Monday, July 21, 2014

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

“I’m in hell!” – Morgan Freeman
“Worse: You’re in Texas!” – Chris Rock
-- Nurse Betty

The Yankees start a home series with the Texas Rangers tonight, and will start a road series against them a week from tonight, in what Texas native Molly Ivins – frequently sarcastically – called The Great State.

An example of her writing: “In the Great State, you can get 5 years for murder, and 99 for pot possession.” (I once sent the late, great newspaper columnist an e-mail asking if it could be knocked down to 98 years if you didn’t inhale. Sadly, she never responded.)

Disclaimer: I have never been to the State of Texas, and thus I have no firsthand knowledge of what the ballpark is like. Nevertheless, I would like to make it easier for Yankee Fans to visit.

Before You Go. It's not just The South, it's Texas. This is the State that elected George W. Bush, Rick Perry, and Bill Clements Governor; Dick Armey, Tom DeLay, Ron Paul and Louie Gohmert to the House of Representatives; and Phil Gramm and Ted Cruz to the Senate -- and thinks the rest of the country isn't conservative enough. This is the State where, in political terms, somebody like Long Island's conservative Congressman Peter King is considered a sissy. This is a State that thinks that poor nonwhites don't matter at all, and that poor whites only matter if you can convince them that, no matter how bad their life is, they're still better than the (slur on blacks) and the (slur on Hispanics).

So if you go to Texas for this series, it would be best to avoid political discussions. And, for crying out loud, don't mention that, now over half a century ago, a liberal Democratic President was killed in Dallas. They might say JFK had it comin' 'cause he was a (N-word)-lovin' Communist.

No. I'm not kidding.  Like I said, I've never been to Texas, but I've seen enough Texans elsewhere, in actual meetings and on TV, to know that there are some of them who think like this -- and, among their own people, they will be less likely to hold back.  So don't ask them what they think.  About anything.

At any rate, before we go any further, enjoy Lewis Black's R-rated smackdown of Rick Perry and the State of Texas as a whole. Perry is so stupid and myopic, he makes Dubya look like Pat Moynihan.

Also within the realm of "It's not just The South, it's Texas," you should be prepared for hot weather. It's not just the heat that's so bad, it's the humidity. And the mosquitoes. You think it was only the heat that made the Houston Astros build the Astrodome? Sandy Koufax said, "Some of the bugs they've got down there are twin-engine jobs." And, unlike Houston (then as now), the Dallas-area team does not have a dome, or even a roof over the stands. It's hot, it's humid, it's muggy and it's buggy, and they have that shit all the time.

So, before you go, check the websites of the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (the "Startle-gram") for the weather. Regardless of what they say, bring bugspray, and remember to keep yourself hydrated.

Texas (except for the southwestern corner, with El Paso) is in the Central Time Zone, 1 hour behind New York. Adjust your timepieces accordingly.

Tickets. The Rangers averaged 38,759 fans last season, not surprising since they'd made the Playoffs 3 seasons in a row before that, after doing so only 3 times in their preceding 38 seasons. The official seating capacity at what's now known as Globe Life Park in Arlington is 48,114, boostable to over 52,000 with standing room. This season, they're averaging 35,039, which means over 13,000 tickets should be available, so getting them should not be a problem.

You know the old saying that everything is big in Texas? Count baseball ticket prices in that. Lower Infield seats, the closest seats likely to be available, go for $105. Lower Boxes, along the foul lines, are actually more expensive, at $106. Corner Boxes are $63. Lower Reserved (you could call them "bleachers") are $50. Upper Boxes are $43, Upper Reserved are $30, and Grandstand Reserved, in the upper right-field corner, are $17.

Be warned: A lot of these seats are listed as “Obstructed View.” This ballpark opened in 1994, and the plans for Camden Yards, if not the finished product, had to have been available to the designers. There is no excuse for a ballpark built after 1992 to have obstructed-view seats. Trying to look like one of the pre-World War II (or even WWI) ballparks can, after all, be taken too far.

Getting There. It is 1,551 miles from Midtown Manhattan to downtown Dallas, and 1,576 miles from Yankee Stadium to Globe Life Park. So unless you want to be cooped up for 24-30 hours, you... are... flying.

Nonstop flights from Newark, Kennedy or LaGuardia airports to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport will set you back over $1,000 (round-trip). That's a bit expensive and if that’s too much, and you want to wait until the next Yankee series – and thus order tickets after your next payday, in the hopes that your flight will be cheaper – you’re out of luck, as this is the only series the Yankees will play in Texas this season. Yet another thing that Interleague play has futzed up.

So, if it’s a choice between being cooped up or spending that much dough, what is being cooped up going to be like? Amtrak offers the Lake Shore Limited (a variation on the old New York Central Railroad’s 20th Century Limited), leaving Penn Station at 3:40 PM Eastern Time and arriving at Chicago’s Union Station at 9:45 AM Central Time. Then switch to the Texas Eagle at 1:45 PM, and arrive at Dallas’ Union Station (400 S. Houston Street at Wood Street) the following morning at 11:30. It would be $792 round-trip, and that’s with sleeping in a coach seat, before buying a room with a bed on each train.

Dallas is actually Greyhound’s hometown, or at least the location of its corporate headquarters: 205 S. Lamar Street at Commerce Street, which is also the address of their Dallas station. (The city is also the corporate HQ of American Airlines.) If you look at Greyhound buses, you’ll notice they all have Texas license plates. So how bad can the bus be?

Well, it is a lot cheaper: $486 round-trip, and advanced purchase can get it down to $437. But it won’t be much shorter. It's a 40-hour trip, and you'll have to change buses at least twice, in Richmond, Virginia (and I don't like the Richmond station) and either Atlanta or Memphis.

Oh... kay. So what about driving? As I said, over 1,500 miles. I would definitely recommend bringing a friend and sharing the driving. The fastest way from New York to Dallas is to get into New Jersey, take Interstate 78 West across the State and into Pennsylvania, then turn to Interstate 81 South, across Pennsylvania, the “panhandles” of Maryland and West Virginia, and across the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia into Tennessee, where I-81 will flow into Interstate 40. Take I-40 into Arkansas, and switch to Interstate 30 in Little Rock, taking it into the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area, a.k.a. “The Metroplex.” In Texas, I-30 is named the Tom Landry Freeway, after the legendary Dallas Cowboys coach.

Once you get across the Hudson River into New Jersey, you should be in New Jersey for about an hour, Pennsylvania for 3 hours, Maryland for 15 minutes, West Virginia for half an hour, Virginia for 5 and a half hours (more than the entire trip will be before you get to Virginia), 8 hours and 15 minutes in Tennessee, 3 hours in Arkansas, and about 3 hours and 45 minutes in Texas.

Taking 45-minute rest stops in or around (my recommendations) Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Charlottesville, Virginia; Bristol, on the Virginia/Tennessee State Line; Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee; Little Rock and Texarkana, Arkansas; and accounting for overruns there and for traffic at each end of the journey, and we’re talking 31 hours. So, leaving New York at around 10:00 on Sunday morning (thus avoiding rush-hour traffic), you should be able to reach the Metroplex at around 4:00 on Monday afternoon (again, allowing you to avoid rush-hour traffic, and giving you time to get to your hotel).

And you will be getting a hotel. Fortunately, Globe Life Park is in Arlington, midway between the downtowns of Dallas and Fort Worth. Well before either the Rangers or the Cowboys set up shop in Arlington, Six Flags Over Texas did so, as the original theme park in the Six Flags chain (opening in 1961), and so there are plenty of hotels available nearby. They’re also likely to be cheaper than the ones in downtown Dallas.

Officially, Globe Life Pallpark (formerly known as The Ballpark In Arlington, AmeriQuest Field and Rangers Ballpark) is at 1000 Ballpark Way, off Exit 29 on the Landry Freeway. It sits right between Six Flags and the new Cowboys Stadium (now named AT&T Stadium). Across Legends Way from the ballpark is a parking lot where the original home of the Rangers, Arlington Stadium, stood from 1965 to 1993. (It was a minor-league park called Turnpike Stadium before the announcement of the move of the team led to its expansion for the 1972 season.)

Once In the City. Dallas (population about 1,250,000, founded in 1856) was named after George Mifflin Dallas, a Mayor of Philadelphia and Senator from Pennsylvania who was James K. Polk's Vice President (1845-49). Fort Worth (about 800,000, founded in 1849) was named for William Jenkins Worth, a General in the War of 1812 and the Mexican-American War. And Arlington (375,000, founded in 1876) was named for the Virginia city across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., as a tribute to Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

The population of the entire Metroplex is about 6.8 million and climbing, although when you throw in Oklahoma, southern Arkansas and northern Louisiana, the total population of the Rangers' "market" is about 19 million -- a little less than the New York Tri-State Area, and soon it will surpass us.

Commerce Street divides Dallas street addresses into North and South. Beckley Avenue, across the Trinity River from downtown, appears to divide them into East and West. The sales tax in the State of Texas is 6.25 percent, in Dallas County 8.25 percent, and in Tarrant County (including Arlington and Fort Worth) 8 percent even.

Going In. Rangers Ballpark is 17 miles west of downtown in Dallas, and 18 miles east of downtown Fort Worth, about halfway between. Arlington is in Fort Worth's Tarrant County, not Dallas County.

Public transportation is a relatively new idea in Texas. While Dallas has built a subway and light rail system, and it has a bus service (get a Day Pass for $5.00), until recently, Arlington was the largest city in the country with no public transportation at all.

If you got a hotel near the various Arlington attractions, you're in luck: The Arlington Entertainment District Trolley goes to the area hotels and to the stadiums and theme parks. But if your hotel is in Dallas, you'll have to take Trinity Rail Express (TRE) to Centerport Station, and then transfer to bus 221, and take that to Collins & Andrew Streets. And even then, you'd have to walk over a mile down Cedarland Blvd. and Randol Mill Road to get to the ballpark. The whole thing is listed as taking an hour and 40 minutes.

But at least it's now possible to get from Dallas to a Ranger game and back without spending $50 on taxis. So how much is it? From Union Station to Centerport, each way, is $2.50. I don't know what the zones are for the bus, but a Day Pass is $5.00, meaning that getting there and back could top out at $10, which is reasonable considering the distance involved.

