A’s and Cubs to host 2020 Cactus League weekends in Vegas

Yesterday the Las Vegas Aviators announced two Big League weekends during spring training next year. The first, on February 29 & March 1, will feature the A’s hosting the Cleveland Indians. The following weekend, March 7-8, will have the Chicago Cubs hosting the Cincinnati Reds. The games will be played at Las Vegas Ballpark in Summerlin (see gallery below).

The newly scheduled games are in addition to the existing Cactus League slate, which makes the new games all split-squad affairs. That’s good to know for those planning to attend while expecting to see certain stars. Your chances are 50/50 on that count.

Last May I visited Las Vegas Ballpark, which is located in the suburb of Summerlin, at the west edge of the valley. It’s 10 miles from the Strip, located down the street from Red Rock, one of the many locals casinos in the area. It is by far the best, swankiest AAA ballpark I’ve ever attended, though that compliment comes with one major caveat. If you remember the history of Raley Field, when it was developed there was discussion about how it could be built for easy future expansion to a MLB-sized facility. A huge rainstorm during the winter of construction nixed those plans and delayed the eventual opening of the ballpark. Raley Field is still nice, yet decidedly a AAA ballpark. The same goes for Las Vegas Ballpark and First Tennessee Park in Nashville.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Maybe events like these are ways to showcase Vegas or Nashville for future expansion or relocation. Problem is that the venues’ relative size (10,000 seats) makes that showcase extremely limited. It’s a long way from 10,000 seats (the game I attended was sold out) to a 30,000+ domed stadium that will have to be placed much closer to downtown as opposed to a suburb in order to better capture the market’s population. Not to mention the financing part, which thanks to the Raiders’ stadium, shuts off a major public funding source. Beyond that, some compensation is due to the Aviators, who would themselves need relocation and whose ownership group owns the Summerlin ballpark. That’s the case whether a new Vegas ballpark is built near the Strip, in Summerlin, or in Henderson as was discussed a few months ago with the D-backs.

Allegiant Stadium, which is approaching $2 billion in construction cost, is clearly on the minds of East Bay fans who feel spurned by the Raiders. Despite that very recent pain, that’s no reason for Oakland to give up its bargaining position when it comes to the A’s. Last month I was rooting for the lawsuit to come to fruition as it could put the Coliseum land sale issue to rest. That reckoning begins tomorrow. Regardless of the outcome, MLB isn’t in the position to decide to open up Vegas to any team overnight. For Vegas to happen for the Raiders required some serious moving of mountains. For the A’s and A’s fans, this is gonna be a bumpy ride. The time for pearl-clutching is not here yet, not even close.

2020 Travel Grid

As promised yesterday, here is the latest Travel Grid. The usual conventions are in place, such as sending the northeastern teams to the Sun Belt during the first weeks of the season to avoid rainouts, or the stuffing of the summer months with trips from the West Coast teams to the East Coast. The aforementioned international games (April 28-30 in Puerto Rico, June 13-14 in England) are italicized in the PDF versions. Without further ado, here are the links:

  • PDF (poster one-sheet)
  • PDF (multi-page)
  • XLSX (Excel 2016)
  • CSV (comma-delimited)

In the past I’ve tried to consolidate all of the schedules from Spring Training and the minor leagues to create an extra special “All Baseball” schedule. Why? I’d like to see if I could catch a game in every professionally affiliated ballpark in the span of six or seven months. The release dates of the minors tends to fluctuate as we head towards the fall. If I get leads on those I’ll give it a shot.

P.S. – Coincidentally, the NBA released its 2019-20 schedule yesterday as well. That could open a new world of possibilities.

 

First glimpse of 2020 MLB schedule

It’s that time of the year again. Back to School sales have started, we’re getting close to the Little League World Series, and MLB provided its first taste of the 2020 schedule. The downloadable schedule isn’t available yet, so I’ll either scrape the new schedule or wait for the download to be released. While we’re all waiting for that and for the 2020 Travel Grid, I compiled some notes about the schedule.

Opening Day is Thursday, March 26. I’m still not a big fan of the “Opening Weekend” realignment of the schedules put in place years ago, but it’s more necessary now to fit in the required off days and travel days, so I’ll begrudgingly accept it. Besides the second edition of the London Series (Cubs-Cardinals, June 13-14), there’s also Mets-Marlins in Puerto Rico, April 28-30 in San Juan. There’s no series in Japan or elsewhere in Asia or the Western Pacific this time. The Rangers are opening Globe Life Field (not Globe Life Park, that’s the current one) next year, and the A’s hit the road to battle both the Rangers and Astros in both late April and late May.

The road trip to circle on next year’s calendar is a three-city venture in August to visit the Bronx, the nation’s Capitol, and Beantown (August 6-16). That includes a day off and ample time to take in plenty of other sights and attractions on the Eastern seaboard. That day off, August 13, also happens to be planned date at Field of Dreams in Dyersville, IA. The Field of Dreams game will be played at a 8,000-seat makeshift stadium featuring the Yankees and White Sox.

That month of August looks grueling, since the three-city, ten-day road trip will be followed by a short weeklong homestand and then another road trip for the A’s to visit Atlanta and then Toronto. That month will make or break the A’s.

More notes and the Travel Grid to come.

Six of One, Half Dozen of Hohokam

I’m starting a new job Monday. It’s a full time gig, which will force me to attend Cactus League games on the weekends and listen to weekday games via streaming.

