Tuesday, January 18, 2005

This spring's baseball trip

I'm about 78% sure it'll be to Florida.

For those of you who don't know me, I'm working on getting to all the MLB stadiums. Eight more to go. These eight sort of clump themselves into three not-quite-geographic groups: Cincy/Pitt/Philly/Washington, Atlanta/Tampa/Florida, and San Diego. Now, with the end of my major league stadium quest in sight (even though they keep opening new ones, like in St. Louis in 2006), I've had to develop a new quest; to go to a minor league game in each of the fifty states. Eight down, 42 to go. It has become my tradition to take a baseball trip in the spring and another one in the summer, plus my baby's and my traditional July 4th minor league game, which will likely be local this year. I have nine days to make my trip, although I'd like to keep it to 5 or 6 days for budgetary reasons. Here, as I see it, are my options:

OPTION ONE: San Diego. Then what? Catch a minor league game in SoCal, maybe find my way across to my college buddy in Phoenix, possibly head up to Vegas for a game and some foolishness.

OPTION TWO: The Midwest. Probably just Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, with minor league game possibilities in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and West Virginia.

OPTION THREE: Florida, Tampa and Atlanta, with minor league game possibilities in Florida, Georgia, and maybe even the Carolinas.

OPTION FOUR: Washington and Philadelphia, with minor league game possibilities in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey.

Option one...well, it doesn't look as good as the others. I could see the Padres' beautiful new park and the Mariners' single-A affiliate in San Bernadino, but it'd be tough to make it across to Phoenix, and if I got there, I'd have to choose between Las Vegas and Tucson for minor league action, since they're at home on the same days. Seems like very few ballparks for this year. Maybe next summer the schedule will fall better for me.

Option two: impossible. The Reds and Pirates aren't at home until Friday and Saturday. As much as I'd like hanging out with Joe, it'd be a HUGE pain in the butt to do consecutive games in those cities back to back and to fly home the next day. Plus, although I haven't been there yet, Pittsburgh looks like such a beautiful ballpark that I'd want to spend at least two days there (a day game and a night game, I think). Finally, I prefer doing my northerly trips in the summer (so I'm not stuck in the South in July or August).

Option three: damn, I wish I coulda done it last year. It all looked fantastic...start the week in Miami, head up to Tampa in the middle of the week, and head up to Atlanta, doing games in places like Daytona, Augusta, and Charleston, SC (although I won't pay money to sleep or eat there in order to honor the NAACP boycott of the state). I was ready to roll...then MLB moved the Tampa games to Japan. Never mind. This year...looks tough. Basically, all three ballclubs are at home from Saturday through Wednesday. To do this sanely, I'd have to do the Saturday night game in Miami, the Monday game in Tampa, and the Wednesday night game in Atlanta, picking up other games between and after that. Tough, but doable.

Option four: Would be my first choice under other circumstances, but the time I'll be there will be the Nats' first couple of home games, and as much as I'd like to see my sister and Spoon, I'm worried about my ability to get a ticket. Maybe another year.

So it's Florida. But alas, there are obstacles to be crossed:

--I want to cash in a frequent-flyer ticket to go. (My first ever frequent-flyer reward!) Will they let me go someplace as ubiquitous as Florida for Spring Break? Will they let me get a triangle route...flying into Miami and out of Atlanta?

--Do I want to save the trip for another year when I can actually slow down and enjoy Florida, where I've never been? I'd like to take a day and chill in the Everglades, since it's so unlike anywhere I've ever been. I don't think I could do that well when I have so much driving to do. Could I leave Miami early Sunday morning, enjoy a few hours of the Everglades, and then catch a minor league game in Sarasota or Ft. Myers or some on-the-way-to-Tampa place that night? Sounds iffy.

But right now, this is the best option. I liked last year's trip, I admit, which led from Wichita to Tulsa to Arlington to Houston--and that, I think, is just as much driving as this would entail. And last summer, I drove from Detroit to Toronto to Batavia, NY and all the way back to Toledo. So I'm leaning towards Florida this year as well.

But I wish the schedule-makers had consulted me first.


Joe said...


I'm sorry, did you just tell the whole Internet that Option One could accurately be described as Vegas Batchelor Party?!?! This can only be a testament to The Sweetie's intelligence, humor, beauty, and patience, and that you are pure as the driven snow.

PNC is a gorgeous park, so much so that I agree it's worth 2 games. As always, if you swing out this way, holler. Pittsburgh is just a great town... perfectly described by the fact that you can easily walk from the Andy Warhol Museum to the ballpark. (Great brewpubs too, although I think I heard that the one within a walk of PNC folded.)

Anonymous said...

What Joe said. I'd be more than happy to meetup with you in Vegas. Just name the stakes, baby!

Besides, there is no "enjoying" Florida. Unless you like oppressive heat and humidity, the most awfulest mosquitoes ever, and miles and miles and miles of the most godawful landscape you've ever seen. Eight hours of my life were spent driving across Florida. I still want them back...