February 2015

Five Travel Plans for a 30-Ballpark, 30-Day Tour Around MLB in 2015

Now, time to reveal my 2015 30 ballpark, 30 day travel options. If you want to do this, tickets for all teams are now or will shortly be on sale and with the best options being early this season, time to start booking.

In past years when I have looked at the schedule for the next MLB season, I can usually find ways to put together the 30-day, 30-ballpark tour that makes sense and I can do so prior to and after the All Star break. Based on my own experience having taken this tour in 2012, there are some basic requirements. First, the Padres, Dodgers and Angels must be visited on three consecutive dates. Second, the Athletics and Giants must be visited on back-to-back dates. Third, if the five teams in California cannot be seen on five consecutive dates, the gaps between the trips to northern and southern California should be filled by visits to the Mariners or Diamondbacks, a visit to the Rockies can be done as a last resort. Fourth, the Mariners and Diamondbacks must be visited between the northern and southern California swings, prior to the California tour, on the back end of the California tour, or as book end stops for this segment of the schedule. Fifth, the Rockies while preferably as a book end team closing or starting the west coast and Arizona segment can also be used as a bridge stop going back east or coming west, or they can be used to fill a gap between teams in the central time zone, preferably the Cardinals, Royals, Rangers and Astros. Sixth, it is strongly preferred that the Rangers and Astros are back-to-back and that the same is true for the Cardinals and Royals. Seventh, the Cubs and white Sox must be back-to-back or be split with a trip up to a Brewers game. The Brewers can be also used as the beginning or end stop that includes both Chicago teams. Eighth, the Twins are a team that can be used to fill a gap between central time zone teams or between the Blue Jays and Tigers from the east, but it is preferred that the Twins if possible be part of the Chicago and Milwaukee swing, with the Twins as a book end going to or coming from either Chicago or Milwaukee. Ninth, the Reds and Indians are seen back-to-back and if possible, they are connected with the Pirates on the opposite end of the Cleveland Leg. The Tigers can also be included in this if possible, with Detroit closest to Cleveland for such arrangements. Detroit can also be the first or last stop in combination with the Chicago clubs or used as a bridge to other segments of the trip. Tenth, the Pirates can be used as a book end team joined to the six teams that are in the northeast corridor, the Mets, Yankees, Nationals, Orioles, Phillies and Red Sox. Eleventh, the six teams in the above mentioned northeast corridor can be visited in a variety of combinations given the easy access to rail and plane travel, but the most efficient plan has the nationals and Orioles back-to-back or if needed split by a visit to the Phillies, while the Mets and Yankees are back-to-back or split by a visit to the Red Sox. Twelfth, the marlins and Rays are seen back-to-back if possible. Finally, thirteenth, the Braves and Blue Jays are truly swing teams, with Atlanta working best as a team to visit prior to or after the stops in Florida, but the Braves can also fill a gap between the Midwest and northeast teams if needed. Toronto similarly can fill such a gap and it is best if going to and from the Blue Jays while visiting teams in the upper Midwest or northeast. Toronto can be included as part of a northeastern trip, with the team visit used as a bookend preferably or if a hard to fill gap existed, Toronto could fill that void. Atlanta too can be used in such a manner, with easy access to both cities from the major airports in the northeast United States.

Now that all of my travel requirements have been explained, one thing is already clear. The best 2015 travel options for 30 ballparks in 30 days will all be prior to the All Star break. The only consecutive dates for the Dodgers, Angels and padres beyond July 1 took place in the middle of August and September 2-4. Unfortunately, the only dates that then fell within the restrictions I have set for the western trip that qualified for the Giants and Athletics, were back-to-back dates on August 30-31. This meant a team had to be used to fill the slot on September 1, the Rockies, while the Diamondbacks were available for a home game on August 29. This meant though that the mariners had to be home either August 28 or September 5 and they are away on both dates. Thus, all options that work out west are between April and June and all but one feature all eight teams on consecutive dates, the Padres, Dodgers, Angels in a grouping, the Giants and Athletics together, and the Mariners, Diamondbacks and Rockies where needed. One May scenario lacks the Rockies who will be used at a different point in the schedule. So now, I present the various travel options should you want to take on 30 ballparks in 30 days this baseball season, while being as efficient as possible. It is almost impossible to make the perfect schedule, but as you will see in the below options, I try to do so and I stick with certain combinations as must have requirements.