Most likely, you’ll enter at the northwest corner of the stadium, which is the home plate entrance. The ballpark faces southeast, although the structure prevents you from seeing out. It’s just as well: Although Dallas has some interesting architecture, downtown is too far away to see it from there anyway.

Various old parks were incorporated into the design. Most obvious is the old Yankee Stadium, with the frieze (that thing we Yankee Fans tend to incorrectly call a "facade") on the roof; and Tiger Stadium in Detroit, with that overhanging, support-poled upper deck in right field. The use of green as the park’s main color may be a tribute to the oldest remaining ballparks, Fenway Park in Boston and Wrigley Field in Chicago (although Fenway’s seats are red, green is the main color for the rest of the park).

The field is natural grass, and is not symmetrical. It's 332 feet to left field, 390 to left-center, 404 to "deep left center," 400 to straightaway center, 407 to the deepest part of the park in "deep right center," 377 to right center, and 325 down the right field line. The longest home run at this stadium, as you might guess, was hit by Josh Hamilton, a 485-footer in 2010.

The Center Field Sports Park is a fan interactive area located in Vandergriff Plaza. The interactive area includes a Wiffle Ball Park, Tee-Ball Cages, a Speed Pitch, a Pitching Cage, and picnic tables. Token machines are located in the park, and age restrictions apply to some activities. The Center Field Sports Park opens 2 hours prior to game time and remains open through the middle of the 7th inning during April, May, and September weekday games; and through the top of the 9th inning during June, July, and August games. The Center Field Sports Park will also close early on nights when postgame fireworks shows are scheduled.

Food. Along with the usual ballpark fare, the Rangers, going back to their early days at Arlington Stadium, were known for their nachos, as one might expect of a place with a Mexican influence, as Texas is. As one also might expect in Texas, they have barbecue stands, and lots and lots of beer, including the hometown brand, Lone Star Beer.

In Texas, you can expect Tex-Mex, and Casa De Fuego (House of Fire) is behind Section 125. They have a "Coney Island" stand, but the closest this Section 40 stand comes to being the Brooklyn seaside institution is selling chili dogs. There's a Dublin Up Irish Pub at 211, several Hot'n Chedder Sausage stands (their spelling, not mine), and at Section 24 (should be 34, to match his uniform number), Nolan Ryan's Beef Steak Sandwich. At Section 16, they have "Sausage Sundae." I don't wanna know.

Team History Displays. The Rangers, having now been around for over 40 years, have a bit of history. And while they never won a Pennant until 2010, or even qualified for postseason play until 1996, rarely (until now) have they been flat-out terrible. For the most part, they’ve been just sort of there, just another stop on a team’s schedule, and nothing to get excited about. But they have had their moments, ranging from the sublime (the no-hitters and strikeout milestones of Nolan Ryan) to the ridiculous (sending 18-year-old Houston area native David Clyde to pitch in 1973, when he clearly wasn’t ready, and wrecking the arm of the top pick in the draft, just so they could bring in fans wanting to see a native Texan -- from the other side of the State -- pitch for the Rangers).

The Rangers have a team Hall of Fame, which is open to ticketed fans during home games, and during ballpark tours. There are currently 16 members: Pitchers Ryan, Charlie Hough, Ferguson Jenkins, and former Yankees John Wetteland and (ugh) Kenny Rogers; catchers Jim Sundberg and Ivan Rodriguez (briefly a Yankee); infielders Toby Harrah (the last active Washington Senator, and a former Yankee) and Buddy Bell; outfielders Tom Grieve, Rusty Greer and former Yankee Ruben Sierra; manager Johnny Oates (another former Yankee), broadcasters Mark Holtz and Eric Nadel, and Tom Vandergriff, longtime Mayor of Arlington (1951-77) and “the Father of the Texas Rangers.”

At the start of the 2012 season, the Rangers dedicated statues of Shannon and Cooper Stone, the father and son involved in a tragic incident the year before. All-Star Ranger left fielder Josh Hamilton saw the Stones in the stands, and tossed a ball up to them. But Shannon, a 39-year-old firefighter, bobbled it, and fell over the railing to his death. His son Cooper was just 6, and the poor kid saw the whole thing. He was wearing a HAMILTON 32 jersey. The Rangers invited Cooper and his mother Jenny to throw out the ceremonial first pitches at a Playoff game in 2011, and dedicated the statues on Opening Day, as a symbol of the bond between fathers, sons and baseball.

A highway near the ballpark is the Nolan Ryan Freeway. Keep in mind, though, that Ryan only pitched for the Rangers for 5 seasons, and while he is regarded as a Texas icon, he was from the Houston area, not the Dallas area. Oates (Number 26) and Ryan (Number 34) have had their numbers retired. Those numbers are above the skyboxes in left field. I don't know where they hang their American League Pennants (2010 and 2011) or their AL Western Division title banners (1996, 1998, 1999, 2010 and 2011).

The center-field “batter’s eye” is known as Holtz Hill, and a statue of Vandergriff stands behind Holtz Hill on a part of the Ballpark’s concourse called Vandergriff Plaza. A statue of Ryan is outside the park.

Prior to 1965, the Metroplex was home to 2 teams in the Class AA Texas League: The Dallas team had several names, including the Spurs in the 1920s and ‘30s, the Rebels in the ‘40s, and (this will shock people from the Philadelphia area) the Eagles in the ‘50s, before becoming the Dallas Rangers in 1958; while the Fort Worth team was called the Panthers in the 1900s, ‘10s and ‘20s and the Cats from 1932 onward. In 1959, the Class AAA American Association admitted both the Dallas Rangers and the Fort Worth Cats.

In 1965, Mayor Vandergriff had a 10,000-seat stadium built in his city, and it became home to a single team, the Dallas-Fort Worth Spurs, with the idea that 2 teams, both having attendance problems, would not help the region get an expansion team or a moved team at the major league level; but one team, drawing from the entire area, would. It worked, and as Bob Short announced that he would move the “new” Washington Senators to the area for the 1972 season, Turnpike Stadium was expanded to 20,000 seats, then 35,000 in time for the Rangers’ arrival, and finally to 43,000 seats in 1978.

The City Council offered to name the expanded stadium for Vandergriff, but he said it should be named for the city, and he threw out the first ball for their first game and broadcast for them for 3 years. He later served a term in Congress (elected as a Democrat, defeated by noted right-wing nut Dick Armey) and as a County Judge (elected as a Republican), and died at age 84, living just long enough to see his team play in its first World Series.

Note that the original Texas Rangers, the lawmen for whom the team (and the legendary Lone Ranger) were named, have their own Hall of Fame and Museum, in Waco. It’s 100 miles south of the Dallas area, so if you want to see that, you’ll need a car.

Stuff. The Rangers have team shops throughout the Ballpark, and also in downtown Dallas and downtown Fort Worth. The usual array of caps, jerseys, T-shirts, jackets, and baseball equipment are available. There are DVD retrospectives of their 2010 and '11 Pennant seasons. The Essential Games of the Texas Rangers includes 4 games: Ryan's 7th no-hitter on May 1, 1991; the team's first postseason game, Game 1 of the 1996 AL Division Series (which remained their only postseason game won until 2010); and their 2 Pennant clinchers, both in Game 6 of an ALCS, in 2010 against the Yankees and 2011 against the Detroit Tigers.

There aren't very many books about the Rangers -- indeed, if you do a search, and don't specify the baseball team, you'll probably end up with lots of books about the lawmen. Probably the best known book about the team doesn't exactly put them in a positive light: Seasons in Hell: With Billy Martin, Whitey Herzog and "The Worst Baseball Team in History" -- The 1973-1975 Texas Rangers. Mike Shropshire, who covered the Rangers first for the Star-Telegram and then the Morning News, published it in 1996, at a time when the Rangers had yet to appear in a postseason game -- although 1974, when Billy (having taken over from Herzog the year before) took them to 2nd place, should have been a fun season to cover. But when you have to go to a stadium without sun protection in Texas, the long season could be pretty rough even in the best of times.

Broadcaster Nadel published The Texas Rangers: The Authorized History after the '96 AL West title, and the Morning News staff published Believe It! Texas Rangers: 2010 American League Champions, after they finally won a Pennant.

During the Game. If you were going to a Dallas Cowboys game, I would advise you against wearing New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, and especially Washington Redskins gear. Under those circumstances, the stereotypical aggression of Texans may come into to play. However, wearing Yankee gear in Globe Life Park will almost certainly get you no more than a little verbal. And, this being a stadium, you're gonna get searched, and so is everyone else, so Texas' infamously lenient gun laws will be rendered useless. You're not going to get shot.  Even J.R. Ewing wouldn't have gotten shot.

Like its predecessor, Arlington Stadium, Globe Life Park offers no protection from the searing Texas heat. As a result, most home games are played at night. Until the ESPN Sunday Night Baseball era began, the Rangers were one of the few teams that ever played Sunday home games at night, a holdover from the era of "blue laws.

Like Arlington Stadium, it is a hitters’ park. This is particularly true to right field, where the pole is just 325 feet away, and the upper deck appears to overhang the lower one (there’s that Detroit similarity). They call their fans "Rangers Republic," as opposed to "Red Sox Nation" (or "Yankees Universe").

One good thing about the Rangers: As far as I know, they are the only MLB team that prohibits The Wave. And it's not their rule, either: It's a County law, probably instituted in the wake of that falling fan. Here's the scoreboard message:


The Rangers’ mascot is “Rangers Captain,” a horse dressed like a cowboy. On his page on the team website, Captain’s Corral, he is listed as follows: “Bats: Both. Throws: Smoke.” He has also been known to “throw down” with opposing mascots, including T.C. the Minnesota Twins’ bear, the Mariner Moose, and Junction Jack, the jackrabbit from the cross-State Houston Astros.

You know how the Yankees have "The Great City Subway Race"? And the Mets used to have the plane race? The Orioles have a Hot Dog race? The Nationals have the Presidents' Race? The Pirates have the Pierogi Race? The Brewers have the Sausage Race? The Rangers have the Dot Race.

