There is perhaps no greater summer adventure than the baseball road trip. It provides an opportunity not only to see your team play in a different ballpark, but also to experience a new city and bond with friends or family. Last year, I made a couple of baseball road trips, heading to Chicago with family to see the Twins play at Wrigley Field and traveling to the heartland in a rental van with some friends to see games in St. Louis and Kansas City. Both of the trips were absolutely amazing, with the baseball games serving as only small highlights in thoroughly enjoyable overall experiences.
Each spring, I like to take a look at the schedule for the upcoming season and pick out series that might provide road trip opportunities. There are several considerations to be made in selecting appropriate destinations. Is the distance drivable? Is the stadium nice? Are there cool things to do in the city when not attending the games? Is the series during a weekend, so I don't have to take a bunch of time off work? Are there people I can stay with to save on lodging fees?
With all of these things in mind, I went through the Twins' 2010 schedule and picked out a few series that make for nice road trip possibilities:
Chicago White Sox
(April 9-11, August 10-12, September 14-16)
Those early April dates provide an opportunity to hit the road right at the beginning of the season, as it is the Twins' second series of the regular season. I've been U.S. Cellular Field and didn't come away terribly impressed -- not much personality -- but Chicago is a beautiful city and unfortunately the Twins don't play the Cubs again this year. I figure that the Sox will be the Twins' fiercest competition in the AL Central this year, so that September series could loom large.
Driving Time: About 7 hours
Kansas City Royals
(April 23-25, July 26-28, September 27-29)
Of all the big-league ballparks I've visited, I think Kaufmann Stadium is my favorite. It's gorgeous, with big splashing fountains beyond the outfield wall, and the Party Deck in right field is a great place for a guy like me to hang out and watch the game while chatting with friends and sipping a beer. The huge parking lots surrounding the stadium are great for tailgating. And of course, since it's the Royals, you know there's a very good chance you'll be walking out happy after seeing a Twins victory. Be careful about that July series -- it'll be hot!
Driving Time: About 7 hours
(April 27-29, July 9-11, September 24-26)
Detroit might not have the greatest reputation as a city, but I've heard plenty of good things about Comerica Park. The Twins and Tigers, of course, came right down to the wire last year, so another intense battle could easily shape up here in the 2010 campaign. The drive, nearly 12 hours, can be a bear but it does take you through some nice cities like Madison and Chicago. You could even stop in Beloit along the way to catch the Snappers, the Twins' Low-A minor-league affiliate.
Driving Time: About 11.5 hours
(April 30-May 1, August 6-8, September 10-12)
The drive to Cleveland is similar to the one to Detroit, except that it's about an hour longer. The Indians' home park, Progressive Field, draws rave reviews so if you've got it in you to spend over half a day on the road, this is a good trip.
Driving Time: About 12.5 hours
Alright, this is a pretty daunting drive by car, but the Twins don't play the Phillies very often and Philadelphia is a pretty awesome city. The main reason I've added it here is because the Twins play the Mets in New York the following weekend, so if you want to go all-out and do an expansive East Coast baseball road trip, here's your opportunity.
Driving Time: About 19.5 hours
Quick vent session here: This year marks the second straight time the Twins/Brewers series in Milwaukee has taken place right in the middle of the week rather than on a weekend. What gives? Milwaukee is easily the quickest drive of any mentioned here, and with the "Border Battle" aspect and excellent tailgating at Miller Park, it makes for an awesome weekend trip that I've done multiple times in the past. Yet, scheduling the series in middle of the week makes this trip a tough one to pull off for us weekday working folk. Frustrating scheduling here.
Driving Time: About 5.5 hours
New York Mets
As I mentioned before, the Twins play in Philadelphia the prior weekend. If you manage to make it out there, the drive to New York is only two hours. Like the Phillies, the Mets are a rare opponent for the Twins, and of course there's a decent chance the Twins will face Johan Santana in this series. The Mets' stadium, Citi Field, is brand new and there are all sorts of things to do in New York. Although it is a sacrelige in the realm of baseball road tripping, I might even hop on a plane and fly out for this series.
Driving Time: About 20 hours
Last spring, me and John Bonnes talked at length about trying to organize a big road trip where a bunch of Twins fans could jump on a bus and follow the team to St. Louis and Kansas City, but ultimately the logistics became overwhelming. The idea continued to simmer in my mind, so I was very pleased to meet Scott Povolny at the TwinsCentric Viewing Party at Majors a couple weeks ago. Povolny recently launched a new company called TwinsTrain
, which basically seeks to accomplish the same thing me and John futilely toyed with a year ago. Basically, for a reasonable all-inclusive fee, you can sign up with TwinsTrain and get all the arrangements of the road trip taking care of for you -- bus ride, hotel accomodations, tickets to a couple games, and some other nice perks. Destinations include most of the ones listed above. You can check out the web site (linked above) for further details, including prices and dates, if you're interested. I'll be tagging along on the Kansas City trip in late April, and I know the other TwinsCentric fellows are planning on making trips with TwinsTrain as well. As fellow Strib blogger Sooze mentioned yesterday
, she'll be aboard for the Detroit trip in July.
I'm hopeful that TwinsTrain succeeds, not only because Scott seems like a really nice guy but also because the core concept relates directly to something I harped on in my inaugural post on the TwinsCentric blog
: synergy. It's an opportunity for Twins fans to get together and share their passion. It's the same reason we organized that gathering where I met Scott, and the same reason we've got a similar event scheduled for Majors in Blaine on April 10 (which I hope many of you can attend). The Twins have a terrific, optimistic and well-informed fan base, and the opportunities I've had to meet and interact with these folks have made this entire five-year blogging experience a rewarding endeavor.
Whether you choose to hop on board with TwinsTrain, rent a van with some friends or jump in the family station wagon with your loved ones, I strongly recommend road tripping to catch the Twins in another city this summer. As you can see above, there are plenty of great opportunities to do so.