz venue in the 1930s and 1940s. But it was the late 1950s that imprinted it on people's memories: Alan Freed, and later Clay Cole, hosted 10-day Christmas-season rock-and-roll festivals, featuring all the legends and semi-legends of the era. If you've ever seen the film La Bamba, about Ritchie Valens, one of these shows was depicted. (Although they probably had to use, ironically for Brooklyn, a Los Angeles theater as a stand-in for filming it.)

Like its contemporary, the Paramount Theater in Manhattan's Times Square, it still stands, but is no longer used as a theater. Rather, in 1962, it was converted into the gymnasium for Long Island University. Now named the Arnold and Marie Schwartz Athletic Center, the LIU Blackbirds played basketball on the stage once rocked by Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Fats Domino, Buddy Holly and Dion, until 2005, when they moved into a new gym.

The building is still used for sports, and the LIU Student Union is next-door. 1 University Plaza, at Flatbush & DeKalb Avenues, in the Fort Greene neighborhood, just east of downtown. B, Q or R train to DeKalb Avenue.

* Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The Nets and expansion Islanders moved into the brand-new Coliseum in 1972, and while it took the Isles a while to find their bearings, the Nets won right away, including the 1974 and 1976 ABA titles with Dr. J, Bill Melk and Super John.
In 1976, they were invited to join the NBA. But in order to get in, they had to pay the NBA an expansion fee, and pay the Knicks a territorial indemnification fee. As a result, they had to sell Erving to the Philadelphia 76ers. The Nets went from being the best team in a 6-team league to being the worst team in a 22-team league. They had to get out, and they did.

Meanwhile, the Isles were building the team that would win 4 straight Stanley Cups from 1980 to 1983, and win a record 19 straight postseason series from 1980 to 1984. The Coliseum became known as "Fort Neverlose," and the Isles' battles with the Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins became legendary.
But after the 1987 Easter Epic, a 4-overtime Game 7 win over the Washington Capitals, the Isles got old in a hurry. Aside from a 1993 trip to the Conference Finals, they've been just another team at best, and pathetic (and poorly-dressed) at worst. A failed referendum to build a new arena in 2010 led to speculation that they would move to Kansas City, which has built a new arena, but new ownership cut a deal to move them into the Barclays Center, which they have now done.

Which is just as well, for many reasons. Getting there is not half the fun, and neither is getting back. It's a pain in the ass to get in and out of: First you have to get on the LIRR at Penn Station, then you have to change trains at Jamaica, then you have to take the Hempstead Branch to the Hempstead Terminal, then you gotta ride the N70, N71 or N72 bus down the Hempstead Turnpike, and then you gotta schlep across a desolate parking lot.

In addition, as Devils fans found out at the Meadowlands, having 1 level of concourse for 2 levels of seating means cramped confines, and long lines for food and bathrooms. It's a terrible design. Actually, the seating area isn't so bad: The 16,170 seats are comfortable, and sight lines are good. But by the time you get there, you're already in a nasty mood, and regardless of whether you're rooting for the Islanders or the visiting team, you're loaded for bear. No wonder the place, when it has any atmosphere, has a bad one.

Elvis Presley sang at the Nassau Coliseum on June 22, 23, and 24, 1973, and on June 19, 1975. The 1st concert on his Fall 1977 tour was supposed to be there, but it was not to be. It's also hosted many other renowned concerts, including major ones by Long Island native Billy Joel.

The Coliseum has now been fully redeveloped, with its seating area downsized to 13,500, and is now home to the Long Island Nets, a Brooklyn Nets farm team. It is also being considered for a minor-league hockey team that would be an Islanders farm club. 1255 Hempstead Turnpike at James Doolittle Blvd. The mailing address is Uniondale, but it's part of the Town of Hempstead.
To the west, across Earl Ovington Blvd., is the campus of Hofstra University, including Weeb Ewbank Hall, the former offices and practice facility of the New York Jets. Across Hempstead Turnpike from that is another part of the Hofstra campus, including James M. Shuart Stadium.

Although Hofstra no longer plays football, they play other sports there, and the new version of the New York Cosmos, as the original version did for a time in the early 1970s (winning the 1972 Soccer Bowl there, 2-1 over the St. Louis Stars), began their history by playing their home games there, before moving to the Brooklyn Cyclones' ballpark.

Hofstra's theater, the Leo A. Guthart Cultural Center, hosted the 2nd Presidential Debate of 2008, between Senators Barack Obama of Illinois and John McCain of Arizona; and the 3rd Debate of 2012, between President Obama and former Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts. 779 Hempstead Turnpike, at California Avenue, 2 blocks west of Shuart Stadium and 9 blocks west of the Coliseum.

* Belmont Park. New York's greatest horse racing track is home to some of the greatest competitions in thoroughbred racing: The Belmont Stakes (the 3rd and final leg of the Triple Crown, the mile-and-a-half "True Test of Champions"), the Jockey Club Gold Cup, the Metropolitan Handicap (a.k.a. the Met Cap), the Manhattan Handicap (a.k.a. the Man Cap), the Champagne Stakes, the Mother Goose Stakes, the Man O' War Stakes, and many others. It has hosted the Breeders' Cup in 1990, 1995, 2001 and 2005.
The Belmont Stakes was previously held in Jerome Park in The Bronx from 1867 to 1890, at Morris Park in the Bronx from 1891 to 1904. Belmont Park opened on May 4, 1905, but the main grandstand was torn down in 1962. From 1963 to 1967, the major Belmont races, including the Belmont Stakes, were run at Aqueduct in nearby Queens. On May 20, 1968, the current grandstand opened, seating 33,000. With infield seating, usually used only for the Belmont Stakes, capacity has reached 120,139, making it the largest sports venue in the Tri-State Area.