The... wha-at? The Dot Race. It appears to have predated all of the preceding, although there seems to be some dispute as to who did it first, the Rangers or the Oakland A's. Originally, at Arlington Stadium, three dots -- red, green and blue -- would race around the scoreboard in the middle of the 6th inning. Now, they have live-action racing dots. Each fan is given a coupon that has one of the three colors. A coupon with the winning color can be taken to a Texas store to purchase... a new car! No, just kidding, not a new car. Okay, how about a steak dinner, which would certainly fit in with Texas' image? Nope. Okay, how about a free hot dog at a ballpark concession stand? Nope. You win... a bottle of the race's sponsor, Ozarka bottled water. Oh. Joy. All that money in Texas, and that's the best they can do?
 
It is with great regret, and some queasiness, that I report that the Rangers’ regular song to play in the 7th inning stretch after "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" is the nauseating “Cotton Eye Joe.” And in an apparent effort to make the Whatever They’re Calling Themselves This Season Angels of Anaheim’s “Rally Monkey” look mature, the Rangers have adopted the “Claw and Antlers” gesture. Utility infielder Esteban German saw a home run, and held his hands in a claw-like position. (That sounds like something to do with dexterity rather than strength.) A stolen base led German to hold his hands to his head, his fingers attempting to look like the antlers of a deer or a moose. (Now that sounds like it could represent strength, at least if it’s a moose, though a deer can be speedy.) A foam “antlers” hat soon followed, and became a big seller. ‘Scuse me while I roll my eyes.

After the Game. Dallas has a bit of a bad reputation when it comes to crime, but you’ll be pretty far from it. Not only is the ballpark not in a bad neighborhood, it’s one of those ballparks that’s not in any neighborhood. As long as you don’t make any snide remarks about the Cowboys, safety will not be an issue.

The only bars I could find that have been mentioned as catering to New Yorkers are the Cape Buffalo Grille, at 17727 Addison Road in Addison, north of Dallas, 28 miles northeast of Globe Life Park; and Humperdinks, at 6050 Greenville Avenue in north Dallas. That’s far from your base, even if your hotel is in downtown Dallas, but the former is an established home for fans of the football Giants, described by one as “a lifesaver for people from New York and New Jersey”; the latter seems to be the local home of Jet fans.

Sidelights. Despite their new rapid-rail system, Dallas is almost entirely a car-friendly, everything-else-unfriendly city. Actually, it’s not that friendly at all. It’s a city for oil companies, for banks, for insurance companies, things normal Americans tend to hate. As one Houston native once put it, “Dallas is not in Texas.” In fact, most Texans, especially people from Fort Worth (and, to a slightly lesser extent, those from Houston) seem to think of Dallas the way the rest of America thinks of New York: They hate it, and they think that it represents all that is bad about their homeland. Until, that is, they need a win. Or money.

As I said, AT&T Stadium, the new home of the Cowboys (opening in 2009), is close to Globe Life Park; in fact, it’s 7/10ths of a mile. You could walk between them. If you don’t mind losing 5 pounds of water weight in the Texas heat. The official address is 925 N. Collins Street, and the Cowboys offer tours of this Texas-sized facility, which will make the new Yankee Stadium seem sensible by comparison.
 
It has now hosted a Super Bowl, an NCAA Final Four, some major prizefights and concerts (including Texas native George Strait opening the stadium with Reba McIntire, and recently holding the final show of his "farewell tour" there), and the biggest crowd ever to attend a basketball game, 108,713, at the 2010 NBA All-Star Game. While the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City hosted a larger regular-season crowd, the biggest crowd ever to see an NFL game on American soil was the first regular-season game there, the Cowboys and the Giants (Lawrence Tynes winning it for the G-Men with a last-second field goal), 105,121.
 
It hosts several special college football games: The annual Cotton Bowl Classic, the annual Cowboys Classic, the annual Arkansas-Texas A&M game, the Big 12 Championship, and, on January 12 of next year, it will host the first National Championship game in college football's playoff era.
 
Mexico's national soccer team has now played there 5 times -- the U.S. team, only once (a CONCACAF Gold Cup win over Honduras in 2013). Mexican clubs Club America and San Luis, and European giants Chelsea and Barcelona have also played there.
 
Don’t bother looking for the former home of the Cowboys, Texas Stadium, because "the Hole Bowl" was demolished in 2010. If you must, the address was 2401 E. Airport Freeway, in Irving.
 
The Cowboys’ first home, from 1960 to 1970, was the Cotton Bowl, which also hosted the Cotton Bowl game from 1937 to 2009, after which it was moved to AT&T Stadium. It also hosted some (but not all) home games of Southern Methodist University between 1932 and 2000, and some games of soccer’s 1994 World Cup.

But it’s old, opening in 1930, and the only thing that’s still held there is the annual “Red River Rivalry” game between the Universities of Texas and Oklahoma, every 1st Saturday in October, and that’s only because that’s the weekend when the Texas State Fair is held, as the stadium is in Fair Park. (Just look for the statue of "Big Tex" -- you can't miss him.) While it doesn’t seem fair that Oklahoma’s visit to play Texas should be called a “neutral site” if it’s in the State of Texas, the fact remains that each school gets half the tickets, and it’s actually slightly closer to OU’s campus, 191 miles, than it is from UT’s, 197 miles. 3750 The Midway.

Next-door is the African-American Museum of Dallas. 1300 Robert B. Cullum Blvd., in the Fair Park section of south Dallas. Bus 012 or 026, or Green Line light rail to Fair Park station. Be advised that this is generally considered to be a high-crime area of Dallas.

The NBA’s Dallas Mavericks and the NHL’s Dallas Stars play at the American Airlines Center, or the AAC. Not to be confused with the American Airlines Arena in Miami (which was really confusing when the Mavs played the Heat in the 2006 and 2011 NBA Finals), it looks like a cross between a rodeo barn and an airplane hangar. 2500 Victory Avenue in the Victory Park neighborhood, north of downtown. Bus 052 or Green Line to Victory station.

Before the AAC opened in 2001, both teams played at the Reunion Arena. This building hosted the 1984 Republican Convention, where Ronald Reagan was nominated for a 2nd term as President. To New York Tri-State Area fans, it is probably best remembered as the place where Jason Arnott’s double-overtime goal won Game 6 and gave the New Jersey Devils the 2000 Stanley Cup over the defending Champion Stars. The 1986 NCAA Final Four, won by Louisville over Duke, was held there. It was demolished in November 2009, 5 months before Texas Stadium was imploded. The arena didn’t even get to celebrate a 30th Anniversary. 777 Sports Street at Houston Viaduct, downtown, a 10-minute walk from Union Station.

The Major League Soccer club FC Dallas (formerly the Dallas Burn) play at Toyota Stadium, at 9200 World Cup Way in the suburb of Frisco. It’s 28 miles up the Dallas North Tollway from downtown, so forget about any way of getting there except driving.

Before there was the Texas Rangers, and before the Dallas-Fort Worth Spurs minor league team that opened Turnpike/Arlington Stadium in 1965, there were the Dallas team alternately called the Steers, the Rebels, the Eagles and the Rangers; and the Fort Worth Cats. Dallas won Texas League (Double-A) Pennants in 1926, 1929, 1941, 1946 and 1953. They played at Burnett Field, which opened in 1924, and was abandoned after the Dallas Rangers and the Fort Worth Cats merged to become the Spurs in 1965. Currently, it's a vacant lot. 1500 E. Jefferson Blvd. at Colorado Blvd. Bus 011.

The Cats won TL Pennants in 1895, 1905, 1906, 1920, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1924, 1925, 1930, 1937, 1939 and 1948. Those 6 straight Pennants in the Twenties became a pipeline of stars for the St. Louis Cardinals, and the 1930 Pennant featured Dizzy Dean and a few other future members of the Cards' 1930s "Gashouse Gang."

The Cats played at LaGrave Field, the first version of which opened in 1900, and was replaced in 1926, again after a fire in 1949, and one more time in 2002, as a new Fort Worth Cats team began play in an independent league. 301 NE 6th Street. Trinity Railway Express to Fort Worth Intermodal Transit Center, then Number 1 bus.
 
One more baseball-themed place in Texas that might interest a Yankee Fan: Due to his cancer treatments and liver transplant, Mickey Mantle, who lived in Dallas during the off-seasons and after his baseball career, spent the end of his life at the Baylor University Medical Center. 3501 Junius Street at Gaston Avenue. Bus 019.
 
Merlyn Mantle died in 2009, and while it can be presumed that Mickey's surviving sons, Danny and David, inherited his memorabilia, I don't know what happened to their house, which (I've been led to believe) was in a gated community and probably not accessible to the public anyway; so even if I could find the address, I wouldn't list it here. (For all I know, one or both sons may live there, and I've heard that one of them -- Danny, I think -- is a Tea Party flake, and even if he wasn't, the family shouldn't be disturbed just because you're a Yankee Fan and their father was one of the Yankees.)
 
If you truly wish to pay your respects to this baseball legend: Mickey, Merlyn, and their sons Mickey Jr. and Billy are laid to rest at Sparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery. Also buried there are Tom Landry and , tennis star Maureen Connolly, oil baron H.L. Hunt, Senator John Tower, Governor and Senator W. Lee "Pappy" O'Daniel, bluesman Freddie King, actress Greer Garson and Mary Kay Cosmetics founder Mary Kay Ash. 7405 West Northwest Highway at Durham Street. Red Line to Park Lane station, then 428 Bus to the cemetery.
 
If there’s two non-sports things the average American knows about Dallas, it’s that the city is where U.S. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, and where Ewing Oil President J.R. Ewing was shot on March 21, 1980. Elm, Main and Commerce Streets merge to go over railroad tracks near Union Station, and then go under Interstate 35E, the Stemmons Freeway – that’s the “triple underpass” so often mentioned in accounts of the JFK assassination.

The former Texas School Book Depository, now named The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, is at the northwest corner of Elm & Houston Streets, while the “grassy knoll” is to the north of Elm, and the west of the Depository. Like Ford’s Theater, where Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, and the area surrounding it in Washington, the area around Dealey Plaza is, structurally speaking, all but unchanged from the time the President in question was gunned down, an oddity in Dallas, where newer construction always seems to be happening.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy was shot in Dallas and died, while John Ross Ewing Jr. was shot in Dallas and lived. Where’s the justice in that? J.R. was shot in his office at Ewing Oil’s headquarters, which, in the memorable opening sequence of Dallas, was in the real-life Renaissance Tower, at 1201 Elm Street, Dallas’ tallest building from 1974 to 1985, and in real life is the HQ for Neiman Marcus. Bank of America Plaza, on Elm at Griffith Street, is now the tallest building in Dallas, at 921 feet, although not the tallest in Texas (there’s 2 in Houston that are taller).

