Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Those We Lost In 2019

I paid tribute to some of these people with obituary posts.

In Memoriam:

* Larry Weinberg, January 23, 1926 - January 1, 2019, a founder owner of the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers, his tenure including their 1977 World Championship, the team retired Number 1 in his honor.

* Jumping Johnny Wilson, Date Unknown, 1927 - January 11, 2019, played for the Negro Leagues' Chicago American Giants and the Harlem Globetrotters in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

* Mel Stottlemyre, November 13, 1941 - January 13, 2019, won 164 games and made 5 All-Star teams as a Yankee pitcher, helping them win the 1964 American League Pennant; served as pitching coach for the Mets, helping them win the 1986 World Series, and for the Yankees, helping them win the 1996, '98, '99 and 2000 World Series along with the 2001 and '03 AL Pennants; honored with a Plaque in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium.

* Eli Grba, August 9, 1934 - January 14, 2019, relief pitcher helped the Yankees win the 1960 American League Pennant, was an original 1961 Los Angeles Angel.

* Emiliano Sala, October 31, 1990 - January 21, 2019, Argentine soccer star for French team FC Nantes, killed in a plane crash on the way to sign with Welsh team Cardiff City.

* Gerry Plamondon, January 5, 1924 - January 26, 2019, left wing was the last surviving member of the 1946 Stanley Cup Champion Montreal Canadiens.

* Dale Barnstable, March 4, 1925 - January 26, 2019, basketball player won 1948 and '49 National Championships with the University of Kentucky, got caught up in the 1951 college basketball point-shaving scandal, was banned from the NBA for life, later won some golf tournaments.

* Bob Friend, November 24, 1930 - February 3, 2019, pitched for the 1960 World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates, but held dubious distinctions, such as leading the National League in ERA in 1955 despite pitching for the last-place Pirates, and finishing his career at 197-230, making him the only pitcher to lose 200 games without winning 200.

* Matti Nykänen , July 17, 1963 - February 4, 2019, Finnish ski jumper, won a Gold Medal at the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, and 3 more at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary.

* Frank Robinson, August 31, 1935 - February 7, 2019, Hall of Fame right fielder, the only man to win Most Valuable Player awards in both Leagues, with the 1961 National League Champion Cincinnati Reds, and winning the Triple Crown with the 1966 American League and World Champion Baltimore Orioles, won another World Series with the Orioles in 1970; became the 1st black manager in each League, with the 1975 Cleveland Indians and the 1981 San Francisco Giants; President of the American League 2015-19, Number 20 retired by the Reds, the Orioles and the Indians, each team also dedicated a ballpark statue of him.

* Gordon Banks, December 30, 1937 - February 12, 2019, one of the greatest goalkeepers in soccer history, starred for English teams Leicester City and Stoke City, played every minute of every game in England's 1966 World Cup win.

* Don Newcombe, June 14, 1926 - February 19, 2019, pitcher from Elizabeth, New Jersey was one of the last surviving stars of the Negro Leagues, playing for the Newark Eagles; a 4-time All-Star with the Brooklyn Dodgers, won 5 National League Pennants; named 1949 NL Rookie of the Year, helped Dodgers win 1955 World Series by winning 20 games and hitting 7 home runs, won the NL Most Valuable Player award and the 1st-ever Cy Young Award in 1956; oddly, was not included .

* Carl Meinhold, March 29, 1926 - February 23, 2019, last surviving member of the 1948 NBA Champion Baltimore Bullets.

* Eusbeio Pedroza, March 2, 1956 - March 1, 2019, Panamanian boxer, Featherweight Champion of the World from April 15, 1978 to June 8, 1985.

* Ted Lindsay, July 29, 1925 - March 4, 2019, Hockey Hall-of-Famer, won the 1950, '52, '54 and '55 Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings, they retired his Number 7, made 11 All-Star Games, won the Art Ross Trophy as leading scorer in 1950, an early activist in the NHL Players' Association, named to the NHL's 100th Anniversary 100 Greatest Players.

* Dan Jenkins, December 2, 1928 - March 7, 2019, sportswriter was one of the greatest authorities on college football, especially in his native Texas; wrote the novel Semi-Tough, which became one of the most popular football-themed films; also a golf expert, played collegiately at Texas Christian University, and wrote one of the most popular books about the sport, The Dogged Victims of Inexorable Fate; he and his daughter Sally Jenkins both wrote for Sports Illustrated.

* Harry Howell, December 28, 1932 - March 9, 2019, Hall of Fame hockey player, played more games for the New York Rangers than any other player, 1,160, Rangers retired his Number 3; won the 1967 Norris Trophy for best defenseman, won the 1990 Stanley Cup as a scout for the Edmonton Oilers.

* Leroy Stanton, April 10, 1946 - March 13, 2019, right fielder was traded by the Mets, along with Nolan Ryan, to the California Angels for Jim Fregosi after the 1971 season, one of the worst trades in baseball history; also an original 1977 Seattle Mariner.

* Johnny "Lam" Jones, April 4, 1958 - March 15, 2019, track star at the University of Texas, won a Gold Medal with a U.S. relay team at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal; also played football, but drug problems and injuries derailed his career as a receiver with the New York Jets.

* Cal Ramsey, July 13, 1937 - March 25, 2019, perhaps the last great basketball player at New York University (NYU), played just 13 games for the New York Knicks, in the 1959-60 and 1960-61 seasons, broadcast for the Knicks from 1972 to 1982, and worked in their community relations department from 1991 until his death.

* Joe Bellino, March 13, 1938 - March 27, 2019, running back for the Naval Academy, won the 1960 Heisman Trophy, played for the Boston Patriots in the AFL after serving his naval commitment.

* Myer "Whitey" Skoog, November 2, 1926 - April 4, 2019, basketball star at the University of Minnesota, who retired his Number 41, won the 1952, '53 and '54 NBA Championships with the Minneapolis Lakers, coached basketball and golf at Minnesota's Gustavus Adolphus College.

* Scott Sanderson, July 22, 1956 - April 11, 2019, pitcher won 163 games; reached the postseason with the 1981 Montreal Expos, the 1984 and '89 Chicago Cubs and the 1990 Oakland Athletics; was a 1991 All-Star with the Yankees.

* Tommy Smith, April 5, 1945 - April 12, 2019, soccer defender helped Liverpool FC win the Football League in 1966, '73, '76 and '77; the FA Cup in 1965 and '74; and the European Cup in 1977.

* Forrest Gregg, October 18, 1933 - April 12, 2019, Hall of Fame offensive tackle, from 1961 to 1972 won 5 Super Bowls with the Green Bay Packers and a 6th with the Dallas Cowboys, coached the Cincinnati Bengals to their 1st AFC Championship in 1982.

* John MacLeod, October 3, 1937 - April 14, 2019, coached the Phoenix Suns to their 1st NBA Finals in 1976, and the New York Knicks in the 1990-91 season; named Big East Coach of the Year at Notre Dame in 1997.

* Chet Coppock, April 30, 1948 - April 17, 2019, Chicago-based sportscaster.

* Billy McNeill, March 2, 1940 - April 22, 2019, captained Celtic FC of Glasgow to the 1967 European Cup, making them the 1st British team to win it; between playing for Celtic and managing them, won 31 major trophies.

* John Havlicek, April 8, 1940 - April 25, 2019, member of the Ohio State basketball team that won the 1960 National Championship, helped the Boston Celtics win 8 NBA Championships from 1963 to 1976, an All-Star in 13 of his 16 NBA seasons, Most Valuable Player of the 1974 NBA Finals, his Number 5 retired by Ohio State and Number 17 by the Celtics, named to the Basketball Hall of Fame and the NBA's 50th Anniversary 50 Greatest Players.

* Gene Stephens, January 20, 1933 - April 27, 2019, outfielder played in MLB from 1952 to 1964; in a 1953 game with the Boston Red Sox, he collected 3 hits in 1 inning, the 1st player to do that in the modern era.

* Gino Marchetti, January 2, 1926 - April 29, 2019, Hall of Fame defensive end captained the Baltimore Colts to the 1958 and '59 NFL Championships, they retired his Number 89.

* Josef Šural, May 30, 1990 - April 29, 2019, Czech soccer player, killed in a car accident while a player for Turkish team Alanyaspor.