Option 1

This schedule opens at Toronto Friday April 17 and closes at Minnesota Saturday May 16. The concern is of course that cold weather could be an issue, with the most likely source of trouble being Colorado. The longest flight is between the first and second games from Toronto to Tampa. All in state and close by regional parings are kept accept Florida and Ohio, the Rays are home at different points than the Marlins for much of this tour, so the approach was to go from Arizona which concluded the eight games out west, stop in Texas for consecutive games, then go to Miami and Atlanta leading into the swing around the northeast and Pittsburgh, before spending the final week crisscrossing the Midwest. Detroit is used as a bridge between the two Ohio clubs due to a game time issue. All times listed are local to each city. The longest flight is Toronto to Tampa on day 2. ON day 3, a time zone change from Eastern to Central takes place between night games at Tampa and St. Louis. The same things happen with time zone changes to Mountain on day 5 and Pacific day 6. The first tight turnaround is days 6-7, the mariners play a night game followed by a day game at the Giants on April 23. Arizona is in effect on the same time as the west coast during summer, so the next time zone change is a big one going forward two hours back to central on day 13, but it is just a two hour flight from Phoenix to Texas and you are in a string of consecutive night time contests. The change from central to Eastern takes place on day 15, but again it is not a horribly long flight from Houston to Miami and we are still looking at night time baseball. The next quick turnaround is day 17, a night game the prior evening at Atlanta followed by a day game at Baltimore on Sunday May 3. The next quick turnaround is not until day 24 a week later on May 10, which also brings a drop back into the Central Time zone. After spending three days in Chicago and Milwaukee, days 27-29 are at Cleveland, Detroit and Cincinnati. Originally Detroit came first, but the Tigers games are both an hour later and so it allowed for two additional hours of travel time between Cleveland and Detroit to start in Cleveland, as both play night games on May 13 and day games May 14. The final day is also a quick turn around, but again it is a drop back into the Central Time zone going from a night game the previous evening at Cincinnati to a day game closing out the trip in Minnesota. All games are listed with the home team you are seeing first, followed by the team they are facing.

April 17 Blue Jays V Braves 7:07, 18 Rays V Yankees 7:10, 19 Cardinals V Reds 7:05, 20 Royals V Twins 7:10, 21 Rockies V Padres 6:40, 22 Mariners V Astros 7:10,

23 Giants V Dodgers 12:45, 24 Athletics V Astros 7:05, 25 Padres V Dodgers 5:40, 26 Angels V Rangers 12:35, 27 Dodgers V Giants 7:10,

28 Diamondbacks V Rockies 6:40, 29 Rangers V Mariners 7:05, 30 Astros V Mariners 7:10.

May 1 Marlins V Phillies 7:10, 2 Braves V Reds 7:10, 3 Orioles V Rays 1:35, 4 Nationals V Marlins 7:05, 5 Red Sox V Rays 7:10, 6 Mets V Orioles 7:10,

7 Yankees V Orioles 7:05, 8 Phillies V Mets 7:05, 9 Pirates V Cardinals 7:05, 10 White Sox V Reds 1:10, 11 Cubs V Mets 7:05, 12 Brewers V White Sox 7:10,

13 Indians V Cardinals 6:05, 14 Tigers V Twins 1:08, 15 Reds V Giants 7:10, 16 Twins V Rays 1:10.

Option 2

This trip begins Monday April 20 in Boston on Patriots Day and closes Tuesday May 19 in Detroit.

While this schedule is not perfect in that you have the western swing late in the trip before coming back east, it starts with one of the great games on any schedule, the Red Sox home game on marathon day in Boston. The first six dates are in the northeastern corridor April 20-25, followed by a southeastern trip to the Rays and Braves, then after seeing the Ohio teams, followed by the Missouri teams on four consecutive dates, you continue the Midwest swing through Minnesota, Chicago and Chicago via Milwaukee before flights to Toronto and Pittsburgh. From Pittsburgh, you head west for eight, before working your way back with consecutive stops in Texas, then closing out with trips to Miami and Detroit. The longest flight on this trip will be from Miami to Detroit. The quick turnaround trips between night and day games are between Baltimore and Tampa days 6-7, St. Louis and Minnesota Days 12-13, Arizona and San Francisco days 20 and 21, and between Texas and Houston days 27 and 28. One major time zone change coming from the west coast to Texas is between days 26-27 going from Seattle to Texas, but direct flights are only 3 hours and both games are night games.