The real Southfork Ranch is at 3700 Hogge Drive (that’s pronounced “Hoag”) in Parker, 28 miles northeast of the city. (Again, you’ll need a car.) It’s not nearly as old as the Ewing family’s fictional history would suggest: It was built in 1970. It’s now a conference center, and like the replica of the Ponderosa Ranch that Lorne Greene had built to look like his TV home on Bonanza, it is designed to resemble the Ewing family home as seen on both the original 1978-91 series and the 2012-present revival. It is open to tours, for an admission fee of $9.50.
 
Dallas values bigness, but unless you count Southfork and Dealey Plaza, it isn't big on museums. The best known is the Dallas Museum of Art, downtown at 1717 N. Harwood Street at Flora Street. Nearby is the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, named for ol' H. Ross himself, at 2201 N. Field Street at Broom Street.
 
The Dallas area is also home to 2 major football-playing colleges: Southern Methodist University (SMU) in north Dallas, which, as alma mater of Laura Bush, was chosen as the site of the George W. Bush Presidential Library (now open); and Texas Christian University (TCU) in Fort Worth. The Bush Library is at 2943 SMU Blvd. & North Central Expressway, a 5-minute walk from Ownby Stadium, Moody Coliseum, and the university bookstore, which, like so many university bookstores, is a Barnes & Noble (not named for Dallas character Cliff Barnes). Blue or Red Line to Mockingbird Station.

SMU has produced players like Doak Walker, Forrest Gregg, Dandy Don Meredith, and the “Pony Express” backfield of Eric Dickerson and Craig James (both now TV-network studio analysts), while TCU has produced Slingin’ Sammy Baugh, Jim Swink and Bob Lilly. Both schools have had their highs and their lows, and following their 1987 “death penalty” (for committing recruiting violations while already on probation), and their return to play in 1989 under Gregg as coach, SMU are now what college basketball fans would call a “mid-major” school. Ironically, TCU, normally the less lucky of the schools, seriously challenged for the 2009 and 2010 National Championships, but their own “mid-major” schedule doomed them in that regard.

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Texas is a weird place, and the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex is no exception. But it’s a pretty good area for sports, and it even seems to have finally embraced baseball as something more than something to do between football seasons.
 
If you can afford it, go, and help your fellow Yankee Fans make the Rangers feel like they’re in Yankee Stadium. After all, as I’ve said before, RANGERS SUCK! Especially when they wear blue shirts. Whatever the sport, whatever the country, the only Ranger in a blue shirt who doesn’t suck is the Lone Ranger! (And in the new movie, even he didn't wear a blue shirt. But then, the movie tanked, just like the last Lone Ranger movie did, in 1981.)

But remember to avoid using the oft-heard phrase “Dallas sucks.” In this case, keep the truth to yourself!

As Bad As It's Looked, It Doesn't Look So Bad

So far, so good for the Yankees in the 2nd half. On Saturday afternoon, Brandon McCarthy got his 1st Yankee win, going 6 innings against the Cincinnati Reds, allowing 1 run on 6 hits and no walks. Plus 9 strikeouts. (1-0)

He was boosted by a home run by Carlos Beltran in the 2nd, an RBI single by Brett Gardner in the 3rd, a Gardner sacrifice fly in the 5th, an RBI single right after that by some guy named Derek Jeter, knocking Alfredo Simon out of the box (12-4), and a Kelly Johnson 2-RBI single and another Gardner sac fly in the 6th.

Yankees 7, Reds 1.

*

And then yesterday, Hiroki Kuroda pitched with the wisdom of a 39-year-old and the arm of a 27-year-old. He pitched into the 7th inning, allowing only 1 run, unearned, 3 hits, 2 walks and 6 strikeouts.

Back-to-back singles in the 5th inning by Jeter and Jacoby Ellsbury gave Kuroda a 2-1 lead, and he got a standing ovation when he left in the 7th.

But Todd Frazier hit one out for the Reds, a rare mistake this season for Dellin Betances. The game would go to the bottom of the 9th.

The Reds had Aroldis Chapman on the mound, the possessor of 97 saves these last 2 1/2 seasons, a 0.997 career WHIP, and a fastball that can reach 102 miles per hour.

But Ellsbury led off with a single to left. Then he stole 2nd. Then one of Chapman's blazing fastballs got away from Reds catcher Breyan Pena, who's no Johnny Bench, or Ernie Lombardi, or even Joe Oliver. Man on 3rd, nobody out, and the resurgent Mark Teixeira up.

But Chapman blew Teix away with a 101-MPH heater. And Brian McCann came up, and Chapman blew a 102-MPH heater past him for strike one, and I thought, "Uh-oh, here we go again: Yankee RISPfail. We're gonna lose this one in extra innings."

But McCann hit a popup to the right side. Reds 1st baseman Frazier, 2nd baseman Skip Schumaker, and right fielder Jay Bruce all had a chance at it.

Have you ever heard "The Story of Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody"? Once upon a time, there was a job to do. Everybody thought that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it. But Nobody did it.

The ball fell between 3 Reds, allowing Ellsbury to score the winning run on a cheap play. Who did the Reds think they were, the Mets?

Reason Number 57 why the Mets are a joke: I said on Twitter that the Yankees won on a "Luis Castillo Play" -- and everybody knew exactly what I meant. Heck, it was even to the same general area (if not the same exact spot) of the field.

Yankees 3, Reds 2. A sweep of the Big Red Machine. WP: David Robertson (1-2). No save. LP: Chapman (0-3).

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So here we are, with 10 weeks to go in the Major League Baseball season. Here's how things look:

The Yankees trail the Baltimore Orioles by 3 games in the American League Eastern Division. So do the Toronto Blue Jays, although the Yankees trail the O's by 3 in the loss column, while the Jays trail there by 4. The Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays are 7 1/2 back. So as bad as anyone has been, the Division race is, theoretically, still up for grabs by all 5.

The Yankees trail the Seattle Mariners by a game and a half, just 1 in the loss column, for the AL's 2nd Wild Card entry.

As bad as it's looked, it doesn't look so bad. If you'll pardon what would have been a Yogi-ism if Yogi Berra had thought of it first.

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Tonight, the Yankees begin a 4-game home series against the Texas Rangers. Like all teams representing Dallas, and all teams called Rangers wearing blue shirts (whatever the country, whatever the sport), they suck.

Manager Ron Washington has an interesting coaching staff. He's got ex-Mets Dave Magadan and Tim Bogar. He's got Bobby Jones -- but not either of the 2 Bobby Joneses who pitched for the Mets in the 2000 World Series, the greatest World Series ever. He's got Bengie Molina, the eldest of the Molina brothers. He's got former Angels All-Star Gary Pettis. And his bullpen coach? Andy Hawkins, who on July 1, 1990 pitched 8 no-hit innings for the Yankees against the Chicago White Sox in the last game the Yankees ever played in Comiskey Park -- and lost due to his own walks and 3 awful 8th-inning errors. He didn't even get credit for the no-hitter, although he got credit for the complete game.

Here are the projected pitching matchups:

Tonight, 7:05 PM: Shane Green vs. Miles Mikolas.

Tomorrow, 7:05 PM: Chase Whitley vs. Nick Martinez.

Wednesday, 7:05 PM: David Phelps vs. Yu Darvish.

Thursday, 1:05 PM: McCarthy vs. Colby Lewis.

Come on you Pinstripes!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A "Football" Fan's Guide to New York

Next week, there will be 3 "friendlies" -- what soccer fans call exhibition games -- featuring legendary teams in the New York Tri-State Area. The schedule is as follows:

* July 26, Saturday, 5:00 PM, at Red Bull Arena: New York Red Bulls vs. Arsenal.
* July 30, Wednesday, 7:00 PM, at Yankee Stadium: Liverpool vs. Manchester City.
* July 31, Thursday, 8:00 PM, at Red Bull Arena: Bayern Munich vs. Chivas (Guadalajara, Mexico).

AC Milan and Olympiacos were supposed to play each other at Citi Field, but the game was moved to Toronto.

I've been doing "How to Be a Yankee Fan In (Name of City/Metro Area)" for the various roadtrips that Yankee Fans make. Now, I turn it around, and offer European soccer fans a guide as to how to get through their visit with a minimum of fuss.

Some of these items will be team-specific. Some will be general and apply to as many as possible.

Please note: This post will use American English. A coach is a sports team's guide, not a long, tubular means for getting around town, or from one town to another, above ground: That's a bus. A truck is a truck, not a lorry. If you ride in either one on a freeway (not a motorway), I admit, calling a rest stop a "motorway services" makes more sense than calling it a "rest stop" or a "rest area," but that's what we call them. That thing you ride in to get between floors is an elevator, not a lift. I'll be spelling words like "color" and "flavor" with no U, "realize" won't have an S, and "defense" won't have a C. The last letter of the alphabet will be pronounced "Zee" (although Canada, with its British influence, uses "Zed," and "U" in words like "honour"). And after what our respective countries did in the recent World Cup, I'm calling the sport "soccer." You don't have to like that, but you do have to live with it.

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Before You Go. Make sure you've got everything: Passport, plane tickets, hotel reservations and game tickets. (Don't even think of buying them on the spot: They're sold out, and scalpers (what we call touts) will demand prices higher than Per Mertesacker's hair.

If you haven't already found lodging, well, good luck. But the easier hotels to get into may be the cheaper ones in the Outer Boroughs (Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island) or New Jersey. So that might well be a stroke of luck for you. But, unless you're going for one of the Red Bull Arena games and getting a hotel in New Jersey, you're not likely to be staying close to the game site, no matter when you ordered.

New York is in the Eastern Time Zone, so it will be 5 hours behind the British Isles, and 6 hours behind Germany (Bayern).

