The realities of baseball road tripping comes home to roost...
In late December, as the cold wind howled and the Twins 2023 schedule seemed like a breath of warm air, hope sprung eternal. I made an excel spreadsheet, calculated mileage, ordered books written by crazy people who had attended all 162 games of a season, or visited all 30 stadiums in a year, and I began to count the costs of a dream trip to be in person for all 81 Twins road games in 2023.
February now is upon us, and most of reality has entered the picture again. The airline situation has become unreliable and expensive. My mini-van is making new noises that have already proven to be expensive. Once in a lifetime family events have started to enter the summer calendar. And yet, the MLB schedule is relentless. There is no breathing room.
Connecting flight gets canceled? You miss the game. Important family event emerges for a weekend in May? You miss the game. Changes at work? How did you plan on paying for those trips? Better miss the game. New opportunity for your work emerge that requires some in-person presence in a non-MLB town? You miss the game.
Most humans saw this coming in December already, but were kindly waiting for me to realize it on my own. The only humans that can actually make every Twins game in a season, let alone every road game, are those who are employed specifically for that purpose. Another option is being independently wealthy with no desire to maintain a family life past May. So what is a man with a dream gonna do?
Writing the weekly TwinsDaily entries about the 2023 road trips has been a gift. I've been able to methodically and strategically investigate the dream that I was given. I've learned things about the stadiums and communities that both invigorates my journey, and makes me not want to waste my time and money! The books that I've read seem to all point to the fact that being present for the daily grind of an MLB season often leaves you with nothing to write about besides "I took a nap here" and "I avoided a car crash there." Home life was happening for all of the individuals, and yet they couldn't really be present to experience it, because they were in Seattle, or Baltimore, or some campground in the middle of the Midwest because they ran out of cash and read Google Maps wrong.
Now that the veil has been lifted, I've begun to envision a compromise. A recalibration if you will.
What if a Twins fan from South Dakota tried to go to a Twins road series in every MLB ballpark over a three-year stretch?
This combines the "every ballpark" bucket list dream with the "I feel called to experience what my team experiences" dream. It also allows me to not go to Cleveland four times in two years. Once will do just fine. It allows me to say to the MLB scheduling crew, "Texas to Cleveland in September with no off days at the start of my son's first year of high school and marching band competitions just isn't cool." It allows my family to take an extra five days to explore the West Coast before, during, and after the Oakland/Seattle trip. It allows me to tell the White Sox that I won't be there in person to see them lose that series, because I'm going to be doing something amazing with my work someplace else.
Before I make this switch, I really need to figure out why I'm doing this trip at all.
The Twins don't care. My presence will not impact our bullpen's ability to throw competitive pitches in the 7th and 8th innings. My plane ticket purchases aren't going to help at the trade deadline. The players will enjoy having more fans supporting them in the road ballparks, but they are going to do their best regardless. At least they better...
My family cares way more. They care about where I am and why. Trips to Twins games and new places with them definitely has emerged as the reason to do this at all. In order for that to be the main point of this epic adventure, it can't take place all at once. It needs to be savored and treasured, not rushed.
I do think that other Twins fans in this frozen hemisphere are interested. It's novel, and something that would be epic. I want to share this story with them...with you. Will it still be a story worth sharing if it requires us to walk together for a little bit longer, over a few more twists and turns? Or is the urgency and impossibility of the travel what is worth sharing?
Epic-ness is still involved. I can't miss a National League Park next year if the three-year plan is going to work, and missing one this year would be a major risk.
Usefulness is still involved. I can still provide the fans with a deeper look into the ballparks of MLB, while paying particular attention to how Twins Territory is being represented live and in person at the enemy stadiums. As I began to write about the return trips to Central Division ballparks for 2023, I realized that going back to places within the division didn't scream excitement like the first trips to a place. The playoff push in September might alter that scenario, but for now, I'm not losing sleep about only going to Comerica Park once in two years. And I sure as heck am hoping that MLB sees the error of their ways and links that trip next year to the Toronto series, you know, since they are only a ferry ride apart!
I'm also am starting to hope again about the Twins' chances. That, in and of itself, changes things about the "why" behind the trip. When I started my planning, we were deep into a winter of not getting the players we needed. Now, we are mostly through a winter of wondering how we pulled that off!
Why would I not want to join in on a longer window for success? Two chances for the Twins to see the stars align. Putting all of my eggs in the 2023 basket, at the current price of eggs, doesn't seem very wise. Why not leave open the opportunity for back-to-back World Series campaigns?
I want to share a thank you to all of my family and friends who have already committed to 2023 adventures with me. At the very least I'll still be catching 16 road trips, and approximately 48 games of Twins baseball in places that I've never been, often with friends and family that I haven't been able to be in person with for years. If I would have proposed 48 games a year on the road for two years back in December, the same questions of sanity would have arisen.
I'm curious what you think TwinsDaily friends? What types of things are you looking forward to the most about my road trips? What makes for the most interesting stories? Is it the travel? The stadiums? The food & drink? The in person account of how clutch hitting in July in Oakland will determine the fate of our next two months of success?
I'm seeking wise counsel, from my favorite community. I've attached a New Revised Standard Version of the "All 81 Adventure." Technically its more of a "Great Outdoors 96er." (If you don't get that movie reference, please take the next 90 minutes to redeem that life fault) How does it look to you?
Thanks again for helping me plan this epic voyage, for as long and as often as I'm able to take it.