No game today and no travel. I spent most of the day relaxing and running some errands. I went to Whole Foods to pick up some more supplies for the road. In the evening I went to meet my friend Noah, his wife Jen and their two beautiful boys Liam and Hudson.
Throughout my travels so far I have met several people who are in progress on their own stadium tours. There are some who choose to follow their home teams year after year, and some who pick a region of the country and try to see as many teams as possible each summer. I have yet to meet anyone who is attempting to see all 30 parks in one season, but for those of you who aspire to do so, here is how I scheduled my tour.
Separating the teams
With Houston jumping to the AL and Interleague play happening every day of the season, creating the schedule proved to be much more difficult than I had anticipated. My plan was to give myself at least 48 hours in each city, preferably with a scheduled game on each day to prevent being rained out of a stadium. I had the farmers' almanac handy to keep an eye out for weather, but ultimately a whole lot of luck was going to be required for me to avoid the rain.
The first thing that I did was break down how many teams are in each region and the driving distances between each stadium. I focused on always moving forward. If I had to miss a team going West, I would try and get them coming back East.
I tried starting the tour in Los Angeles, Miami, Houston, Detroit, Baltimore and St. Louis before landing on New York.
This is how I separated the teams by region
Baltimore, Washington D.C., NY Mets, NY Yankees, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Boston, Toronto
Detroit, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Milwaukee, Minneapolis
Miami, Tampa, Atlanta, St. Louis, Kansas City
Denver, Phoenix, San Diego, LA Angels, LA Dodgers, Oakland, San Francisco, Seattle
By breaking the teams down into subsections, I was able to map out the best way to drive from city to city in some sort of order. The next step was to look at all 30 of the team's schedules. I wanted to avoid games on consecutive days in case of rain delays, traffic or car trouble.
Finding the pattern
This is when things got fun – and maddening. I bought a map of the United States and marked the locations of the 30 stadiums. I eyeballed the distances between several cities to get an idea of what the best route would be. I decided to start the tour in early June to navigate weather patterns throughout the season. I figured that if the trip was to take roughly three months, June, July and August would be the best time frame. If possible, I would try and do the southern and western states early to avoid sitting under the hot sun in August. This also left me with one month at the end of the season in case a game does get rained out and I need to circle back around.
At a certain point in all of the schedules I created, I ran into a stretch of crazy driving or a stretch with no games for over a week. The biggest problem was in scheduling the cities that have two teams (New York, Chicago, LA and the Bay Area). In these cities the two clubs rarely play at the same time. I could not afford to leave these cities before catching both stadiums, while I also did not want to sit around for days with no games to go to. Luckily, Interleague actually saved me in New York as I was able to start my schedule during the home-and-home Subway Series.
By creating blocks of teams by region it became easier to avoid going backwards. Once I decided on starting in New York I had to figure out if I should start going out West, South or North. The teams in the East and Midwest are all relatively close together. The teams out West and in the South however are hundreds of miles from one another. Not only did the distances between stadiums factor into my planning, but the weather patterns affected my thinking as well. I wanted to avoid sitting in 100 plus degree weather as much as possible. By heading South and then West I was able to get the bulk of the 10 plus hour drives out of the way leaving the three to four hour drives until the end. By the time August comes around, a four hour drive will feel like nothing. I will also be in the South during June and early July and leaving before the temperatures begin to get unbearable.
Settling on a Direction
The first 15 games were surprisingly easy to line up once I chose my desired path. The first bump in the road came at the halfway mark when I was to reach Los Angeles. There was no schedule that I could have created that would have avoided some serious long distance driving in a short amount of time. The roughest week currently on my schedule is when I drive from Los Angeles to Seattle, back down to Los Angeles and then Minneapolis. That is a 17-hour drive, another 17-hour drive followed by a 30-hour drive all within 11 days.
Unfortunately, because this is the only schedule that worked, during the All Star break I will be as far away from the game in New York as possible. I will be in Los Angeles preparing for my 4,000 miles in 11 days stretch of driving. It is not all bad however, being the comedy nerd that I am, I will be sure to catch some stand-up during my break in LA.
I am hoping to have a friend of mine join me for at least part of that nonsensical drive, but if I can't find anybody my angel of a mother has offered to help me out. I once again must admit that I have some incredibly amazing people in my life that are willing to help me do some crazy things.
After I reach Minneapolis the rest of the tour falls into place. The last couple of games will force me to sit in certain cities for a couple of days without a game, but by then I am sure I will welcome an extra day off.
Ultimately it took my five weeks of working three hours a day to settle on the schedule for this tour. It was frustrating and complicated but a lot of fun to create. By the end of the summer I will have driven 15,000 miles and seen most of the Continental United States. I have some ideas about where Major League Baseball needs to put some teams in order to make these drives a little more interesting, but I will get to that later.If you have any specific questions about my schedule please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or @RoundingThirdMJ on twitter. Be sure to sign up to the mailing list as well. It is the best way to always know when new content is up on the site. The only time I will email you is when there is new stuff to read or listen to.
I am heading to St. Louis tomorrow. I see rain on the radar.
Miles Traveled: 120
Time in Car: 3 hours
Exercise: 35 minute cardio
Sleep Time: 8 Hours
Bottles of Water: 7
Food Eaten: Grapes, blueberries, chicken pasta, Pizza Hut
Total Money spent today $121.18
Cumulative Miles through today 2,660
Cumulative Time in car through today 47 hours