Monday, June 14, 2010

The Great New York Baseball Road Trip


I was recently asked to put together some minor league roadtrips for an American publication. The general rules were that the trip had to take place in August, be two weeks long, and involve real minor league games every day if possible. It also had to be realistic and enjoyable, so no stupidly long drives between games. Interesting promotions or giveaways were to be sought, or perhaps a great stadium experience. Given the time constraints, it was a challenge to put together several of these trips but it was also a lot of fun checking out the different promotions across the country.

One of the trip themes I toyed with was visiting your favourite team's affiliates. For example, as a Toronto fan, I would go to Las Vegas, New Hampshire, Dunedin, Lansing, and Auburn, checking out a Blue Jays' minor league team at each stop. Quite a lot of driving and not a practical trip, but still an interesting idea. Given that one constraint was a 2-week trip and no MLB team has more than 6 affiliates, though, this was not an idea that I could work on for the project.

But once the project was over, I thought this theme might work for some of the cities that have two teams. The first city I tried was New York. With 5 minor league teams each, plus a stop in New York to see the big league clubs, it would be a perfect 2-week vacation. Of course, few fans root for both the Yankees and Mets, but it would be worthwhile to see not only the future stars you will support, but those you will hate as well.

At each level, the Yankees' and Mets' affiliates play in the same league and are located close to each other. This made planning the trip fairly easy, as long as the schedules co-operated, which they did. From August 23 to September 5 you could see 12 games, with two days off.

Starting in Buffalo (Mets-AAA), you would work your way across New York state, hitting Binghamton (Mets-AA) and Scranton, PA (Yankees-AAA) before arriving in New York City. There you can see the two NY-Penn League teams in Brooklyn (Mets) and Staten Island (Yankees) as well as the big boys over an extended weekend. After stopping in Trenton (Yankees-AA) you head south to Charleston, SC (Yankees-A) over two days. Savannah (Mets-A) is nearby and then you finish off in Florida where Tampa (Yankees-A+) and St. Lucie (Mets-A+) play.

The long drive back to Buffalo would complete the circuit, but by then the minors have entered their playoffs so it would be a bit more fun to see if you could catch a few games here and there.

The whole trip is as follows:
23-Aug Pawtucket at Buffalo 7:05
24-Aug New Britain at Binghamton 6:35
25-Aug Rochester at Scranton 7:05
26-Aug Lowell at Staten Island 7:00
27-Aug Aberdeen at Brooklyn 7:00
28-Aug Astros at Mets 7:10
29-Aug Off Day to Tour New York (or Astros at Mets 1:10)
30-Aug Athletics at Yankees 7:05
31-Aug Akron at Trenton 7:05
1-Sep Travel Day
2-Sep Greenville at Charleston 7:05
3-Sep Asheville at Savannah 7:05
4-Sep Dunedin at Tampa 7:00
5-Sep Fort Myers at St. Lucie 10:30
If you are a real New York baseball fan, it's something to consider. I could also do the same for Chicago, LA, San Francisco, perhaps Tampa and Florida, or Houston and Texas, but I'll wait for the full schedule next season.

Best,

Sean

2 comments:

  1. Sean,

    I like this idea. I wish I had the time to plan and take a 2 week journey through the minor leagues.

    If I did, this is an excellent way to do it. Knowing me I would probably make the stupid long drives because in some cases you have to and it adds some adventure as well as a challenge to actually do it.

    I need to catch up on the minor leagues. Going with the King makes it difficult because he's major league first.

    We need to do something different. Thanks for the suggestion. I hope someday to take you up on it. If and when I do, I will make sure you get the credit.

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  2. Thanks Gary. The rule to avoid stupidly long drives was specifically no more than 8 hours a day to get from one place to another. When you start driving 12 hours a day, you have no time to rest and it becomes a chore rather than a relaxing trip.

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