The Anti-Baseball Road Trip
As I suggested would happen the last time I contributed to these electronic pages, I’ve recently — along with milady — moved to the Middle West of these here United States. For those of you who’re concerned about such things (and I’m guessing this doesn’t include reader Dylan), the both of us made the trip without incident, so you can stop your worrying.
For anyone who’s never been, you should know that Madison, Wisconsin is, by all appearances, a pretty great place. Those readers of USSM who’ve lived in/around The Ave in Seattle would probably recognize many of that area’s salient features in Madison’s State Street: ethnic restaurants, bars, cafes, and some Sloppy-Joe-looking student types. Really, just take University Ave., add about 95% humidity to the air and about 5% in Body Mass Index to the average pedestrian, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of State Street.
Much to the disappointment of the reader, however, the point of this article isn’t to compare and contrast the relative merits of Seattle and Madison. Rather, it’s to alert those members of the readership who haven’t made the journey from the Pacific Northwest to this here area of the country that the trip is, essentially, death to baseball.
Anytime I go on any sort of a trip, my first instinct — one which I’m sure a number of readers share — is to see if it might be possible to include a baseball game in my itinerary. Major league, minor league, college summer league: whatever, doesn’t matter. Barring that, I at least like to listen to baseball on the road.
Here’s the thing about trips east of the Cascades and west of, say, Minneapolis: they offer little in the way of the former and almost nothing in the way of the latter.
As Exhibit One, I offer you this map — which will be familiar to you — of the 30 major league teams (courtesy of about.com):
Google Maps shows the distance between Seattle and Minneapolis as being about 1650 miles; between Seattle and Denver, about 1370. Seeing as the US of A is only about 3000 total miles across, that’s kinda a huge deal. In any case, the result for the baseball-starved traveler is that there’s little in the way of major league action.
But that’s not all! Consider Exhibit Two, a map of minor league teams (courtesy of minorleaguebaseball.com):
All told, there’re close to 250 minor league teams in the United States, and only about 10 to 15 of them are located in the huge swath of land between Portland/Seattle and Madison. That’s about five percent of the teams spread out over a land mass which constitutes, I don’t know, about 25 percent or so of the country’s total area. Between them, the Dakotas and Minnesota have exactly zero minor league affiliates. Zero.
Really hungry for a game? There’s always the collegiate, wood bat Northwoods League, but as you can tell from the map below (courtesy of thefullwiki.org), even that offers limited options through the relevant area.
None of this is to say that it’s impossible to catch a game. I watched part of a Rockies contest at the Ponderosa Campground in Cody, Wyoming, and caught some the Twins in Luverne, Minnesota, way out in the Western part of that state. That’s fine. And, of course, there are other charms to the trip that make the lack of baseball somehwat acceptable. The point is, if you’re looking for a baseball road trip, do not go East, young man.