Wednesday, June 1, 2016

All MLB Weekday Day Games, The Ultimate Baseball Road Trip. (For Me, At Least.)

The author at a recent Giants day game
I’ve always wanted to do an “ultimate baseball road trip.” But I also want it to be different than all the other “ultimate” road trips out there. So many crazy road trip warriors have done “30 cities in 30 days.”  Every year, Will Leitch figures out how to do all the stadiums in the beginning of the year in as close to 30 days as possible. Marlins Man goes to every Sunday Night Baseball game.

These are all great trips. But they didn't appeal to me, because they've been done. I finally figured it out: I want to go to only weekday day games in as many stadiums as possible.

That’s because baseball was originally, obviously, only played in the daytime. The first night game in the majors didn’t happen until 1938. From 1903 through 1969, the World Series was only played in the daytime. The first World Series baseball game at night was in 1970 between the Pirates and the Orioles.

So for me, true baseball is daytime baseball. And weekday baseball is even more true baseball because you have to want to be there. It makes even the most boring game special. You take the day off work or school (by calling in “sick” or planning it out). I try to go to day baseball whenever possible.

The problem is that unless you’re on the North Side of Chicago, weekday day games are extremely rare. Weekday day games are now called “getaway days” because it allows both teams to get to their next city within a reasonable time, and not at 4 in the morning. Typically they happen Wednesdays and Thursdays, so that means this trip is going to take until the end of the season. 

We better start effective now: June 1st. It also makes sense because I would prefer to not be outside in Minnesota during an April snowstorm. Maybe that’s just me.

The rules: Only day games, and never on holidays unless it makes sense. My trip, my rules. There are only two teams that can qualify for “it makes sense” and the schedule makers actually did that right this year.

After scouring every schedule, I find that only one team doesn’t have a weekday day game the rest of the season- the Baltimore Orioles. I have no idea why. Only one team has exactly one weekday day game. And I’m trying to avoid traveling long distances on back-to-back day games. The Cubs have 16 weekday day games, so I’m going to list all of the feasible ones and we’ll see which one(s) work out.

So with those restrictions in mind, here’s what I came up with.

Day game action shot, Giants catcher Trevor Brown has just caught the ball

Wednesday, June 1st:  Milwaukee Brewers hosting St. Louis Cardinals
As a Bay Area guy, originally I had the A’s and Twins at the Coliseum to start off things easy. But that would end up resulting in a Florida-Wisconsin back-to-back trip later in the year, and the hell with that.

Thursday, June 2nd and Friday, June 3rd: Chicago Cubs host LA Dodgers (Thurs.), Arizona Diamondbacks (Fri)
You know what? That’s totally doable. It’s like 90 minutes from Milwaukee to Chicago.  I could take the 8 a.m. Hiawatha from Milwaukee to Chicago on the 2nd and make it to Wrigley in plenty of time. And then hit the Wrigley bleachers on consecutive days. A heck of a good start to the trip.

Wednesday, June 8th: San Diego Padres host Atlanta Braves
Shouldn’t the Padres have weekday day games all summer? They only have six. Oh wait, it’s San Diego. There’s too much to do in the daytime in the summer. Okay, that makes sense.

Thursday, June 16th: Tampa Bay Rays host Seattle Mariners
 Gotta get to the Sunshine Bingo Parlor sometime. Might as well be against the former Kingdome residents. Kind of like when people who uses to live in an apartment buy a house and then go back to visit their former neighbors. “Oh yeah, I remember why we moved now. This sucks.”

Wednesday, June 22nd: New York Yankees host Colorado Rockies
The first back-to-back begins in the Bronx. And the first interleague game of the trip at that.

Thursday, June 23rd: Boston Red Sox host Chicago White Sox
Had to be done. Back-to-back day games in Manhattan and the Hub.   

Saturday, June 25th: Day-night doubleheader, Baltimore Orioles host Tampa Bay Rays
The Orioles might be punks for not having a weekday day game, but a day-night Saturday doubleheader almost makes up for it- but not quite. It’s also our first repeat team of the trip with the Rays as the visitors this time around.

Monday, June 27th: Pittsburgh Pirates host LA Dodgers
Why do the Pirates play a day game on a Monday? I looked it up and it’s apparently bizarro getaway day, as Pittsburgh is in Seattle the next night. I’m not going to complain, it makes my travel schedule easier. 4 stadiums in 6 days, even getting those day-game hating Orioles into the mix.

