Saturday, March 31, 2018

How to Be a Met Fan In Washington -- 2018 Edition

The Mets visit the Washington Nationals this weekend, 4 games starting on Thursday afternoon.

This season, the Interleague schedule has the Yankees also playing them: May 15 and 16 in Washington, and June 12 and 13 at Yankee Stadium.

Before You Go.  D.C. can get really hot in summer, but this will be early April -- which, in D.C., means the peak of the cherry blossoms. The Washington Post is predicting daytime temperatures in the 50s for Thursday and Friday, and the 40s for Saturday and Sunday, and the 30s for nighttime throughout. You'd need a jacket for the Thursday and Saturday games, and a Winter jacket for the Sunday night game.

Washington is in the Eastern Time Zone, so you won't have to fiddle with your clocks, digital or otherwise.

Tickets. From their 2005 arrival through the end of 2011, the Nats were terrible. But they won the National League Eastern Division in 2012 (no Washington baseball team had been in first place late in the season since 1945, and none had finished in 1st place since 1933) and 2014. They led the NL East much of the way last year, before collapsing, allowing the Mets to overtake them.

As a result, attendance is good: Last year, they averaged 31,172 fans per game, just off their 2015 season average of 32,343, a record for Washington baseball. The fans' tendency to wear the team's red caps and red alternate home jerseys has gotten the ballpark nicknamed The Sea of Red.

So getting tickets for a baseball game in Washington is a bigger problem than it's been since the 1924-25 Pennant-winning Senators, especially since Thursday will be their home opener. At least you don't have to worry about the security needed for when the President throws out the ceremonial first ball: Trump didn't dare show up last year for the fear of being booed, and he's even more despised now. (He got cheered at the Super Bowl, but football fans are more likely to be conservative anyway, and he did get a lot of boos, too.)

A lot of New Yorkers & New Jerseyans may have the same idea as you – and many of them are federal government employees or college students already living and working in the D.C. area. In fact, the transient nature of the federal government was a big reason the Senators never made it: People came in from places that had teams, and rooted for them, not the Senators; only went to Griffith Stadium and its successor RFK Stadium to see their hometown teams; and rarely went back home having been converted to Senators fans. The Nats seem to have the same problem, and it remains to be seen if winning will prove to be a long-term cure.

Dugout Boxes will cost $100. Infield Box, $79. Baseline Box, down the foul lines, $70. Baseline Reserved, $62. Left Field & Left & Right Field Corners, $45, Outfield Reserved, $39. Left Field & Right Field Mezzanine, $40. Gallery (upper deck), $34, and Upper Gallery, $23. Scoreboard Pavilion, $25. Right Field Terrace, $20.

Getting There. Getting to Washington is fairly easy. However, if you have a car, I recommend using it, and getting a hotel either downtown or inside the Capital Beltway, because driving in Washington is roughly (good choice of words there) as bad as driving in New York.

It's 229 miles by road from Times Square to downtown Washington, and 238 miles from Citi Field to Nationals Park. If you're not "doing the city," but just going to the game, take the New Jersey Turnpike all the way down to the Delaware Memorial Bridge (a.k.a. the Twin Span), across the Delaware River into the State of, well, Delaware. This should take about 2 hours, not counting a rest stop.
The Delaware Memorial Bridge

Speaking of which, the temptation to take an alternate route (such as Exit 7A to I-195 to I-295 to the Ben Franklin Bridge) or a side trip (Exit 4, eventually leading to the Ben Franklin Bridge) to get into Pennsylvania and stop off at Pat's Steaks in South Philly can be strong, but if you want to get from New York to Washington with making only one rest stop, you're better off using the Delaware House Service Area in Christiana, between Exits 3 and 1 on the Delaware Turnpike. It's almost exactly the halfway point between New York and Washington.

Once you get over the Twin Span – the New Jersey-bound span opened in 1951, the Delaware-bound one was added in 1968 – follow the signs carefully, as you'll be on Interstate 295, and you'll be faced with multiple ramp signs for Interstates 95, 295 and 495, as well as for US Routes 13 and 40 and State Route 9. You want I-95 South, and its signs will say "Delaware Turnpike" and "Baltimore."
You'll pay tolls at both its eastern and western ends, and unless there's a traffic jam, you should only be in Delaware for a maximum of 15 minutes before hitting the Maryland State Line.

At said State Line, I-95 changes from the Delaware Turnpike to the John F. Kennedy Memorial Highway, and you'll be on it for about an hour (unless you want to make another rest stop, either the Chesapeake House or the Maryland House) and passing through Baltimore, before seeing signs for I-895 and the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel, Exit 62.

From here, you'll pass through the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel. Take I-895 to Exit 4, and you'll be on Maryland Route 295 South, the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. Crossing into the District of Columbia, M-295 will become the Anacostia Freeway. Take Exit 3B for South Capitol Street East, go over the Frederick Douglass Bridge over the Anacostia River, and you'll be right there.

If all goes well -- getting out of New York City and into downtown Baltimore okay, reasonable traffic, just the one rest stop, no trouble with your car -- the whole trip should take about 4½ hours.

Washington is too close to fly, just as flying from New York to Boston, Philadelphia and Baltimore, once you factor in fooling around with everything you gotta do at each airport, doesn't really save you much time compared to driving, the bus or the train. So forget about flying from JFK, LaGuardia or Newark to Reagan National or Dulles International Airport. (John Foster Dulles was President Dwight D. Eisenhower's Secretary of State.)

The train is a very good option, if you can afford it. Washington's Union Station is at 50 Massachusetts Avenue NE, within sight of the Capitol Building. But Amtrak is expensive. They figure, "You hate to fly, you don't want to deal with airports, and Greyhound sucks, so we can charge whatever we want."

New York to Washington will run you $215 round-trip, and that's if you take the regular Northeast Corridor, instead of Acela Express (formerly the Metroliner), which would be $396 round-trip. And that's before you add anything like Business Class or, God forbid, Amtrak's overmicrowaved food. Still, it's less than 3 hours if you take the Acela Express, and 3 hours and 40 minutes if you take a regular Northeast Corridor train.

Fortunately, Greyhound has rectified a longtime problem. They now use the parking deck behind Union Station as their Washington terminal, instead of the one they built 6 blocks away (and thus 6 blocks from the nearest Metro station), in the ghetto, back in the late 1960s. So neither safety nor aesthetics will be an issue any longer.

Round-trip fare on Greyhound is $56, although it can drop to as low as $51 with advanced purchase, and it takes about 4 1/2 hours, and usually includes a rest stop about halfway, either on the New Jersey Turnpike in South Jersey or on the Delaware Turnpike.

Once In the City. Founded on July 16, 1790, and usually referred to as "The National City" in its early days, and "Washington City" in the 19th Century, the city was named, of course, for George Washington, although its "Georgetown" neighborhood was named for his predecessor as our commander-in-chief, King George III of England.

Its "state," the District of Columbia, comes from Columbia, a historical and poetic name used for America, which was accepted as its female personification until the early 20th Century, when the Statue of Liberty began to take its place in the public consciousness. "Columbia" was derived from the man who "discovered America," Christopher Columbus, and places throughout the Western Hemisphere -- from the capital of South Carolina to the river that separates Washington State from Oregon, from the Ivy League university in Manhattan to the South American nation that produces coffee and cocaine, are named for him.

Like a lot of cities, Washington suffered from "white flight," so that, while the population within the city limits has seriously shrunk, from 800,000 in 1950 to 680,000 today; the metro area went from 2.9 million to double that, 6.1 million. The District was 71 percent white in 1940, but is now 51 percent black, 36 percent white, 9 percent Hispanic and 4 percent Asian. Overall, the metro area, including Maryland and Virginia suburbs, is about 46 percent white, 26 percent black, 17 percent Hispanic and 11 percent Asian.

As a result of this growth, the roads leading into the District, and the one going around it, the Capital Beltway, Interstate 495, are rammed with cars. Finally, someone wised up and said, "Let's build a subway," and in 1976, the Metro opened.
It's important to note that the Beltway doesn't have a "North," "East," "South" or "West." It has an Inner Loop, going clockwise; and an Outer Loop, going counterclockwise.

That metropolitan growth was boosted by the Maryland and Virginia suburbs building housing and shopping areas for federal-government workers. And, perhaps more than any other metro area, the poor blacks who once lived in the city have reached the middle-class and built their own communities (especially to the east, in Maryland's Prince Georges County). The metro area now has about 6 million residents -- and that's not including the metro area of nearby Baltimore, which would boost it to nearly 9 million and make it the 4th-largest "market" in the country, behind New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, and slightly ahead of the San Francisco Bay Area.

So, if you want to say "the area" has a National League team, the Nats, and an American League team, the Baltimore Orioles, that's not quite correct, but it is understandable, especially since Maryland Commuter Rail (MARC) does link the 2 cities, and for much of the major league interregnum between the Senators' departure in 1971 and the Nats' arrival in 2005, people living in D.C. -- especially part-timers who worked in, or media personalities who covered, the federal government would head up the railroad, I-95 or the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, and watch the O's at Memorial Stadium, and then at Camden Yards.

The NBA's Bullets moved from Baltimore to Washington in 1973, and became the Wizards in 1997, and Baltimore still follows them. The NHL's Washington Capitals began play in 1974, and Baltimore has adopted them. However, during the NFL interregnum between Robert Irsay's theft of the Colts in 1984 and the arrival of the Ravens in 1996, Baltimore never accepted the Redskins as their team, despite 2 Super Bowl wins in that period.

Still, the Nats-O's rivalry matters very little to Baltimore, and while it matters a bit more to people in the Washington area, given the choice, they'd rather beat the Mets or the Phillies than the Orioles.

When you get to Union Station, pick up copies of the Washington Post and the Baltimore Sun. The Post is a great paper with a very good sports section, and in just 6 seasons (now into a 7th) has covered the Nats very well, despite the 1972-2004 era when D.C. had no MLB team of its own. As a holdover from that era, it still covers the Orioles well. The Sun is only an okay paper, but its sports section is nearly as good as the Post's, and their coverage of their town's hometown baseball team rivals that of any paper in the country -- including the great coverage that The New York Times and
Daily News give to the Yankees and Mets.

Do not buy The Washington Times. It was founded by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon in 1982 as a replacement for the bankrupt Washington Star as the area's conservative equivalent to the "liberal"
Post. (That's a laugh: The Post has George Will, Charles Krauthammer, Michael Gerson and Kathleen Parker as columnists!)

UPDATE: Krauthammer has since died.

Under editor-in-chief Wesley Pruden, the Times was viciously right-wing, "reporting" every rumor about Democrats as if they were established, proven fact, and giving Republicans a free pass. Moon's "Unification Church" sold the paper in 2009, and Pruden retired the year before. But it has cut about 40 percent of its employees, and has dropped not only its Sunday edition but also its sports section.