April 20 Red Sox v Orioles 11:05, 21 Nationals V Cardinals 7:05, 22 Phillies V Marlins 7:05, 23 Mets V Braves 1:10, 24 Yankees V Mets 7:05,

25 Orioles V Red Sox 7:05, 26 Rays v Blue Jays 1:10, 27 Indians V Royals 6:05, 28 Reds V Brewers 7:10, 29 Braves V Nationals 7:10, 30 Royals V Tigers 7:10.

May 1 Cardinals V Pirates 7:15, 2 Twins V White Sox 1:10, 3 Cubs V Brewers 1:20, 4 Brewers V Dodgers 6:20, 5 White Sox V Tigers 7:10,

6 Blue Jays V Yankees 7:07, 7 Pirates V Reds 7:05, 8 Rockies V Dodgers 6:40, 9 Diamondbacks V padres 5:10, 10 Giants V Marlins 1:05,

11 Athletics V Red Sox 7:05, 12 Dodgers V Marlins 7:10, 13 Angels V Rockies 7:05, 14 Padres V Nationals 7:10, 15 Mariners V Red Sox 7:10,

16 Rangers V Indians 7:05, 17 Astros V Blue Jays 1:10, 18 Marlins V Diamondbacks 7:10, 19 Tigers V Brewers 7:08.

Option 3

This schedule begins with the eight teams out west on Friday April 24, concluding Saturday May 23, with the opening stop in Colorado and the final stop in Atlanta. The longest travel day is likely May 6 between stops 12 and 13, as the flight from Kansas City to Toronto is likely a connection. The Jays are scheduled for a night game though. The most difficult turn around in terms of getting from one city to another is likely between stops 23 and 24, as the Twins play on Saturday before the Sunday game in Philadelphia. The choice was first to go from Minnesota to Miami Friday and Saturday, but both the Twins and marlins play day games and the travel was easier going back an hour to Minnesota and then going from there to Philly. The good news, once in Philly, no more air travel is needed until the final day of the trip going from New York to Atlanta. The negative here is that Arizona is used to split California, as the Diamondbacks are the bridge between three games in southern California and the two up north. While the Ohio teams are not seen on consecutive dates, they are part of the same swing around the Midwest in the middle of May toward the end of the tour.

April 24 Rockies V Giants 6:40, 25 Mariners V Twins 7:10, 26 Angels V Rangers 12:35, 27 Dodgers V Giants 7:10, 28 Padres V Astros 7:10,

29 Diamondbacks v Rockies 6:40, 30 Athletics V Angels 12:35, May 1 Giants V Angels 7:15.

May 2 Astros V Mariners 6:10, 3 Rangers V Athletics 2:05, 4 Cardinals V Cubs 7:10, 5 Royals V Indians 7:10, 6 Blue Jays V Yankees 7:07, 7 Pirates V Reds 7:05,

8 Indians V Twins 7:05, 9 Tigers V Royals 1:08, 10 White Sox V Reds 1:10, 11 Cubs V Mets 7:05, 12 Brewers V white Sox 7:10, 13 Reds V Braves 7:10,

14 Rays V Yankees 7:10, 15 Marlins V Braves 7:10, 16 Twins V Rays 1:10, 17 Phillies V Diamondbacks 1:35, 18 Mets V Cardinals 7:10, 19 Red Sox V Rangers 7:10,

20 Nationals V Yankees 7:05, 21 Orioles V Mariners 12:35, 22 Yankees V Rangers 7:05, 23 Braves V Brewers 4:10.

Option 4

The tour starts April 28 in Cincinnati and concludes May 27 in Minnesota.