Wednesday, June 29th: LA Angels of Anaheim, Azusa and Cucamonga host Houston Astros
This is a must-see, because this is the Angels only 12:30 weekday day game start the rest of the year. They have a few 4 o’clock starts, which doesn’t make sense to me. Frankly, the Angels don’t make sense to me anyway.

June totals: 9 stadiums, 1 back-to-back, 1 back-to-back Wrigley Field, 1 interleague game, 1 repeat team (Tampa)

Friday, July 1st: Toronto Blue Jays host Cleveland Indians
It’s Canada Day and the Blue Jays have a day game at home. You think I’m not going to that game? Come on.

Monday, July 4th: Washington Nationals host Milwaukee Brewers
Yes, it’s the American Holiday, but it’s a weekday and it’s a day game, and why wouldn’t you do this if you could? It makes too much sense. It’s even a special early start, 11:05 A.M. July 4th in D.C. watching day baseball, that’s almost too much Americana.

Wednesday, July 6th: New York Mets host Florida Marlins
Back to NYC. Nothing very intriguing about this game from where it stands right now except getting to see the unique architecture, which has more nods to the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants than it does to anything the Mets have done.

Friday, July 15th: Chicago Cubs host Texas Rangers
An option. I like to avoid interleague games on general principle, especially when Wrigley Field is involved.

Wednesday, July 20th: Arizona Diamondbacks host Toronto Blue Jays
Air conditioning a must for Phoenix in July. 1st must-see interleague game of the month, and 1st repeat team with the Jays.

Wednesday, July 27th: Florida Marlins host Philadelphia Phillies
Only the Braves are preventing these teams from being in last place in the NL East. Our 2nd repeat team of the month, the Marlins. I might call to make sure this game starts at noon and be asked, “What time can you get here?” Can you tell the Marlins do not excite me at all?

Friday, July 29th: Chicago Cubs host Seattle Mariners
Again, an interleague game at Wrigley. Not my favorite idea.

July totals: 5 stadiums, no back-to-backs, 2 optional Wrigley Field games, 1 interleague game, 2 repeat teams (Toronto, Marlins)

Thursday, August 4th: Philadelphia Phillies host San Francisco Giants
As a Giants fan, I might as well go to all three games of this series (Tuesday and Wednesday night as well as the Thursday day game) and hang out in Philly for a bit, because cheesesteaks and why not. Maybe the Eagles are having training camp and I can go heckle players with the rest of the Philly faithful. This is the final weekday day game for the Phillies this year, and just their 3rd after Memorial Day. 

Wednesday, August 10th, LA Dodgers host Philadelphia Phillies
I can kind of get the Phillies avoiding summer day games because of humidity, but this is also the Dodgers 3rd and final weekday day game after Memorial Day. I don’t really get that, because a summer weekday at Chavez Ravine ought to be a beautiful thing, and therefore worth doing more often than 3 times a summer.

Thursday, August 11th: Oakland A’s host Baltimore Orioles
A super-easy back-to-back. A quick flight up the coast in the morning- there are about five million flights from LA to Oakland per day- and then BART to the Coliseum. What’s great is that the connecting BART station to get to the airport is the Coliseum Station. Too easy.  

Monday, August 15th: Cleveland Indians host Boston Red Sox
A fortunate occurrence, as this is a make-up game from a rainout on April 7th. Works for me!

Who wouldn't want to see this view again?
Wednesday, August 17th: San Francisco Giants host Pittsburgh Pirates
As a Bay Area native, I have already been to a Giants weekday day game this year. Originally I didn’t have them on this trip, because I’d already been. But the more I went through it, the more I realized I had to have them on here. So I do.
Monday, August 22nd: Cincinnati Reds host LA Dodgers
Not a bizarro getaway day or a make-up game. The Reds apparently have “Business Days” throughout the season, so this is one of them. The Dodgers have a home game the next night, but it’s not the worst flight in the world to go from Cincy to LA.

Wednesday, August 24th: Seattle Mariners host New York Yankees
Lots of eastern transplants in the west, so this might actually have a big crowd, and mostly pro-Yankees at that.

Thursday, August 25th: Minnesota Twins host Detroit Tigers
I was once stuck at the Seattle airport for hours in the dead of winter because of a weather delay and ended up taking a redeye from Seattle to Minneapolis. That started a vacation I rarely talk about, because that flight was one of the more pleasant parts of the trip, if you can believe it. I don’t mind this long back-to-back if only to try and make up for that.

