The Travelling Salesman Problem

The MLB Road Trip has been mastered by about 25 people that have accomplished the feat in under a month.  We are going to keep giving the extreme ballpark chasers some more food for thought here

The 30 MLB Park Road Trip has been mastered by about 25 people who have accomplished the feat in under a month. We are going to keep giving the extreme ballpark chasers some more food for thought here.

By Josh Robbins (Special Guest Writer And Co – Creator for The Factor12 Rating Pitching Metric.)

The Factor 12 (F12) is an analytic measurement utilizing league average performance to compare the value of all MLB pitchers on 60ft6in.com.

My grandfather was a traveling salesman for most of his working life.  Frequently, he recalls stories about selling his wares in exotic places such as Keokuk, Iowa, Hannibal, Missouri, and Cairo, Illinois.

However, the real Traveling Salesman Problem (TSP) asks this question: “Given a list of cities and the distances between each pair of cities, what is the shortest possible route that visits each city exactly once and returns to the origin city?”

Applying this computation to all 30 MLB stadiums is more complex given the nature of the regular season schedule.  A handful of metropolitan cities host two clubs enabling for travel to occur in the same city more than once.

Without using a complex algorithm or formula based system, google maps will be utilized to determine the shortest distances between each city/stadium to determine the most logical route.  

Extreme ballpark chasers are often left to the mercy of the schedule eliminating a perfect directional path.

After optimizing the mileage breakdown between stadiums, this is the shortest possible DRIVING route discovered:

30 Ballparks in 30 Days Documentary

The Perfect Schedule (If someone could tailor it for the least distance to all 30 MLB Parks

#

Date

Stadium

Miles

1

1-Apr

Safeco Field

2

2-Apr

AT&T Park

806.2

3

2-Apr

McAfee Coliseum

15.5

4

3-Apr

Dodger Stadium

365.2

5

3-Apr

Angels Stadium

31.5

6

4-Apr

Petco Park

94.6

7

5-Apr

Chase Field

354.5

8

6-Apr

Coors Field

865.5

9

7-Apr

Kauffman Stadium

608.7

10

8-Apr

Target Field

438.7

11

9-Apr

Miller Park

335.3

12

9-Apr

Wrigley Field

90.2

13

10-Apr

U.S. Cellular Field

10.4

14

11-Apr

Busch Stadium

294.8

15

12-Apr

Great American BP

358.4

16

13-Apr

Comerica Park

263.2

17

14-Apr

Progressive Field

168.1

18

14-Apr

PNC Park

132.0

19

15-Apr

Rogers Centre

316.0

20

16-Apr

Fenway Park

546.5

21

17-Apr

Citi Field

203.4

22

17-Apr

Yankee Stadium

10.0

23

18-Apr

Citizens Bank Park

107.9

24

19-Apr

Camden Yards

98.5

25

19-Apr

Nationals Park

38.2

26

20-Apr

Turner Field

639.3

27

21-Apr

Marlins Park

660.9

28

22-Apr

Tropicana Field

265.7

29

23-Apr

Minute Maid Park

1002.6

30

24-Apr

Ballpark in Arlington

258.3

Total Distance

9380.1

The Mariners have one of the gem stadiums in all of baseball right now.  It is too bad the team on the field has not been that great - in what has been a brutal decade.  Jack Z.. was just extended for one more year.  While it wasn't exactly a ringing endorsement, the club's youth has finally shown some promise.  The team has a promising amount of young pitchers, good Starting Pitching already in the Majors, and a few positional players that look like they will stay in the bigs.  Of concern is the fact they will lose several veterans in Mike Morse, Kendrys Morales and Raul Ibanez after this year.  That is, unless they decide to trade any of them in the next week.

The Mariners have one of the gem stadiums in all of baseball right now.  Since its next closest park is 800 Miles away (o.co Coliseum) and usually will head right into a doubleheader opportunity (or even 2) out of the 5 California Parks, you almost have to start or end your trip in the Pacific Northwest City.  You simply should start there, preferably during a matinee game, before taking on the I – 5 South for a 14 Hour drive to the Bay Area.  At least with a park this far away in seclusion, you are guaranteed a game with the retractable roof!

Safeco Field, home of the Seattle Mariners, is a geographical outlier with zero MLB stadiums within 800 miles of the ballpark. Any record attempts by land will require those interested to start or end the trip in the Emerald City.