* Leonard "Red" Kelly, July 9, 1927 - May 2, 2019, 1st player to win the Norris Trophy as the NHL's best defenseman, in 1954; won the 1950, '52, '54 and '55 Stanley Cups for the Detroit Red Wings; converted to a center by the Toronto Maple Leafs, with whom he won the 1962, '63, '64 and '67 Stanley Cups; both teams retired Number 4 for him; the only player ever to win 8 Stanley Cups without playing for the Montreal Canadiens; 1st head coach of the Los Angeles Kings in 1967, named to the NHL's 100th Anniversary 100 Greatest Players.

* Bart Starr, January 9, 1934 - May 26, 2019, Hall-of-Famer quarterbacked the Green Bay Packers to the 1961, '62, '65, '66 and '67 NFL Championships, named Mos Valuable Player of Super Bowls I and II, Packers retired his Number 15.

* Bill Buckner, December 14, 1949 - May 27, 2019, outfielder helped the Los Angeles Dodgers win the 1974 National League Pennant, converted to 1st base with the Chicago Cubs, National League batting champion in 1980, a 1981 All-Star, collected 2,715 career hits, helped the Boston Red Sox win the 1986 American League Pennant, but committed the most famous error in baseball history to end Game 6 of the World Series.

José Antonio Reyes, September 1, 1983 - June 1, 2019, Spanish soccer player was a member of Arsenal's "Invincibles" Premier League Champions of 2003-04, and later starred for both Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid, and Portuguese team Benfica, before returning to original team Sevilla; killed in a car crash while playing for Spanish team Extramadura.

Erzsébet Gulyás-Köteles, November 3, 1924 - June 16, 2019, Hungarian gymnast, won a Gold Medal at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne.

* Thalles Lima de Conceição Penha, May 18, 1995 – June 22, 2019, Brazilian soccer player known by just his first name, played for Rio de Janeiro team Vasco da Gama, helping them win league titles in 2015 and '16, killed in a motorcycle crash.

* Tyler Skaggs, July 13, 1991 - July 1, 2019, pitcher for the Los Angeles Angels, died of an accidental drug overdose.

* Jim Bouton, March 8, 1939 - July 10, 2019, pitcher helped the Yankees win 3 Pennants including the 1962 World Series; wrote Ball Four, a diary of his 1969 season with the Seattle Pilots and the Houston Astros, which became a revelatory (but not as much as people thought) best-seller; became a sportscaster, leaving to make a comeback with the 1978 Atlanta Braves, co-invented Big League Chew gum.

* Ernie Broglio, August 27, 1935 - July 16, 2019, pitcher won 21 games for the 1960 St. Louis Cardinals, but hurt his arm, and was traded to the Chicago Cubs in 1964 for Lou Brock, one of the most lopsided trades in baseball history.

* Elijah "Pumpsie" Green, October 27, 1933 - July 17, 2019, reserve infielder became the 1st black player for the last "Original 16" team to integrate, the 1959 Boston Red Sox.

* Don Mossi, January 11, 1929 - July 19, 2019, relief pitcher won an American League Pennant as a rookie with the 1954 Cleveland Indians, was an All-Star with the Indians in 1957, and nearly helped the 1961 Detroit Tigers and the 1964 Chicago White Sox defeat the Yankees for the Pennant; but may be best remembered for his big nose and sticky-out ears.

* Egil Danielsen, November 9, 1933 - July 29, 2019, Norwegian javelin thrower, won the Gold Medal at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne.

* Max Falkenstien (that's right, "stien," not "stein"), April 9, 1924 - July 29, 2019, broadcast football and basketball for the University of Kansas from 1946 to 2006, including 24 Conference Championships, 11 Final Four berths and their 1952 and 1988 basketball National Championships.

* Mike Troy, October 3, 1940 - August 3, 2019, American swimmer won 2 Gold Medals at the 1960 Olympics in Rome.

José Luis Brown, November 10, 1956 – August 12, 2019, Argentine soccer player, helped La Plata team Estudiantes win league titles in 1982 and 1983, a member of the 1986 World Cup winners.

* Jim Hardy, April 24, 1923 - August 16, 2019, quarterback for Southern California, Most Valuable Player of the 1945 Rose Bowl, backed up Bobby Layne on the 1952 NFL Champion Detroit Lions, was the last surviving member of that team.

* Al Jackson, December 26, 1935 - August 19, 2019, pitcher was an original 1962 New York Met.

* Truman "Tex" Clevenger, July 9, 1932 - August 24, 2019, pitcher for the last "old" Washington Senators team in 1960, an original Los Angeles Angel in 1961, and a World Champion Yankee in 1961 and '62.

* Wally Westlake, November 8, 1920 - September 5, 2019, reserve outfielder on the 1954 American League Champion Cleveland Indians that won 111 games.

* Tom Phoebus, April 7, 1942 - September 5, 2019, pitcher won the 1966 and 1970 World Series with the Baltimore Orioles, pitched a no-hitter against the Boston Red Sox on April 27, 1968.

* Charlie Silvera, October 13, 1924 - September 7, 2019, backup catcher to Yogi Berra, won the World Series with the Yankees in 1949, '50, '51, '52, '53 and '56.

* Fred McLeod, September 1, 1952 - September 9, 2019, broadcast for the Detroit Pistons from 1984 to 2006, seeing them win NBA titles in 1989, '90 and 2004; and the Cleveland Cavaliers since 2006, seeing them win the 2016 NBA title.

* Rudi Gutendorf, August 30, 1926 - September 13, 2019, German soccer player for TuS Koblenz, went on to set records managing 55 different teams, in 32 countries, on 5 continents, including 18 national teams, and the St. Louis Stars of the North American Soccer League in 1968; 1st non-Japanese manager to win their national league, with Yomiuri SC in 1984.

* Alex Grammas, April 3, 1926 - September 13, 2019, reserve infielder in the 1950s, briefly managed the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Milwaukee Brewers, won the World Series on the coaching staff of Sparky Anderson with the 1975 Cincinnati Reds and the 1984 Detroit Tigers.

* Howard "Hopalong" Cassady, March 2, 1934 - September 20, 2019, running back helped Ohio State win the 1954 National Championship, won the 1955 Heisman Trophy, Ohio State retired his Number 40, was a member of the 1957 NFL Champion Detroit Lions.

* Isaac Promise, December 2, 1987 - October 2, 2019, captain of the Nigerian soccer team that won the Silver Medal at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, played most of his professional career in Turkey, was with Austin Bold FC of the USL when he died of a heart attack at age 31.

* Andy Etchebarren, June 20, 1943 - October 5, 2019, catcher for the 1966 and 1970 World Champion Baltimore Orioles.

* Jacinto "Jackie" Hernández, September 11, 1940 - October 12, 2019, shortstop was an original 1969 San Diego Padre, won the 1971 World Series with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

* Al Bianchi, March 26, 1932 - October 28, 2019, played for the Syracuse Nationals/Philadelphia 76ers, 1st head coach of the Seattle SuperSonics, 1971 ABA Coach of the Year with the Virginia Squires, general manager of the New York Knicks from 1987 to 1991, helping to build their 1994 NBA Eastern Conference Champions.

* Ron Fairly, July 12, 1938 - October 30, 2019, 1st baseman won the 1959, '63 and '65 World Series with the Los Angeles Dodgers, an original Montreal Expo in 1969, and All-Star as an Expo in 1973; in 1977, he became the 1st man to play for both of MLB's Canadian teams, the Expos and the Toronto Blue Jays, named the Jays' 1st All-Star; later served as a broadcaster for the California Angels, the San Francisco Giants and the Seattle Mariners.

* Edmund "Zeke" Bratkowski, October 20, 1931 - November 11, 2019, Bart Starr's backup quarterback on the 1965, '66 and '67 NFL Champion Green Bay Packers.

* Sigvard Ericsson, July 17, 1930 - November 2, 2019, Swedish speed skater won a Gold and a Silver Medal at the 1956 Winter Olympics at Cortina d'Ampezzo.

* Norbert Eder, November 7, 1955 - November 2, 2019, soccer defender won the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich in 1985, '86 and '87, and helped West Germany reach the Final of the 1986 World Cup.

* Jacque Dupont, June 19, 1928 - November 4, 1929, French cyclist, won a Gold Medal at the 1948 Olympics in London.

