Bringing a Full Slate of Exhibition Games to Fans Outside Florida and Arizona, a 2017 Proposal.
Spring training 2016 is coming upon us and one month from today, the first teams begin reporting for pitcher and catcher workouts in Florida and Arizona. As fun and relaxing spring training is for the many fans who make the journey to warm climates for spring ball, another tradition is the many games that are played between MLB teams at unique venues that do not normally host MLB games. Teams face one another in larger minor league ballparks, in international settings such as Mexico and the Dominican Republic, and in large multipurpose stadiums that could be temporary baseball venues for a city trying to show itself as a candidate for a potential MLB expansion or franchise relocation.
Typically, the final weekend of the exhibition season features about a 50-50 split of games played in traditional spring training venues and games played at sites outside Florida and Arizona. I propose a one-time unique form of baseball outreach for 2017, where all teams play outside Florida and Arizona on the final Friday and Saturday of spring training. March 31-April 1 of 2017 assuming the scheduling model remains as is would be those dates. NO games are played April 2 and it is likely six teams will have a regular season opener that Sunday if MLB finds that the 2016 triple header is a big success. So here is my proposal.
First, the traditional games, Dodgers v Angels, Giants V Athletics which have been made a bit less meaningful with interleague play, would still be scheduled as Wednesday and Thursday exhibitions, one at each ballpark.
The following matchups would all take place Friday March 31 and Saturday April 1, 2017. The Padres top two minor league clubs are in El Paso and San Antonio, while the Dodgers used to be a long time San Antonio affiliate. So the dodgers and Padres would face one another, Friday in San Antonio at the Alamodome, Saturday at El Paso. The Rangers and Astros would also face one another going in the opposite direction, Friday at El Paso and Saturday in the San Antonio Alamodome, as they did in 2014. Houston also played an El Paso exhibition against the Brewers in 1997.
The marlins and Rays would play a pair of games at the 55,000 seat stadium in Havana, Cuba, while another international matchup would take place in Montreal as the Blue jays play another pair of games, this time the opposition would be the New York Yankees. Keeping with the international theme of the moment, the Diamondbacks would face the Angels for two games at Monterey, Mexico. Other matchups, the Giants would face the Mariners for a pair of games in Sacramento, while the Rockies and Athletics play at Salt Lake City. The Nationals and Orioles would meet in Norfolk, the Pirates and Phillies at Redding, Pennsylvania and the Cardinals would meet the Royals in Springfield, Missouri. Indianapolis would get two games between the White Sox and Cubs, The Reds and Indians would play in Louisville, while the Braves would face the Twins in Charlotte. The new ballpark in Hartford, Connecticut though not affiliated with either of these teams would play host to a matchup between the Red sox and Mets, and Toledo Ohio would be host to the matchup between the Brewers and Tigers.