When deciding which baseball game or games you want to attend during the season, there are a number of questions you must ask yourself. Who, what, why, when, where, and how? Each question is multi-faceted, and when weighed together certain games are eliminated from consideration while others become more attractive. I’m not going to lie, it takes a trained eye to see through the data to come to the optimal decision. Let us not waste any more time, below are the questions and what each represents in the baseball game tickets decision making process. There are obviously many different baseball leagues where you could attend games. This article, for the sake of brevity, will only consider Major League Baseball (MLB) games.
P.S. – If you don’t care that much about which game you go to this is probably something you care even less about. This is for people who through shrewdness, poverty, or both, choose to exercise scrutiny.
The key here is to find the best match-up. The definition of “best” can vary, depending on what you want. Best players, best team, best pitching match up, best divisional match-up, best interleague series, and so on. If you have any favorite players, see if any of them are coming to town. Selecting a game based on pitching predictions only works if you’re buying them close to the date of the game, but it can be a great way to get in on an amazing pitchers duel. If you’re buying tickets for a game near the end of the season and you’re teams in the playoff hunt, try finding games against teams who are competing with them for a playoff spot.
The main consideration of What is What to do when you’re there? A lot of that depends on who you’re with. The family experience largely varies from the fraternity experience. Either way, there’s a lot of things to do, you just have to find them. The first thing you should do upon entering the stadium is find your seat. But after establishing home base, venture out into the stadium and take a look around. Take at least 1 lap around the level where your ticket is, and if you want to go to another one. There are often viewing railings at the top of sections where you can stand and watch the game, try walking around every inning or so to watch from a different vantage point.
There’s the speed pitch. A speed detector gives you the speed of 2 pitches, so you can try to guess what your third will be! This activity is good for children, adults, and drunk people. Speaking of alcohol, it’s best to see (on that walk of yours) all the different stands that serve beer. Sometimes one stand serves different beers than another, and you don’t want to make a premature decision only to find out better beers are available further down the concourse.
During (or instead of) your alcohol reconnaissance, check out the different types of food available. MLB teams endear themselves to the city in which they reside and often delicious local foods are sold in the ballpark. After purveying the foodstuffs, ask yourself if you want to go classic or exotic. Classic is sticking with the traditional baseball food: hot dogs, fries, peanuts, cotton candy. Exotic is tasting the unique foods, like the sushi stand or hoagie shop. If you’re going the ice cream avenue, see if they have the souvenir helmet cup, it’s the perfect memento.
Why is usually either the most important question or an irrelevant one. Why is typically stated as “Why this game?” The reason I say that it’s either important or not at all is because the answer is usually “Because there’s free stuff”. At the beginning of the season I always look at the season schedule and identify certain games. They are: dollar dog nights, bobble head nights, Fathers Day (they give out sweet hats), college night (free t-shirt). These are often gimmicks to get people to come to games against lower quality opponents, but what does that matter? Your teams got a good shot at winning then, right?
Pro Tip: When planning to buy tickets to a game where free stuff is involved, get your tickets sufficiently early. These games are typically popular, and waiting too long could leave you on the outside looking in.
This is another multi-faceted question. There’s the beginning, middle, and end of the season. Threes the different days of the week. Night and day games. When the weather is cold and when it is hot. Each of these perspectives can strongly dictate which game you decide to buy tickets for.
Games early in the season have the energy of Spring on their side; fan and player enthusiasm is high and the overall experience is a notch happier. Late season games have the ever-present tension of the looming playoffs that heighten excitement and make every moment count. Middle season games can have a leisurely serene feeling that echoes simpler days.
As for the days of the week, Sunday is the optimal time to catch a game. Watching a baseball game on a Sunday with good weather, a beer and hot dog in hand is as American as… well, baseball! Other than Sunday it’s an issue of whether you want weekend or weekday. Weekend games give the obvious flexibility of being on the weekend, but weekday games can break up a stressful work week. Many giveaways and special nights are during the week as well, in order to attract more fans. If you can manage it, a weekday early afternoon game can be a unique experience. There is the distinct feeling that the stadium is a bubble of fun and relaxation amidst the ever-moving world of business.
The primary Where question is Where to sit. It might be wise to make sure your seat is underneath the overhang, keeping you dry if it rains. Even if it’s not raining, it might be wise to try and buy tickets that will keep you in the shade and out of the beating heat of Summer. Another issue concerning the sun is where it will be at the time of the game. A perfect game can be ruined if you’re facing the setting sun.
Where to sit also concern the view of the field. Will you be able to see the whole field? What perspective do you even want to have? I personally enjoy sitting on the first base line because that is where most of the defense action happens. But from time to time I enjoy sitting in the outfield, so I can watch a monster home run fly towards me. Behind home plate can be a great experience, especially if you have tickets close to home plate. If you sit close to the dugout you get close-up views of the players, and the potential to eavesdrop on a “heated discussion” between ref and umpire.
How will you get there? If you’re planning to drink, public transportation might be your best bet. Plan ahead and find out where the bus stop or subway station is. Depending on how expensive it is, consider taking a taxi. Although I caution the use of taxi’s because traffic after a baseball game is often heavy, and paying a taxi to creep through traffic could be a costly venture.
There are also a number of instances where bringing your car is worth it. If you’ve got a family it might be best to avoid hectic public transportation and utilize a more secure method. Also, if you’re with a group of friends and want to tailgate, a car is essential to a great tailgate experience. Make sure someone is the designated driver, and give them sufficient food and beverages so they don’t feel left out. The car can be annoying because of the cost of parking, and overcrowded parking lots, so plan accordingly. If you’ve got to be somewhere after the game, give yourself enough time to get there.