* Frank "Pep" Saul, February 16, 1924 - November 7, 2019, won 4 straight NBA Championships, in 1951 with the Rochester Royals, and in 1952, '53 and '54 with the Minneapolis Lakers.

* Antaoly Krutikov, September 21, 1933 - November 8, 2019, Russian defender helped Spartak Moscow win the Soviet Top League in 1962 and the Russian Cup in 1963 and '65; helped the Soviet national team win the 1st-ever European Championship in 1960 and reach the Final in 1964; but achieved infamy in 1976, becoming the 1st manager ever to get Spartak relegated from the Soviet top flight, and remains the only one ever to get them relegated from either the Soviet or the Russian top flight.

* Cyril Robinson, March 4, 1929 - November 9, 2019, the last surviving member of the Blackpool FC team that won the 1953 FA Cup, the Final that included a hat trick by Stan Mortensen and the starring role of Stanley Matthews.

István Szívós Jr., April 24, 1948 – November 10, 2019, Hungarian water polo player, won medals at 4 straight Olympics, including a Gold in 1976 in Montreal; his father, István, won Gold Medals in 1952 and '56, and his son Márton has won a World Championship, but, as yet, not an Olympic Medal.

* Harrison Dillard, July 8, 1923 - November 15, 2019, won 2 Olympic Gold Medals each in 1948 in London and 1952 in Helsinki, becoming the only man to be the "World's Fastest Man" (Gold in the 100 meters in 1948) and the "World's Greatest Hurdler" (Gold in the 110-meter hurdles in 1952).

* Irv Noren, November 29, 1924 - November 15, 2019, reserve outfielder was the last surviving player from the 1952 World Champion New York Yankees (Whitey Ford and Bobby Brown are still alive, but both were serving in the Korean War at the time); also won the 1953 and '56 World Series with the Yankees, an All-Star in 1954, served on Dick Williams' coaching staff and won the 1972 and '73 World Series with the Oakland Athletics.

* Jim Coates, August 4, 1932 - November 15, 2019, All-Star relief pitcher for the Yankees in 1960, helped them win the 1961 and '62 World Series.

* Pat Sullivan, January 18, 1950 - December 1, 2019, quarterback won the 1971 Heisman Trophy with Auburn, played in the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons and the Washington Redskins, later served as head coach at Texas Christian University (TCU).

* Bob Willis, May 30, 1949 - December 4, 2019, cricket fast bowler currently stands as England 4th all-time wicket taker.

* Jorge Hernández, November 17, 1954 – December 12, 2019, Cuban boxer, won the Gold Medal in the Light Flyweight division at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal.

* Karin Balzer, June 5, 1938 - December 17, 2019, hurdler won a Gold Medal for East Germany at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo; despite competing for East Germany in the 1960s and '70s, and later working as a chemist, she has never been credibly accused of cheating.

* Roland Matthes, November 17, 1950 - December 20, 2019, swimmer won 8 Olympic Medals, including 2 Golds each in 1968 in Mexico City and in 1972 in Munich; had a 7-year winning streak in backstroke competitions from 1967 to 1974; despite being East German, he always denied having used doping or any other form of cheating.

* Martin Peters, November 8, 1943 - December 21, 2019, English soccer star for West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur, won the 1966 World Cup.

Someone Better Stop This Fire

For all the garbage going on in the world, much of it done or inspired by Donald Trump, did you forget that a decade is coming to a close? Time for another rewrite of Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire."

Barack Obama, Eurozone, Deepwater Horizon,
Burj Khalifa, Leo Messi, Cristiano.
George Steinbrenner, WikiLeaks, Aung San Suu Kyi,
Arab Spring, Instagram, Mitch McConnell says no.

Aaron Rodgers, Syria, bin Laden, gotcha,
Kate and William, David Freese, end of Moammar Gaddafi.
Harry Potter, Steve Jobs, Breaking Bad's meth slobs,
Jane Russell, Liz Taylor, Amy Winehouse, goodbye!

We didn't start the fire.
But we should be telling, even worse, it's smelling.
We didn't start the fire.
It's gone off the kilter, there's no way to filter.

Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum had gall,
Costa Concordia, LeBron gets his ring.
L.A. Kings, Higgs boson, goodbye Whitney Houston,
Neil Armstrong, Benghazi, Bieber please don't sing.
47 percent, Obama leaves Romney bent,
Hurricane, Sandy Hook, Red Wedding worse than book,
Pope Francis, Boston, avenging the Marathon,
Gay marriage, Mandela, trouble in Nairobi!

We didn't start the fire.
But we should be telling, even worse, it's smelling.
We didn't start the fire.
It's gone off the kilter, there's no way to filter.

Pete Seeger, Ebola, Seahawks win, Malaysia,
Crimea annexed, Flint water system wrecked.
ISIS launched, Germans ride, Robin Williams' suicide,
Mad Bum, Giants win, World Trade Center back again!

Whoa-oh-oh!
Boko Haram, Nimoy, Golden State hoop joy
Supergirl, Carli Lloyd, Taylor Swift left me annoyed.
Kansas City's title take, Star Wars' Force awakes,
Donald Trump is psycho! All his stances wrongo!

We didn't start the fire.
But we should be telling, even worse, it's smelling.
We didn't start the fire.
It's gone off the kilter, there's no way to filter.

Muhammad Ali, Cavaliers, Brexit Tory sneers,
Nice truck, Michael Phelps, Trump needs jail or mental help.
Hillary's e-mails, Cubs win, election fails,
Tom Brady, Grenfell, Chuck Berry, Charlottesville.
Vegas shooting, Astros champs, Texas concentration camps,
Refugees locked away! What else do I have to say?

We didn't start the fire.
But we should be telling, even worse, it's smelling.
We didn't start the fire.
It's gone off the kilter, there's no way to filter.

Eagles win the big one, Trump duped by Kim Jong Un,
School shootings yet again, synagogue shooting sin.
ICE raids, great shame, New Zealand, Endgame,
U.S. women win again, Brits get Boris Johnson.
St. Louis wins the Cup, Hong Kong fed up,
Foreign debts, homeless vets, farmers have Trump regrets!
Nationals raise the score, Trump impeached for breaking law!
Will he launch distracting war? I can't take it anymore!

We didn't start the fire.
But we should be telling, even worse, it's smelling.
We didn't start the fire.
And when Trump is gone, it will still burn on,
and on, and on, and on…

Time to start a new Roaring Twenties.

*

Days until Arsenal play again: 1, tomorrow, at 3:00 PM New York time, in Premier League action, home to Manchester United.

Days until the New Jersey Devils next play a local rival: 2, on Thursday night, against the New York Islanders, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The next game against the New York Rangers, a.k.a. The Scum, will be on Thursday, January 9, at Madison Square Garden. The next game against the Philadelphia Flyers, a.k.a. The Philth, will be on Thursday, February 6, at the Wells Fargo Center.

Days until the Baseball Hall of Fame vote is announced, electing Derek Jeter: 21on January 21. Just 3 weeks.

Days until the 1st Presidential voting of 2020, the Iowa Caucuses: 34, on Monday, February 3. Under 5 weeks. The New Hampshire Primary will be 8 days later.

Days until the New York Red Bulls play again: 61, on Sunday, March 1, at 1:00 PM, home to FC Cincinnati.

Days until the Yankees' 2020 Opening Day: 86, at 1:00 on Thursday, March 26, away to the Baltimore Orioles. Under 3 months. And now, it feels as though we can look forward to it.

Days until the U.S. national soccer team plays again: 86, at 3:45 PM New York time on March 26, 2020, against the Netherlands, at Philips Stadion in Eindhoven, home of PSV Eindhoven.

Days until the Yankees' 2020 home opener: 106, on Thursday, April 2, against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Days until the Red Bulls next play a "derby": 109, on Saturday, April 18, at 1:00 PM, against the New England Revolution, at Red Bull Arena. On Sunday, April 26, at 3:00 PM, they will play D.C. United, at Audi Field in Washington. On Sunday, May 31, at 3:00 PM, they will play New York City FC, at Yankee Stadium II. And on Saturday, June 6, at 6:00 PM, they will play the Philadelphia Union, at Red Bull Arena.

