So last night I found myself at Nationals Park, taking in a chilly, early April contest between the highly touted (so weird to say) Washington Nationals and the lowly (even at this point in the season) Miami Marlins. Despite the Nationals and Marlins being in the same division, I wasn’t completely sure I’d ever seen the Marlins play in person (and who can blame me, they are a rather forgettable team – despite the relatively young franchise owning two World Series titles from the sole two years they’ve made the postseason).
That made me wonder, how many of Major League Baseball’s 30 franchises had I actually seen in person (regardless whether it was a home game for them or they were facing my beloved Nationals here in D.C.). Growing up in Montana, I used to get out to plenty of Minnesota Twins games in the old and ugly Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. I also took in more than a handful of Baltimore Orioles contests on trips to the D.C. area. Because of that, my American League catalog filled up nicely, but, for the longest time, my sole National League experience had been a Cubs-Rockies game at ol’ Wrigley Field in the mid-90s (I remember Andres “Big Cat” Galarraga inching a controversial home run that got stuck in the vine atop the left field wall).
I ticked off the teams I’ve seen one-by-one and was astounded that I have actually seen at least 23 of them! In the American League I’ve yet to remember seeing the Cleveland Indians or Los Angeles Angels (as I vaguely recall seeing some players who did play on those two teams). For now, we’ll leave them open so I can definitively check them off later (either through going to a game or finding an old ticket stub). In the National League, I’m a bit more sure of things, as I can safely leave the Cincinnati Reds, Milwaukee Brewers, New York Mets, San Diego Padres and St. Louis Cardinals off the list. Again, I can’t be too sure these either, but from what I remember, I don’t remember anything of these teams.
It made me wonder how many teams I’ve seen in the other major professional sports in the U.S. Thankfully, those lists were a little easier to compile. After winding through memory lane (dotted with plenty of U-turns and round-abouts) I came up with 16 of 30 NBA franchises, 17 of 32 NFL teams and 12 of 30 NHL squads. To send out some love to the MLS, I’ve also seen three of its 19 franchises play. In total (now discounting the MLS), I’ve seen and helped 68 of 122 of the U.S.’s top corporations conduct business in person (hey, sports are all about big, big money, and I’ve contributed to that). That’s 55.7% of the top pro franchises in North America. I sure love the smell of commerce at the ballpark!
I’m fortunate, being a sports nut from Montana, to have seen all that I have. I won’t even do the research on it, but Montana may be the only state in the Lower 48 that doesn’t even border a state with a major pro sports team, let alone have its own to root for.
Sporting events have long been an inspiration for various road trip ideas. While some people county count, collect National Parks or check-off the fifty states, many try to take in every ballpark or see every team in their favorite leagues. Two guys have undertaken the “Ultimate Sports Road Trip” which not only attempts to see all 122 teams in their home confines, but also branches out into minor league games. It’s an unbelievable task to take on considering the extra cost of procuring tickets as well as the unthinkable cost of simply being on the road all the time. I might have to hit the guys up for an interview just to ask how they do it!
Have sports ever inspired you to take a road trip? Have you been to more games than you can count? Do you know anyone that has embarked on a comprehensive, whirlwind tour of an entire league? Well, spill the beans!