Get your money changed before you get on the plane. At this writing, one pound = $1.71, and one euro = $1.35. Or, in reverse, $1.00 = 58 pence and 74 euro-cents. U.S. coins come in denominations of 1 cent (a.k.a. the penny, copper, the only one that doesn't appear as silver, portrait of Abraham Lincoln), 5 cents (nickel, Thomas Jefferson), 10 cents (dime, Franklin Roosevelt), 25 cents (quarter, George Washington), 50 cents (half-dollar, John F. Kennedy, you probably won't see this one) and 1 dollar (currently with Sacajawea, a Native American figure from our early history). U.S. bills come in denominations of $1 (Washington), $2 (Jefferson, you probably won't see this one as it's rarely printed), $5 (Lincoln), $10 (Alexander Hamilton, an early political figure), $20 (Andrew Jackson), $50 (Ulysses S. Grant) and $100 (Benjamin Franklin).

Tickets. The sellouts make any explanation of seating and pricing, in these cases, irrelevant, so I'll move on.

Getting There. You're flying. Let's face it, there's no central point in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean where the New York Subway and the London Underground meet. Besides, think of the delays you'd get. And by the time a transatlantic bridge is built, they'll have to name it for Prince George's grandson.

Most likely, you'll be flying into John F. Kennedy International Airport. Do yourself a favor, and hire a car service to take you to your hotel. It might be more expensive than a taxi -- which currently runs $52 -- but you might have a smoother ride. It should take just under an hour. There is a bus service from the International Terminal to the Subway system, which will then take you to Midtown Manhattan, but it will take about an hour and a half. If you return to JFK via subway, make sure to take the A train marked Far Rockaway or Rockaway Park, not Lefferts Blvd.

Once In the City. The City of New York, which is within the State of New York, has an estimated population of 8.4 million -- making it roughly the same size as London. It was founded by the Dutch in 1624, as New Amsterdam, in the colony of New Netherland. On September 8, 1664 -- there is no planned celebration for the upcoming 350th Anniversary -- the English took it from the Dutch without firing a shot. It was named after the brother of King Charles II, the Duke of York -- later King James II.

When the British occupied Manhattan after driving George Washington's Continental Army out in 1776, they burned it, and this is why there are very few remaining pre-19th Century buildings anywhere in the City (unless such other Revolutionary-era cities as Boston and Philadelphia). After the British went home, the City's port, and location between two rivers, made it the richest in the Western Hemisphere, and was a big reason why America became a world power over the next 200 years.

New York City is divided into 5 Boroughs:

* Manhattan, or New York County, is the central island, named for the natives' name for it, "place of many hills."
* The Bronx, or Bronx County (otherwise always "The"), named for an early Dutch settler, Jonas Bronck).
* Brooklyn, or Kings County, named for the Dutch city of Breukelen, and, as Kings County, named for Charles II.
* Queens, or Queens County, named for Charles' wife, Catherine of Braganza.
* Staten Island, the former Dutch name, or Richmond County, named for Charles Lennox, 1st Duke of Richmond, one of King Charles' many contributions to illegitimacy.

The City is also part of "the New York Metropolitan Area" or "the New York Tri-State Area," which includes parts of New York State not in the City (such as Long Island -- Nassau and Suffolk Counties -- and the Lower Hudson Valley, such as Westchester County) and the States of New Jersey and Connecticut.

Most likely, you won't need to visit Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, the Lower Hudson Valley, or Connecticut; or The Bronx or New Jersey except for the games in question, so I'll spare you the descriptions.

Aside from your time at the games, most of your time in the City will be spent in Manhattan. North of 14th Street, streets will be a bit easier to navigate, as they will follow the 1811 grid plan. South of 14th Street, you may end up as confused as a foreigner would be in London, as this oldest part of the City doesn't always pay attention to the grid. If you're a comic book fan, there's a running gag that Metropolis, hometown of Superman, is Manhattan north of 14th Street on a beautiful spring day; while Gotham City, hometown of Batman, is Manhattan south of 14th street, a few minutes after midnight, on a cold rainy day in November.

In the grid, Manhattan has (almost exclusively) numbered streets running (more or less) east-west, and (mostly) numbered avenues running (more or less) north-south. The numbered streets go up to 264th Street in The Bronx. Brooklyn and Queens also have numbered streets and numbered avenues, but they're a lot more confusing; when someone in New York says, "34th Street" or "5th Avenue," 95 percent of the time, they'll mean the one in Manhattan.

"Lower Manhattan" or "Downtown" is pretty much everything south of 14th Street, including Houston Street (pronounced HOW-stin, not HYOO-stin like the Texas city), which is, effectively, Zero Street. "Uptown" is pretty much everything in Manhattan north of 59th Street, from the southern edge of Central Park upward. "Midtown" is between 14th and 59th, and is where, aside from the games, most of the touristy stuff is -- if you're a Londoner, think of the postal codes beginning with EC, WC, SW1 and W1.

From the East River to the west-bounding Hudson River, the avenues run: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, Lexington, Park, Madison, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th. There is a 4th Avenue, but it only runs from 8th Street to 14th Street, becoming Park Avenue South at Union Square and then Park Avenue at 32nd Street.

The outlier is Broadway, which starts at the southern tip of Manhattan (known as The Battery), and remains more or less straight until 10th Street, at which point it curves to (more or less) the northwest, until 78th Street, at which point it straightens out again.

Where Broadway intersects with the numbered avenues, there are frequently "squares." These include:

* Union Square, at 14th Street and Park Avenue.
* Madison Square, at 23rd Street and 5th Avenue.
* Herald Square, at 34th Street and 6th Avenue.
* Times Square, New York's version of Piccadilly Circus, at 42nd Street and 7th Avenue.
* Columbus Circle, at 59th Street and 8th Avenue.

The delineator between the East Side and the West Side is Broadway from 8th Street on down, and 5th Avenue from 8th Street on up.

6th Avenue is also known as Avenue of the Americas, and 7th as Fashion Avenue due to its going through the Garment District. 6th and 7th Avenues stop at 59th Street, where Central Park begins, bordered by 5th and 8th Avenues, and 59th and 110th Streets. West of Central Park, 8th Avenue becomes Central Park West, 9th Avenue becomes Columbus Avenue, 10th Avenue becomes Amsterdam Avenue, and 11th Avenue becomes West End Avenue.

North of Central Park, in Harlem, America's most famous black neighborhood, 6th Avenue resumes as Lenox Avenue, but all 3 are also named for civil rights leaders: 6th/Lenox is Malcolm X Blvd., 7th is Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd., and 8th is Frederick Douglass Blvd.

You may hear a reference to "the Lower East Side" -- especially if you're one of the Liverpool fans coming over. (I'll explain that later.) Between Houston and 14th Streets, east of 1st Avenue, you'll find Avenues A, B, C and D. This gave the neighborhood the nickname Alphabet City, and was long a haven for Eastern European immigrants, especially Jewish ones, but it fell victim to crime and drugs by the 1970s. Eventually Hispanics and gentrifiers combined to clean it up, and now, it's reasonably safe. In the Latin-New York accent, "Lower East Side" has become "Loisaida."

On 1st, 3rd, Madison, 6th, 8th and 10th Avenues, traffic runs one way, Uptown. On 2nd, Lexington, 5th, 7th, 9th and 11th Avenues, and on Broadway, traffic runs only Downtown. Park Avenue is the one avenue on which traffic runs in both directions. The major cross streets, such as 14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd and 59th have two-way traffic, but most of the numbered streets run in only one direction.

The Subway system is going to sound complicated. I won't go into the difference between the IRT, the BMT and the IND.

There are lettered lines, and there are numbered lines. The 1, 2 and 3 trains have red logos, and go under 7th Avenue until Times Square (42nd Street), then go under Broadway. The N, Q and R trains have yellow logos, and they're the reverse, going up Broadway until Times Square, and then under 7th Avenue, before curving and heading Crosstown to Queens. The A, C and E trains have blue logos, and go under 8th Avenue, although the E curves at 53rd Street and heads to Queens. The B, D and F trains have orange logos, and go under 6th Avenue, until the F curves at 53rd Street and joins the E.

The 4, 5 and 6 trains have green logos, and go under Lafayette Street, then Park Avenue, then Lexington Avenue. Until the much-discussed, finally under-construction first phase of the 2nd Avenue line opens (they say it will be at the end of 2016), this will be the only north-south line on the East Side. The 7 has a purple logo, and runs under 42nd Street to Queens, where, due to its going through several ethnic neighborhoods, is known as the International Express (but only runs express trains during rush hours). And the L has a gray logo, and runs under 14th Street to Brooklyn.

Note that some trains are express (2, 3, 4, 5, A, D and Q, only making the most-used stops), while the others are local (making all stops). And don't worry about the G, J, M and S trains, because, most likely, you won't need them. (The G is the only line on the entire system that does not go through Manhattan at all.)

The Subway fare is $2.50 -- 1.46 in pounds. Free transfers can be made from train to bus, or vice versa. However, there's a $1.00 fee for every new MetroCard. You're better off getting a 7-Day card for $30, since you're almost certainly staying for a few days.

Going In. This is where I tell travelers how to get to the stadium, how to get into it, and what they're likely to see when they do: Distances from home plate to certain key points in the outfield, whether the field is real grass or artificial turf (a.k.a. a "plastic pitch"), whether the stadium favors hitters or pitchers. But since soccer doesn't have varying field dimensions, that won't matter here.

If you're going to Yankee Stadium for Liverpool vs. Manchester City, home of MLB's New York Yankees, and starting in 2015 of Major League Soccer's New York City FC, to see Liverpool vs. Manchester City: It's in The Bronx, specifically the South Bronx. Once, this was one of the most notorious parts of the City, but it rebounded in the 1990s. By the time the Yankees started winning Pennants again in 1996, it could be reported that 96 percent of the crime in and around the old Yankee Stadium (which, like the Mets' ballpark, was replaced in 2008-09) was ticket scalping.

The intersection is the same: 161st Street and River Avenue, with the elevated line over River Avenue. The old Stadium, which opened the same month as the original Wembley Stadium, April 1923, was on the south side of 161st, and a City Park ballfield is now on the site; the new one is on the north side of it. The Subway stop is also the same: 161st Street-Yankee Stadium. If you're coming up from the West Side, take the D train, which should take about 25 minutes from Midtown; from the East Side, the 4 train, and it'll take about 20.