And now, there's another paper, the Washington Examiner, owned by the same company as the conservative magazine The Weekly Standard, and it is so far to the right it makes The Washington Times look like the Daily Kos. It is a truly loony publication, where Michael Barone of the American Enterprise Institute and Byron York of National Review are considered moderates.

So avoid the loonies and the Moonies, and stick with the Post. Even if you don't agree with my politics, you're going down to D.C. for baseball, and the Post's sports section kicks ass.
Downtown Washington, D.C.
Notice the lack of tall buildings.

The sales tax in the District, once as high as 9 percent, is now just 6 percent. Unfortunately, not being a State, the city government has to do everything that a city government does and every thing that a State government does. Which also means that the Mayor, currently Muriel Bowser, has to do not only her municipal duties, but also everything that the State's Governor would do. The Potomac Electric Power Company (PEPCO), a subsidiary of Exelon, runs the electricity for D.C. and neighboring Maryland communities.
The John A. Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW,
D.C.'s City Hall, and, effectively, also its State Capitol Building

The centerpoint for addresses is the Capitol Building. North and South Capitol Streets separate east from west, and East Capitol Street and the National Mall separate north from south. The city is divided into quadrants: NW, NE, SE and SW. Because of the Capitol's location is not in the exact geographic centerpoint of the city, NW has about as much territory as the other 3 quadrants put together. In fact, the Navy Yard and the Nationals Park area take up about half the SW quadrant.

Remember: On street signs, 1st Street is written out as FIRST, and I Street is written out as EYE, so as to avoid confusion. And for the same reason, since I and J were virtually indistinguishable in written script when D.C. was founded in 1800, there is no J Street. Once the letters are expended, they go to to 2- and then 3-syllable words beginning with the sequential letters: Adams, Bryant, Clifton, etc.

ZIP Codes for D.C. start with the digits 20, with 202 through 205 serving the federal government, and 201 serving Dulles Airport, even though it's in Virginia. For the Maryland suburbs, it's 206 through 209 and 215. For the Virginia suburbs, it's 220 to 223. The Area Code for D.C. is 202, with 301 serving the Maryland suburbs, overlaid by 240; and 703 serving the Virginia suburbs, overlaid by 571.

D.C. is not exactly close to the Atlantic Coast. There are 3 places where area natives like to go to the beach: Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, 120 miles to the east; Ocean City, Maryland, 146 miles to the southeast; and Virginia Beach, Virginia, 209 miles to the southeast.

Going In. Washington's subway, the Metro, was not in place until 1976, far too late to help either the "Old Senators" at Griffith Stadium or the "New Senators" at RFK Stadium (though both locations are now accessible via Metro), but it has worked just fine for Nats games, at RFK in the 2005, '06 and '07 seasons; and at the 41,339-seat Nationals Park since 2008.
Take the Red Line from Union Station to Gallery Place, and transfer to the Green Line to Navy Yard-Ballpark station. (Those of you who watch the TV show NCIS will recognize the Washington Navy Yard as home base for Leroy Jethro Gibbs & Co. Rule Number 17: Never go anywhere without a FareCard.) Since these games will be played on weeknights, going in, you'll be arriving during rush hour, so the fare will be $2.15 going in. Going back, and each way on the weekend, it'll be $1.75.
Coming out of the Navy Yard-Ballpark station, you'll be at M Street and New Jersey Avenue SE. Turn right on M, and walk past 1st Street and Cushing Place to Half Street. Yes, between South Capitol Street (in effect, the city's north-south "zero line") and First Street is "Half Street."

Make a left on Half Street, and in one more block, there is Nationals Park. From Union Station to the ballpark, via subway and then foot, should take 25 minutes, about as fast as it does to get from Midtown Manhattan to Yankee Stadium, and slightly less than to get to Citi Field.
The official address of Nationals Park is 1500 South Capital Street SE, about a mile and a half south of the Capitol Building and about 2 miles southeast of downtown. Parking is plentiful in the area, and can be bought for as little as $9.00.

You're likely to walk in at the center field gate, at N & Half Streets. There, you will see 3 statues, of Washington baseball legends Walter Johnson, Josh Gibson and Frank Howard. I'll elaborate in "Team History Displays." On your way in, you might also notice the Racing Presidents, on whom I'll also elaborate later, dancing and greeting fans.
The field points northeast, and is natural grass, but the dimensions are not symmetrical: 337 feet to left field, 377 to left-center, 402 to center, 370 to right-center, and 335 to right. The park seems to favor pitchers, but not by a lot.
The longest home run yet in the new park was hit by Michael Morse of the Nats (now with the Giants), in 2012, 465 feet. Howard hit the longest at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium, a shot estimated at 500 feet in 1970. It is still commemorated with a white seat.

The longest home run at Griffith Stadium is hard to figure: Although Mickey Mantle was credited with a 565-foot blast in 1953, every quoted eyewitness confirmed that the ball hit a scoreboard at the back of the left-field bleachers before flying into a backyard a block away. Since you're only supposed to measure from home plate to where the ball first hit something, that was more like a 460-foot homer; still, it's quite a drive, and it was the only ball ever to clear those bleachers in the 61-year history of professional baseball on that site.

Even Josh Gibson, while playing home games there for the Negro Leagues' Homestead Grays (who divided their home games between Washington and Pittsburgh -- Homestead is a town outside Pittsburgh), apparently didn't achieve the feat. Gibson may have hit a longer homer at Griffith, and so might Babe Ruth, but there simply aren't specifics as to when, or to how long.
When the location for Nationals Park was chosen, the idea was to have a view of the Capitol dome and the Washington Monument. Unfortunately, they can only be seen from the 1st base/right field half of the stadium. But in the outfield, they planted another Washington trademark: Cherry blossom trees. That's nice, but by the time of this roadtrip, in late April, the blossoms are already gone.
Scoreboard, complete with "Curly W" analog clock

Every year, on the 4th of July, the Nationals play 1 of 2 morning starts in Major League Baseball every season. First pitch is at 11:05 AM. The other morning start of the season, also at 11:05, and a much older tradition, is the Boston Red Sox, on Patriots Day, the 3rd Monday in April, the legal anniversary of the nearby Battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775, so their game can end in time for traffic to thin out, making it easier for the Boston Marathon to go up Boylston Street a few blocks away.

Nationals Park has hosted a Mass by Pope Benedict XVI in 2008; concerts by Paul McCartney, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen and Taylor Swift; and the 2015 NHL Winter Classic, in which the Capitals beat the Chicago Blackhawks, 3-2. It will host the 2018 MLB All-Star Game, the 1st time D.C. will have hosted it since RFK Stadium in 1969.

Food. Very good. Not only do they serve good hot dogs and other standard ballpark fare, but "Frozen Rope" (Section 135) serves good ice cream, and they also have that "futuristic" ice cream known as Dippin' Dots. The Red Loft Bar, in the second deck in left field, is their version of a McFadden's. They serve pretzels in the shape of the script "W" logo that they inherited from the "New Senators."

And the Nats do not have to look up I-95 at Boog's Barbecue in Baltimore, Bull's Barbecue in Philly, Brother Jimmy's at Yankee Stadium or Blue Smoke at Citi Field, and feel any envy. In the right field corner is their own Blue Smoke stand. I kid you not: They serve the best piece of ballpark food I have ever eaten, a big hunk of meat named "the Rough Rider" in honor of Theodore Roosevelt. Eating that gave me more pleasure than any ballpark experience this side of the Aaron Boone homer. It's $12, but it will be worth every flick of the tongue.

Guess what, Met fans? Nationals Park has a Shake Shack! It's under the right-field stands. And, while I haven't been there since they opened it in 2011, I'll bet they manage the line better than whoever runs Citi Field does.

But, according to a recent Thrillist article on the best food at each big league ballpark, the best food at Nationals Park is the chili half-smoke hot dog, available at Ben's Chili Bowl stands at Sections 109, 140 and 317. Apparently, chili is a big deal in D.C. (I knew it was in Texas, Arizona, and even Cincinnati, with its weird style of putting it over spaghetti, but Washington?)

Team History Displays. The "old" Washington Senators played from 1901 to 1960, and moved to become the Minnesota Twins. The "new" Senators played from 1961 to 1971, and moved to become the Texas Rangers. Both were in the American League. The Expos/Nationals franchise of the National League has some history, but until 2012 -- 8 full seasons after the move -- it was all in Montreal.

Nevertheless, they hang signs honoring their 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2017 NL Eastern Division Championships on the facing of the right field stands. There is no notation of the 1981 (and, unofficially, 1994) NL East titles won by the Expos. There are also tributes to the earlier history of Washington baseball. A pedestrian path leading into the south entrance is marked with certain dates:

* 1859: The birth of Washington's 1st organized baseball team, the Olympic Club.

* 1910: President William Howard Taft becoming the 1st President to throw out the 1st ball to start a season.

* 1924: The city's only World Series win so far.

* 1937: The city's 1st MLB All-Star Game. (This was also the year of the arrival of the NFL's Redskins.)

* 1948: I don't know what this date represents.

* 1961: The Old Senators leave, and the New Senators arrive.

* 1971: The New Senators leave.

* 2005: The Nationals arrive.

* 2008: Nationals Park opens.
Walter Johnston statue

Outside the north gate, you will see 3 statues: Walter Johnson, "the Big Train," the great pitcher for the Old Senators from 1907 to 1927, the game's former all-time strikeout leader with 3,508, and still its all-time shutout leader with 113; Josh Gibson, the catcher for the D.C.-based Homestead Grays of the Negro Leagues, the man so powerful he was known as "the Black Babe Ruth" – although some black fans suggested that Ruth be called "the White Josh Gibson" – and Frank Howard, the slugger for the New Senators known as "Hondo," "the Monster" (he was 6-foot-7 and 280 pounds in his prime, and was also played basketball at Ohio State and was drafted by the NBA's Philadelphia Warriors) and, due to D.C.'s status, "the Capital Punisher."
Josh Gibson statue

All 3 statues are meant to suggest motion: Johnson pitching, Gibson and Howard swinging their bats.

You might remember Howard as a coach for both New York teams and, briefly in 1983, the Mets' manager, before Davey Johnson came in and turned the franchise around. Howard, along with George W. Bush, threw out a ceremonial first ball before the 1st Nationals game in 2005. He is now 80 year old, and, a longtime friend of the Steinbrenner family (George's widow Joan is, like Howard, an Ohio State graduate), he has worked for the Yankees as a player development instructor since 2000.
Frank Howard statue

The Washington Baseball Ring of Honor, patterned after the multi-sport Hall of Stars at RFK Stadium, was erected at Nationals Park in 2010, and is on the facing of the upper deck. All figures on them, except the newest addition, Frank Howard, are members of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Frank Howard

It honors these 10 figures from the "Old Senators": Pitcher/manager/owner Clark Griffith, pitcher Walter Johnson, 2nd baseman/manager Bucky Harris, left fielder Henry "Heinie" Manush, right fielder Sam Rice, shortstop/manager Joe Cronin, left fielder Goose Goslin, catcher Rick Ferrell, pitcher Early Wynn and 3rd baseman Harmon Killebrew. Left fielder/1st baseman Frank Howard is the only figure from the new Senators honored, unless you count Bucky Harris' work as a scout for them.

