Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Summer MLB Weekday Day Games 2018

Where would you rather be?
It's post-All-Star Break, which means it's time to enjoy summer to the fullest. And one of the best ways to do that is by skipping work completely and going to weekday day game baseball. Frankly, this is also a good idea in April. But when the weather is good and the games can be a lot more meaningful, it's an even better idea.

There are more teams doing weekday day games this year because of a new rule in the Collective Bargaining Agreement requiring "getaway day" games to actually be day games if a team has to travel more than three hours. For instance, last year the Braves scheduled a Thursday night series-ender against the Giants. That game was delayed due to rain and did not start until 9 pm Eastern. It ended after midnight, so the Giants didn't get out of Atlanta till close to 3 am and had a game at home the next night. They got shellacked, as you might expect. Now, you know if the Braves had been the ones heading west after that game they damn well would have scheduled a day game. Because it was the visitors the Braves didn't give a damn. Similar situations helped get the rule changed. This year, that game would be a day game.

The biggest issue regarding a day game is, what is a cutoff time for a day game? For me, it's a 2 pm start. Anything after 2, it's an afternoon game, which is different than a day game. 4 pm games are right out.

The Dodgers and the Orioles are notorious in my book for refusing to schedule any summertime weekday day games. I'll give it away right now, it's impossible to go to Dodger Stadium or Camden Yards for a weekday day game the rest of this season, unless they do a make-up game sometime.

 The Angels, Red Sox, Rangers, Pirates, Braves, Padres and Marlins rarely do summer day games. A few of those team you can understand why because of the summer heat, but the others... will we be able to get to them on this travel itinerary? Oh, the suspense!!!!

I used to have a rule saying "games on holidays don't count," but I allow for the Blue Jays to be home on Canada Day and the Nationals to be home on the 4th of July, because they're always day games. It would be a great trip, and it was again possible this year. So that's where we start this journey...  

Sunday, 7/1: Tigers at Blue Jays

Our lone Sunday day game qualifier, because it's Canada Day. (and also I really want one of these giveaway hats. Yes, I could buy one very similar and have it shipped to me, but that ruins the "I got it at the Canada Day game" idea). 
Wednesday, 7/4:  Red Sox at Nationals

I hit upon this idea of the "Independence Day Double" a few years ago and I think it would be amazing to compare how its done in both places. Last year probably would have been great, considering it was Canada's 150th birthday, and I wrote it up here. But really, it would be great any year. (Note that why the Blue Jays give away hats, the Nats give away zilch.)

Naturally, the team with the most day games is the Cubs. The number has been dwindling, but generally they have from 25-30 home day games, which is less than half of their total home games. But that's still twice as many as most other teams. The ballpark at 1260 West Addison also is the only place to have any Friday home day games, which means that it'll be easy to get to Wrigley.

I'll note all the Cubs home day games along the way, starting with

Friday, 7/6: Reds at Cubs.

Most weekday day games are Wednesdays. And so we'll kick off our journey in earnest on...

Wednesday, 7/11:  Nats at Pirates

I did not expect to cross PNC off the list this early, if at all. The Pirates, despite having a beautiful ballpark on the river, rarely have weekday day games. They attribute this to the tendency for summer afternoon thunderstorms, and they do have delays, but I'd rather be at the ballpark in the summer rain than a lot of places.

(other optional games on this day: Royals at Twins, Cubs at Giants, Tigers at Rays)

Thursday, 7/12:  A's at Astros

A back-to-back to get started, because if you're gonna go for it, you gotta go for it. About a three-hour flight, but the reverse time change makes it two hours and totally do-able in the morning. As World Series champions, the Astros have kicked up their slate of weekday day games, possibly because of the new CBA, but also perhaps because people are more likely to go see the champs no matter when they play. They could schedule a game for 6 am or midnight and people would go.... this year.

(other game today: Dbacks at Rockies)

Friday, 7/20: Cards at Cubs

Tuesday, 7/24: Braves at Marlins

Tuesday day games are weird, and two-game series against teams in the same division are weird, and Marlins day games are weird because they have attendance problems completely opposite the Astros. So this game should be weird.

Wednesday, 7/25: Padres at Mets

Now the day game that makes sense today, given that we're already in Florida, is Yankees at Rays. But because the Mets next and last home weekday day game doesn't fit, we're headed to Flushing for our first back-to-back.

