The 2015 World Series is turning out to be different than most analysts would guess. After a cliffhanger 5-4 victory in 14 innings during Game 1, the Kansas City Royals took a dominating 2-0 lead in the series when the team – fueled by an inability by New York Mets’ Jacob deGrom to get the Royals to “take the bait” and swing and miss at his fastballs – gave the Mets an uncharacteristic 1-7 Game 2 loss at Kauffman Stadium. As the series moves to New York City and Citi Field for a three-game run, two cities hold their breath.
For one thing, sweet redemption for a heartbreaking 2014 World Series loss and the 30-year wait for a second MLB championship is two wins away (both on the road). For the other, the long road back to victory – in which, historically, the Mets only have a 17.1 percent chance of success – begins in front of a home crowd. And that home crowd has been waiting 29 years for their “other team” to claim the Commissioner’s Trophy.
For Mets and Royals fans, this series is an act of destiny and the fulfillment of a long and difficult wait for validation. For one of these teams, a more than 28-year wait will come to an end – raising the stakes for their respective fan bases to epic levels. For most fans, the absolute best place to be to see this chapter of history unfold is at the stadium, surrounded by thousands of like-minded devotees eager to share in on history.
However, there are only so many seats available for each World Series game. For those who cannot score a seat to the Big Show, watching the game at a sports bar is the next best thing. Sports bars can range from corner dives that regularly show the current game to multi-level entertainment destinations. Even the smallest of towns typically has more than one choice of where to watch the game, and choosing the right spot can ultimately make the difference in enjoying the game.
Several bars come up repeatedly in discussions about the best bars to see the World Series this year in New York City and Kansas City. These include Foley’s in Manhattan, New York – which renamed itself “Daniel Murphy’s Pub & Restaurant” in honor of the Mets; the Beer Garden at Bohemian Hall in Astoria, New York; McFadden’s Saloon and Restaurant, which has franchises in Flushing, New York, and in Kansas City; and Kansas City’s 810 Zone. While many of these bars are known as unofficial second homes for the teams – hosting interview sessions and ex-players, for example – these bars have won their reputations at the places to watch the game because of the atmosphere of their game-day service.
“Like any Mets fan, I would rather watch the game at Citi Field,” Daniel Gargiulo, a manager at McFadden’s Restaurant and Saloon’s Midtown Manhattan location, said to Fanatics. “You will never know when the next time this will happen, so you would always want to actually be in a seat at the stadium. But – and this is not just because I work here – when the Mets are playing, I still like to come to McFadden’s because I know the atmosphere here. The World Series is not the time when you want to go to a bar and sit next to someone not into the game. This place is the next best thing to being at Citi Field; with the energy and cheering and signs, you can almost imagine you are watching the game in person.”
This article will look at four of the most recognized baseball bars – McFadden’s of Flushing, McFadden’s of Kansas City, Rival’s Sports Bar of Kansas City, and Foley’s of New York City – to see how these institutions became the must-go place to see the game.
McFadden’s Restaurant & Saloon @ Citi Field, Flushing, New York
Within the array of New York City drinking holes, McFadden’s holds a special place. Located behind the bullpen gate at Citi Field, the Irish bar has been New York’s place to cheer on the Mets since TBS featured it on the “fan cam” during its coverage of the National League Championship Series. The coverage made McFadden’s the place to be part of Mets history. “I guess the best word to describe it would be magical,” Amani Mousa, the manager of McFadden’s at Citi Field, told the Village Voice. “I mean, people were lining up. They would arrive early just so they could make sure that they were sitting on the side of the bar that was being taped. Everyone got so into it.”
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Not so much a separate location as an annex for the franchise’s flagship location in Midtown Manhattan when the Mets have a home game, the Citi Field bar has become the fount for Mets excitement. During the NLCS, when the Mets had big moments – such as second baseman Daniel Murphy’s record-breaking home runs scored in six consecutive postseason games – TBS found an excuse to cut to McFadden’s, where pandemonium over the Mets reigns.
McFadden’s has a special relationship with the Mets. Due to the Citi Field location’s proximity, the bar has served as a second clubhouse for the franchise, with ex-players regularly showing up to sign autographs and to conduct meet-and-greets. A patron sitting at the bar at McFadden’s can easily hear the sounds and commotion of the field. It was the Mets that recommended McFadden’s to TBS, and it’s likely safe to assume that TBS’s coverage persuaded FOX to continue using McFadden’s for fan reactions.
“Pretty much every bar in New York City tried to capitalize on this conference series and the division series and put on their happy hour specials to draw in a crowd,” Mousa said. “But people already associate McFadden’s Citi Field with the Mets, and they know that we’re the place to be before, after, and during the game.”
“We’re the true home to Mets fans – any other bar would be like a duplicate. No disrespect to them, but you really can’t compete with us.”