It also honors 6 Homestead Grays: Catcher Josh Gibson, 1st baseman Walter "Buck" Leonard, center fielder James "Cool Papa" Bell, pitcher Ray Brown, 3rd baseman Ernest "Jud" Wilson and outfielder/manager/owner Cumberland Posey (who had the retroactively obscene nickname "Cum").

And it honors the 3 Hall-of-Famers from the Nats' Montreal Expos years, Gary Carter, Andre Dawson and Tim Raines. Frank Robinson, manager of the Expos/Nationals franchise during the switch, is in the Hall of Fame (for his accomplishments as a player), and he was placed on the Ring of Honor. So was catcher Ivan Rodriguez, even though he only played the last 2 seasons of his career with the Nats.
Old Senators Joe Judge, Ossie Bluege, George Case, Cecil Travis, Eddie Yost, Roy Sievers and Mickey Vernon (who also managed the New Senators) were honored on the old Hall of Stars, but not yet on the new Ring of Honor, as they have not yet been elected to Cooperstown. This is also true of New Senators Gil Hodges (he managed them between retiring as a Dodger and Met player and becoming the Mets' manager), Chuck Hinton and George Selkirk (the former Yankee outfielder had been their general manager).
The old Hall of Stars display at RFK Stadium

Johnson -- the highest-ranked pitcher at Number 4 -- Goslin and Wynn were the Senators named in 1999 to The Sporting News' 100 Greatest Baseball Players. So were Grays Gibson, Leonard, and Bell; and Oscar Charleston, briefly with the Grays but better known for playing for other teams.

The Expos retired Number 8 for Gary Carter, Number 10 for both Rusty Staub and Andre Dawson, and Number 30 for Tim Raines. All of these numbers were returned to circulation after the move, and, except for the Number 42 retired for all of baseball for Jackie Robinson, the Nats have no retired numbers.

Nor do they yet have any Hall-of-Famers of their own, unless you want to count the aforementioned Frank Robinson and Ivan Rodriguez, each of whose Hall of Fame credentials were stamped before they had anything to do with the Expos/Nationals franchise.

There is no trophy given to the annual winner of the Nats-Orioles Interleague "Beltway Series." Lucky for the Nats: If there was one, the Nats would have won it only in 2007; the O's in 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016; and there were ties in 2006, 2008, 2011 and 2017. In individual games, the O's lead 38-26.

UPDATE: The Nats won it in 2018, 5-1, and now trail 39-31 in games and 7-2-4 in seasons.

Stuff. There's a team store called Rushmore's in the left-field corner. It's got loads of jerseys, T-shirts, caps, and stuffed toys such as the Racing Presidents and the mascot Screech the Eagle.

In 2013, Frederic J. Frommer (travel expert and son of travel icon and Yankee Fan Harvey Frommer) and Bob Schieffer (CBS News legend and D.C. resident) collaborated on You Gotta Have Heart: A History of Washington Baseball from 1859 to the 2012 National Legue East Champions. The same year, Elliott Smith and Bob Carpenter (no relation to the family long owning the Phillies) published Beltway Boys: Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper and the Rise of the Nationals.

Looking for team DVDs? You're out of luck: All they had on my 2009 visit was a commemoration of their 1st season back in Washington, 2005. They can't even sell official World Series highlight films, like the Mets' package of the 1969 and 1986 films, because the only Senators' World Series, in 1924 (won), '25 (lost) and '33 (lost), came before MLB started making official highlight films in 1943. The Nationals franchise never made it to a World Series in Montreal, and they've never yet won a postseason series in Washington.

So there's nothing celebrating anything like that, because, so far, there's nothing like that. If you’ll forgive the near-Yogiism. The closest they come is Bryce Begins, a DVD on Harper's early career (which, for the moment, is all he's got). Why him, and not Strasburg? As Harper himself might say, "That's a clown question, bro."

During the Game. You do not need to fear wearing your Met gear to Nationals Park. Despite the boisterousness of Washington fans when they watch their NFL Redskins and soccer's D.C. United, there's a far more relaxed atmosphere at Nats games.

That could, of course, be due to the fact that, until 2012, you had to be over 70 to remember when a Washington baseball team was in a Pennant race. Just as George Washington was said to be "First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen," Washington the city was long said to be "First in war, first in peace, and last in the American League." The old Senators finished 1 game behind the Detroit Tigers in 1945, and that was basically their only Pennant race after 1933.

The new Senators had just 1 winning season, a 4th-place finish in 1969. That being the era of the Vietnam War and race riots -- the one after Martin Luther King was assassinated delayed the 1968 opener -- it was said that Washington was now "Last in war, last in peace, and last in the American League."

When the Redskins were winning, their fans were really loud, but they didn't really give anybody outside of Dallas Cowboys fans a hard time, unless provoked (and New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles fans, a short trip down I-95 or Amtrak, have been known to do that). Nor do the current, Alexander Ovechkin-led, Washington Capitals generate much ire: Their fans don't much like the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins, but, as their 2009, '11, '12, '13 and '15 Playoff series with the Rangers proved, they generally leave fans of the 3 New York Tri-State Area teams alone.

A recent Thrillist article on "Baseball's Most Intolerable Fans" put Nats fans smack in the middle, 15th out of 30, probably due to their lack of a history of fan incidents. They claim that Nats fans' top 3 priorities are:

1. Networking. (Not surprising due to government employees & lobbyists attending.)
2. Shake Shack.
3. Ben's Chili Bowl because the Shake Shack line was too long. (The author's addition, not mine.)

In other words, not unlike attending a Met game these last couple of seasons! But with Ben's standing in for Blue Smoke.

This is the 50th season for the Expos/Nats franchise, but the Nats are not commemorating that. Nor will they commemorate their 50th Anniversary next year. As far as the Nats are concerned, they are a Washington team that began in 2005. But they are wearing a sleeve patch commemorating their hosting of this season's All-Star Game.
The Sunday game is a promotion, Pups in the Park Day, so there will be dogs in the stadium. The 2 games against the Yankees in May will be Law Enforcement Appreciation Days. The Nats are wearing sleeve patches in honor of hosting this year's All-Star Game.

The Nats hold auditions to sing the National Anthem, instead of having a regular singer. During the Anthem, when the line, "O say does that Star-Spangled Banner yet wave" is reached, some fans, trained in baseball as Oriole fans during the capital's 1972-2004 MLB interregnum, still shout "O!" I've also heard this done at a Capitals-Devils game at the Capital One Arena and a Maryland-Rutgers football game at Maryland Stadium.

It's bad enough when they do it in Baltimore, and I realize that the University of Maryland football team would be nothing without players -- and fans -- from the Baltimore area. But doing it at a home game for the Washington baseball team, beyond being offensive and disrespectful, makes no freaking sense. They need to stop. You think Baltimore fans would accept hearing "Hail to the Redskins" when the Ravens score a touchdown?

The Nats have a fight song, "Welcome Home to the Nationals." It's not exactly as stirring as "Hail to the Redskins," or even "Meet the Mets." After "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the 7th Inning Stretch, they play "Take On Me" by A-ha. Their postgame victory song is "Raise Your Glass" by Pink, even though she's from Philadelphia. In tribute to their Navy Yard location, they blast a submarine's horn for each Nats home run.
Hugh Kaufman

Hugh Kaufman is "the Rubber Chicken Man." A Washington baseball fan since the days of the Old Senators, he waves a rubber chicken over the Nats' dugout to ward off bad luck. On occasion, he's made chicken soup (a.k.a. "Jewish penicillin") to give to sick or injured players.

The Nats have a mascot named Screech, a bald eagle. Sounds natural enough. They also have the Presidents Race. In a takeoff of the Milwaukee Brewers' Sausage Race, in the middle of the 4th inning, the 4 guys wearing the Mount Rushmore President costumes, with the huge foam caricature heads, break out of a gate in center field, run to the right field corner, and down the 1st-base line, where the first to break the tape is the winner.

Over their period costumes, they wear Nats jerseys: GEORGE 1, TOM 3, ABE 16 and TEDDY 26, for their places in the chronological order of Presidents. Screech is the referee, in case anybody tries any funny business.
Teddy, Abe, Tom, Bill and George

Which leads to, literally, a running gag: "Teddy never wins." Sometimes he leads and trips. Sometimes, like the minor-league mascots who race kids around the bases, he gets distracted, for example when players from the opposing Atlanta Braves caught his attention in the first game at Nationals Park in April 2008.

Sometimes he gets sabotaged, as in June 2008, when, in an Interleague game with the nearby Orioles, the visiting Baltimore Bird tripped him just short of the finish line. (In a special grudge-match race the next day, Teddy outraced the Bird, but it was announced that this wouldn't count in the victory totals). Sometimes he just plain screws up: At the final game at RFK Stadium in 2007, a lot of people figured he'd finally be allowed to win, and the other 3 stayed back to "throw" the race, but Teddy went to the nearly-finished Nationals Park instead.

And sometimes... he cheats. (No doubt the real TR would have been appalled at all of this, but especially at the cheating.) When I went, Teddy got on a motorized scooter (leading me to yell, "Holy cow!" in memory of Phil "the Scooter" Rizzuto), and won the race that way. Naturally, "Honest Abe," who finished 2nd, complained to Screech, who declared Abe the winner by default.

However, on October 3, 2012, the season finale, in honor of the Nats finally winning the Division, Teddy was allowed to win. And he got on a winning streak: He was allowed to win all 3 races at Nats home games in the NL Division Series.

This seemed to have finally broken the spell: Teddy won a few more races in 2013, and actually won the title (most races won in a season) in 2014 and 2016. Abe won in 2008, '09, '10, '13 and '15; George won in 2007 and '12; Tom won in 2006, tied with Abe for the title in '11, and tied with George for the title in '17.

When I visited on July 26, 2009 (a 3-2 Nats win over the San Diego Padres in 10 innings), the huge-headed Presidents were dancing outside the north gate, while "oldies" played over the stadium loudspeakers. This was bad enough, until "Billie Jean" was played – this was within days of the death of Michael Jackson – and, cue The Awkward Moment, the guy dressed as Jefferson danced right into my line of sight as soon as Jacko got to the words, "The kid is not my son!" I also noticed that the costumes, all four of them, were filthy. Doesn't the club wash them?

In 2013, a 5th contestant was introduced: William Howard Taft (BILL 27). Why him? He's the only President to also be a Supreme Court Justice. As a result, he was one of the few former Presidents to live in D.C. after leaving the White House. And, along with John F. Kennedy, he is 1 of only 2 Presidents buried at Arlington National Cemetery. (There is a JACK 35 character, resembling Kennedy, but so far he hasn't raced.)