This schedule moves back and forth across the country as well, though all of the preferred back-to-back options are here. After two stops in Ohio and another two in Missouri, it’s on to Atlanta day 5 before the next 6 games in the northeast. That then transitions to 7 games out west excluding Colorado, followed by two in Texas and then a backtrack to Colorado. From there, it is back east for the next 5 to Pittsburgh, Detroit and Toronto before going down to Florida for a pair of games. The final leg then hits the Midwest again with a pair of games in Chicago before closing at Milwaukee and Minnesota. The longest flights are from Seattle to Dallas fort Worth and from Denver to Pittsburgh. Those two flights involve the loss of two time zones each in terms of time, the one down fall to this particular option. The flight from Toronto to Miami while long stays in the same time zone, while the longest trip out west from Philadelphia to Phoenix results in extra time as you are dropping time zones.

April 28 Reds V Brewers 7:10, 29 Indians V Royals 6:05, 30 Royals V Tigers 7:10.

May 1 Cardinals V Pirates 7:15, 2 Braves V Reds 7:10, 3 Orioles V Rays 1:35, 4 Nationals V Marlins 7:05, 5 Red Sox V Rays 7:10, 6 Mets V Orioles 7:10,

7 Yankees V Orioles 7:05, 8 Phillies V Mets 7:05, 9 Diamondbacks V Padres 5:10, 10 Giants V Marlins 1:05, 11 Athletics V Red Sox 7:05,

12 Dodgers V Marlins 7:10, 13 Angels V Rockies 7:05, 14 Padres V Nationals 7:10, 15 Mariners V Red Sox 7:10, 16 Rangers V Indians 7:05,

17 Astros V Blue Jays 1:10, 18 Rockies V Phillies 6:40, 19 Pirates V Twins 7:05, 20 Tigers V Brewers 7:08, 21 Blue Jays V Angels 7:07, 22 Marlins V Angels 7:10,

23 Rays V Athletics 4:10, 24 White Sox V Twins 1:10, 25 Cubs V Nationals 1:20, 26 Brewers V Giants 7:10, 27 Twins V Red Sox 12:10.

Option 5, games May 3-June 1

This trip in terms of the time zone issue is one of the easiest. It begins May 3 in Baltimore and closes June 1 at Arizona. The first 7 games are back east with the northeast corridor and Cleveland wrapping up the first week. The second week leaving Cleveland continues a swing through the Midwest with a pair in Chicago, followed by Milwaukee, Detroit, Cincinnati, St. Louis and Kansas City. The third week brings about a pair of games in Texas, followed by games back east at Pittsburgh and Toronto, followed by Tampa, Miami and Atlanta. ON Sunday the 24th, the travel goes from Atlanta to Colorado, before coming back to Minnesota on Memorial Day. From there, it’s back out west to California for 5 games and then stops at Seattle and Arizona.

This is one of the easiest trips, with the only day game following a time zone change that is headed east being the trip from Colorado to Minnesota, but both of these are day games which helps. It also requires a relatively early start on May 31 following a night game, as you fly from Oakland to Seattle. Fortunately, light rail is near the Seattle airport and you could hop the train and go straight to Safeco as quickly as you could probably get your rental car.

By far the longest flights would be from Atlanta to Colorado and from Minnesota to the Los Angeles region.

May 3 Orioles V Rays 1:35, 4 Nationals V Marlins 7:05, 5 Red Sox V Rays 7:10, 6 Mets V Orioles 7:10, 7 Yankees V Orioles 7:05, 8 Phillies V Mets 7:05,

9 Indians V Twins 4:05, 10 White Sox V Reds 1:10, 11 Cubs V Mets 7:05, 12 Brewers V white Sox 7:10, 13 Tigers V Twins 7:08, 14 Reds V Giants 7:10,

15 Cardinals V Tigers 7:15, 16 Royals V Yankees 6:10, 17 Rangers V Indians 2:05, 18 Astros V Athletics 7:05, 19 Pirates V Twins 7:05, 20 Blue Jays V Angels 7:07,

21 Rays V Athletics 7:10, 22 Marlins V Orioles 7:10, 23 Braves V Brewers 4:10, 24 Rockies V Giants 2:10, 25 Twins V Red Sox 1:10, 26 Dodgers V Braves 7:10,

27 Angels V Padres 7:05, 28 Padres V Pirates 7:10, 29 Giants V Braves 7:15, 30 Athletics V Yankees 7:05, 31 Mariners V Indians 1:10.

June 1 Diamondbacks V Braves 6:40.