Saturday, February 4, 2012

2012 Sports Road Trips Schedule Takes Shape

Yesterday was my last day at work. The main reason for quitting is that I am leaving Japan! Yes, after nearly 16 years here, it's time to move on. At this point, I'm not sure where I'm going or what I'll be doing, but you can bet there will be lots of sports involved.

Before I leave for good, I want to see some of the venues here in Japan that I haven't visited in a while, or seen at all. Most important is Sapporo Dome, which became a regular NPB home ground in 2004 when the Nippon Ham Fighters moved there from Tokyo. Over the eight seasons since, I have yet to see a single game there, a truly embarrassing admission for a sports road tripper. The dome is also home to the J League's Consadole Sapporo franchise, which regained promotion to the top level. I want to see this venue tricked out for both soccer and baseball, and there is only one chance to do so early in the season, when the teams play two days apart.

Nagoya is also on the list in mid-April as there are 3 games in 3 days there, one AFC Champions League, one with the Giants at the Dragons, and a minor league tilt at Nagoya Stadium.

I am also planning one more trip to Osaka to see the three ball stadiums there over a 3-day period. The Orix Buffaloes usually play at the Kyocera Dome Osaka, but they also have a few home games at Hotto Motto Stadium Kobe, the best old-style stadium in Japan. I'll also check out Koshien to see the Tigers one last time.

Despite departing Japan as a full-time resident, I'll be hanging around Asia for the better part of the year, with three trips back to North America for sports. The first trip starts next week with a few days in LA sandwiched around two weeks watching hockey on the Canadian prairies. Then in June, I'll be checking out the Jays in Atlanta and Miami, as well as all ballparks in the Florida State League and perhaps some NCAA Regional baseball playoffs. Before and after, I'll be checking out Rogers Centre to see the Jays, including a weekend set against the Mets, which promises to be another road trip convention as the boys from Royalty Tours and the Ultimate Sports Road Trip are expected to attend.

The final trip will be in December when I'll return home to finish up the NHL rinks (Buffalo, Boston, and Carolina) and check out the Leafs in the Winter Classic. There's also the outside chance of an NFL road trip, but that will depend on the schedule to be released in April.

Whatever the case, it will be a busy year. The schedule is updated regularly whenever I find a new game to see. As usual, if you are in a town I'm visiting, drop me a line and let's meet up for a game.



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