But I'm guessing the main reason is that, on April 14, 1910, Taft became the 1st President to throw out the ceremonial first ball on Opening Day, starting the tradition. (The story that, on the same day, he started the tradition of the 7th Inning Stretch has long since been debunked: That tradition was already long in place.) Bill won his first race on May 11, followed the next day by Teddy winning for the 1st time since the preceding season's Playoffs.

In 2015, Calvin Coolidge (CAL 30) was introduced, but lasted only that season. In 2016, Herbert Hoover (HERBIE 31) was introduced, but was also retired after 1 season. The next President in line would be Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FRANK 32), but since FDR had polio, seeing him run might be in poor taste. So for 2017, they went back to their roots, not just running only "The Rushmore Four," but having Teddy not win a single race during the season.

As of the start of the 2018 season, Abe is the all-time leader with 326 race wins, followed by George with 259, Tom with 236, Teddy with 82 (all since October 2012), Bill with 46, Cal with 12 and Herbie with 10. Not usually in the race, but having "won" and thus figuring into the stats, Screech is credited with 2 wins, and right fielder (now left fielder) Jayson Werth with 1. Or, to put it another way: Abe has won 33 percent of the races, George 26, Tom 24, Teddy 8, and Bill 4.

After the Game. Although there are condos adjacent to the stadium, it's not exactly a neighborhood hopping with nightlife, in case you're looking for a postgame meal (or even just a pint). At 301 Water Street, 3 blocks east, there's Agua 301 and Osteria Morini, but those are expensive; and Ice Cream Jubilee, which may not be open after weeknight games.

Willie's Brew & Que, Bluejacket, and English chicken chain Nando's (as in, "I went out for a cheeky Nando's") are at 300 Tingley Street, also 3 blocks east. Leo's Wings & Pizza is at 7 N Street SW, across South Capitol Street, but that's a nasty intersection to cross on foot. (Washington's drivers are every bit as bad as New York's and Boston's.)

If you're only down for 1 game, the best thing to do is to get back to Union Station, grab a bite there, and hop on your train; or, if you're driving, just hit one of the rest areas on the way back up I-95.

If you're staying for the whole series, your best bet may be to head downtown, near the Verizon Center (home of the Wizards and Capitals) at 6th & F Streets NW, on the edge of Chinatown. You'll find a lot of good (and maybe one or two great) nightspots there. I recommend Fado, an Irish-pub-themed place nearby, at 808 7th Street NW. Metro: Red, Yellow or Green Line to Gallery Place. (One of several around the country, including the Philadelphia one I've also been to; they're the same company as Tigin, which has outlets at JFK Airport and Stamford, Connecticut.)

If you came to Washington by Amtrak, and it's a night game, and you're not spending the night, you've got a problem: The last train of the night leaves Union Station at 10:10 PM (and arrives at New York's Penn Station at 1:40 AM), and since MLB games tend to last around 3 hours, you're not going to make it unless it's a pitcher's duel. The next train leaves at 3:15 AM (arriving in New York at 6:40 AM), but do you really want to be in downtown D.C. from 10 at night to 3 in the morning?

Better to go for a weekend series, to come down on Friday afternoon or early on a Saturday, get a hotel, enjoy the sights on Saturday afternoon, see the game on Saturday night, and then on Sunday, choose between going to a 2nd game and seeing something away from downtown. You'll be glad you did.

The bar 51st State, at 2512 L Street NW, was a known hangout for Yankees, Mets, Giants, Jets, Knicks and Rangers fans (no mention of the Nets, Islanders or Devils, though), but it closed in early 2017. A bar named Rebellion is said to be a Mets fan bar. 1836 18th Street NW. Metro: Red to Dupont Circle. Nanny O'Brien's is said to be a football Giants fan bar. 3319 Connecticut Ave NW. Metro: Red to Cleveland Park.

If you visit D.C. during the European soccer season, which is currently winding down, the 2 best "football pubs" in town are the aforementioned Fado, and Lucky Bar, at 1221 Connecticut Ave. NW (Red Line to Farragut North).

Sidelights. Washington's sports history is long, but not good. The Redskins haven't won a World Championship in 26 seasons; the Bullets/Wizards, 39 seasons; the Capitals, never yet in 44 years; all of its baseball teams combined, 94 years (yes, ninety-four). But if you have the time, there are sites are worth checking.

UPDATE: On November 30, 2018, Thrillist published a list of "America's 25 Most Fun Cities," and Washington came in 7th.

There aren't a whole lot of sites in the District related to baseball other than Nationals Park itself. The Ellipse, just south of the White House on the National Mall, has baseball fields. (If you've ever seen the original 1951 version of The Day the Earth Stood Still, that's where Klaatu's ship landed.)

* American League Park. The National League version of the Washington Senators was contracted after the 1899 season, but when the American League declared itself "major" in 1901, it raided NL rosters. Since the NL still held the lease on Boundary Field, it refused to let the AL's newly-formed Senators play there. So they set up shop at a makeshift wooden stadium, also on Florida Avenue, but 2 miles southeast, at the intersection of Trinidad Avenue NE, at I (Eye) Street.

In 1903, the Leagues made peace, and the NL allowed the AL Senators to buy Boundary Park, which they renamed American League Park. The previous AL Park was demolished by 1907, and a fire station now occupies the site. 1326 Florida Avenue NE. Metrobus D8 stops across the street.

* Griffith Stadium. There were 2 ballparks on this site. The 1st was named Boundary Field, and hosted baseball from 1891 to 1910. This is where Walter Johnson played his 1st 4 seasons, 1907 to 1910, and where President Taft began the tradition of the President throwing out the first ball to open the season, in 1910.

On March 17, 1911, the park burned down. It was rebuilt in concrete and steel -- as would New York's Polo Grounds after it burned down a month later -- and by Opening Day, a stadium seating 16,000 was in place.

It would be July 24 before construction was declared finished, resulting in what would later be renamed Griffith Stadium, after Clark Griffith, once a great pitcher for the team now known as the Chicago Cubs, manager of the AL's 1st Pennant winner with the Chicago White Sox in 1901, and the 1st manager of the New York Highlanders -- the Yankees -- from 1903 to 1908. He became the Senators' manager in 1912, and bought the team in 1920, renaming the stadium for himself.
The ballpark never seated more than 32,000 people for baseball, or 35,000 for football, eventually settling on a capacity of 27,550, making it the smallest in the major leagues after the Cleveland Indians abandoned League Park after the 1946 season. Its far-off distances made it a pitcher's park, but the Senators rarely had good pitching, though they did win Pennants in 1924 (also winning their only World Series title), 1925 and 1933.

The Negro Leagues' Homestead Grays also played a lot of home games at Griffith, although they divided their "home games" between Washington and Pittsburgh. Think of the Grays as the original Harlem Globetrotters, who called themselves "Harlem" to identify themselves as a black team even though their original home base was Chicago (and later moved their offices to Los Angeles, and are now based in Phoenix). Other Negro League teams playing there were the Washington Potomacs (1924), the Washington Pilots (1932), the Washington Elite Giants (1936-37, then moving to Baltimore), and the Washington Black Senators (1938).

The Washington Redskins played at Griffith Stadium from 1937 to 1960, and won the NFL Championship while playing there in 1937 and 1942, although only the '42 title game was played there. There was another NFL title game played there, in 1940, but the Redskins were beaten by the Chicago Bears – 73-0. (Nope, that's not a typo: Seventy-three to nothing. Most points by one team in one game in NFL history, slightly ahead of the 'Skins' 72-41 victory over the Giants at RFK in 1966.)

A pro football team called the Washington Senators played there from 1921 until 1941 (when the manpower shortage of World War II forced them out of business), but only in that 1st season, 1921, did they play in the NFL.

The University of Maryland played its home football games at Griffith in 1948 and 1949, while their old Byrd Stadium was demolished and rebuilt (the "new" one since renamed Maryland Stadium). Georgetown University and George Washington University played home games there from 1925 to 1950. It hosted a fight for the Heavyweight Championship of the World on May 23, 1941: Joe Louis defended the title by knocking Jacob "Buddy" Baer (brother of former Champion Max) out in the 1st round.

By the time Clark Griffith died in 1955, passing the team to his son Calvin, the area around Griffith Stadium had become nearly all-black. While Clark, despite having grown up in segregated Missouri during the 19th Century, followed Branch Rickey's path and integrated his team sooner than most (in particular going for Cubans, white and black alike), Calvin was a bigot who wanted to move the team to mostly-white Minnesota.

When the new stadium was built, it was too late to save the original team, and the "New Senators" were born. They played their 1st season, 1961, at Griffith, before moving to the new stadium. Griffith Stadium was demolished in 1965, and Howard University Hospital is there now. Florida & Georgia Avenues NW. Green Line to Shaw-Howard University Station.

Howard's baseball field, named for D.C. native Maury Wills, is at 7th Street and Barry Place. Its 10,000-seat William H. Green Stadium is further up, at 6th and Girard Streets. Howard has won the National Championship of black college football 7 times: 1920, 1923, 1925, 1926, 1987, 1993 and 1996.

A monument to Walter Johnson was placed outside Griffith Stadium, and has been moved to Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda, Maryland. 6400 Rock Spring Drive. Red Line to Grosvenor, then Number 47 bus. Johnson is buried in Rockville Cemetery. Baltimore Road. Red Line to Rockville, then Number 45 bus.

Griffith Stadium also had a monument to its namesake, who is buried at Fort Lincoln Cemetery, at 3401 Bladensburg Road, in Brentwood, Maryland, about 4 miles northeast of Union Station. Red Line to Rhode Island Avenue, then Bus T18 to 38th Avenue & Bladensburg Road.

* Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium. Originally named District of Columbia Stadium (or "D.C. Stadium"), the Redskins played there first, from 1961 to 1996. The new Senators opened there in 1962, and President John F. Kennedy threw out the first ball at the stadium that would be renamed for his brother Bobby in 1969. (There was a JFK Stadium in Philadelphia, formerly Municipal Stadium, where the new arena, the Wells Fargo Center, now stands.)
The new Senators played at RFK Stadium until 1971, and at the last game, against the Yankees, the Senators were up 7-5 with 1 out to go, when angry fans stormed the field, and the game was forfeited to the Yankees. The 'Skins moved to their new suburban stadium in 1997, after closing the '96 campaign without the Playoffs, but the final regular-season game was a thrashing of the hated Cowboys in front of over 100 Redskin greats.

The Nats played the 2005, '06 and '07 seasons at RFK. D.C. United, the most successful franchise in Major League Soccer (although they're lousy at the moment), have played there since MLS was founded in 1996, winning the league title, the MLS Cup, 4 times, including 3 of the 1st 4, and were the 1st U.S.-based team to win the tournament now known as the CONCACAF Champions League, in 1998. Previously, in the North American Soccer League, RFK was home to the Washington Diplomats, featuring the late Dutch legend Johan Cruyff. And the Beatles played there on their final tour, on August 15, 1966.