Wednesday, August 31st: Texas Rangers host Seattle Mariners
An August afternoon in Dallas. Don’t pretend like you’re not jealous.

August totals: 9 stadiums, 2 and a half back-to-backs, 0 feasible Wrigley Field visits, 0 interleague games (whoo-hoo!), and several repeats- Giants, Phillies, Dodgers, Mariners.

Thursday, September 1st: Atlanta Braves host San Diego Padres
Dallas to the ATL. For someone who has very little idea about the geography of the American South, this feels like it should be shorter or equal to the trip from LA to Oakland, and that’s 500 miles. I will not walk 500 miles, and I will not walk 500 more just to be the guy who walks a thousand miles for a baseball game.

Da-da-da-da! (Da-da-da-da!)

Bonus points if you didn’t need this link to figure out what I’m talking about.

Anyway, it’s almost exactly the same, down to the subway ride to the ballpark. 2 hours from Dallas to the ATL, (Delta has approximately as many non-stop flights as Hank Aaron has home runs). But then it's time for MARTA and not BART. It doesn't go direct to the ballpark, so it requires a shuttle transfer. But that'll work out just fine as long as I get to the park in time.

Unintentional coincidence: on consecutive days, visiting early-to-mid-90’s “renaissance parks” now deemed unworthy.

Bonus side trip option: Atlanta Falcons host Jacksonville Jaguars in their final preseason NFL game that night at the Georgia Dome, yet another perfectly serviceable stadium that is getting thrown into the trash pile next year.

Extra Bonus side trip option: Saturday, September 3rd, college football, Georgia vs. North Carolina at the Georgia Dome as well.

Monday, September 5th Day game hosts: Reds, Rockies, Marlins, Tampa, A’s, Mariners, Yankees
 A holiday, so this is a completely optional day. Maybe if there are two teams with playoff hopes, or maybe the two worst teams, or maybe none of the above.

Wednesday, September 7th: Chicago White Sox host Detroit Tigers
A classic American League matchup where I am guaranteed to be one of 12 people at this game, I don’t care how well either club is doing at the time.

Wednesday, September 14th: St. Louis Cardinals host Chicago Cubs
You know, for being supposedly such a big baseball town, the Cards have a lot fewer summer weekday day games than I would have expected. They have two. Two! I get it, humidity. But two? At least this is a Cubs game and the joint should be jumping.

Thursday, September 16th: Chicago White Sox host Cleveland Indians
If I’m super burnt after being in Atlanta, maybe skip the 7th and do a back-to-back here to get the Sox in. Because that would mean a potential triple-play as the next day…

Friday, September 16th: Chicago Cubs host Milwaukee Brewers
Come on, hitting both Chicago stadiums on consecutive days? That would be worthy…

Monday, September 19th: Kansas City Royals host Chicago White Sox
Here we have another Monday day game. And another makeup game, from a rainout at the end of May. KC has a good park, too. Been there plenty of times, saw Cal Ripken on consecutive Opening Days during “The Streak” in the late 90’s.

Wednesday, September 21st: Colorado Rockies host St. Louis Cardinals
I did not expect the Rockies to have so many weekday day games. They and the A’s have 8, tied for the 2nd-most non-holiday weekday day games post-Memorial Day (every baseball team is in the top-10 in something).

Friday, September 23rd: Chicago Cubs host St. Louis Cardinals
Saw the Cards host the Cubs, now the reverse on the final Cubs home weekday day game of the year. That’s happening.

Wednesday, September 28th: Houston Astros host Seattle Mariners
The Astros final home game of the year. An easy call.

Thursday, September 29th: Detroit Tigers host Cleveland Indians
It’s the Tigers final home game of the year as well, and the final weekday day game of the year in baseball (the Nats start 5 minutes earlier, so there). Yes, not the most convenient back-to-back, but who said going to 30 weekday day games would be a walk in the park? Oh wait, it will be, and that’s the point. 

Who's with me? See you at the park- in the daytime, when baseball was meant to be played.

September totals: 6 new stadiums, 1 and a half for-sure back-to-backs, 1 potential triple-header, 0 interleague games, 2 potential Wrigley Field games, at least 2 repeats (White Sox, Cardinals) and maybe more (Tigers, Cubs, Indians).

Trip totals: 29 weekday day games in 29 different stadiums, (Baltimore, get with the program!),  5 back-to-backs, 1 potential triple-header, 5 potential bonus Wrigley Field games, only 2 interleague games, and 2 National Holidays in the appropriate country.

Who doesn't want to be here?

All photos by the author

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