Days until the next North London Derby: 116, on Saturday, April 25, Arsenal's 1st visit to the new Tottenham Stadium, adjacent to the site of the previous White Hart Lane. Under 4 months. It is currently scheduled to be on the 16th Anniversary of the 2nd time that Arsenal won the League at White Hart Lane -- but also the last time Arsenal won the League anywhere. Of course, for TV reasons, the game could be moved to another date, probably the next day.

Days until the next Yankees-Red Sox series begins: 129, on May 8, 2020, at Yankee Stadium II. A little over 4 months. 

Days until Euro 2020 begins, a tournament being held all over Europe instead of in a single host nation: 164, on Friday, June 12, 2020. Under 6 months.

Days until the next Summer Olympics begins in Tokyo, Japan: 206, on July 24, 2020. Under 7 months.

Days until Rutgers University plays football again: 249, on Saturday, September 5, at noon, home to Monmouth University, a Football Championship Subdivision School in West Long Branch, Monmouth County, New Jersey. In other words, if they don't win this game overwhelmingly, especially now that Greg Schiano is back as head coach, it will look very, very bad. Anyway, a little over 8 months.

Days until East Brunswick High School plays football again: Unknown, as the 2020 schedule has not been released yet. Most likely, the season opener will be against arch-rival Old Bridge, on Friday night, September 11, away at the purple shit pit on Route 9. That's 255 days.

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

Days until the next Presidential election, when we can dump the Trump-Pence regime and elect a real Administration: 308on November 3, 2020. A little over 10 months.

Days until the next Rutgers-Penn State football game: 333, on Saturday, November 28, at home. Under 11 months.

Days until a fully-Democratic-controlled Congress can convene, and the Republicans can do nothing about it: 369, on January 3, 2021. Just over a year, or just over 12 months.

Days until Liberation Day: 386at noon on January 20, 2021. A little over a year, or a little under 13 months. Note that this is liberation from the Republican Party, not just from Donald Trump. Having Mike Pence as President wouldn't be better, just differently bad, mixing theocracy with plutocracy, rather than mixing kleptocracy with plutocracy.

Days until the next Winter Olympics begins in Beijing, China: 766, on February 4, 2022. A little over 2 years, or a little over 25 months.

Days until the next World Cup is scheduled to kick off in Qatar: 1,056, on November 21, 2022, in Qatar. Under 3 years, or under 35 months.

Days until the next Women's World Cup is scheduled to kick off: As yet unknown, but space on the international women's soccer calendar has been cleared for July 10 to August 20, 2023. So if July 10 is the tournament's starting date, that would be 1,287 days, a little over 3 1/2 years, or under 43 months. A host nation is expected to be chosen on March 20, 2020. Bids have bee put in by Brazil (South America has never hosted), Colombia (ditto), Japan (Asia last hosted in 2007), and a joint bid by Australia and New Zealand (Oceania has never hosted).

Top 10 Decade-Defining Moments in Sports

10. Multiple droughts ended. On February 7, 2010, the New Orleans Saints beat the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 in Super Bowl XLIV, to win the franchise's 1st World Championship, in their 43rd season. On June 9, 2010, the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals, and won their 1st World Championship in 49 years.

On October 22, 2010, the Texas Rangers beat the Yankees 6-1 in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series, and won their 1st Pennant, in their 39th season. On November 1, 2010, the San Francisco Giants beat the Rangers 3-1 in Game 5 of the World Series, and won their 1st World Championship since 1954, 3 years before moving from New York to San Francisco.

On June 12, 2011, the Dallas Mavericks beat the Miami Heat 105-95 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, to win the franchise's 1st World Championship, in their 31st season. On June 15, 2011, the Boston Bruins beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-0 in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, to win their 1st World Championship in 39 years.

On June 11, 2012, the Los Angeles Kings beat the New Jersey Devils (to my dismay) 6-1 in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals, to win the franchise's 1st World Championship, in their 45th season.

On February 2, 2014, the Seattle Seahawks beat the Denver Broncos 43-8 in Super Bowl XLVIII, to win the franchise's 1st World Championship, in their 38th season. On October 15, 2014, the Kansas City Royals beat the Baltimore Orioles 2-1 in Game 4 of the ALCS, and won their 1st Pennant in 29 years. On November 1, 2015, after losing the World Series the year before, the Royals won it, beating the Mets 7-2 in Game 5, for their 1st title in 30 years.

On June 16, 2015, the Golden State Warriors beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 105-97 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, to win their 1st World Championship in 40 years. On June 19, 2016, the Cavs beat the Warriors 93-89 in Game 7 of the Finals, to win the franchise's 1st World Championship, in their 46th season.

On October 22, 2016, the Chicago Cubs beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series, and won their 1st Pennant in 71 years. On November 2, 2016, they beat the Cleveland Indians 8-7 in Game 7, and won their 1st World Series in 108 years.

On October 19, 2017, the Dodgers beat the Cubs 11-1 in Game 5 of the NLCS, and won their 1st Pennant in 29 years. On November 1, 2017, the Houston Astros beat the Dodgers 5-1 in Game 7, and won their 1st World Series, in their 56th season.

On February 4, 2018, the Philadelphia Eagles beat the New England Patriots 41-33 in Super Bowl LII, to win their 1st World Championship in 57 years. On June 7, 2018, the Washington Capitals beat the Vegas Golden Knights 4-3 in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals, to win the franchise's 1st World Championship, in their 44th season.

On June 12, 2019, the St. Louis Blues beat the Bruins 4-1 in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, to win the franchise's 1st World Championship, in their 52nd season. On June 13, 2019, the Toronto Raptors beat the Warriors 114-110 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, to win the franchise's 1st World Championship, in their 24th season.

On October 15, 2019, the Washington Nationals beat the St. Louis Cardinals 7-4 in Game 4 of the NLCS, to win their 1st Pennant, in their 14th season in Washington; the franchise's 1st Pennant in 51 years, after 35 seasons as the Montreal Expos; and the 1st Pennant by a Washington-based team in 86 years. On October 30, 2019, the Nats beat the Astros 6-2 in Game 7, to win the 1st World Series for the franchise, and the 1st for a Washington-based team in 95 years.

9. July 25, 2016: Cashman breaks up the Yankees. As far back as the early 1950s, the cry went out among baseball fans: "Break up the Yankees!" But usually when it happens, it's a retooling that works within a couple of years: 1925-26, 1935-36, 1948-49, 1954-55, 1959-60, 1995-96. Sometimes, it doesn't work: 1965, 1982.

It didn't work in 2016. On July 25, with the Yankees 7 1/2 games out of 1st place in the AL Eastern Division, and 4 1/2 games out of the 2nd AL Wild Card slot, both still reachable, general manager Cashman traded relief ace Aroldis Chapman to the Chicago Cubs for Gleyber Torres, Adam Warren, Billy McKinney and Rashad Crawford.

Chapman made the difference for the Cubs, who won their 1st World Series in 108 years, and then his contract ran out, and the Yankees re-signed him.

Torres turned into a star in 2018, and it certainly wasn't his fault the Yankees didn't win the Pennant in '18 or '19. But neither has he yet helped the Yankees win a Pennant. Warren had already failed as a Yankee twice, and did so again. McKinney played 2 games for the Yankees in 2018, before being sent to the Toronto Blue Jays for J.A. Happ, who hasn't exactly worked out. Crawford has played a grand total of 6 games in Triple-A ball, and, in 2019, had a rather ordinary year in Double-A ball. He's 26 years old. It's time to ask whether he's going to make it.

So even if this trade were a loan of Chapman for Torres and Happ, it still hasn't yet worked in the Yankees' favor.

It got worse; Having already hurt the bullpen by trading Chapman, Cashman wrecked it by trading Andrew Miller to the Cleveland Indians for Clint Frazier, Ben Heller, Justus Sheffield and J.P. Freyereisen. Miller helped the Indians win the Pennant, and then they lost the World Series to the Cubs.

Frazier has shown himself to have a million-dollar bat, a two-bit glove and a five-cent head. Heller has been dogged by injury, appearing in just 25 major league games. He's 28. Sheffield pitched in 3 major league games in 2018, and then was sent to the Seattle Mariners as trade bait for James Paxton. Feyereisen has spent the last 2 years at Triple-A, where he's been good, but hasn't gotten called up. He's 26, and should have had his shot by now.