DC/RFK Stadium was the 1st U.S. stadium specifically designed to host both baseball and football, and anything else willing to pay the rent. But I forgive it. It was a great football stadium, and it's not a bad soccer stadium, but for baseball, let's just say Nationals Park is a huge improvement. And what is with that whacked-out roof?

No stadium has hosted more games of the U.S. national soccer team than RFK: 26. (Next-closest is the Los Angeles Coliseum, with 20.) Their record there is 16 wins, 7 draws and 3 losses. So RFK is thus the closest America comes to having a "national stadium" like Wembley or the Azteca. The most recent match there was on October 11, 2016, a 1-1 draw in a friendly with New Zealand.

I was there on June 2, 2013, for the 100th Anniversary match for the U.S. Soccer Federation. It was a 4-3 win over a Germany team operating at half-power because their players from Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund had so recently played the UEFA Champions League Final. It hosted 5 matches of the 1994 World Cup and 6 of the 2003 Women's World Cup.

RFK Stadium also hosted 1 Championship of the old North American Soccer League, Soccer Bowl '80. The New York Cosmos beat the Fort Lauderdale Strikers 3-0. One fight for the Heavyweight Championship of the World was held there: Riddick Bowe defended it, and knocked Jesse Ferguson out there in the 2nd round on May 22, 1993.

In the film X-Men: Days of Future Past, CGI was used to show RFK Stadium as it would have looked in 1973, and Magneto (played in that time period by Michael Fassbender) lifted it off its foundations and dropped its (mostly) circular form around the White House, 3 1/2 miles away.

All the teams that called RFK Stadium home have moved on, but there is no plan to demolish and replace it. 2400 East Capitol Street SE. Orange Line or Blue Line to Stadium-Armory. (The D.C. Armory, headquarters of the District of Columbia National Guard, is that big brown arena-like thing across the parking lot.)

* Audi Field. The new stadium for D.C. United is now under construction at Buzzard Point, on land bounded by R, 2nd, T & Half Streets SW. The official address is 32 R Street SW, and 2 blocks of Potomac Avenue separate it from Nationals Park. It is scheduled to open on July 14, and DCU will be playing home games at the Maryland SoccerPlex until then. (See below.)

* Uline Arena/Washington Coliseum. This building was home to the District's 1st NBA team, the Washington Capitols, from 1946 to 1951. They reached the 1949 NBA Finals, losing to the Minneapolis Lakers of George Mikan, and were the 1st pro basketball team coached by Red Auerbach, who'd played in the city for George Washington University. Firing him was perhaps the dumbest coaching change in NBA history: By the time Red coached the Boston Celtics to their 1st NBA title in 1957, the Capitols had been out of business for 6 years.

The Coliseum was last used for sports in 1970 by the Washington Caps (not "Capitols," not "Capitals," just "Caps") of the ABA. It was the site of the 1st Beatles concert in the U.S. (aside from their appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show 2 nights before), on February 11, 1964.

It still stands, and its interior and grounds are used as a parking lot, particularly for people using nearby Union Station. Unfortunately, it's in a rotten neighborhood, and I wouldn't recommend visiting at night. In fact, unless you're a student of NBA history or a Beatlemaniac, I'd say don't go at all. 1140 3rd Street NE, at M Street. Red Line to Union Station, and then it’s a bit of a walk.

* Capital Centre site. From 1973 to 1997, this was the home of the NBA's Washington Bullets, who became the Wizards when they moved downtown. From 1974 to 1997, it was the home of the NHL's Washington Capitals. The Bullets played in the 1975, '78 and '79 NBA Finals there, although they've only won in 1978 and clinched that at the Seattle Kingdome.

The Cap Centre was also the home for Georgetown University basketball, in its glory years of Coach John Thompson, Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning, Dikembe Mutombo and Allen Iverson. Remember those 1980s battles with the St. John's teams of Louie Carnesecca, Chris Mullin and Walter Berry?

Muhammad Ali defended the Heavyweight Championship of the World there twice, both times winning by decision: Over Jimmy Young on May 30, 1976; and over Alfredo Evangelista on May 16, 1977.

Elvis Presley sang there on June 27, 1976 and on May 22 and 29, 1977. (He never gave a concert in the District.) It was demolished in 2002, and a shopping mall, The Boulevard at the Capital Centre, was built on the site. 1 Harry S Truman Drive, Landover, Prince George's County, Maryland, just outside the Capital Beltway. Blue Line to Largo Town Center station.

* Capital One Arena. Opened in 1997 as the MCI Center, and known as the Verizon Center from 2006 until 2017, the NBA's Wizards, the NHL's Capitals, the WNBA's Washington Mystics, and the Georgetown basketball team have played here since it opened.

Unless you count the NCAA's 2009 Frozen Four hockey finals, only one Finals has been held here, the Caps' 1998 sweep at the hands of the Detroit Red Wings. (Georgetown has reached a Final Four since it opened, but those are held at neutral sites.) But it's a very good arena. 601 F Street NW, at 6th Street. Red, Green or Yellow Line to Gallery Place-Chinatown Station.

* FedEx Field. Originally known as Jack Kent Cooke Stadium, for the Redskins owner who built it and died just before its opening, it has been the home of the Redskins since 1997. RFK Stadium has just 56,000 seats and was the NFL's smallest facility for years, but with close seats even in the upper deck, it provided one hell of a home field advantage.

In contrast, FedEx seats 85,000, the largest seating capacity in the NFL (the arch-rival Dallas Cowboys' new stadium can fit in 110,000 with standing room but has "only" 80,000 seats), but the seats are so far back, it kills the atmosphere. Being out in the suburbs instead of in a hard part of the District doesn't exactly intimidate the opposition, either. (Think if the New Jersey Devils had been an old team, starting out in an old arena tucked away in a neighborhood in Newark, and then moved to the spartan parking lot of the Meadowlands, and were still there, rather than going back to Newark into the Prudential Center.)

As a result, the Redskins went from 5 Super Bowl appearances, winning 3, while playing at RFK to just 5 Playoff berths and no visits to the NFC Championship Game since moving to FedEx.

The Army-Navy Game was played at FedExField in 2011. So far, the U.S. soccer team has played just 1 match at the stadium, a draw with Brazil on May 30, 2012. There were 4 matches played there in the 1999 Women's World Cup. European soccer clubs Real Madrid, Barcelona, Internazionale Milano, Manchester United and Chelsea have plays summer tour games there. It's hosted concerts by Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, U2 and Metallica.

UPDATE: It has been selected by the U.S. Soccer Federation as a finalist to be one of the host venues for the 2026 World Cup.

1600 FedEx Way, Landover, practically right across the Beltway from the site of the Cap Centre, although you'd have to walk from there after taking the Blue Line to Largo Town Center in order to reach it without a car.

* Maryland SoccerPlex. The Washington Spirit of the National Women's Soccer League play here, at the main field, with a stadium with 4,000 seats. D.C. United are also using it this season, until Audi Field is ready. 18031 Central Park Circle, in Boyds, Montgomery County, Maryland, about 30 miles northwest of downtown D.C. You'd need the DC Metro and 2 buses to get there without a car.

* Site of Brookland Stadium. Seating 30,000, this was the football field of The Catholic University of America (CUA) from 1924 to 1983. It hosted the 2nd leg of the 1970 North American Soccer League Final. (No one had the guts to call it the Soccer Bowl until 1975.) The Washington Darts beat the Rochester Lancers 3-1, but lost 4-3 on aggregate.

Its replacement, Cardinal Stadium, opened soon after Brookland's final event, CUA's "Holy War" victory over Georgetown. Brookland was demolished in 1985, and the Columbus School of Law was built on the site. 3600 John McCormack Drive NE, off Michigan Avenue.

* The Smithsonian Institution. Includes the National Museum of American History, which contains several sports-themed items. 1400 Constitution Avenue NW. Blue or Orange Line to Federal Triangle. (You could, of course, take the same lines to Smithsonian Station, but Fed Triangle is actually a shorter walk.)

The University of Maryland, inside the Beltway at College Park, 10 miles northeast of Nationals Park, can be accessed by the Green Line to College Park and then a shuttle bus. (I tried that for the 2009 Rutgers-Maryland game, and it works very well.) Maryland Stadium (formerly Byrd Stadium) is one of the nation's best college football stadiums, but I wouldn't recommend sitting in the upper deck if you're afraid of heights: I think it's higher than Shea's was.

Across from the stadium is Cole Field House, where UMd played its basketball games from 1955 to 2002. The 1966 and 1970 NCAA Championship basketball games were played there, the 1966 one being significant because Texas Western (now Texas-El Paso) played an all-black starting five against Kentucky's all-white starters (including future Laker, Knick and Heat coach Pat Riley and Denver Nuggets star Dan Issel). In the 1970 Final, UCLA beat Jacksonville University.

Elvis sang there on September 27 and 28, 1974. The Terrapins won the National Championship in their final season at Cole, and moved to the adjacent Xfinity Center thereafter.

Remember that Final Four run by George Mason University? They're across the Potomac River, at the EagleBank Arena, formerly the Patriot Center. 4500 Patriot Circle, in Fairfax, Virginia. Orange Line to Virginia Square-GMU.

They're 20 miles to the west. The U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland is 32 miles east. The University of Virginia is 118 miles southwest, in Charlottesville. Virginia Polytechnic Institute, a.k.a. Virginia Tech, is 272 miles southwest, in Blacksburg.

I also recommend visiting the capital's museums, including the Smithsonian complex, whose most popular buildings are the National Archives, hosting the originals of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution; and the National Air and Space Museum, which includes the Wright Brothers' Flyer, Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis, Chuck Yeager's Glamorous Glennis (the 1st plane to break the sound barrier), and several space capsules including Apollo 11. The Smithsonian also has an annex at Dulles International Airport out in Virginia, including a Concorde, the space shuttle Discovery, and the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the 1st atomic bomb.

One of the 1960 Presidential Debates between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon was held in Washington -- still the only Presidential Debate held in the capital. On October 7, it was hosted not in a sports arena, a theater or a college auditorium, but in front of no live audience other than the panelists and the TV crew, at the studios of the NBC affiliate, WRC, Channel 4, 4001 Nebraska Avenue NW. Red Line to Tenleytown-AU.

In spite of what some movies have suggested, you won't see a lot of tall buildings in the District.  The Washington Monument is 555 feet high, but, other than that, no building is allowed to be taller than the Capitol. Exceptions were made for two churches, the Washington National Cathedral and the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and the Old Post Office Pavilion was built before the "unwritten law" went into effect. In contrast, there are a few office buildings taller than most D.C. buildings across the Potomac River in Arlington, Virginia, and in the neighboring Maryland cities of Silver Spring and New Carrollton.