When you come up the steps of the D station, or come down the steps of the 4 station, you'll be led onto 161st Street, which is also named Babe Ruth Plaza. George Herman Ruth Jr., a.k.a. the Babe, the Great Bambino, the Sultan of Swat -- this guy had more nicknames than James Brown, the Godfather of Soul. He was the man who made the Yankees baseball's greatest club, and he was the greatest player who ever lived, or ever will live. He started out as a great pitcher, then early in his career he became the greatest hitter ever, in spite of eating like a pig, drinking like a fish, smoking like a chimney and screwing like an alley cat. To put it in footy terms: Imagine a young Gordon Banks becoming George Best, with all that implies, and keeping up such a performance level until he's 40 years old, and the fans loving him for all his flaws, and you've got what Ruth represents. Sadly, Ruth died when he was just 53 -- it was the smoking that did him in, not the drinking or the eating or an STD or a jealous husband.

Most likely, you'll enter Yankee Stadium through either the home plate entrance, Gate 4, or the right field entrance, Gate 6. These are connected by a Great Hall that includes banners of past Yankee greats. You don't have to know the names or achievements of any of them.

I should mention that the old Yankee Stadium was home to many great events besides baseball. It hosted many championship prizefights, most notably Joe Louis defending the heavyweight title against Max Schmeling, unwilling stand-in for Nazi Germany, in 1938. In 1965, Pope Paul VI visited, and delivered the first Papal Mass anywhere in the Western Hemisphere. As for soccer:

* Glasgow Celtic, aware of New York's strong Irish heritage, came in 1931.
* Hapoel Tel Aviv, with New York's strong Jewish heritage in mind, came in 1947, not so much to play soccer as to raise funds for Israel's independence. When Israel's national team was formed, they played their first match at the old Yankee Stadium.
* In 1952, Liverpool played Grasshopper Club Zurich, and Tottenham walloped Manchester United 7-1.
* In 1953, shortly after being embarrassed by Hungary at Wembley, and 3 years after their World Cup defeat to the U.S., England salvaged some pride by beating the U.S. 6-3.
* In 1966, Pele and his Brazilian club, Santos, beat Inter Milan.
* In 1968, a local team, the New York Generals, beat Pele's Santos and lost to Real Madrid, while Santos beat Napoli there.
* In 1969, Barcelona beat Juventus, Inter beat Sparta Prague, AC Milan beat Panathinaikos, and a Milan derby was held, with AC Milan beating Inter.
* The original version of the New York Cosmos played their 1971 and 1976 seasons there -- for reasons I won't get into here, they bounced around the Tri-State Area before moving to the Meadowlands in 1977.
* And in 1976, England beat Italy there.

The pitch will be laid out from left and center field to first base. In the summer of 2012, the new Stadium hosted Chelsea vs. Paris Saint-Germain (attendance: 38,202), and Real Madrid vs. AC Milan (attendance: a sellout of 49,474, including myself). Last year, Chelsea returned to face Man City (attendance: 39,462), which was beginning its partnership with the Yankees to help build NYCFC. So the people running the Stadium know what they're doing with this sport.

Having seen a match at Yankee Stadium (but not yet at Citi Field), I can tell you that there really isn't a bad seat in the house. My seat, in the upper deck, which would have been way up in left field for baseball, was right over one of the goals, and I got to see Iker Casillas make some sick saves for Madrid. (And I got to see Cristiano Ronaldo score a hat trick, and Kaka get cheered by both sets of fans.)

If you're going to Red Bull Arena (which, like the team, is named for the Austrian soft drink), home of MLS' New York Red Bulls, to see the Red Bulls play Arsenal or Bayern play Chivas: It's in New Jersey, in the city of Harrison, across the Passaic River from Newark.

Your best bet to get there from Midtown is to take the A, C or E train to World Trade Center, and then switch to the PATH (Port Authority Trans-Hudson) line, and ride that to Harrison station. Another option is to go to Herald Square, 33rd Street and 6th Avenue, and take the PATH system in, but you'll have to change trains at Journal Square in Jersey City. Either one would take you almost an hour. The PATH fare is $2.50, just like the Subway's. If you're transferring from the Subway to PATH, the cards from one can be used on the other, but it will be separate fares, so it's $5.00 each way.

There is another way, and if you prefer the English pubgoing experience, it may be more to your liking. New Jersey Transit, a commuter rail and bus service, runs trains between the New York and Newark versions of Penn Stations. (Before the advent of Amtrak and commuter-rail service, this was the Pennsylvania Railroad, which was used as a purchasable property in the American version of the board game Monopoly.) It takes 20 minutes and costs $5.00 each way -- the same as using both the Subway and PATH.

Once you arrive at Newark's Penn Station, you can walk out the east entrance onto Market Street. This is the Ironbound section of Newark, ringed by railroads and the Passaic River. It is mainly a Portuguese neighborhood, but with a few Brazilians due to the language. It's got a bit of an old-country touch (Iberia Restaurant was built to look like a castle), but if you're friendly, the people will gladly return that.

A number of bars (we usually don't call them "pubs") on Market Street cater to Red Bulls fans, including MMM Bello's Pub, Titanic Bar, Catas and El Pastor. Lots of beer, lots of sangria, lots of glorious meat. (The Portuguese are big on barbecue.) The area also has lots of seafood restaurants and bakeries. It's a special place: It was these people that turned me on to the game after a youth of thinking soccer was "boring" and that people who said, "You don't understand the nuances" were full of shit. They showed me how wrong I was. They showed me just how exciting the game can be.

It's 9 blocks down Market Street from Penn Station to Jackson Street. The walk across the Jackson Street Bridge, over the Passaic River, is a Red Bull fans' sacrament. (This shouldn't be a problem for  you unless you're really afraid of heights. If you are, stay in the middle, as the police close the bridge to cars on matchdays and only allow foot traffic.) Once over the Bridge, you will enter the city of Harrison, and the Arena will be on your right. Just follow the crowd. The entire walk from Penn Station down Market, over the Bridge, and into the Arena is one mile. It should take about 20 minutes if you don't stop at any of the bars (ha ha).

Upon arrival at Red Bull Arena, entry gates are as follows: Gate A, southwest; Gate B, northwest; Gate C, northeast; and Gate D, southeast. Based on ticket information that I've seen, most of the Arsenal fans will be put in the upper deck of the North stand, which means you'll probably enter at Gate B. The field is natural grass; it replaced an artificial pitch, because Thierry Henry hates the plastic stuff.

Food. Little of the food available at any of these stadiums is especially nutritious, less of it is on a short line, and still less of it is cheap. Much of it, if you're willing to spend the cash, is good, though. But you're betting off eating (and drinking) both before and after you head into the stadium.

I do not, however, recommend to either Liverpool or Manchester City fans that you go into the bars on River Avenue across from Yankee Stadium. It's not that you won't be allowed in -- once changed to dollars, your money is as good to them as anyone else's -- but the places will be festooned with baseball memorabilia, and it might not be the atmosphere you're looking for. And for Arsenal and Bayern fans, you'll have to walk 5 minutes out of Red Bull Arena just to get to Rodgers Boulevard, the main street of Harrison.

So here are some better options for you, club by club:

Liverpool: The local LFC supporters meet at the 11th Street Bar, 510 East 11th Street at Avenue A. It's small, and gets jammed (or "rammed with geezers") on matchday. But it's Liverpool through and through, and their Scousers' Guide to NYC may also help you. L train to 1st Avenue, walk 1 block east on 14th Street to Avenue A, walk 3 blocks south on A to 11th, and turn left. The bar will be on your right.

The Starting Gate, out in the Woodside section of Queens at 59-10 Woodside Avenue, is also a good bar for Liverpool fans. I saw Dirk Kuyt knock Man U out of the FA Cup here a couple of years ago. 7 Train to 61st Street-Woodside.

Manchester City: The Mad Hatter Pub is the home of the local Man City supporters' club. It's at 360 3rd Avenue at 26th Street. On matchdays, copying the "WELCOME TO MANCHESTER" sign for former United and City star Carlos Tevez, they hang a "WELCOME TO NEW YORK" banner out front. 6 train to 28th Street, 2 blocks east on 28th, then 2 blocks south on 3rd.

Arsenal: "14th Street is Red." Well, the blocks of East 14th Street between 1st and 3rd Avenues are, anyway. The Blind Pig at 233, between 2nd and 3rd, was established as the main bar of the NYC Arsenal Supporters after some unpleasant experiences at Nevada Smith's, New York's original soccer bar. The old Nevada's was established in 2002 at 74 3rd Avenue, but the main bartender there got fired, he opened the Football Factory and took a lot of his customers with him, and Nevada's never recovered. The building was a dump and was condemned, and a new one has opened at 100 3rd Avenue at 12th Street, but it still hasn't bounced back.

A "blind pig" -- also a "blind tiger" or a "speakeasy" -- was an illegal drinking club, established during America's unfortunate, spectacularly failed experiment with Prohibition, from 1920 to 1933. The place is decorated with "Roaring Twenties" style and pictures, including of Chicago's leading bootlegger, Al Capone.

The Blind Pig gets filled up quickly on matchdays: If you're not there by 45 minutes before kickoff, your chances of finding a seat becomes roughly the same as Abou Diaby's chances of being fit for the game. In a way, the place became a victim of its own success, and a second bar, O'Hanlon's, a block away at 349 East 14th Street at 1st Avenue, took in the spillover, and even that gets packed now. (A big reason why is "The 'Stache," their bartender, who with his close-cropped head and his handlebar mustache, could be mistaken for a late-Victorian bare-knuckle boxer if not for his NYC Arsenal Supporters T-shirt. He's almost as popular as the Pig's fabulous barmaids.)

On FA Cup Final day, pretty much every bar on 14th between 1st and 3rd was taking requests to show the Final on its TV, including the Bait & Hook, a new seafood-themed place that boldly displayed a Chelsea flag out front. The one at which I actually watched the Final was The Winslow, at 243.

Between them, the Pig, the Winslow and O'Hanlon's will be participating in 14th Street Is Red: An Arsenal Supporters Social. Click on the link for details.

The first time the Red Bulls held a special days for the NYC Arsenal Supporters -- complete with a  postgame question-and-answer session with Thierry Henry -- the New York Gooners marched out of the Pig, down 14th Street to the PATH station at 6th Avenue, and onto the train, singing and chanting all the way, as Americans who've never heard of Arsenal looked totally perplexed, not knowing what was going on. They've made a tradition of that. No doubt, it will happen again.