And Cashman also traded starting pitcher Ivan Nova to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Stephen Tarpley and Tito Polo. Nova's pretty much been a .500, 4.10 ERA pitcher since 2014, but he still could have helped the Yanks these last 3 years. Tarpley has been a mediocre reliever at the major league level. Cashman traded Polo to the Chicago White Sox while he was still at Double-A.

And Cashman traded slugger Carlos Beltran to the Rangers for Erik Swanson, Dillon Tate and Nick Green. Beltran helped the Rangers win the AL Western Division. Swanson and Tate never threw a pitch for the Yankees: The former was also part of the package for Paxton, the latter part of the package for Zack Britton. Green is 24 and struggled in Double-A ball this season.

So, to review: Cashman essentially traded Beltran, Miller and Nova, and loaned Chapman, for Torres, Happ, Paxton, Britton and Frazier. There is no way we have gotten the better half of that deal in its 1st 3 years. In 2016, the Yankees did not make the Playoffs.

In 2017, Justin Verlander turned out to be available, but Cashman didn't trade for him. He went to the Houston Astros. Who also traded for Beltran. The Yankees reached the Wild Card Game, beat the Minnesota Twins, and beat the Indians in the ALDS, before losing the ALCS in 7 games to the Astros, including 2 games won by Verlander. They went on to win the World Series.

In 2018, Cashman traded All-Star 2nd baseman Starlin Castro to the Miami Marlins for one-dimensional slugger Giancarlo Stanton. The Yankees reached the Wild Card Game, beat the Oakland Athletics, and lost the ALDS to the Red Sox, a series in which Stanton absolutely disappeared.

In 2019, when several good starting pitchers wee available, at a time when the Yankees really needed at least 1, possibly 2. Cashman did nothing. The Astros traded for Zack Greinke. But the "Baby Bombers" plan finally began to pay off for Cashman. Finally, for the 1st time in 7 years, the Yankees win the Division. They beat the Twins in the ALDS. And then they lost to the Astros in the ALCS, and the Astros nearly won the World Series again, but lost in Game 7 to the Washington Nationals.

If you're trying to keep score at home: In the last 4 seasons, Cashman has helped 4 different teams -- the Cubs, the Indians, the Rangers and the Astros -- reach 8 postseason berths, win 4 Pennants, and win 2 World Series. Not only have none of these teams been the Yankees, but the Astros have beaten the Yankees in the postseason twice in that time.
How dumb is he?

Finally, Hal Steinbrenner essentially told Cashman, "We've tried it your way, and it failed. Now, we'll try it my father's way." He opened the vault, and signed pitcher Gerrit Cole away from the Astros. Will it work? We shall see. We know Cashman's way didn't work.

8. September 8, 2014: Ray Rice's career is ended. Ray Rice had been a star running back at Rutgers University, arguably the best player the 1st college football program had ever produced. He had been drafted by the Baltimore Ravens. In 6 seasons, he had rushed for 6,180 yards, caught 359 passes, scored 43 touchdowns, made 3 Pro Bowls, and helped the Ravens win Super Bowl XLVII. He seemed like a future Hall-of-Famer, and by all publicly known accounts was a good guy.

On February 15, 2014, he was arrested for domestic violence. In spite of the incident, his fiancee, Janay Palmer, went ahead with the wedding on March 28. On July 25, the NFL suspended him for the 1st 2 games of the regular season. Commissioner Roger Goodell was criticized for being too lenient with him. The criminal charges were dropped after Rice agreed to undergo counseling.
On September 8, after security footage of the incident was made public, Goodell suspended Rice indefinitely, and the Ravens not only released him, but recalled all merchandise with his name and likeness. He appealed, on the grounds that he was being punished twice for the same offense, what's known in legal circles as "double jeopardy." On November 28, he was reinstated. He reached a settlement with the Ravens for back pay.

But no one would sign him. He entered the 2015 season at 28 years old, a Hall of Fame-quality running back in his prime, with no new incidents, and his victim standing by him. He wasn't signed. He entered the 2016 season saying he would donate his salary for the entire season to charity if he were signed. No one did. In 2018, he admitted that his playing career was over.

The NFL has let its players get away with a lot of garbage. But some -- including since Rice threw that punch -- have gotten away with worse, and returned. It's not a racial issue, because some of those players were also black. The NFL made an example out of Rice, because the situation around him made the NFL look foolish. And if there's one thing the NFL can't abide, it's someone making them look foolish.

There's just one problem: It wasn't Rice who made the NFL look foolish. The League did that to itself.

Let's be honest: Michael Vick actually did time for his horrific crime, and got another chance. Ray Rice has been equally penitent, and we don't have a long stretch of evidence against him, only one moment. But Vick got another chance: He actually played more seasons after his reinstatement, 7, than Rice played before he was charged, 6. Vick got another chance, and Rice didn't. Why?

7. August 17, 2013: The EPL on NBC. For the 1st time, NBC broadcasts the English Premier League. Since the turn of the 21st Century, the growth of satellite TV coverage had allowed international soccer to creep into American homes and sports bars, but it was still slow. The World Cups of 2002, 2006 and 2010 had helped, but it was still slow.

When I began watching the PL in 2008, maybe some Americans had heard of Manchester United, and fewer had heard of the others of what was then called "The Big Four": Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea. But throw in names like Aston Villa, Newcastle United and West Ham, and the average American sports fan wouldn't have known what you were talking about.

NBC and its affiliated networks changed that. With Rebecca Lowe hosting in their studio, and getting some of the English announcers who'd been doing the games for years, like Martin Tyler and Ian Darke, Americans began to see the sport the way the natives saw it, and really took to it.

In the 2014-15 season, The Men In Blazers Show, co-hosted by Chelsea fan Michael Davies and Everton fan Roger Bennett (a.k.a. Davo and Rog), kicked it up another notch with their Monday, end-of-the-weekend analysis. It's a kooky, English analysis that was unlike anything seen on This Week In Baseball or Fox NFL Sunday.
L to R: Davo, Rebecca, Rog

But, as big as that is, that's not the biggest soccer story of the decade. Not as far as America is concerned, anyway:

6. July 7, 2019: Epic Rapinoe of History. The U.S. team had won the Women's World Cup in 1999. They had also done so in 1991, the 1st time the tournament was held, but few people noticed. In 1999, it was nationally televised and heavily promoted, and people noticed.

That 1999 U.S. women's soccer team shocked Middle America's ignorant male sports fans, because this was a great women's sports team that wasn't a bunch of stereotypical butch lesbians. They all seemed to look feminine, even attractive. Many of them were married. Some of them had returned to competition after having children.

It would take until 2015 for the U.S. team to win the World Cup again, and this time, some of the women were lesbians, and they didn't give a damn who knew it. In 2019, they repeated. Carli Lloyd, the biggest star of the '15 team, was older and didn't have as much of an impact in '19. She's straight and married. But the best player on the team was Alex Morgan: Gorgeous, straight, married, and, as the year comes to a close, pregnant.

But the unquestioned leader is Megan Rapinoe. Gay, out, with a short pink hairstyle, and well aware of what her performance and example can mean, to men and women, to straights and gays, to supporters and haters. She's supported causes from LGBT rights to Colin Kaepernick's protest. And when establishment figures objected, she didn't care. She pissed off people who deserved to get pissed off.
This month, Rapinoe became the 1st openly gay person to be named Sportsperson of the Year by Sports Illustrated magazine. (Billie Jean King was named in 1972, but she wasn't out yet.) Also this month, her national side teammates Ashlyn Harris and Ali Krieger married each other, with Rapinoe as maid of honor. #LesbianTwitter called it "the Royal Wedding."

5. June 26, 2013: The Aaron Hernandez saga begins, highlighting the football concussion problem. Eight days after Odin Lloyd was murdered in North Attleboro, Massachusetts, Aaron Hernandez was indicted for the crime.

At the time, Hernandez was a 23-year-old tight end for the New England Patriots. He had helped the University of Florida win the 2008 National Championship. In 3 NFL seasons, he had caught 175 passes for 1,956 yards and 18 touchdowns. He had played for the Pats in Super Bowl XLVI (but they lost). Although he rubbed a lot of teammates, including Tom Brady, the wrong way, he looked like he had a good future in the game.
Hernandez was convicted on April 15, 2015, and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. On April 19, 2017, he hanged himself in his cell, dead at 27. An autopsy showed that he had chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), stage 3 out of 4, and that he had the brain of a 60-year-old former football player. It explained his paranoia and violence.