If you're into looking up "real" TV locations, the Jeffersonian Institute on Bones is almost certainly based on the Smithsonian. And the real NCIS headquarters is a short walk from Nationals Park, on Sicard Street between Patterson and Paulding Sts. Whether civilians will be allowed on the Navy Yard grounds, I don't know; I've never tried it. I don't want to get stopped by a guard. I also don't want to get "Gibbs-slapped" -- and neither do you.

Of course, The West Wing was based at the White House, at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. Metro: Red Line to Metro Center. (The only character to be a D.C. native was Charlie Young, played by Dulé Hill -- in real life, a native of Sayreville, New Jersey.) The best-known D.C.-based show that didn't directly deal with government officials was Murphy Brown. The FYI studio was said to be across the street from Phil's, whose address was given as 1195 15th St. NW. Neither the bar nor the address actually exist, but if the address did, it would be at 15th & M Streets. This would put it right down the block from 1150 15th, the headquarters of The Washington Post. Metro for both: Red Line to Metro Center.

Being the Nation's Capital, D.C. has lots of Presidential-themed locations, aside from the White House. Mount Vernon, which now has a George Washington Presidential Library and Museum on the grounds, at 3200 Mount Vernon Highway in Alexandria, Virginia. Red Line to Metro Center, then, at 15th Street & New York Avenue NW, you can catch Bus 11Y, which will go right there.

After the White House was burned by the British Army on August 24, 1814, during the War of 1812, President James Madison and his wife Dolley moved into a house now known as the Octagon Museum, and stayed there for the rest of their term, with successors James and Elizabeth Monroe moving back into the White House in 1817. 1799 New York Avenue NW, 2 blocks west of the White House. Blue or Orange Line to Farragut West.

At the same time, Monroe was both Secretary of State and Secretary of War (the post we now call Secretary of Defense), and lived at 2017 I Street (Eye). Blue or Orange Line to Foggy Bottom-GWU. When he became President, his Secretary of State was John Quincy Adams, and, before he became the next President he lived a block away at 2133 I Street.

As Andrew Jackson's Secretary of State and then Vice President, future President Martin Van Buren lived at what's now 748 Jackson Place, 2 blocks north of the White House. As a federal official in the 1890s, Theodore Roosevelt lived down the block, at 736 Jackson Place.

Brown's Indian Queen Hotel was where John Tyler in 1841 and Millard Fillmore in 1850 were living when they became President when their predecessors died. The offices of the National Association of Retail Collection Attorneys, and the Capital Grille restaurant, are on the site now. 601 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. Three blocks down, at 300 Pennsylvania, the National Gallery of Art Library was built on the site of the house where James K. Polk lived when he was Speaker of the House. Metro: Green or Yellow Line to Archives-Navy Memorial.

The Library of Congress – the current building, a.k.a. the Jefferson Building – is not only one of America's holiest sites in its own right, but it was built on the site of the house where Abraham Lincoln stayed during his 1 term in Congress (1847-48). 101 Independence Avenue South.

When Lincoln was assassinated, Andrew Johnson, the new President, was staying at Kirkwood House, at 1111 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. An office building and a Fogo de Chão Brazilian Steakhouse are on the site now. They're across from the Old Post Office Pavilion, now one of Donald Trump's money-laundering hotels. Metro: Blue or Orange to Federal Triangle.

Three blocks up, at 1401 Pennsylvania, is the Willard Hotel. The current version of this legend went up in 1901, replacing the 1847 version that was where Ulysses S. Grant stayed as General-in-Chief – making it, in effect, the Civil War's Pentagon. Metro: Red, Blue or Orange to Metro Center.

Between the end of the war in 1865, and taking office as President in 1869, Grant lived at what's now called the Scott-Grant House, at 3238 R Street NW, in the Georgetown section of town. You'll have to take Metrobus DCWE to get there, and to any Georgetown location. This includes the various homes of John F. Kennedy between his 1946 election to Congress and his 1960 election as President: 1528 31st Street, 1400 34th Street, 3260 N Street, 3271 P Street, 3321 Dent Place, 2808 P Street and 3307 N Street.

The Cleveland Park area, reached by the Red Line at the stop bearing the name, includes several Presidential residences. Grover Cleveland's "Summer White House" was at 3600 Newark Street; Lyndon Johnson lived at Woodley Park Towers while he was Senate Majority Leader from 1953 to 1960, 2737 Devonshire Place; and Richard Nixon lived at 3601 Connecticut Avenue while serving in Congress. The next stop up on the Red Line is Woodley Park-Zoo. As a Senator, Harry Truman lived at 4701 Connecticut Avenue.

The Riggs Building was built on the site of the Riggs House, where Benjamin Harrison lived as a Senator. 615 G Street. Red Line to Union Station. While serving in Congress, William McKinley stayed in a hotel where the National Press Club has since been built. 529 14th Street. Red Line to Metro Center.

The Dupont Circle area, reached by the Red Line at the stop bearing the name, includes several such homes. While Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, William Howard Taft lived at what's now the Syrian Embassy. 2215 Wyoming Avenue. Warren Harding lived a block away at 2314 Wyoming. The only post-Presidential home to be an official historic site in the District is the Woodrow Wilson House at 2340 S Street. In the Cabinet in the 1920s, Herbert Hoover lived at 2300 S. While stationed in D.C. from 1927 to 1936, Dwight D. Eisenhower lived at 2022 Columbia Road.

From 1955 until he became President in 1974, including his tenures as House Minority Leader (1965-73) and Vice President (1973-74), Gerald Ford lived in the Virginia suburbs, at 514 Crown View Drive in Arlington. Yellow Line to King Street. As with his (and Ford's) fellow Yalie Taft, George H.W. Bush lived in what's now an Embassy, Algeria's, during his Congressional (1965-70) and Ambassadorial (1971-75) and CIA Directorial (1976-77) service. 5161 Palisade Lane. Metrobus D6. And the Naval Observatory has been the official Vice Presidential residence since 1974. 3450 Massachusetts Avenue. Metrobus N4.

Barack and Michelle Obama rented a house in Washington to use while daughter Malia finished high school. They have since gone back to Chicago with younger daughter Sasha, but the house is still a private residence, and I won't list the address here. Same with the house that Bill and Hillary Clinton have in the District.

Ronald Reagan was shot outside the Washington Hilton on March 30, 1981. 1919 Connecticut Avenue. Red to Dupont Circle. His life was saved at George Washington University Hospital. 900 23rd Street. Blue or Orange Line to Foggy Bottom-GWU. That's also the station for the nearby John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (2700 F Street) and the Watergate complex (700 New Hampshire Avenue) -- Kennedy and Nixon, forever linked.

Arlington National Cemetery has its own Metro Station, on the Blue Line. It is the final resting place for Presidents William Howard Taft and John F. Kennedy, plus JFK's wife Jackie and his brothers Bobby and Ted, former Heavyweight Champion Joe Louis, and General (but not baseball inventor) Abner Doubleday, among other notables.

Ironically, given its status as land seized from Robert E. Lee's family and its establishment as a cemetery for the Union dead of the American Civil War, the street it's on is the Jefferson Davis Highway in Arlington, Virginia; however, like all federal installations in Arlington, it has Washington, D.C. as its official mailing address.


Have fun in the Nation's Capital. And if Teddy wins, that's okay. If the Nats win, well, maybe not. But a loss in Washington is usually a better experience than even a win in Philly.

Yankees Improvise to 2-0 Start

Somebody said that this is what it must have been like for Yankee Fans in 1998.

It wasn't. We didn't start that season out 2-0. We started it 0-3, and 1-4.

Then came the good stuff.


Last night, the Yankees tried to follow their fantastic season opener in Toronto against those pesky Blue Jays with another win. Masahiro Tanaka started, and pitched like an ace. Well, for 2/3rds of the game, anyway: 6 innings, 1 run, 3 hits, no walks, 8 strikeouts.

He has a habit of giving up gopher balls, and Randal Grichuk hit a home run off him in the 2nd inning. How the Grinch Stole a Shutout.

But it didn't matter. Nor did the fact that, between them, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez went 0-for-12. Nor did the fact that 1st baseman Greg Bird began the season on the Disabled List, forcing new manager Aaron Boone to move newly-acquired 2nd baseman Neil Walker to 1st base, and put "prospect" Tyler Wade at 2nd.

Nor did the fact that, just 1 game in, Aaron Hicks went on the Disabled List, and Billy McKinney, a 23-year-old outfielder from the Dallas suburbs, was called up to make his major league debut. (That's McKinney in the picture above. The Yankees now have a player who was born during the Strike of '94. God, I'm old.)

What mattered was the bottom of the order coming through. In the top of the 2nd, in his 1st major league at-bat, McKinney singled to right. New 3rd baseman Brandon Drury doubled him home, and it was one-nil to the Bronx Bombers.

Grichuk's homer tied the game, but Didi Gregorius led off the top of the 4th with a double. After a Sanchez pop-up, Walker lived up to his name and drew a base on balls. McKinney moved the runners over with a fielder's choice. And Drury singled Sir Didi home.

Didi also led off the top of the 6th by getting on base, this time with a walk. After Sanchez flew out, Walker singled. After McKinney popped up, Drury walked to load the bases. And Wade doubled home Gregorius and Walker. 4-1 Yankees.

That would remain the score into the bottom of the 9th, as Tommy Kahnle pitched the 7th and into the 8th, allowing just 1 baserunner, a walk. David Robertson had to finish the 8th.

Aroldis Chapman came on for the 9th, and, well, Aroldis gotta Aroldis: He looked great, but almost blew it. He struck Josh Donaldson and Justin Smoak out, and was 1 strike away from striking out the side. But he allowed back-to-back doubles to Steve Pearce and former Yankee Yangervis Solarte. (You remember: The guy who got off to a great start as Yankee 3rd baseman, before Cashman sent him to the San Diego Padres for Chase Headley.) But Chapman fanned Grichuk to end it.

Yankees 4, Blue Jays 2. WP: Tanaka (1-0). SV: Chapman (1 -- remember, the previous night was not a save situation). LP: Anibal Sanchez (0-1).

Yankee pitchers got a total of 12 strikeouts. Somebody online said that this was the 1st time in the Yankees' 116-season history that their pitchers got 12 or more strikeouts in the season's 1st 2 games. Personally, I don't care how the outs come, as long as they come.

Starting the season 2-0 is good. As for the other American League Eastern Division teams, the Baltimore Orioles are 1-0, the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays are 1-1, and, of course, the Jays are 0-2.

The series continues this afternoon at 4:00 (well, 4:07). CC Sabathia makes his season debut for the Yankees, and Marco Estrada takes the hill for the Jays. Come on you Bombers!

