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Pretty Boy Floyd died at the age of 30 on October 22, 1934.
October 22, 2016.
This Monday, I will be flying to Cleveland for the World Series. This is
my fourth consecutive year of covering every leg of the World Series,
and while it’s a long time to be away from my family – particularly
during a fall when I’m already in NYC one day a week and have another
week-long trip to Los Angeles coming up in December – it’s still one of
the professional highlights of my year. I’ve been to the Super Bowl, the
Final Four, the CFB championship game, even the Olympics, but the World
Series will just always seem like the biggest thing on the planet to
me. I still can’t believe I get to go every year. If I ever feel any
differently, something has gone terribly wrong.
Anyway, as of the moment I send this, I don’t know whether I’ll be going to Cleveland and Chicago or Cleveland and Los Angeles. A larger part of the fun of the World Series is seeing getting to see various American cities with their nicest duds on but still essentially themselves. When, say, the Super Bowl comes to town, everybody who lives there gets the hell out; at the RNC in Cleveland this year, most of the downtown businesses were closed. But the World Series is a massive traveling roadshow that still fits into existing infrastructure. You get to see the town as it really is.
Every year, when the playoffs start, I write down the names of the cities with teams in the playoffs and cross them out when they are eliminated; I just want to know where I’m going to spending a random week of my life. There are obvious rooting interests. Thus, this week’s newsletter, after the aggressive emotion of last week’s, is going to be light: I’m simply going to rank my preferred cities for future World Series. Four teams are exempt. As of this postseason, I have been to all but four active Major League Baseball stadiums: Detroit, Houston, Miami and Texas. So they’re out. But if you were to ask me my preferences … here they are. These are personal rather than objective: If a town has more friends of mine who live in it than another town, it’s going rank a little higher. Remember, too, I’m not ranking the quality of cities, or the qualities of stadiums. I’m ranking how ideal it would be, as a visiting journalist, to watch a World Series there.
24. Kansas City. This is a wonderful town, and the place comes alive during the World Series, as I’ve seen twice now. The problem is that the stadium is so far away from downtown, with no public transit, that you’re sort of stuck out there no matter what time you leave. I understand why stadiums can’t be downtown in cities like Kansas City. But having to get in a car and sit in traffic for half an hour just to get out of the parking lot isn’t fun for anyone. Also: I don’t like barbecue as much as I’m apparently supposed to as a professional sportswriter.
23. Tampa Bay. Only beats Kansas City because you can walk a couple of places afterward, though, to be fair, I haven’t been to this stadium in more than 10 years. But who wants to be unleashed onto Florida streets at 1 a.m.?
22. Philadelphia. Fine city, but the sports complex is almost as far out as Kansas City’s is. At least they have public transit.
21. Cincinnati. I do not, in fact, find Skyline Chili gross, so I’m more up on this place than other people are. Also, the bridges downtown into Kentucky are excellent for running.
20. Cleveland. An underappreciated city that’s going to be a blast this week … but honestly, the RNC wore more out on Cleveland for a while, I think.
19. Minneapolis. Advantage: Pleasant stadium, active drinking establishments. Disadvantages: My god it’ll be so cold, and by the time you get out, most of the bars will be closed anyway. Though the way the planet is right now, I’m probably overstating it on the cold fears. It’s 53 degrees in Minneapolis right now. Will it even get to freezing by Thanksgiving? Will anywhere?
18. Baltimore. It has been a long time since I’ve been to Camden Yards, so I grant little recent expertise here. But it loses points again as an East Coast town – late starts, late exits – that isn’t known for having its hip nightspots open particularly late.
17. Anaheim. You can take a train from Anaheim to LA, but who wants to do that? The advantage of being out on the West Coast is dissipated by how far away you are from everything.
16. Washington. There’s more to do here than Baltimore, but you’re not quite near everything, and the train station is notoriously a nightmare postgame.
15. Oakland. The BART would get you right back into San Francisco afterward, but man those trains are going to be crowded in both directions. There are parts of Oakland that are nice than you think, but not necessarily right after a World Series game.
14. Milwaukee. The party will keep going on in the parking lot afterward, and this is a nicer city than you realize. Gotta do something about that crazy-ass sheriff, though.
13. New York. The problem here is that the stadiums are pretty far away from anywhere you’d want to hang out afterward; by the time you get back to your hotel, it’s basically 1:30 a.m. Still, lots of friends still here.
12. Boston. Gets the nod over New York because of all the options by the ballpark. Though in 2013, I had an early flight, so I went to bed, at that Howard Johnson right by the park, almost immediately after I filed my story. Thus I got to hear Boston fans going nuts all night celebrating their defeat of my team.