Bayern: Lunasa, at 126 1st Avenue at 8th Street/St. Mark's Place, is the local hangout for fans of the pride of Bavaria. Zum Schneider, a bar designed to look like a traditional German beer hall, is at 107 Avenue C at 7th Street, and has been the gathering place for fans of the German national team these last 3 World Cups (so, as you can imagine if you've never seen it, it's been hopping.) If you got to “Zoom,” make sure you have cash, because they do not accept credit cards. Either one can be reached by taking the 6 train to Astor Place, then walking east down 8th/St. Mark's. 

As in London, street food is a key part of New York life. Pushcart hot dogs are a guessing game: I've had really good ones, really bad ones, and everything in between. But at $3.00 (when even the smallest entrée at a fast-food place will likely be twice that), it's cheap, it's fast, and it's hot. Most of the hot dogs are beef, but I can't rule out that they may be pork.

Which brings me to the question of religion. If you are Jewish, look for the logo of Hebrew National beef franks. Their slogan is, "We answer to a higher authority." Also, many of the pushcarts will be manned by Muslims, and won't handle pork, but they will sell Hebrew National for the very reason that their hot dogs won't have pork, or non-meat fillers for that matter.

Likewise, if you are Muslim, there are pushcarts labeled "The Halal Guys." They will have food that caters to your needs. And, of course, there are lots of restaurants in New York that serve only kosher or only halal food.

Stuff. There may be stalls outside the stadium selling gear of the teams playing inside, but inside the stadium it will be all about the usual home team. So don't expect to see Arsenal or Bayern memorabilia inside Red Bull Arena, for example.

During the Game. This is the part of the post where I describe visiting New York baseball fans' potential for interaction with the fans and atmosphere of the host ballclub. How much of that will be an issue for Liverpool vs. Manchester City or Bayern vs. Chivas, since none of those clubs will be facing a "home team"?

Liverpool vs. Manchester City: On the one hand, Man City and the Yankees are now in partnership with New York City FC, which will begin play at Yankee Stadium next March. This would seem to make Man City "the home team" for this game. On the other hand, Liverpool is still far more popular in this country, probably (though neither team's fans will want to hear this) 2nd only to Man United in American popularity. So it may be that the stands will be, roughly, evenly divided between Liverpool and Manchester City. This will probably not cause any trouble, as the clubs don't have a contentious history with each other -- the recent Premier League race, with City edging Liverpool out, notwithstanding.

Bayern vs. Chivas: Although German remains the largest ethnic group in America (ahead of the Irish, all blacks combined, and all Hispanics combined), and Bayern recently opened an American office in New York, they don't yet have the kind of North American presence as do the bigger English clubs, the 2 Spanish giants (Real Madrid and Barcelona), or even the 3 Italian giants (AC Milan, Inter and Juventus). Chivas is probably the most popular club in Mexico, and New York and New Jersey have a huge Mexican immigrant community. If you are a Bayern fan coming over, you will almost certainly find yourself outnumbered. That said, I don't think the Chivas fans will go out of their way to antagonize you. Since your clubs are separated by an ocean, I'm guessing there is no competitive history between you, and no reason to openly dislike one another. And, surely, Bayern will have some goodwill drummed up with Mexicans in America (born in either country) due to the Bayern-boosted German victory at the World Cup.

Arsenal vs. Red Bulls: This is the one match involving an actual home team. The Red Bull ultras -- the Empire Supporters' Club, the Garden State Supporters, the Viking Army and others -- sit in the South stand, a.k.a. the South Ward. (Newark divides itself into "wards," and this carried over into the Arena even though it's not in Newark.) These are ultras, not hooligans: They will wear costumes, play instruments, chant, sing, and use a lot of profane and even sick humor -- but they will never initiate violence. If necessary, they will defend themselves, and many of them are large, solidly-built individuals, and New York and New Jersey does come with a tough reputation. But if you don't start anything, neither will they.

One thing they might do that you should be aware of: When Tottenham came to Red Bull Arena on their 2012 tour, the Red Bull ultras chanted, "Fuck the Queen!" That was wrong. They didn't do it when Tottenham came in 2010, but they did do it in 2012. Hopefully, they won't do it this time. Maybe, due to Henry having the Arsenal connection, and due to Queen Elizabeth herself supposedly being an Arsenal fan, they'll be a bit more respectful. But don't be surprised if they make a few references to tea and crumpets, or (forgetting that Cockneys only come from the East End) call you some insulting version of Cockneys.

After the Game. It's a perennial issue in large stadiums: Gates usually open an hour and a half before the scheduled start, and so the stadium operators and safety personnel have that long to get tens of thousands of people inside, but these people all want to get out within 10 minutes of the game's end.

I realize that it's a tradition in English football to treat the police as a necessary annoyance. But with the many rivalries in New York sports (usually between New York teams in the same league, or between New York and Philadelphia teams, or between New York and Boston-area teams), they're used to the possibility of violence. Therefore, you should not treat the NYPD, or the New Jersey local police, as if they're "the Old Bill.," No "What a waste of council tax, we paid for your hats!" or other such taunts. These men (and a few women) are seriously trained, they know what they're doing, and they do not fuck around. If you follow their instructions, you'll be able to get both in and out of the stadium area safely.

What you do once you are out is up to you. If you feel like getting a postgame meal, or just a pint (or a few), you are free to do so for the extent of your money, so long as you don't cause a disturbance. The cops will arrest people for D&D (drunk and disorderly conduct), and vandalism will not be tolerated under any circumstances. But if you don't make a nuisance of yourself, they'll leave you alone.

Sidelights. This is the part of the trip guide where I talk about other sports-related sites in the city's metropolitan area, and then move on to other noted tourist attractions.

During the week in question, aside from their July 26 match with Arsenal, the Red Bulls will be playing on July 30, but away to Real Salt Lake, in Utah in the Rocky Mountains. They will return home on Saturday, August 2, home to MLS' Boston franchise, the New England Revolution.

The New York Cosmos, who are in the North American Soccer League (the U.S. pyramid's "second division"), will be playing away to the Fort Lauderdale Strikers (Miami area) on the 26th, and return home on August 2 to play the Carolina Railhawks, so unless you're sticking around that long, and feel like schlepping out to Long Island, I'd suggest ignoring them.

Most of you won't be interested in baseball. If you're curious, let me tell you that the resemblance to cricket is superficial at best, and any Englishman who calls it "rounders" or "a schoolgirl's game" doesn't know what the hell he's talking about, and, to use a phrase you'll recognize, they'll get the right hump with you.

The Yankees will be playing at home against the Dallas-area-based Texas Rangers through July 24, and then play 3 games against the Toronto Blue Jays on the 25th, 26th and 27th. The games on the 24th and 27th are 1:05 PM starts, the rest are 7:05 PM starts.

When one of the City's baseball teams is at home, the other is usually on the road, so they don't eat into each other's attendance. On the 27th, the Yankees fly out, and the Mets come home, to play their "local" rivals, the 100-miles-away Philadelphia Phillies. The games on the 28th and 29th are 7:10 PM starts, and the one on the 30th starts at 12:10 PM. Take the 7 train to "Mets-Willets Point" station.

I would suggest avoiding the area's other sports teams that are in-season: Minor-league baseball's Staten Island Yankees and Brooklyn Cyclones ("farm teams" of the Yankees and Mets, respectively), and the WNBA's (women's basketball's) New York Liberty. Although tickets are cheap compared to Major League Baseball and the NBA, respectively, the experience probably won't be worth the effort. And the NFL won't even play any preseason games until August 3, so you won't get the chance to see the Giants or the Jets in even the most meaningless of contests.

Citi Field (named for Citibank), home of the Mets, is in Queens, between the neighborhoods of Corona and Flushing, on Roosevelt Avenue between 123rd and 126th Streets. You'll take the 7 train (which becomes elevated, or "the el," upon entering Queens) to the stop labeled "Mets-Willets Point." If you're leaving from Midtown Manhattan, the ride should take about 35 minutes.

Across Roosevelt Avenue is Flushing Meadow-Corona Park, where the U.S. Open tennis tournament is held every late August and early September, and where the 1939-40 and 1964-65 New York World's Fairs were held. If you saw the Men In Black movies, you'll recognize the Unisphere globe, which is one of the surviving structures from the 1964 Fair.

The name "Flushing" comes from the Dutch "Vlissingen," and, no matter how much the Mets stink, has nothing to do with plumbing, although Citi Field's predecessor, Shea Stadium, was often nicknamed the Flushing Toilet.

The Mets were founded in 1962, to take the place of a pair of teams that moved to California for the reason of greed after the 1957 season: The New York Giants (who played in upper Manhattan) and the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Giants moved to San Francisco, the Dodgers to Los Angeles, and have maintained their nasty rivalry to this day, thought separated by 389 miles instead of 14.

The move of the Giants was upsetting to many, that of the Dodgers to many more, as they were the only team that Brooklyn could then claim as its own, and they moved to the untapped market of the California, and took their rivals with them. The analogy would not be to Wimbledon FC moving to Milton Keynes. Think, instead, of Brooklyn as New York's answer to the East End (complete with docklands), and imagine that, near the peak of their success, West Ham had moved to India -- and took Tottenham with them. (Not Millwall. Millwall would be considered "minor league" by U.S. standards.) Then imagine that Chelsea really did have "no history," and only started a few years after the move, and started as a joke, until they had a couple of titles, and their fans became obnoxious far beyond what their success had yet earned. That would be the Mets. (Except that the Mets are shit now. Would that Chelsea would become the same!)

Citi Field holds about 41,000 people, opened in April 2009, and has hosted soccer already, with Greece playing Ecuador, which made sense, as Queens has lots of Greek and Hispanic immigrants.