(the multitude of other day games today: Dodgers at Phillies, Cardinals at Reds, Pirates at Indians, Nats at Brewers, Tigers at Royals, Dbacks at Cubs, Giants at Mariners)

Thursday, 7/26: White Sox at Angels

And make it back-to-back-to-back with our first cross-country flight in order to get the Angels on the list. Going from NYC to LA with the reverse time shift should make it a little easier.

(also today: Dbacks at Cubs)

Tuesday, 7/31: Giants at Padres

Another Tuesday day game, another two-game series between division rivals, and despite being in a great place to be in the daytime during the summer the Padres rarely have weekday day games. Or maybe that's why they rarely do. That's the only thing I can figure out.

Wednesday, 8/1:  Astros at Mariners

I originally had Reds at Tigers here, but I like to avoid flying cross-country as much as possible, which would happen if I kept them here. As is, the San Diego to Seattle flight is 1,000 miles, so about three hours, but perfectly reasonable.

(also: Mets at Nats, Orioles at Yankees, Indians at Twins, Blue Jays at A's, )

Thursday, 8/2: Rockies at Cardinals

 Back-to-back-to-back, part II. Seattle to St. Louis is closer to a four-hour trip with the time change, but you gotta do what you gotta do. For allegedly being a great baseball town, St. Louis rarely has summer day games. Of course, it's slightly humid there in the summer. But Stan Musial and Dizzy Dean played their entire careers in wool during the day in St. Louis, so what the hell?

(also: Royals at White Sox, Angels at Rays)

Friday, 8/3: Padres at Cubs

Tuesday 8/7: Astros at Giants

a Tuesday day game finishing a two-game series against a non-division rival- interleague, no less- makes sense. Any excuse to go to AT&T is a good one.

Wednesday, 8/8:  Phillies at Dbacks

an easy flight and we can be glad for domes in the desert in August.

(also: Reds at Mets, Mariners at Rangers, Pirates at Rockies, Tigers at Angels)

Thursday, 8/9: Padres at Brewers

back-to-back-to-back, part III. three hour flight, not bad at all from PHX to MKE (Milwaukee's airport code is MKE because Milan is MIL. Although Italy would be a good vacation, that's not keeping with our plan).

(also: Braves at Nats, Twins at Indians)

Friday, 8/10: Nats at Cubs

And our first back-to-back-to-back-to-back! (Yes, there will be another.) In my early planning into seeing day games a few years ago I realized that because Milwaukee and Chicago are so close it would be very easy to do a back-to-back with them. I even have the travel figured out: stay in Milwaukee after their day game and then take the morning commuter train to Chicago with the rest of the working stiffs, making them jealous.

Tuesday, 8/14: Brewers at Cubs

Wednesday, 8/15: White Sox at Tigers

I originally had Mariners at A's for today, but because tomorrow is going to be travel-heavy, I switched it to Minnesota hosting the Pirates, and then to Detroit because we'll get to the Twins. It seems like they have a lot more day games in Detroit this year, at least that's how I see it. Maybe that downtown revitalization thing is really working?

(also: Brewers at Cubs)

Thursday, 8/16: Rays at Yankees AND Mets at Phillies (4pm DH)

And here it is. The plan as it stands now: fly from Detroit to NYC, either early morning or late after the game (2-and-a-half hours flight time), find a good deli and hit Yankee Stadium for the early game, then train it to Philly for game 2 of the DH, which shouldn't start until 8 or so. This allows for a special night game exemption. And late-night cheesesteaks. Pat's and Geno's, let's do both because we've earned it.

Wednesday, 8/22: Twins at White Sox

Checking off New Comiskey. It'll be us and 50 other die-hards.

(also: Orioles at Blue Jays, Reds at Brewers, Rangers at A's, Astros at Mariners)

Thursday, 8/23: Indians at Red Sox

What a change that will be, going from empty Comiskey to full Fenway. should be a pretty good game as well.

(also: Phillies at Nationals, Padres at Rockies, Giants at Mets,- this is that Mets game I mentioned we couldn't get to earlier- and White Sox at Tigers, a rare case of two consecutive day games for a team and not involving the Cubs at all. That's because Tigers are starting a series with the White Sox in the daytime under the guise of "Grandparents Day," apparently to ensure you can make the game and the early bird special at whichever chain restaurant you like the best.)

Friday, 8/24: Reds at Cubs

Saturday, 8/25: Yanks at Orioles, split DH

our only possible Saturday exception to get in Camden Yards, a split doubleheader with a 1:05 first pitch. The Orioles never have weekday day games after Memorial Day, which I really can't figure out. It's such a nice park. 