11. Phoenix. I’ve been here a lot for Arizona Cardinals games, and while it’s more spread out than I’d like, the baseball stadium is at least downtown. And when it’s not 120 degrees, it’s not even a bad city for foot traffic.
10. Seattle. I spent a long weekend out there this summer, and while it’s a lovely city, it’s also an oddly designed one. It’s one of those towns in which you think you can walk everywhere … but it’s actually sort of difficult. The early World Series start times would be pleasant, though.
9. Toronto. I had kinda been hoping I’d get this one. It’s an awesome, underrated city, and the place would be losing its mind. (Not that Cleveland won’t be.) Only real downsides would be the late nights and that I’d have to change my cellphone plan for a month.
8. Pittsburgh. A fantastic downtown and a gorgeous ballpark. Not a lot open in Pittsburgh postgame, the only real knock.
7. Chicago. Whether it’s the White Sox or the Cubs, it’ll be fun, though the Cubs have obvious advantages, neighborhood beveraging-wise. Plus, it’d be easy to find a bar showing the Illini football game.
6. San Francisco. Only as low as it is on this list because I’ve already been there so many damn times already. But lord that stadium.
5. Los Angeles. Now that downtown LA is more hopping than it was when I lived there, you’re not that far from anything anymore. Plus, the personal is a factor here too: These days I have almost as many friends in LA as I do in NYC anymore.
4. San Diego. Finally saw the city during the ASG this year. I’ll repeat what I said then: I have no idea why we don’t all live in San Diego.
3. Denver. Fantastic city, fantastic downtown, Mountain time zone start times and gorgeous mountain vistas. And weed, if you’re into that. If only the Rockies weren’t terrible, this would be a pretty amazing place for a World Series.
2. St. Louis. Bias, obviously, but also my parents would probably go to a game or two, and because everything’s downtown, I could meet them afterward. Also bias.
- Atlanta. Obviously tops the list because then I’d
get the best of both worlds: Being able to watch a World Series and
still being able to walk my kids to school in the morning. That’s a good
day, right there.
(Update on one of the small children: One of the small children is very excited about the Knicks’ season starting.)
Here is a numerical breakdown of all the things I wrote this week, in order of what I believe to be their quality. (This is an attempt to have an objective look at the value of my work in a way that I suspect will be difficult to sustain.)
- “Moonlight.” The Path Not Taken, The New Republic. This movie is amazing and I just did my best to do it justice.
- Maybe 2016 Really Is the Year For Cleveland Fans, Sports On Earth. We may all be counting on you, Cleveland.
- Cubs’ Confidence Might Turn into Fear Soon, Sports On Earth. Well, it made sense at the time.
- John Lackey Is an Insane Person, Sports On Earth. This isn’t even a reason to hate him. (There are many others.)
- “Jack Reacher.” Tom Cruise’s Last Action Hero, Sports On Earth. I am a Tom Cruise defender to the end. But yikes on this one.
- “The Accountant.” Good Will Hunted, The New Republic. It went up a day late, but this movie is still pretty silly.
- Everyone’s Eyes Will Be on Wrigley Field This Weekend, Sports On Earth. Mine sure as hell will be.
- NLCS Preview: Cubs vs. Dodgers, Sports On Earth. Guess who I picked to win?!
- The History of Great Game Fives, Sports On Earth. Lots of Cardinals games in this one.
- David Axelrod on the Election of a Lifetime, Bloomberg Politics. This podcast was one of my favorites we’ve done, and I even got to try to mock the Cubs to David Axelrod a bit. (Poorly.)
- World Series Bracket Final Four, Sports On Earth. Final Four. We’re losing votes each time, which should probably tell me something.
As I say every week: If you are the sort to subscribe to a weekly newsletter, I would have to think it wouldn’t be too much of a hassle to subscribe to one of the four (!) podcasts I do. Here they are:
Grierson & Leitch, chatting about “The Accountant,” “Certain Women,” “Christine” and “Pink Floyd: The Wall.”
The Will Leitch Experience, previewing the NLCS with Alyson Footer.
Culture Caucus, the aforementioned David Axelrod chat.
Waitin’ Since Last Saturday, recapping the awful Vanderbilt game. It’s an offweek, so we taped a lunchtime midseason wrapup that’ll go up this weekend.
Also, here is this week’s Pro Football Now.
Also here is a photo from my last trip to Cleveland. It will be calmer this time I hope?
Have a great weekend, everyone. Let’s still go Dodgers.