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Yankees Open With Stanton-Powered Win in Toronto

The 2018 Major League Baseball season is underway. If you were hoping that the New York Yankees were going to use the long ball to win games this season, the first of your hopes have been realized. If you were hoping the Yankees were going to get good pitching, that hope also saw some realization.

The Yankees opened by starting a 4-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays, at the Rogers Centre (formerly named the SkyDome). Luis Severino got the start, and walked 2 batters in the 1st inning, but settled down, allowing just 1 hit until the 6th.

With 1 out, he walked Josh Donaldson, and then struck out Justin Smoak. It looked like the walk would be no big deal, and he could continue. He had thrown 91 pitches, but had done very well.

Unfortunately, Aaron Boone, in his 1st game as a major league manager, handled the situation exactly the way that Joe Girardi would have, and took the side of the pitch count, rather than that of the actual performance.

This was, potentially, a very stupid move. If you're concerned that he's thrown too many pitches, why wait until the batter after a walk to take him out? I don't care what the handedness of either the pitcher or the batter is: Unless the pitcher is injured, you never take him out after he's gotten an out!

With his 1st pitching change, Boone brought in Chad Green, and he struck former Yankee Curtis Granderson out to end the inning. Green faced 4 batters and got them all out.

As for the Yankee bats: They did what we had been led to believe they would do. Brett Gardner led off the season by reaching 1st base on an error. Aaron Judge struck out, and up came the big new acquisition, Giancarlo Stanton. In his 1st at-bat as a Yankee -- his 1st at-bat in the American League -- he hit a long drive to right-center field, the opposite field. Home run. 2-0 Yankees.

That would be all the Yankees would need. But, to quote a Bob Dylan song, "Your debutante knows what you need, but I know what you want!" With 2 out in the top of the 5th, Judge drew a walk, and was followed by back-to-back doubles by Stanton and Gary Sanchez. Gardner led off the 7th with a home run. 5-0.

Boone brought Dellin Betances in to pitch the 8th. His 1st pitch was to Kevin Pillar, who hit it out. Until then, the Jays had a grand total of 1 hit. Fortunately, Betances got through the inning with no further damage.

Equally fortunately, Tyler Clippard came into the game -- for the Jays. He got Gardner and Judge out without looking sharp. Then he faced Stanton, who drove a missile to straightaway center field. 434 feet.

So far, the hype seems justified. As they would say in English soccer, Stanton was Man of the Match. The 1st home run was cake; the 2nd, icing -- delicious icing.

Aroldis Chapman needed all of 10 pitches to get through the 9th inning. Ballgame over, Yankees win -- Theeeeeeee Yankees win! First time in a game that counts since October 20, 2017.

Yankees 6, Blue Jays 1. WP: Severino (1-0). No save. LP: J.A. Happ (0-1). For Aaron Boone, his 1st game as a major league manager is a win.

The Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays also started the season with wins. The Boston Red Sox, with a nasty loss against Tampa Bay, in which they blew a 4-0 lead. They didn't blow a lead of 2 or more runs all last season.

Baseball is back. God, did I miss it.

St. Louis' 10 Greatest Athletes

Left to right: Bruce Sutter, Bob Gibson, Red Schoendienst,
Stan Musial, Whitey Herzog, Lou Brock and Ozzie Smith.

Today, the Mets opened the 2018 baseball season at home to the St. Louis Cardinals, winning 9-4.

St. Louis' 10 Greatest Athletes

My metro areas lists won't be like my lists for the States: While it is possible for someone to qualify on both lists, this is about players who played for local teams, not necessarily athletes who grew up there. In other words, great players in individual sports like boxing or tennis or track are out.

Honorable Mention to members of the Baseball Hall of Fame not otherwise in the Top 10: From the Cardinals, 1st basemen Charles Comiskey, Jake Beckley, Jim Bottomley, Johnny Mize and Orlando Cepeda; 2nd basemen Frankie Frisch and Red Schoendienst shortstop Ozzie Smith; left fielders Chick Hafey and Joe Medwick; and pitchers Grover Cleveland Alexander, Jessie Haines, Burleigh Grimes, Dizzy Dean, Steve Carlton and Bruce Sutter. (Ol' Diz was an all-time great, but an injury kept him from being great long enough to make the Top 10.

And from the Browns, shortstop Bobby Wallace, left fielder Goose Goslin, catcher Rick Ferrell, and pitcher Satchel Paige.

Honorable Mention to members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame not otherwise in the Top 10: From the Cardinals, tight end Jackie Smith, cornerback Roger Wehrli, and offensive tackle Dan Dierdorf; and from the Rams, offensive tackle Orlando Pace.

Honorable Mention, in particular, to Kurt Warner, quarterback, St. Louis Rams, 1998-2003 -- who is, after all, the only quarterback to lead a St. Louis team to an NFL Championship. The Rams' "Greatest Show On Turf" didn't last long, pretty much from Warner's assumption of the quarterbacking duties in the 1999 preseason following Trent Green's injury, until a finger injury Warner suffered early in the 2003 season -- barely 4 full seasons.

But those seasons, with Warner, running backs Marshall Faulk and Dre Bly, and receivers Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt, Az-Zahir Hakim and Ricky Proehl, with Orlando Pace blocking for them, was one of the most spectacular offensive shows in NFL history, winning Super Bowl XXXIV -- the 1st NFL Championship in St. Louis history, and the 1st for the Rams franchise in 48 years. Warner was named Most Valuable Player of that game, and would be named NFL MVP in 1999 and 2001.

A 4-time Pro Bowler, he got the Rams into Super Bowl XXXVI, but they lost. He was later be signed by the Arizona Cardinals, the former St. Louis football team, and got them into Super Bowl XLIII, their 1st NFC Championship, and their 1st NFL Championship Game under any name in 60 years. But they lost, too.

He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame earlier this year. He was elected to the St. Louis Football Ring of Fame and the Arizona Cardinals Ring of Honor. In 2010, the NFL Network ranked him 90th on their list of the 100 Greatest Football Players. If the Rams institute a new team hall of fame once their permanent Los Angeles (Inglewood) stadium opens, he might be named to it, even though he never played a professional game in the L.A. metropolitan area.

Honorable Mention to members of the Basketball Hall of Fame not otherwise in the Top 10: From the Hawks, centers Ed Macauley and Clyde Lovellette; forwards Cliff Hagan and Lenny Wilkens; and guard Slater Martin, Richie Gerin and Zelmo Beaty; and from the Spirits, forward Maurice Lucas.

Honorable Mention to Blues who are members of the Basketball Hall of Fame not otherwise in the Top 10: Goaltenders Glenn Hall and Grant Fuhr, defensemen Al MacInnis and Chris Pronger, left wing Brendan Shanahan, right wing Joe Mullen, and centers Bernie Federko, Doug Gilmour and Adam Oates.

Honorable Mention to the St. Louis Boys of 1950. Of the 11 players of the U.S. team that upset England at the 1950 World Cup, 5 were from St. Louis. Goalkeeper Frank Borghi and center-half Charlie Colombo, outside right Frank "Pee Wee" Wallace and inside right Gino Parianiplayed for St. Louis Simpkins-Ford. Right back Harry Keough played for St. Louis McMahon, St. Louis Raiders and St. Louis Kutis.

Left back Joe Maca played for Brooklyn Hispano. Center forward Joe Gaetjens played for Brookhattan. Left half Walter Bahr, the last survivor, and midfielder Ed McIlvenny were playing for Philadelphia Nationals. Inside left John Souza and outside left Ed Souza played for Fall River Delponta Delgada in Massachusetts.

10. Larry Wilson, safety, St. Louis Cardinals (football), 1960-72. Like 1920s football star George Wilson, to whom he appears not to have been related, he was nicknamed Wildcat, but the earlier Wilson is not the reason. When he was drafted by the Chicago Cardinals in 1960 -- they moved to St. Louis between the draft and the next season -- their defensive coordinator, Chuck Drulis, created a play he code-named "Wildcat," inventing the safety blitz. The Cards drafted Larry specifically to take advantage of this, as his play at the University of Utah showed him to be both really fast and hard-hitting.

Larry Wilson was so tough! (How tough was he?) He was so tough, he once played a game with both hands taped over, including his fingers, because he had broken both wrists -- and still intercepted a pass. It was 1 of 52 he picked off in his career, for 800 yards, including 5 touchdowns.

The aforementioned Jerry Kramer called him "the finest football player in the NFL." It seems a crime that he never appeared in a Playoff game in his 13 seasons, but Kramer's Packers dominated the NFL Western Division at the time, so the closest the Cardinals came was finishing 2nd in 1964, making the subsequent Bert Bell Benefit Bowl (a.k.a. the Playoff Bowl).

It's not that they weren't good: They were 9-5 in 1963, 9-3-2 in 1964, 8-5-1 in 1966, 9-4-1 in 1968, and 8-5-1 in 1970. We're not talking about a one-man team here. Had he hung on just a little longer, he could have been a part of the Cardinals' 1974 and '75 NFC Eastern Division Champions.

He made 8 Pro Bowls, and was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the NFL 1960s and 1970s All-Decade Teams (even though he retired in 1972, and the only other man named to both teams was Dick Butkus), and the NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team.

In 1999, The Sporting News ranked him 43rd on their list of the 100 Greatest Football Players. It is a crime that he was not named to the NFL Network's 100 Greatest Players in 2010, especially since he was still alive and available for an interview (and still is now). No player from the 1999 TSN 100 had a bigger dropoff. Along with Ronnie Lott, Paul Krause, Ken Houston and Emlen Tunnell, he is probably still 1 of the top 5 safeties in football history.

The Cardinals retired his Number 8 well before they moved to Arizona. Even though he never played for Arizona (though he was a Cardinals executive both before and after the move, serving as scouting director, personnel director, general manager and vice president, retiring from an active role in 2002), he is in their Ring of Honor at University of Phoenix Stadium. Although he never played for the Rams, they (before moving back to Los Angeles) named him to the St. Louis Football Ring of Fame at the Edwards Jones Dome.

9. Marshall Faulk, running back, St. Louis Rams, 1999-2005. A star at San Diego State University, he made 7 Pro Bowls, and was named the NFL's Rookie of the Year in 1994 and Most Valuable Player in 2000. At the turn of the 21st Century, he was probably the NFL's best all-around player, helping the Rams reach Super Bowls XXXIV (won) and XXXVI (lost).

He finished his career with 12,280 rushing yards and an even 100 rushing touchdowns; and 767 catches for 6,875 yards and 36 touchdowns. The Indianapolis Colts, with whom he started, named him to their Ring of Honor. San Diego State and the Rams both retired Number 28 for him. He was elected to both the College and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In 2010, the NFL Network listed him 70th on their list of the NFL's 100 Greatest Players.

His cousin Kevin Faulk was also a star running back, and helped the Patriots win 3 Super Bowls, including beating the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI.

