Normally I do a review of the schedule immediately when it comes out. This time, I decided to step back in order to review the entire league. I’ve noticed a few things about how the schedule is put together, so I figured it would be best to take time to gear this post towards the traveler. I’ve done several ballpark trips over the years, and I’ve always been frustrated by the lack of tools available for those who want to take similar trips. Knowing this, I’ve taken the 2430-game 2012 MLB schedule and turned it into a grid (PDF), showing all games by home team and date. The teams are organized by geographical area (West Coast, Northeast, etc.) so it should easy to see how a traveler could hop from one city to another, catch a game in each market, then take a short trip to the next one. This first step is next season’s MLB slate, to be followed by all minor league teams. Then I’ll branch out to the winter sports, with the NHL to start, then NCAA basketball, and the NBA once if it gets its act together. I’ll round out the works with 2012 schedules for MLS and NFL/NCAA football.
I’m getting ahead of myself. I’ve noticed in previous baseball seasons there are generally two “hot periods” for travelers to schedule ballpark trips for maximum efficiency. The first is mid-May, when interleague action starts. The other is around Labor Day. Those are the times when baseball tends to stray the most from its tendency not to schedule two teams in the same market concurrently. By allowing concurrent scheduling, fans can enjoy short travel distances between games and even the occasional two stadium, day-night doubleheader. This can be particularly effective on the East Coast and in the Midwest, where trips between markets are frequently four hours or less by car or train. Of course, the problem with having the “hot periods” occur in May and September is that they aren’t during the summer, when families are most likely to take long trips such as a weeklong pilgrimage to a few ballparks.
Shown in the spread format, there are a few other quirks about the schedule:
- The A’s gave up a Sunday game (April 8) and a Thursday game (July 5) to accommodate the two “home” games to be played at the Tokyo Dome on March 28-29.
- The A’s have another Sunday date with no game – August 26. For some reason, a three-game set with the Rays is scheduled for August 23-25, Thursday through Saturday. Update: This is due to a Republican National Convention event (thanks Nathan).
- 16 marquee games are on the A’s home slate: 3 vs. the Giants, 6 vs. the Red Sox, 7 vs. the Yankees. 3 games vs. the Dodgers may also count. Expect these games to have premium pricing for non-season-ticket buyers.
- The Miami Marlins play their inaugural game at the yet-unnamed, unsponsored ballpark on April 4, then don’t play another home game until April 13.
- The Marlins have had 26 rainouts and 154 rain delays in their tenure at what used to be called Joe Robbie Stadium. MLB must really be looking forward to that going away for good.
- There’s a unique opportunity from June 17 to June 26 to catch numerous games along the Northeast Corridor (Boston-NY-Philly-Balty-DC). If you don’t mind not watching the A’s, this is a flexible stretch during the summer.
- The schedule PDF is poster size. Don’t expect it to look good being printed on a letter size sheet.
Enjoy the schedule. I appreciate any feedback you have on it.