Wednesday, 8/29: Tigers at Royals

the Kaufman/Arrowhead Stadium complex is out in the country but it's really well done. One of the best examples of 70's ballpark architecture. Actually, it is the best because it still exists. Very glad they had the land to build two parks and didn't do a Vet/3 Rivers/Riverfront type thing, since all four were built around the same time.

(also: Mets at Cubs, A's at Astros, Mariners at Padres)

Thursday, 8/30: Twins at Indians

and staying at least an extra day to visit the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame. Too bad the Browns aren't home.

(also: Brewers at Reds)

Monday, 9/3, Labor Day: 

this is the day to get to Dodger Stadium, even though it's a 5pm start hosting the Mets. I have to check it off if at all possible, and here it is possible. They have a Sunday day game, so maybe either. or both.

(day games: Cards at Nats, Phils at Marlins, Red Sox at Braves, Reds at Pirates, Cubs at Brewers, Tigers at White Sox, Twins at Astros, Giants at Rockies, Yankees at A's)

Wednesday, 9/5: Red Sox at Braves

Few fans realize that the Red Sox and Braves have a long history together, for they were both in Boston for more than 50 years. And for a lot of that time, both of them were terrible. Ted Williams is largely responsible for swinging loyalties to the A.L. team. Over the '52 off-season Braves were keen to move to Milwaukee, where the Brewers were their top farm team. Just weeks before the '53 season started, as soon as permission was granted to move to Milwaukee, they just flat left. Braves Field was supposed to host the All-Star game that year! (They hurridly gave it to Cincinnati.)

(After the Braves moved to Atlanta, Milwaukee also got the one-time Seattle Pilots in spring training, but even later- a week before Opening Day! The big rig hauling their equipment stopped in Provo, Utah, and waited to see what interstate he would take. The move happened so late that the new Brewers played in Pilots uniforms with the logo ripped off.)

(also: Royals at Indians)

Wednesday, 9/12: Dodgers at Reds

Cincy off the list!

(also: Indians at Rays, Astros at Tigers, Pirates at Cardinals, Braves at Giants)

Thursday, 9/13: Dbacks at Rockies

The Rockies tend to have a lot of weekday day games, so in making the schedule I always end up getting to them late. In a way it's their fault for having so many, but it's a nice problem to have.

Friday, 9/14: Reds at Cubs

Tuesday, 9/18: Red Sox at Yankees

You think we're not going to a Red Sox-Yankees day game with playoff berths on the line? Are you crazy? 

Wednesday, 9/19: Rays at Rangers 

Frankly, I don't blame the Rangers for not scheduling a lot of weekday day games in Dallas in the summer.

(also: Cardinals at Braves, Twins at Tigers)

Thursday, 9/20: Angels at A's

I don't like cramming in the Coliseum like this. But it almost makes sense because the light-rail to the Oakland Airport starts at the Coliseum Station. So easy in and easy out.

Friday, 9/21: Cubs at White Sox

because we are absolutely going to a Cubs/White Sox game at Comiskey. I don't care that we've already been to Comiskey, we're doing this.

Thursday, 9/27: Yankees at Rays

in the final week of the season, we're crossing Tampa off the list, even though we were really close when we saw the Marlins in July. Blame the Mets for not having more day games. Just another thing the Mets suck at.

(also: Phillies at Rockies)

Friday, 9/28: White sox at Twins (noon split dh)

Now, would it make sense to end this day game adventure at Wrigley, Cards and Cubs? Of course it would. But that would mean we'd have to re-engineer the schedule to get the Twins in there, and they have already scheduled a makeup of a rainout against the White Sox to be part of a split doubleheader on the final weekday of the season. So we're going to a doubleheader to finish this out.

So how many ballparks? How did we do?

For the first time since I've been making this proposed journey, we've hit EVERY PARK!!!!!

And we'll be seeing weekday day games in 28 of the 30 parks, the only exceptions being, as I told you at the top, Baltimore and Dodger Stadium. We'll be in Toronto on Sunday, but that's a special exemption for Canada Day.

We'll be at Wrigley Field twice (with plenty of optional stops), Comiskey Park twice, and Yankee Stadium twice.

The cost? Money is.... uh, not an object here. Weekday day game baseball is, and that's what we've accomplished. Let's do it again next year!

all photos by the author (while watching the Giants)

I'm here, where are you?

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