That’s a marked difference from last spring training, when I went to one game, an A’s-Brewers tilt at Maryvale, as part of a rehab outing.

Things are looking up these days, so I splurged for a Spring Training Pass, the Cactus League equivalent of A’s Access. I’ll have admission to the lawn and standing room areas around Hohokam, though I may upgrade my location here and there. I’ll go to 6 games at Hohokam, planning for at least 2 more (Angels, Giants). I’ll also drop by Salt River Fields to see how the new artificial turf fields look. The Dbacks are installing artificial turf at Chase Field, which I believe is part of the new reality coming for outdoor as well as indoor stadia.

Partial schedule. Bold indicates games I’ll be attending

In the meantime I’ll continue to enjoy the lush green blanket in Mesa. Maybe I’ll see you there. Thanks to the Japan series, there’s less than three weeks until the first game!

 

Casey and Jeff walk from BART to Howard Terminal

Take a stroll with ABC-7’s Casey Pratt and our Jeff August as they take the lunch hour to walk from the 12th Street City Center BART station to Howard Terminal. Merry Christmas.

2019 Travel Grid now available

Okay, so here it is. The 2019 MLB Travel Grid is available via the following links if you’re interested:

Ah, but there’s a change! If you look at any of the above three files you’ll notice I used each team’s nickname in the grid itself. The column headers remain the team abbreviations. This time I didn’t do an alphabetically sorted grid as I didn’t see people downloading and using it. In its place are “short” versions with the abbreviations carried throughout the entirety of the grid. The short versions are below:

If you miss the alphabetical grid or have other notes, drop a line in the comments or via Twitter or email. Or you could remix the Excel version.

As part of my stroke recovery, I keep having to remind myself not to take on too many projects and to take time with them. I usually allot a couple of days to work on the Travel Grid, including one late work night. After a flurry of posts in the spring, I’ve been content to post sparingly and simply enjoy the A’s season. I’m extremely pleased to have completed this process in a day, even though there were a few quirks in the process.

Tomorrow I’ll have more notes on the A’s schedule, which is unexpectedly magnificent for road trips. I’ll have observations on other non-A’s road trips as well.

10 years, 30 teams, 30+ stadia

When I was a preteen in the 80’s I was given a sketch board. I couldn’t do freehand drawing to save my life, but as I constantly watched and listened to baseball games every summer, I used that board along with a compass and protractor to create my own reproductions of stadia, especially ballparks. I learned how to understand space, capacity, and sightlines. I never took any drawing or architecture classes, considering my interest little more than a small hobby.

As I became an adult with some disposable income, I decided to take my interest directly to those places that inspired me. In 1989 my two prime muses were the Coliseum, which at the time was considered one of the best modern ballparks in baseball, and SkyDome, which was so technologically advanced I couldn’t help but admire it. I went there once, in 2000, long after the salad days of the early-mid 90’s. The facility was still relatively new at the time, yet it was surpassed by the onslaught of retro-modern parks like Camden Yards. In the intervening years I visited all of these new parks, while mentally and philosophically abandoning domes like Skydome/Rogers Centre and Tropicana Field. I decided at the beginning of the year that both venues deserved their own story. This weekend I’ll talk about Rogers Centre. Before the end of the season I’ll talk Tropicana, which I visited in June.

Back to Toronto. The tour I took today took me to the visitor’s dugout. Along the way I got to see this:

If you don’t recognize it, it’s called a bogie. The term is normally used in conjunction with trains or, in sports parlance, the traction systems that move retractable roofs. In this application, bogies like this one are used to move the lower seating deck so that it can better accommodate baseball or football crowds. Such technology used to be the hallmark of the old multipurpose, cookie-cutter stadia of the 60’s and 70’s. Nowadays they’re practically extinct thanks to teams and cities building very specific purpose-built facilities. Take a good look and remember that this kind of stuff used to be pretty cool.

The other reason for taking care of Toronto and St. Pete is that I’ve only kept track of these ballpark trips since I started the blog. The travel aspect started in 2008. I’ve now gone through 30 teams and 33 ballparks since then. Over ten years without a gimmicky 30-parks-in-30-days plan or anything else I couldn’t practically pull off, I’m happy with this. After this trip is over I may consider heading back out on the road to visit ballparks or other sports venues, but for now I’m satisfied. My hunger for this is sated. And maybe, just maybe, that’s a signal that we can all turn our collective attention to Oakland first and last. No more Joneses to keep up with. It’s now all about the A’s. As it should be.

—–

2008

  • Camden Yards, Baltimore
  • Nationals Park, Washington
  • Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia
  • Yankee Stadium, New York City
  • Fenway Park, Boston

2009

  • Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, Oakland
  • AT&T Park, San Francisco
  • Petco Park, San Diego

2010

  • Chase Field, Phoenix
  • Minute Maid Park, Houston
  • Globe Life Park, Arlington TX
  • Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City
  • Busch Stadium (IV), St Louis
  • Wrigley Field, Chicago
  • Miller Park, Milwaukee
  • Target Field, Minneapolis

2011

  • Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles
  • Angels Stadium, Anaheim

2012

  • Comerica Park, Detroit
  • Progressive Field, Cleveland
  • Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati
  • Guaranteed Rate Field, Chicago
  • Coors Field, Denver

2013

  • Safeco Field, Seattle
  • Marlins Park, Miami
  • Turner Field, Atlanta
  • New Yankee Stadium, NY Yankees
  • Citi Field, NY Mets

2017

  • Tropicana Field, St Petersburg
  • Rogers Centre, Toronto