More than anything else, including the suicides of former players such as Hall-of-Fame linebacker Junior Seau, the Hernandez case showed what football can do to the human brain. It's a brutal sport, and many of its players are irrevocably damaged, some from the neck up, some from the neck down.

Notable examples of "from the neck down": Johnny Unitas was the greatest passer football had yet seen, yet he died of a heart attack before turning 60. Beyond that, in his last years, he was so arthritic, he couldn't even hold a football. Earl Campbell was one of the toughest running backs ever, but has been crippled by his injuries for years.

Maybe this season, in which the NFL celebrates its 100th Anniversary, should be the last milestone. Indeed, in the years to come, this one may rise on this list.

4. July 8, 2010: "The Decision" airs on ESPN. LeBron James had played out his contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Where would he go? The New York Knicks? The Chicago Bulls? The Los Angeles Lakers? Surely, it would be one of the big-market teams.

(The idea that he would go to one of the "little brother franchises," the soon-to-be Brooklyn Nets or the Los Angeles Clippers, was ludicrous. Thanks to Kyrie Irving with the former and Kawhi Leonard with the latter, it is not ludicrous anymore.)

But there was also talk that he would join Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat to form a "superteam." And, yes, Miami is a big market, if not as big as New York, Los Angeles or Chicago.

Jim Gray pitched the idea of a show covering James' choice to ESPN. Interviewing James himself, it was essentially the pregame show for the next phase of James' career. He said, "In this Fall, I'm going to take my talents to South Beach, and join the Miami Heat."
Everybody else felt betrayed. Knick fans couldn't figure out why he wouldn't want to play in New York, "The Greatest City in the World," in Madison Square Garden, "The World's Most Famous Arena." (James Dolan was running the Knicks, that's why.) Bulls fans couldn't figure out why he wouldn't want to play on the team of Michael Jordan. (Jordan's shadow, maybe? Or maybe the Ohio native was just tired of cold Midwestern weather.) Laker fans couldn't figure out why he didn't want to play for, if not the historically most successful (2nd only to the Boston Celtics), then certainly the most glamorous franchise in the NBA.

Did it work? Sort of: LeBron was with the Heat for 4 seasons, and reached the NBA Finals all 4 times -- but only won 2 of them. Then he finished that contract, and went back to the Cavs, and led them to the Finals 4 straight times, all against the Golden State Warriors, but only won 1 of them -- but it was still the title they had waited the team's entire existence for. Then he finished that contract, and went to the Lakers.

"The Decision" showed that, unlike every other league, the NBA was now player-driven, not coach-driven, owner-driven, or even TV-driven. LeBron was driving TV.

3. 2013, 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2019: New England gets away with cheating -- again. It had been known since 2009 that David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez, then with the Boston Red Sox, had used performance-enhancing drugs, and won 2 World Series, and gotten away with it.

By 2013, Manny was gone, but "Big Papi" Ortiz was still with the Red Sox, and -- maybe because of sympathy following the Boston Marathon Bombing at the beginning of the MLB season -- the national media seemed to be hoping that the Red Sox would win the World Series again. They did, and the media named Ortiz the Series' Most Valuable Player. He shouldn't even have been playing, and yet the media chose to not only ignore his crime against the game, but to reward him.
In January 2022, Ortiz and Alex Rodriguez will both become eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame. How much do you want to bet that Papi gets in the 1st time, and A-Rod doesn't? Even though we have more proof against Papi than we do against A-Rod.

It had been known since 2007 that the New England Patriots, led by head coach Bill Belichick, had cheated: It was known as "Spygate." But their 3 Super Bowl wins of that decade have been allowed to stand. In 2015, it was revealed that quarterback Tom Brady -- this time, apparently not needing his coach to do it for him -- cheated: It was known as "Deflategate." And from that moment onward, the Patriots have been allowed to make 4 Super Bowls and win 3 of them.

Since Belichick and Brady arrived in Foxborough, the Patriots have won 237 regular-season games, made the American Football Conference Playoffs 17 times, won the AFC Eastern Division 17 times, won the AFC Championship 9 times, and the Super Bowl 6 times. And yet, all of this is suspect.
If the NCAA were making the rules for the NFL, the Pats would have been stripped of all their wins, let alone titles, and stripped of a lot of draft picks (instead of scholarships); and Belichick and Brady would be unhireable for the rest of their lives.

But the NFL, so often cruel with the way they let certain people go, puts up with all of this. Why? I can think of only one reason: It's good for business.

2. September 1, 2016: Kaepernick takes a knee. Before the San Francisco 49ers' last preseason game, quarterback Colin Kaepernick dropped to one knee, rather than stand, during the playing of the National Anthem.

Conservative Americans looked at this biracial, huge-Afroed, well-paid, successful (1 Super Bowl appearance) athlete, and lost their shit. They said he showed disrespect to the American flag, to our troops, and to the nation in general.

Thick as usual, conservative Americans didn't get it at all. Kap said he was doing it to protest police brutality, the (mostly) unpunished murders of unarmed black people by white policemen. On December 24, after the "election" of Donald Trump, he played his last game of the season, and, so far, it has turned out to be his last game, period. It gave a whole new meaning to the term "blackballed."
Colin Kaepernick has nothing to prove: He may be 0-1 in Super Bowls, but he has done more for American society than the 32 men who have quarterbacked teams to 1 or more Super Bowl wins.

1. September 30, 2017: "U bum." Donald Trump tweets about whether the recently-crowned NBA Champion Golden State Warriors would come to the White House for an official celebration. LeBron James, whose Cleveland Cavaliers had beaten by the Warriors, had beaten them the year before, and had been beaten by the Warriors the year before that, tweeted back what Warriors captain Steph Curry had already said:
In 1990, Michael Jordan, still a resident of North Carolina, refused to endorse Harvey Gantt, Mayor of Charlotte and the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate against bigoted Republican incumbent Jesse Helms. Why? He said, "Republicans buy sneakers, too."

With this tweet, his support of Colin Kaepernick, and his wearing of an "I CAN'T BREATHE" T-shirt during a pregame warmup, LeBron decided that he didn't give a damn whether Republicans bought sneakers too: This was more important than personal profit.

No, LeBron James will never be a better, or a more-achieved, basketball player than Michael Jordan. But he's a better American, and a better man.

Friday, December 27, 2019

How to Be a Devils Fan on Long Island -- 2019-20 Edition

The New York Islanders have gone back to playing at the Nassau Coliseum -- but only for half of their games, with the other half at the Barclays Center. The New Jersey Devils will play the Isles at the Coliseum this coming Thursday. They will not play each other at the Barclays Center this season.

There is now a new arena for the Islanders under construction on the campus of Belmont Park. If all goes well, it should open for the 2021-22 season.

The fact that Lou Lamoriello, who built the Devils into Champions, is now the Islanders' general manager, shouldn't complicate things. You almost certainly won't be seeing him, so you won't have to boo him, so feel free to boo the team he's assembled.

Before You Go. In New York and North Jersey, anything is possible as far as the weather goes, but since you'll be mainly indoors, and you'll probably be taking the Subway to the Barclays Center, it won't be nearly as much of an issue as it would be going to Yankee Stadium, Citi Field or MetLife Stadium. Temperatures are expected to be in 40s all day on Thursday.

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

Tickets. The Islanders averaged 12,442 fans per home game last season -- 31st and dead last in the NHL. That was 78.9 percent of capacity, and only the Ottawa Senators, Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers did worse than that.

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

In the lower level, the 1-digit and 2-digit sections, and in the 100 sections above them, seats between the goals are $148. Behind the goal, they're $88. In the upper level, the 200 sections, they're $62 between the goals, and $54 behind the goal.

Getting There. The Nassau Coliseum is 46 miles from the Prudential Center, and 23 miles from Times Square. The best way to get there is to drive. I'm not going to kid you about that: Getting there by public transportation is possible, but it's a pain in the ass -- especially for a weeknight game, for reasons that I will explain after I list the driving directions.

From southern Queens or Brooklyn, take the Belt Parkway to the Southern State Parkway. Take Exit 19S for Peninsula Blvd. South. Take Peninsula Blvd. to Fulton Avenue, until it becomes the Hempstead Turnpike. The Coliseum will be on your left, between Earle Ovington Blvd. and James Doolittle Blvd.

