By Sean McCafferty aka 30ranfordfan

I’m not going to write another cliché filled article about why Toronto’s Rogers Centre is a bad place to watch baseball. If you go to Google, and spend about 30 seconds searching, you’ll be able to find lots of them.

Rogers Centre

Truth is the Rogers Centre (formally known as Skydome) is a great place to watch a game. The seats are as comfortable as you’ll find throughout Major League Baseball, and there isn’t a seat with a bad sightline in the house. It might get a little stuffy in there when the roof is closed, and it may lack in atmosphere when fewer than 20,000 people show up, but it’s a pretty darn good place to watch a baseball game.

That doesn’t mean other places aren’t nice too. There’s something to like about any MLB park you’re in. That’s why the trips there are so much fun. Driving, even if it’s a really long trek, also provides a great chance to see a lot of America, that you otherwise may never get to. (Yes, to my fellow Canadians there’s a load of nice places in Canada to visit too, but we lack the necessary teams to do a road trip for the purpose of baseball.)

When I include my hometown Jays, I’m now a veteran of visiting 19 MLB teams, in 20 different parks (I’ve been to both old and new Yankee Stadium). I’ve only completed one division (AL Central) but only have one that I haven’t yet started (AL West). I’ve also taken in games at 11 different MLB parks, and they are truly one of the underrated gems of North American sports.

Progressive Field

I don’t know what exactly it is that got me hooked on baseball. I can certainly remember watching the Blue Jays teams of 1992 and 1993 win the World Series, and I can say that my first ever game was in 1990, on a family summer vacation to Toronto (I didn’t move to Ontario, from Canada’s East Coast, until 1995). I’m not even sure what prompted my first road trip (Cleveland) other than thinking it’d be a good way to spend a long weekend.

Maybe it’s the fact that it’s summer time, and the weather is (generally) great, that adds so much extra appeal. Spending an afternoon outside, watching what’s got the potential to be a great game, while enjoying one of the few months of the year where shorts & a t-shirt pass for normal clothes, really is a great way to spend an afternoon. Hitting the open road with a couple of friends, driving to a destination that’s still hours away – it’s really a lot more fun than most people like to admit.

Showing up in another team’s building, wearing the visitor’s jersey is always a fun time too. From my own experiences, the home town fans will be obliged to make a few comments at you, but most people generally treat you with a lot of courtesy, and are pretty welcoming to their home town.

Boston's Green Monster

At least that’s how I found Boston, Detroit, and Kansas City to be, while cheering for the Blue Jays (I will admit – Philadelphia is nothing but hostile to anyone cheering for the away side. I left that town thinking that “The City of Brotherly Love” was actually a term of irony. The fact that any Philadelphia native reading this is thinking to themselves “damn right” only proves my point further!).

The longest trip I’ve done to date took place in the summer of 2007. Over nine days I caught eight games in five different Major League Cities, and two Minor League ones.

Two friends and I started off by watching a packed Lugnuts game in Lansing Michigan (Travis Snider went 3/4 for the home town team), then we moved onto to Chicago to the New York Mets beat the Chicago Cubs, and see Tom Glavine earn his 300th career victory. We followed this up by heading to Minnesota, where the home team was blanked by Cleveland.

We stopped in at the (now closed) Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, to watch the (then) Royals. After a late night continuing down the road following the Omaha game, we had an early morning to get to Denver in time for 1:00 Rockies game (where we did learn that beer will hit you harder, 5280 feet above sea level).

Kauffman’s Fountains

After a morning tour of the Coors brewery, we drove 500 miles down I-70 and rolled into Kansas City. We got to watch Shaun Marcum pitch one of the best games I’ve ever seen, as the Blue Jays defeated the Royals. Went back for a second game the next day, only to watch the Royals even up the series (which they would eventually win). The next morning it was time to drive home, but not without making a pit stop in St. Louis, for a Cardinals game.

In a few days I’ll be heading out and beating that trip, like Jose Baustisa would to curve ball left hanging over the plate; in terms of total days (16), number of miles (give or take 3,000) and likely number of games (figure I’ll be seeing at least 12, maybe more).

I’ll be starting this trip off with my third trip to Cooperstown. I’m going to be on hand to watch my favourite player, Robbie Alomar, take his place with the game’s all-time greats. Next I’m planning to catch a few games from the historic Cape Cod league. I’ll be following that up with a couple of nights in Myrtle Beach, and then nearly a week in Florida. I’m pumped to see the Jays take on their division rival Rays (twice!) while finishing off the AL East teams on my list of places to go. Before starting the long drive home, a Marlin’s game is a must, finishing off the NL East for me too. Not exactly sure how many MiLB games I’ll hit up along the way, but I’d imagine it will end up being close to a “one game per day” pace.

The only sad part of this is that I’ve pretty much run out of MLB teams I can (reasonably) drive to. All that will remain are the two in Texas, Arizona, and everyone along the West Coast.

I’d encourage baseball fans everywhere to do it. Go see the fountains in the outfield of Kauffman Stadium. Be there in person to watch balls smacked off the Green Monster at Fenway. Marvel at the confluence of three rivers just past the outfield, when you’re watching a fly ball at PNC Park. See the retro look at Comerica Park or Camden Yards.