Both New York baseball parks allow tours. Yankee Stadium: $25. Citi Field: $13. Madison Square Garden, home of the NBA's Knicks and the NHL's Rangers, and the site of some legendary prizefights and concerts, allows tours, for $27. This is the 4th in a series of buildings with the name, opening in 1968, on top of Penn Station, after the original Roman-inspired Station, built in 1910, was demolished in 1963. Between 31st and 33rd Streets, between 7th and 8th Avenues. 1, 2, 3, A, C or E train to 34th Street-Penn Station. Across 8th Avenue is the main post office, with its columns inspiring comparisons to the old Penn Station, and a move to make it the next Penn Station is in the planning stages. (Because of lease issues, the Madison Square Garden Corporation may have to build a new arena in the next few years, despite already having seriously renovated the current Garden both in 1992 and again completing a 2-year renovation job this year. Location to be determined.)

Barclays Center, home of the NBA's Brooklyn Nets since it opened in 2012, offers tours for $24. 2, 3, 4, 5, B or Q train to Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center. It's built across the street from the Long Island Rail Road's Atlantic Terminal, one of 3 major rail stations in the City.

The Prudential Center in Newark, home of the NHL's New Jersey Devils since it opened in 2007, is hosting "Walking With Dinosaurs: The Arena Spectacular" this week. However, I can find no reference to tours of the arena being available. It's a 5-minute walk from Newark's Penn Station.

Also allowing tours is MetLife Stadium, the home of the NFL's Giants and Jets, in the Meadowlands Sports Complex of East Rutherford, New Jersey, which also includes a horse racing track, and an arena that used to be home of the NHL's New Jersey Devils and the NBA's New Jersey Nets, who now play in Brooklyn.

This stadium, which opened in 2010, has already hosted a number of matches, including the U.S. vs. Argentina in 2011 (I was there), Brazil vs. Argentina in 2012, and a recent Portugal vs. Ireland match. Tours are $20. (Its predecessor, Giants Stadium, hosted the original Cosmos from 1977 to 1985, and several games in the 1994 World Cup.) It is hard to get to, though. On game days, New Jersey Transit runs rail service right there, but if you're going from Penn Station, you have to change trains at Secaucus Junction. Without it being a game day (and with the interest, Arsenal vs. Red Bulls really should have been moved from the 25,000-seat Arena to the 82,000-seat Meadowlands), you may need to have to go to the Port Authority Bus Terminal at 41st Street and 8th Avenue (A, C or E train to 42nd Street), and take a NJ Transit bus.

As I said, the current Madison Square Garden and the current Penn Station are in the same complex, Pennsylvania Plaza. Penn Station is the City's hub for Amtrak, and is the main terminal for both New Jersey Transit and the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR), which provides service to "Lawn Giland," New York's Nassau and Suffolk Counties, America's classic suburban region. Unlike its predecessor under the name, Penn Station is not a tourist attraction into and of itself.

That is not the case with the City's other major rail center, Grand Central Terminal, at 42nd Street and Park Avenue. It is truly a spectacular sight, and like Penn Station and a few other locations, can truly be called "a city within a city." Like the old Penn Station, it was threatened with demolition, because its Midtown real estate was so valuable. But a group led by former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis saved it, got it cleaned up and renovated, and last year it celebrated its Centennial in grand fashion. Although Amtrak no longer operates out of it -- you can no longer take trains from Grand Central to Boston, Montreal and Chicago -- it is still the main commuter hub for people from the Lower Hudson Valley and Connecticut, through the Metro-North Commuter Railroad. 4, 5, 6 and 7 trains to 42nd Street-Grand Central.

As for the City's main tourist attractions: If your secondary goal, beyond the primary goal of seeing your match, it to see a "Broadway play," I would advise against it, as you may well be very disappointed. Tickets are expensive and not easy to get, and may not be worth it. This is hardly a golden age for Broadway: Nearly every show is either a borrow from London's West End, a stage adaptation of a movie you may already have seen, or a revival of a classic musical featuring performers whose names are not especially well-known. (And are not likely to be, either: Although a few major actors got their start on Broadway, the days when The Ed Sullivan Show -- which helped the Beatles rise to superstardom -- could, thanks to Sullivan's status as a Broadway columnist, raise performers and songs from nearby theaters to iconic status are long gone.)

An NY CityPass will be expensive, but it will save you a large amount if your goal is to cram in as many tourist attractions as possible. You can tailor your pass to the sites you want to see. For example: The $109 version gets you the Empire State Building, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Museum of Natural History, the Museum of Modern Art, the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island or a Circle Line Cruise around Manhattan Island, and the Top of the Rock observation deck at Rockefeller Center or the Guggenheim Museum. With CityPASS, you'll skip most ticket lines.

As for the museums: While London's are free, New York's are not. They have "donations" -- or "suggested general admissions" -- running form $15 to $22.

The two best-known New York Museums are opposite Central Park from one another, a mile apart. The American Museum of Natural History is at 79th Street and Central Park West (8th Avenue). C train to 81st Street. And the Metropolitan Museum of Art -- a.k.a. The Met, not to be confused with the opera house, the baseball team, or the London police -- is at 82nd Street and 5th Avenue. This stretch of 5th is known as Museum Mile, and also includes, among others, the egg-shaped, Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. 4, 5 or 6 train to 86th Street, 4 blocks down Lexington, and then 3 blocks west to 5th Avenue.

The Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts is New York's center for classical performances, with several venues, most notably the current edition of the Metropolitan Opera House. 63rd Street and Broadway. 1 train to 66th Street-Lincoln Center. The other major classical venue is Carnegie Hall. How do you get to Carnegie Hall? "Practice, my boy, practice!" The old joke is wrong: Anyone who can afford to rent Carnegie Hall's main auditorium may do so, regardless of level of talent. It's at 881 7th Avenue at 57th Street. 1, A, B, C or D train to 59th Street-Columbus Circle, or F train to 57th Street.

A block away, at 56th Street and 7th Avenue, is the legendary Carnegie Deli, of the giant (and expensive) sandwiches named for legendary entertainers and athletes. Sadly, the similar Stage Deli, a block away at 55th and 7th, closed a couple of years ago.

The Russian Tea Room, a famous restaurant mere steps away from Carnegie Hall at 150 West 57, is to be avoided: The service is only passable, and the food would be mediocre at half the price. In fact, I would avoid the best-known restaurants altogether. It's been said that New York offers the best cheap meals and the worst expensive meals in the world. So if you have the bucks to blow, and you want to be able to say, "I ate at (fill in the blank: Smith & Wollensky's Gallagher's, Peter Luger's, or wherever else)," go ahead, but you have been warned. (The famous Italian restaurant Mama Leone's has been gone for many years.)

The closest thing you may get to a true British pub experience is the Atlantic Chip Shop, at 129 Atlantic Avenue at Henry Street in Brooklyn. The place is decked out in British memorabilia, and when there's no football or rugby match on TV, they usually have a British film on -- the last time I was there, it was Monty Python and the Holy Grail. 4 or 5 train to Borough Hall, then 4 blocks down Court Street, then turn right on Atlantic and walk 2 blocks. The owners also run the Park Slop Chip Shop, which is closer to a genuine chippy. 383 5th Avenue at 6th Street -- remember, that's Brooklyn's 5th Avenue, not Manhattan's. R train to 9th Street, walk up 4th Avenue to 6th Street, and 1 block over to 5th.

North America's premier soccer bar/football pub is The Football Factory at Legends, at 6 West 33rd Street, across from the Empire State Building. Many of the big European clubs have supporters' clubs that watch matches there, and the atmosphere can be quite intense (but never violent). B, D or F train to 34th Street-Herald Square, then one block over on 33rd Street.

It is one of several places in the City where you can pick up copies of First Touch, the area's free weekly newspaper dedicated to the sport. Despite this being the off-season, it is still being published. (Seems there was a recent tournament of some kind, that it covers in some detail.)

A Salt and Battery is also a good fish and chips place. The fish is top-notch, but they do have what we call French fries, rather than chips. Next-door is another English-themed place, Tea and Sympathy. 112 Greenwich Avenue at 13th Street. 1, 2, 3, A, C or E train to 14th Street. If your taste runs more to the Irish or the Scottish, one place I like is The Parlour, at 250 West 86th Street. It's the home of the New York Bhoys, a Celtic FC supporters' group. The people and the food there are both superb. 1 train to 86th Street. If you're interested in something strictly Scottish, Caledonia Scottish Pub is at 1609 2nd Avenue at 83rd Street. 4, 5 or 6 train to 86th Street. And if you're Welsh, Longbow Pub & Pantry is in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn -- but be advised that they have "fries" instead of "chips." 7316 3rd Avenue at 74th Street. R train to either Bay Ridge Avenue or 77th Street, then walk a block from 4th Avenue to 3rd.

The Freedom Tower at the new World Trade Center is nearing completion, and while its observation deck is not yet open, the Tower is already certified as the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. It looks over the site of the original Twin Towers, at Liberty and Greenwich Streets, and expect long lines if you want to visit the 9/11 Memorial. E train to World Trade Center, or R train to Cortlandt Street.

Because of security concerns after the 9/11 attacks, it is no longer possible to tour the New York Stock Exchange building at Wall and Broad Streets. However, it doesn't cost anything to walk down Wall Street, the center of the financial world. 2, 3, 4 or 5 train to Wall Street.

The South Street Seaport area is one of the City's last remaining bastions of pre-Civil War (1861-65) architecture. In fact, one of the reasons John Lennon said he loved New York so much was that it reminded him of Liverpool, especially with the dock areas. However, the Pier 17 shopping center, which had lots of goodies, has recently been closed, and will be demolished to make way for a new one, supposedly to open in late 2016.

Speaking of Lennon, his widow Yoko Ono -- and, I think, their son Sean Lennon -- still lives at the Dakota Arms Hotel, a 1 West 72nd Street at Central Park West. The great composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein also lived there until his death in 1990. (It was also used for the original film version of Rosemary's Baby, so it was a little creepy even before Mark David Chapman showed up.) At the 72nd Street entrance to Central Park, there is a tribute to Lennon, appropriately enough named Strawberry Fields. C train to 72nd Street.

*

This is usually where I close the blog post by telling you what a terrific city you'll be visiting, and hoping that you'll have fun.

Well, whatever you might think of London, there is no better city on Earth than New York. While it is very easy for things to go wrong there, if you follow these directions, you should be fine, and be able to enjoy yourself immensely. Good luck.

Just in case, if you do have any trouble, contact the British Consulate General, at 845 3rd Avenue. The telephone number is (212) 745-0200.