Saturday, May 7, 2011

2011 California/Nevada Trip Summary


Pardon the self-indulgence while I summarize the 2011 California/Nevada trip.

The journey lasted 20 days during which I saw 23 sporting events (4 MLB, 12 minor league, 3 NCAA baseball, and 1 each in the NHL, NBA, MLS, and Arena Football). There were four doubleheader days and one day off when I met up with my brother and his wife for dinner in Las Vegas.

I drove just under 2,000 miles, averaging only 100 miles a day. Given the high price of gas, this sort of trip in which I try to see as many games in a smaller geographic area might become the norm. I spent nearly $250 on gas, so each mile driven cost 12.5 cents or $1 for every eight miles. This adds up when you drive 500 miles to see just a couple of games. So in the future, I expect to be spending more time in smaller areas and seeing multiple games in the same city.

Some bests and worsts of the trip:

Best Game

Las Vegas defeating Sacramento on Wednesday afternoon in only the 2nd game of the trip. David Cooper, Toronto's #1 pick in 2008 and a guy I've been following since he was drafted, hit a 3-run homer and the 51s scored two in the 9th to pull out a 6-5 win.

Best Experience

Meeting up with a group of Salvation Army workers and volunteers for a Thursday night River Cats game in Sacramento. Their energy and good cheer made for a memorable evening, even though Las Vegas lost in extra innings.

Best Discovery

Finding out the car was equipped with satellite radio. When I'm driving in cities, I prefer to listen to local sports radio, but when I was out in the desert, there was no such thing. Serendipitously, I realized that XM radio was available and found the Jays/Yanks game where I heard Cooper, who had been recently called up, get his first major-league RBI on a sacrifice fly.

Best Drive

Vegas to Reno on US95. A great place to be alone for 8 hours, as long as you have satellite radio.

Best Giveaway

The UNLV Rebels replica jersey (below). Only problem is that it is XL, which sadly, I'm not going to grow into. At least I hope I don't.


Best License Plate

L8KR H8TR - guess that person is enjoying the NBA playoffs these days.

Best Result

The Sacramento Kings are staying for another season. I hope that fan power can keep them there for a lot longer as I'd like to return and see another game there without having to overpay believing it will be their last game ever.

Best Hotel

I usually don't mention the places I stay because everyone has their own preferences and TripAdvisor is the best place to go for reviews. However, on this trip I had the good fortune to spend a few nights at the Arena Hotel in San Jose, which is about five minutes from the HP Pavilion. It can be reasonably priced if you use some discount sites, with friendly staff, an actual breakfast, and a fridge and microwave in each room. If you plan to see a couple of Sharks games, this place can't be beat for convenience and price.

Worst Game

Stanford beating up on Santa Clara 10-3 in an NCAA mismatch.

Strangest Experience

Being interrogated by a security guard for taking a picture before a Modesto Nuts game. Succeeded in hiding my contempt for the whole charade but wondering if the team even knows what is going on? Harassing fans is not good for business.

Finally

I really enjoy these extended sports road trips. Living in Japan, the land of crap sports and crap driving (tolls here are outrageous and highways often crowded) leaves me eager to get out on the open road and see as many different sporting events as I possibly can. Weekend jaunts are not enough and even a week on the road leaves me wanting more. Even after these past three weeks, I felt like I could have continued the trip for another month, although seeing a game every day and blogging about it does become tiring.

But these trips are not cheap and I'm increasingly surprised by how expensive sports and travel has become in the past decade. I was fortunate that several teams were kind enough to give me tickets which helped considerably. But it's much more difficult to get free hotels, cars and gas, so I'll be taking a break for the next few months to recharge the savings account and plan another trip.

There's still a lot of venues left to see. Next year the Marlins will open a new ballpark and I'll be flying over for that. There's also the NFL roadtrip that I want to accomplish sometime but will have to wait for at least another year as the season is already compromised by the work stoppage. But my favourite destinations remain the minor league ballparks that dot the country and bring me to towns that I'd otherwise pass by without a second thought. I've seen about half of those parks and hope to make it to the other half over the next few years, staring next year with the Florida State and Southern Leagues.

In the meantime, I'll be here as usual, making the usual road trip plans, bad predictions, and occasional comments on the sporting issues of the day, so check back regularly.

Best,

Sean

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