From Staten Island or Central Jersey, get into Staten Island, and take the Verrazano Bridge into Brooklyn, and then follow the preceding directions.

From anywhere else, get to the Long Island Expressway, and take Exit 38 for the Northern State Parkway. Take Exit 31A for the Meadowbrook State Parkway South. Take Exit M4 for Charles Lindbergh Blvd. Take a left on Ovington Blvd., and the Coliseum will be on your left.

Now, here's the troublesome directions by public transportation. It's one of the quirks of Long Island that it is dominated by the Long Island Rail Road, but that the LIRR doesn't go to many of the most prominent points on The Island: The Coliseum, Roosevelt Field, Jones Beach, Fire Island, Theodore Roosevelt's place in Oyster Bay.

So you get to Penn Station, and buy a round-trip ticket for Hempstead. That will cost $21.75 -- $12.50 out, because it will be peak hours, and $9.25 back. And you may have to change trains at Jamaica Station in Queens -- in each direction.

When you arrive at the Hempstead Terminal, walk across the street to the Rosa Parks Hempstead Transit Center, and take the N70, N71 or N72 bus to the Hempstead Turnpike and Ovington. It should take about 15 minutes. As on the New York Subway and buses, a single ride is $2.75, and you can use your MetroCard.
Rosa Parks Hempstead Transit Center

Getting back will be harder. Make sure you walk across the parking lot toward the southeast corner, to the bus shelter on the Turnpike at Glenn Curtiss Blvd. At 9:56 PM, the N70 bus should arrive, and it should take about 10 minutes to get back to Hempstead Terminal. But if it takes longer, you might be sort of screwed: The next train from Hempstead leaves at 10:16. The next one leaves at 11:19, and you'll be about as happy to stick around downtown Hempstead for over an hour as you would be to stand on line for the Coliseum bathrooms for that length of time (which could happen).

So, yeah, despite the proximity to Midtown Manhattan), the public transportation situation stinks, and you're going to prefer driving.

Once In the "City." Long Island is home to about 2.8 million people, about half of that in each County. The Town of Hempstead has about 760,000, while the "hamlet" of Uniondale, the "census-designated place" within Hempstead that includes the Coliseum, has about 25,000 permanent residents.

ZIP Codes in Nassau County begin with the digits 115 for the West, including for the Coliseum, 11553; and 118 for the East. For Suffolk County, they begin with 117 and 119. The Area Code for Nassau is 516, with 631 split off for Suffolk in 1999.

Aside from the Coliseum and the Hofstra campus, there isn't much in Uniondale. Essentially, you'll want to get from home to the Coliseum, see a game, and get out.

Going In. The official address of the Nassau Coliseum is 1255 Hempstead Turnpike, Uniondale, NY 11553. The mailing address is Uniondale, but it's part of the Town of Hempstead.

There are entrances on the north, east and west sides, but not the south -- which, of course, is the side you'll be facing if you came in by train and bus (and maybe even by car).

This arena, built in 1972, wasn't the most convenient of sports venues then, but got a major renovation in 2017, dropping seating capacity to 13,197. Parking is cheap: $8.00. The ticket office, and thus the main entrance, is on the east side.

The Nets and expansion Islanders moved into the brand-new Coliseum in 1972, and while it took the Isles a while to find their bearings, the Nets won right away, including the 1974 and 1976 ABA titles with Julius "Dr. J" Erving, Bill Melchionni and Super John Williamson.
Before the renovation

In 1976, the Nets were invited to join the NBA. But in order to get in, they had to pay the NBA an expansion fee, and pay the Knicks a territorial indemnification fee. As a result, they had to sell Erving to the Philadelphia 76ers. The Nets went from being the best team in a 6-team league to being the worst team in a 22-team league. They had to get out, and they did.

Meanwhile, the Isles were building the team that would win 4 straight Stanley Cups from 1980 to 1983, and win a record 19 straight postseason series from 1980 to 1984. The Coliseum became known as "Fort Neverlose," and the Isles' battles with the Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins became legendary.

But after the 1987 Easter Epic, a 4-overtime Game 7 win over the Washington Capitals, the Isles got old in a hurry. Aside from a 1993 trip to the Conference Finals, they've been just another team at best, and pathetic (and poorly-dressed) at worst.

A failed referendum to build a new arena in 2010 led to speculation that they would move to Kansas City, which has built a new arena, but new ownership cut a deal to move them into the Barclays Center, which they did in 2015. But problems with that arena led them to make the deal for the Belmont Park arena, and to split games at the downsized Coliseum.

In addition, as Devils fans found out at the Meadowlands, having 1 level of concourse for 2 levels of seating means cramped confines, and long lines for food and bathrooms. It was a terrible design. Actually, the seating area wasn't so bad: The 16,279 seats it had at the time were comfortable, and sight lines were good. But by the time you got there, you were already in a nasty mood, and regardless of whether you were rooting for the Islanders or the visiting team, you were loaded for bear. No wonder the place, when it had any atmosphere, had a bad one.

So the Coliseum was fully redeveloped, with its seating area downsized to 13,917 for hockey, and is now also home to the Long Island Nets, a Brooklyn Nets farm team.
After the renovation

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

The rink is laid out north-to-south. The Islanders attack twice toward the north end.
Food. Those of you who've been with the Devils since the Meadowlands days, you know that one level of concourse for two levels of seats simply doesn't work. Unfortunately, the Coliseum appears to be the arena on which the Meadowlands was based, so those of you who've been trying to put those cramped quarters out of your minds may have flashbacks.

The north side of the arena has 2 "Brew Houses," 2 Carvel ice cream stands, The Savor Market (which includes pizza), Greek Isles (pitas, gyros, stuff like that), Lettuce Serve You (salad stand), and a stand serving French Dip sandwiches.

The east side has Doolin's Pub, a Sabrett hot dog stand, Knuckleheads East, The Works, another Brew House, the Bavarian Hut (the Bavaria region of southern Germany is known for old castles, not huts like the South Pacific, but it has sausages and beer), pretzels and a Beers of the World stand.

The south side has a place named Goalie (I don't remember it being there on my last visit, so I don't know what's sold there), a Pig N Pickle stand, a Subway, 2 more Brew Houses, a Glass Kosher stand, another Savor Market and another Carvel.

The west side has another The Works and a place named simply The Grill -- a lot of the west side is taken up by the team store.

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

The Islanders' 4 Stanley Cup banners now hang on the south side of the arena, alongside the retired number banners of the Nets. Also hanging are single banners for division and conference titles, as opposed to the banners for all of those that hung in the Coliseum: The Conference titles of 1980, '81, '82, '83 and '84; and the Division titles of 1978, '79, '81, '82, '84 and '88. (That's regular-season Division titles, not the "Patrick Division Playoff Champions" that were also available, and which they won in 1978, '79, '80, '81, '82, '83, '84 and '93.)
On the north side of the arena, the Isles feature their retired number banners. All of them are from their Stanley Cup wins: 5, defenseman and Captain Denis Potvin (who, it should be pointed out, did not suck); 9, left wing Clark Gillies; 19, center Bryan Trottier; 22, right wing Mike Bossy; 23, right wing Bob Nystrom; and 31, goaltender Billy Smith. Gillies, Trottier and Bossy formed "the Trio Grande Line."
On back-to-back home games in February, the Islanders will honor 2 more of their Cup winners: The 27 of left wing John Tonelli, and the 91 of center Butch Goring. (Goring had worn 19 with the Los Angeles Kings, but switched to 91 upon his arrival in Hempstead, in respect to Trottier.)

The Isles also honor coach Al Arbour and general manager Bill Torrey with banners. Torrey's banner has a bowtie, which he always wore, and the words "The Architect." Arbour, a good defenseman who usually wore Number 3 in his playing days, had been represented by a banner with the number 739 on it, for his coaching wins.

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

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

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

The Islanders and Rangers are one of the nastiest rivalries in the NHL. And one of the closest: Currently the Rangers lead it 146-144, with 19 ties. They've played each other in 8 Playoff series, with the Isles winning 5, although they haven't met in the postseason since the Ranger Cup year of 1994.

Stuff. the Islanders don't have a very big team store -- indeed, it's a wonder that they have one at all. It's on the west side of the building. There are smaller souvenir stands all around.