Somewhere between a dive bar and a destination, McFadden’s is known for its raucous, hard-partying staff, easygoing nature, and comfortable atmosphere. This has been known to get out of control, as was the case in 2008 when – at the Midtown location – a man wearing a FDNY T-shirt got in a fight with a group of firefighters that spread to include approximately 20 people and led to the arrest of two firefighters. The bar closed following the incident and reopened under new management.
Depending on when you attend, the bar can be called a college bar, an after-college bar, a yuppie bar, a sports bar, or a reporter’s bar. But, despite all this, the bar is one of New York’s most popular, which has led to many imitators. It is not unlikely to have business magnates, actors, and politicians drinking at the bar at the same time as ordinary New Yorkers and tourists.
Above all else, McFadden’s is a Mets bar, which is extended to all bars under the franchise – franchisees typically give specials and discounts when the Mets play. For a New Yorker who can’t get a ticket to Citi Field – and for many who can, but just want a place to get a drink – there is no place better than McFadden’s.
“I haven’t had the chance to talk to many of our patrons about the World Series, but from those I have, there is real excitement,” said Garguilo. “Many have brought in signs and you can feel the energy with this crowd. It’s an amazing thing to be part of.”
McFadden’s Sports Saloon, Kansas City, Missouri
— McFadden's KC (@McFaddensKC) October 27, 2015
It’s a strange thing to be at a Mets bar in Royals Country. However, for the McFadden’s franchise in Kansas City, this doesn’t seem to be a problem. Following the Royals’ 2014 sweep of the American League division series, Kansas City Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer held a one-hour Happy Hour at McFadden’s during which he picked up the tab for everyone to show appreciation of their support over the year. The bar tab totaled about $15,000, of which Hosmer paid $3,000. His teammates covered the rest.
Despite the fact that it is a franchise of the Manhattan flagship bar, Kansas City’s McFadden’s Saloon has become a standout in the city’s mixed-use Power & Light District. In the free-spirited district – which is the only place in the city that permits drinking on the streets – the high-tech venue, which includes multiple high-definition plasma TVs, large projection screens, digital surround sound, and drink specials when the game is on, has become the popular spot to watch the game.
It also helps that the bar’s older sister is regularly featured in the World Series telecast.
Foley’s New York Pub and Restaurant, New York, New York
For many Irish, the somber ballad “Danny Boy” has become an unfortunate stereotype for all things Irish; almost an anthem to wrap up and quantify the American interpretation of what it means to be Irish in North America – good, bad, correct, and incorrect. While the song itself – an ode to great sacrifice and lost – is within itself not offensive, its overuse has taken on a special meaning within itself.
One bar in New York City decided to do something about it. In a moment that the bar still proudly promotes, the bar banned the playing of “Danny Boy” for the month of March 2008. The argument made? It is overplayed at the expense of other Irish songs, it is one of the most depressing songs of all times, and it was written by a man who has never set foot in Ireland. The ban brought Foley’s international coverage, including a skit on Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report” and simultaneous front page coverage on AOL, MSN, Comcast, and Yahoo!
For Foley’s – temporarily renamed Daniel Murphy’s Pub & Restaurant in recognition of the Mets’ record-making slugger – it is these types of stunts that made it one of New York City’s best-known and most beloved Irish and baseball bars. The home of the Irish American Baseball Hall of Fame, the bar takes seriously its love of the game and of its owner’s heritage, which has led to the bar having regular patrons such as Mets third baseman David Wright. Only a decade old, the bar feels older due to a manufactured authenticity, such as the presentation of antique scorecards and bricks from Chicago’s Wrigley Field.
“There’s really no baseball bar like this in New York,” said a patron to The New York Times. “It’s kind of like they deconstructed baseball down to its essence.”
Among the memorabilia in the bar are stadium seats, World Series rings, over 3,000 autographed baseballs, and an assortment of bobbleheads. Currently, Foley’s is regularly at capacity as the Mets continue their hunt for their long-awaited World Series title. Owner Shaun Clancy has indicated that the name change may be permanent should Murphy have an extraordinary performance in the World Series and the Mets win.
Rivals Sports Bar, Kansas City, Missouri
As Citi Field has McFadden’s, Kauffman Stadium has Rivals Sports Bar, which is located just beyond the stadium’s right-field fountains. Featuring floor-to-ceiling glass, the bar offers one of the best views of the game available in the stadium. With a 360-degree bar, a 103-inch flat-screen TV, and retractable warehouse doors that allow an open-air setting, this ticket holder–only bar offers a sense of class for fans who want to seek a more comfortable way to enjoy the game.
Rivals is owned by the Royals organization and is ran by Aramark; as such, it is functionally a second clubhouse in the ballpark. While the chance of meeting an ex-player here is not as high as at McFadden’s, you can reserve a table against the glass, overlooking first base and offering an exceptional view of the game.