8. Rogers Hornsby, 2nd base, St. Louis Cardinals, 1915-26 and 1933; and St. Louis Browns, 1933-37. He would rank a bit higher on this list had he stayed in St. Louis for his entire career, but he was traded away from the Cardinals -- despite being their best hitter and their manager of their 1st World Series-winning team -- because he was a rotten guy. This included being a racist and a compulsive gambler.

He also might have been the greatest righthanded pure hitter who ever lived. His .358 lifetime batting average is a record for righthanders. He batted .402 over a 5-year stretch from 1922 to 1926, including .424 in 1924, the highest in Major League Baseball since 1894.

He won 7 National League batting titles, 2 home run titles, 4 RBI titles, and all 3, the Triple Crown, in 1922 and 1925. He was named NL Most Valuable Player in 1925 and 1929. He collected 2,930 hits, and had 301 home runs. That doesn't sound like much now, but when he played his last game in 1937, only Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Jimmie Foxx had more. In addition to his 1926 World Championship with the Cardinals, he also won Pennants with the Chicago Cubs in 1929 and 1932.

But he went on to make 2 troubling discoveries: He was respected, but hated, and teams couldn't wait to get rid of him, his ego, and his private troubles; and he was a far better manager with himself as a player than without, frequently frustrated when his players weren't very good, let alone as good as he was.

He was named to the Baseball Hall of Fame and the Major League Baseball All-Century Team. When The Sporting News named its 100 Greatest Baseball Players in 1999, Hornsby came in 9th, the highest-ranked 2nd baseman.

The Cardinals named him to their team Hall of Fame, and dedicated a statue to him outside Busch Stadium. While uniform numbers began to be used during his career, he never wore the same number long enough to be identified with it, so a Cardinal "STL" logo stands in for a retired number along with their other honorees.

7. Brett Hull, right wing, St. Louis Blues, 1988-98. Picking a player for the Blues is difficult, because most of their better players also spent significant time with other teams, including Hull, Al MacInnis, Chris Pronger and Keith Tkachuk. But Hull is the only one with a statue outside their arena. He scored 741 goals in his NHL career, 527 of them with the Blues.

6. Bob Pettit, forward, St. Louis Hawks, 1955-65. He was an 11-time NBA All-Star, a 2-time NBA MVP, and the 1st NBA player to score 20,000 points. (This wouldn't be a big deal today. It was a huge deal then, in 1965.) He won the 1958 NBA Championship with the Hawks. After they moved to Atlanta, they retired his Number 9. He was named to the Basketball Hall of Fame and the NBA's 50th Anniversary 50 Greatest Players.

5. George Sisler, 1st base, St. Louis Browns, 1915-27. He started out as a pitcher, and in his rookie year, 1915, he outpitched his hero, Walter Johnson of the Washington Senators, twice. But, like another lefthanded pitcher who had his 1st full season in 1915, Babe Ruth, he turned out to be a much better hitter.

"Gorgeous George" -- or "the Sizzler" -- had a .340 lifetime batting average, including American League batting titles in 1920 and 1922. In 1922, he nearly led the Browns to the Pennant, falling 1 game short of the Yankees. He collected 257 hits, a major league record that stood until Ichiro Suzuki got 262 in 2004. For his career, he had 2,812 hits, and he might be much better remembered had he gotten the remaining 188 to get to 3,000.

He also led the AL in stolen bases 4 times, and for decades was regarded as the best-fielding 1st baseman in the game's history. When the Baseball Hall of Fame opened in 1939, there were 25 inductees, 12 of whom were still alive, and 11 of them attended the opening ceremony -- all but Ty Cobb, who got held up getting there and just missed it. Sisler was the last survivor of those 12, living until 1973.

Many people forgot him, but The Sporting News didn't, ranking him 33rd on their list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players in 1999. When the current Busch Stadium opened in 2006, a statue of Sisler was placed outside, even though he never played for the Cardinals.

(The Browns became the Baltimore Orioles in 1954, but they have not honored him in any way. And since his last season in the majors was 1930, the last year before every team adopted uniform numbers, there is no number to retire for him, which is another reason why he's not as well remembered as, say, Cobb or Ruth.)

He had 3 sons involved with professional baseball, including Dick Sisler, whose home run on the last day of the 1950 regular season gave the Philadelphia Phillies the National League Pennant over the Brooklyn Dodgers -- whose team president, fellow University of Michigan graduate Branch Rickey, had signed him as a scout. George said, "I felt awful and terrific at the same time."

4. Albert Pujols, 1st base, St. Louis Cardinals, 2001-11. In 11 seasons with the Cards, Phat Albert made 10 All-Star teams. He also drove in at least 100 runs every season until 2011, when he had 99. He batted .328 with the Cardinals, with a 170 OPS+, 455 doubles, and 445 home runs. With all of that, and his being a 1st baseman, he was frequently compared with Stan Musial, a.k.a. Stan the Man, even getting the same nickname, "El Hombre."

His subsequent tenure with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim hasn't been as successful, but he goes into the 2018 season with 614 home runs, more than any player has ever hit honestly except Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays and Ken Griffey Jr. (Jim Thome finished with 612.) By the year 2027, expect to see him in the Hall and to see his Number 5 retired at Busch Stadium.

3. Lou Brock, left field, St. Louis Cardinals, 1964-79. He led Southern University of Baton Rouge, Louisiana to the 1959 NAIA Championship (national championship for small schools). Based on this, and on his major league achievements, he was elected to the College Baseball Hall of Fame.

An 8-time MLB All-Star, he collected over 3,000 hits, and set records (which still stand, at least within the National League) for stolen bases in a season and a career. He led the St. Louis Cardinals to the 1964 (won), 1967 (won) and 1968 (lost) World Series. In 1967, he won the Babe Ruth Award, 1 of the 2 awards given to the Most Valuable Player of the World Series. (Bob Gibson got the better-known award, the Sport Magazine Award.)

The Cardinals retired his Number 20. He was named to the Baseball Hall of Fame and The Sporting News' 100 Greatest Baseball Players, ranked 58th.

2. Bob Gibson, pitcher, St. Louis Cardinals, 1959-75. Like Wilt Chamberlain, he played college basketball, in his case for Omaha's Creighton University. Also like Wilt, he played for the Harlem Globetrotters. Unlike Wilt, he couldn't stand the clowning, and wanted to play serious sports only. And since baseball paid more than basketball at that point, he chose baseball. And when Bob Gibson played baseball, it was a serious sport.

He didn't regret his choice of sports, but many men did. More so than even Don Drysdale, he was considered the meanest pitcher of his generation. He once said, "I didn't throw at a lot of guys, but when I did, I made sure I hit them." He also presaged Charles Barkley with this remark: "Why do I have to be a role model for your kid? You be a role model for your kid."

Along with Brock and Ken Boyer, he helped the St. Louis Cardinals win the 1964 and (with the additions of Orlando Cepeda and Roger Maris) 1967 World Series, and was named the Series MVP both times. In Game 1 in 1968, he set a Series record with 17 strikeouts. He seemed unbeatable, having already won Game 7 in both 1964 and 1967, but the Detroit Tigers got to him in Game 7 in 1968.

That 1968 season saw him put together the lowest earned-run average of the post-1920 Lively Ball Era, 1.12. For his career, he was 251-714, with 3,117 strikeouts, making him the 1st National League pitcher to fan 3,000. He made 9 All-Star Games, won 2 Cy Young Awards (1968 and 1970), and won 9 Gold Gloves. He also pitched a no-hitter in 1971.

He was named to the Baseball Hall of Fame, The Sporting News' 100 Greatest Baseball Players, and the Major League Baseball All-Century Team. The Cardinals elected him to their team Hall of Fame, retired his Number 45, and erected a statue of him outside Busch Stadium.

Do you want to tell Gibson he's not the greatest athlete ever to play for a St. Louis sports team? Neither do I. But he respects the history of the game, and of the Cardinals in particular, to accept that, in St. Louis, only Stan was truly The Man.

1. Stan Musial, left field, St. Louis Cardinals, 1941-63. Like Sisler and Babe Ruth, he was a lefthander who started as a pitcher. Like Ruth, but also played the outfield. Unlike Sisler and Ruth, his pitching career ended when he landed on his shoulder while making a great catch in the minor leagues. So he became a full-time outfielder -- and, along with Hornsby and Hank Aaron, a candidate for the title of greatest hitter in National League History.
Ted Williams, Stan's contemporary, always said he wanted people to think of him as the greatest hitter who ever lived. If there's one thing Ted liked more than hitting, it was talking about hitting. Once, he went on and on about Stan, until his son, John Henry Williams, asked if he thought Stan was as good a hitter as he was, and Ted said, "Yes, I do." That says it all; the rest is details.

Here's some of the details. He shares with Aaron and Willie Mays the record of 24 All-Star Game appearances. (There were 2 ASGs every year from 1958 to 1962, so he appeared in them in the last 20 of his 22 MLB seasons.) He had a career batting average of .331. Someone once asked him why he was always smiling, and he said, "If you had a lifetime batting average of .331, you'd be smiling, too!" He won 7 batting titles. His OPS+ was a whopping 159, meaning he was 59 percent better at producing runs than the average player of his time.

He was the 1st man to collect his 3,000th career hit on television, in 1958. He finished with 3,630 hits -- exactly 1,815 at home and 1,815 on the road. He hit 725 doubles, 3rd all-time behind Tris Speaker and Pete Rose -- and Stan's last hit, in 1963, went under the glove of Rose, then a rookie 2nd baseman for the Cincinnati Reds.

He hit 475 home runs, more than any National Leaguer before him except Mel Ott. He had 1,951 RBIs, more than any NLer before him and still 7th all-time, including 10 100+ seasons. He finished with more extra-base hits (1,377) and more total bases (6,134) than any other player (with both records having been broken by Aaron).

He won 4 Pennants with the Cardinals, winning the World Series in 1942, 1944 and 1946, and losing it in 1943. He won 3 NL MVP awards, in 1943, 1946 and 1948 -- in this last, missing the Triple Crown by 1 home run -- and finished 2nd 4 other times, including 1957, when he won his last batting title, and Sports Illustrated named him Sportsman of the Year.

He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his 1st year of eligibility. In 1999, The Sporting News listed him 10th on their list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, and fan balloting put him on the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.

In 2011, Barack Obama awarded him the nation's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Reflecting his service to his adopted hometown, and to his country, serving in the U.S. Navy in World War II in 1945 -- the only year between 1942 and 1946 that the Cardinals didn't win the Pennant -- a new bridge for Interstate 70 over the Mississippi River, which opened just after his death in 2013, was named the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge, and is nicknamed the Stan Span.

The Cardinals retired his Number 6, and dedicated a statue to him outside Busch Stadium, having since moved it to the new ballpark with that name. On its base is a quote from the Commissioner at the time, Ford Frick: "Here stands baseball's perfect warrior. Here stands baseball's perfect knight."