But you won't be able to find books or DVDs about the Islanders there. Maybe that will change at the Belmont Park Arena, but not yet.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amanda Kaletsky is the regular National Anthem singer for the Islanders. Their goal song is "Crowd Chant" by Joe Satriani. The fans have a deep attachment to their cheerleaders/cleanup crew, the Ice Girls.
Image result for Amanda Kaletsky"
But with an Anthem singer like that, who needs Ice Girls?

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

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

After the Game. Having just the one concourse, getting out isn't easy. And, if you didn't drive, the distance from the exit to the bus shelter on the Hempstead Turnpike -- especially at night, and especially if it's cold, or wet -- can seem interminable. And the wait for a bus can be just as bad. But, at the least, you'll probably be safe. And if there's someone who looks like he's getting a little unruly, just tell him that the Rangers suck. That should turn him around -- or, at least, redirect his anger away from you.

Looking for a good place to have a postgame meal, or just a pint? A 5-minute walk east of the Coliseum is the Long Island Marriott, which has a sports bar called Champions. If that's not your idea of the right place, you may be out of luck. Across the Turnpike, there's a McDonald's, a Starbucks and a Dunkin Donuts, but if it's beer you want, you may have to drive (in which case, you shouldn't be drinking). If you came by train & bus, and you miss your connection to the train back to The City, there are delis and Chinese restaurants open late in Hempstead. But I wouldn't recommend trying the bars.

If you're visiting New York during the European soccer season, as we are now in, there are many places where you can watch your favorite team. The best "football pub" on Long Island, though, is Prost (the German toast, equivalent to "To your health!" or "Na zdrowie!"), at 652 Franklin Avenue in Garden City.

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

The address of the Barclays Center, perhaps the weirdest-looking building in the entire city, and named for a London-based banking and financial services company, is 620 Atlantic Avenue, at the southern edge of Downtown Brooklyn, intersecting with Flatbush Avenue. It's about 5 miles southeast of Midtown Manhattan, across the street from the LIRR's Atlantic Terminal, and several Subway lines meet there: The 2, 3, 4, 5, B, D, N, Q and R lines.
Very weird-looking.

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

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

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

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

The arena hosted its 1st Heavyweight Championship fight on January 16, 2016, as WBC Champion Deontay Wilder knocked out Artur Szpilka. On November 4, 2017, Wilder returned, and knocked out Bermane Stiverne. On March 3, 2018, Wilder scored a 3rd knockout at the Barclays Center, of Luis Ortiz. He remains the WBC Heavyweight Champion.

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

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

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

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

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

* Hofstra University. The campus of Long Island's best-known institution of higher learning has its campus to the south of the Coliseum, across the Hempstead Turnpike; and to the west of it, across Earl Ovington Blvd.. To the west is Weeb Ewbank Hall, the former offices and practice facility of the New York Jets.

To the south is most of the school's athletic facilities, James M. Shuart Stadium. Hofstra -- originally the Flying Dutchmen, and now, in a weird nod to political correctness (I don't recall any Dutch-American groups getting upset at the name), the Pride -- no longer plays football. But they do play other sports there, and the new version of the New York Cosmos, as the original version did for a time in the early 1970s, plays their home games there while they look for a stadium closer to The City.

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

According to an article in the October 3, 2014 edition of The New York Times, the most popular college football teams on Long Island are Syracuse and Notre Dame -- Syracuse in Nassau County, Notre Dame in Suffolk County.

* Long Island Arena. Also known as the Commack Arena, this 4,000-seat barn opened in 1956, and from 1959 until 1973 -- forced into irrelevancy and dissolution by the arrival of the Islanders -- it was home to the Long Island Ducks of the Eastern Hockey League. (There is now an independent minor-league baseball team with that name playing in Central Islip, Suffolk County.)

The ABA team in the New York market arrived, after spending the 1st season of 1967-68 as the New Jersey Americans at the Teaneck Armory, and, to rhyme with the Mets and the Jets, changed their name to the New York Nets -- admittedly, a dumb name with a dumb reason. They were terrible in that 1968-69 season, and found the floor unacceptable, full of pits and gouges, and with condensation from the ice beneath coming up, making it slick. After 1 season, the Nets moved again, for reasons that had little to do with poor attendance or performance.

John F. Kennedy made campaign stops at both the Teaneck Armory and the Long Island Arena on November 6, 1960, 2 days before he was elected President. Part of Peter Frampton's album Frampton Comes Alive! was recorded there. It housed an indoor flea market before being closed and demolished in 1996. A shopping center is now on the site. 88 Veterans Memorial Highway at Sunken Meadow Parkway. Not really reachable by public transportation.

* Island Garden. Built across the street from the original Island Garden, which hosted rock concerts from 1957 to 1968, the Nets managed to stay here for 3 seasons, from 1969 to 1972, including Rick Barry's ABA scoring leader season in 1971 and their 1st Division title in 1972.

The opening of the Nassau Coliseum made the Island Garden's 8,500 seats obsolete. (Yes, kids, the "Mausoleum" made another arena obsolete.) It was partly demolished in 1973, and, as with the Long Island/Commack Arena, a shopping center is on the site today. But so is a part of the original arena, and youth basketball is still played there. 45 Cherry Valley Avenue at Terminal Road, West Hempstead. LIRR Hempstead Branch to Queens Village, then transfer to MTA N6 bus.

* Bethpage Ballpark. This 6,002-seat stadium, about 45 miles east of Midtown Manhattan and 20 miles east of the Nassau Coliseum, opened in 2000, and had 4 different names in just 10 years (now 15 seasons of play). Bethpage Federal Credit Union bought the naming rights in 2010, so it has the name of that Suffolk County town, even though it's not in that town.

The Ballpark is home to the Long Island Ducks, named for the old minor-league hockey team, which was named for the many duck farms in Suffolk County. The Ducks have won the Atlantic League Pennant in 2004, 2012 and 2013, and have usually led the League in attendance. Former Met shortstop Bud Harrelson is a part-owner, was their first manager, and is now the 3rd base coach (as he was for the last Met title in 1986), and Gary Carter managed them to a Playoff berth in 2010.

3 Court House Drive, Central Islip. Not really reachable by public transportation: The closest LIRR station is in Central Islip, over 2 miles away.

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

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

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

* Sagamore Hill. Theodore Roosevelt, the only native of New York City legitimately elected President, kept his permanent residence for most of his adult life at Sagamore Hill in Oyster Bay. 20 Sagamore Hill Road. LIRR to Oyster Bay, then it's 2 miles east, and 1 mile north up a steep hill. Don't walk it: Call a taxi.

Lots of movies have been shot on Long Island, including Citizen Kane (Oheka Castle in Huntington stood in for Kane's Xanadu), The Godfather (James Caan's Sonny Corleone was whacked at a toll booth temporarily erected at Mitchel Field in Uniondale), The Amityville HorrorThe World According to Garp (Fisher's Island stood in for coastal Maine), Trading Places (Mill Neck Manor was the home of the villainous Duke brothers), Married to the Mob (shot all over the Island, if you'll pardon my choice of words), Born On the Fourth of July (based on the memoir of Massapequa native Ron Kovic), and John Wick (Republic Airport in Farmingdale was used).

In Old Westbury, the Phipps Estate stood in for both the mansion of the villain played by James Mason in North By Northwest and the home of the hero played by Ryan O'Neal in Love Story. Also in Old Westbury, the Knole Estate stood in for the home of the titular characters in Arthur and The Devil's Advocate.

The most famous work of popular culture set on Long Island, F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1925 novel The Great Gatsby. East Egg is Great Neck, Nassau County; West Egg is Little Neck, Queens; and the "valley of ashes," halfway between Midtown Manhattan and East Egg is Flushing Meadow, roughly where the Mets eventually moved. It's been made into a movie 5 times, but on none of those occasions was it filmed on Long Island: The 1926 and 1949 versions filmed in Southern California; the 1974 version in Newport, Rhode Island; the 2000 version in Montreal; and the 2013 version in Australia, homeland of its director, Baz Lurhmann.

TV shows set on Long Island have included Silver SpoonsGrowing Pains and Everybody Loves Raymond. The Gellers and the Greens of Friends were said to be from Long Island, and there were hints (but never proof) that The Wonder Years was set there.

And Long Island has its beaches: Jones Beach, Fire Island, the Hamptons.

*

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

Now, they are back on Long Island, at least part-time. Soon, it will be full-time again.