The Islanders recently outbid Major League Soccer's New York City FC for the right to build a venue on adjacent land, and the Belmont Arena is now scheduled to open in time for the 2020-21 NHL season. 2150 Hempstead Turnpike, in Elmont, in Nassau County, just over the City Line. The track has its own stop on the LIRR.
Artist's depiction of Belmont Arena

Aqueduct Racetrack first opened in 1894, and was rebuilt in time for the 1959 racing season. It annually hosts the Wood Memorial, one of the leading warmup races for thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown. It hosted the Breeders' Cup in 1985, and the Belmont Stakes from 1963 to 1967, while Belmont Park was being rebuilt. 110-00 Rockaway Blvd., in Ozone Park, Queens. A Train to Aqueduct Racetrack.

* Other Sites. If you have more than 1 day (and more than a little money) to spend in and around New York, I do recommend the American Museum of Natural History (79th Street & Central Park West, C train to 81st Street), the Metropolitan Museum of Art (82nd Street & 5th Avenue, 4, 5 or 6 train to 86th Street and then walk 3 blocks west to 5th Avenue), and the observation deck of the Empire State Building (34th Street & 5th Avenue, 2 blocks from The Garden, B, D, F, N, Q or R train to 34th Street-Herald Square and walk 1 block east).

There have been 2 Presidents born in New York City. And the 1st would have slapped the 2nd. Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site, a recreation of the townhouse where TR was born in 1858, is at 28 East 20th Street. N or R train to 23rd Street. Donald Trump was born at Jamaica Hospital, at 89-00 Van Wyck Expressway in Kew Gardens. E train to Jamaica-Van Wyck.

The Borough has its own world-class Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, at 200 Eastern Parkway at Washington Avenue. 2 or 3 train to Eastern Parkway-Brooklyn Museum. It's at the top of Prospect Park, a 5-minute walk from the Brooklyn Public Library and Grand Army Plaza, with its impressive Civil War Monument. Prospect Park (designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, who also designed Central Park, Fairmount Park in Philadelphia and Boston's "Emerald Necklace") also has a famous carousel, the Prospect Park Zoo and the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens.

From 1929 until 2010, the Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower -- unlike the Brooklyn neighborhood, and the historic Virginia city of the same name, it has an H on the end -- with its Art Deco stylings and its clock tower, was the tallest building in the Borough, at 512 feet. 1 Hanson Place at Flatbush Avenue, on the other side of the Atlantic Terminal from the Barclays Center.

It has now been surpassed by The Brooklyner, a 515-foot-high apartment tower at 111 Lawrence Street at Willoughby Street, downtown. A, C or F train to Jay Street-MetroTech. It's a short walk from the Brooklyn Paramount, Borough Hall and 215 Montague Street at Cadman Plaza, the former location of the Dodgers' team offices, where Branch Rickey interviewed Jackie Robinson in 1945, told him of his plan to reintegrate baseball, and got him to agree to a contract. A bank is on the site now.

I can't recommend the Statue of Liberty for a tourist's visit, as it's not cheap, it's time-consuming both to get there and to get through, and the view from the crown isn't what you might hope. And the new World Trade Center isn't open yet, and the 9/11 Memorial is expensive and has long lines.

Plenty of movies have been set in Brooklyn, including the 1950 The Jackie Robinson Story starring the man himself, and the more recent 42 starring Chadwick Boseman; Dog Day Afternoon, the Al Pacino film about a real-life Brooklyn bank heist gone wrong; The French Connection, also based on a true story; Saturday Night Fever, based on a real Brooklyn disco; Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time In America; some of Spike Lee's films, including Do the Right Thing; and the gang film The Warriors, which concludes on the Coney Island boardwalk. Can you dig it?

TV has also used Brooklyn, no show more famous for doing so than Jackie Gleason's groundbreaking
The Honeymooners. The address for the Kramdens and Nortons, 328 Chauncey Street, is real, off Howard Avenue, although it's in Bushwick, not Bensonhurst like the show claims. C train to Ralph Avenue, which may be where Gleason, who grew up at 358 Chauncey, got the name for the character. In contrast, Gary David Goldberg's 1990s show about growing up in 1950s Brooklyn, Brooklyn Bridge, really was set in Bensonhurst.

The Patty Duke Show of the 1960s and The Cosby Show of the 1980s were both set in Brooklyn Heights, although both were taped in Los Angeles, and the townhouse used as the exterior for the Huxtables' home is actually in Manhattan's Greenwich Village. New Utrecht High School was used as the exterior set for both James Buchanan H.S. in the 1970s sitcom Welcome Back Kotter (series star Gabe Kaplan was both a graduate of, and a teacher at, that school before hitting it big as a comic) and Millard Fillmore H.S. in the 1980s sitcom Head of the Class, both on ABC. 1601 80th Street. D train to 79th Street.

Currently, Williamsburg is the setting for 2 Broke Girls, Greenpoint for Girls, and the police comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine in, as the title suggests, the 99th Precinct. New York cop shows usually use precincts that don't exist in real life: Barney Miller in the 1970s used the 12th, as does Castle now; Life On Mars used the 125th (the highest-numbered in real life is the 123rd), and the film Frequency (which, like Brooklyn Nine-Nine, featured Andre Braugher as a detectives' squad leader) used the 74th.


Getting out of the Nassau Coliseum was a good thing for the Islanders. And, physically/geologically, if not culturally, Brooklyn is still on Long Island. So the identity still works.

Soon, they will be back on Long Island. But, for now, hockey in Brooklyn could be a fun experience.