Kauffman Stadium is the linchpin when optimizing the shortest distance strategy.  At first glance, Busch Stadium appears to be the next closest stadium. Yes.  However, after manipulating all of the variations, it is not the most optimum next location.  

Google maps proves driving north to Target Field in Minneapolis, MN reduces the overall mileage than driving east to St. Louis, MO or south to Arlington, TX.

The utilization of the TSP approach enables a potential traveler to watch a game at all 30 MLB stadiums in 24 days while completing SIX double headers.  

There is only one drive that exceeds 1000 miles, which is impossible to avoid in any land record-breaking attempt.

Unfortunately, the 1002.6-mile drive between Minute Maid Park in Houston, TX and Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, FL will come into play.

In 2008, I completed the journey to every MLB stadium in 26 days utilizing only land travel.  Thanks to the help from eight different friends and family members who shared the 14,212 miles of driving.

Here’s the schedule breakdown of Thirty26:

#

Date

Stadium

Win

Lose

1

16-Jun

Safeco Field

Marlins 6

Mariners 1

2

17-Jun

AT&T Park

Tigers 5

Giants 1

3

18-Jun

Angels Stadium

Mets 5

Angels 4

4

19-Jun

Chase Field

Dbacks 2

A’s 1

5

20-Jun

McAfee Coliseum

A’s 7

Marlins 6

6

21-Jun

Dodger Stadium

Indians 7

Dodgers 2

7

21-Jun

Petco Park

Tigers 7

Padres 5

8

22-Jun

Coors Field

Mets 3

Rockies 1

9

23-Jun

Kauffman Stadium

Royals 8

Rockies 4

10

24-Jun

Comerica Park

Cardinals 8

Tigers 4

11

25-Jun

Rogers Centre

Reds 6

Blue Jays 5

12

26-Jun

Progressive Field

Indians 4

Giants 1

13

27-Jun

U.S. Cellular Field

Sox 10

Cubs 3

14

28-Jun

Metrodome

Brewers 5

Twins 1

15

29-Jun

Ballpark in Arlington

Rangers 5

Phillies 1

16

30-Jun

Minute Maid Park

Astros 4

Dodgers 1

17

1-Jul

Tropicana Field

Rays 3

Red Sox 1

18

2-Jul

Dolphin Stadium

Marlins 4

Nationals 2

19

3-Jul

Turner Field

Phillies 4

Braves 1

20

4-Jul

Busch Stadium

Cubs 2

Cardinals 1

21

5-Jul

Great American BP

Reds 3

Nationals 2

22

6-Jul

Camden Yards

Rangers 11

Orioles 10

23

7-Jul

PNC Park

Pirates 10

Astros 7

24

8-Jul

Fenway Park

Red Sox 6

Twins 5

25

9-Jul

Yankee Stadium

Yankees 2

Rays 1

26

9-Jul

Shea Stadium

Mets 5

Giants 0

27

10-Jul

Citizens Bank Park

Phillies 4

Cardinals 1

28

10-Jul

Nationals Park

Dbacks 7

Nationals 5

29

11-Jul

Wrigley Field

Cubs 3

Giants 1

30

11-Jul

Miller Park

Reds 6

Brewers 5

As illustrated in the graphic, one can see the odometer reading was not minimized during this transcontinental odyssey. Unfortunately, the MLB regular season schedule dictates ones ability to challenge such lofty goals.  

Certain variables in the schedule (game time, location, etc.) hinder linear routes when planning elaborate schemes of this nature causing a circuitous route.

Three legs of the journey exceeded 1000 miles, including TWICE in a three-day span. The most thrilling drive of the trip was the 1082 miles from Petco Park in San Diego to Coors Field in Denver.  

There was only 14 hours on the clock from the last out of the Padres game to the first pitch at the Rockies game the next day.  Remarkably, we made it to the game on time by TWO minutes!  

Use the TSP only as a guideline because the likelihood of a perfectly formulated schedule is nearly impossible.   The 2014 MLB schedule should be announced in mid-September for those interested in plotting the next great MLB road trip.

My journey included 4 doubleheader attempts (LAA - SD), (NYY - NYM). (PHI - WSH) and (CHC - MIL) to conclude my 30 park journey in 26 days.  Ironically again, Chuck Booth was in attendance for his 1st 30 park tour for that very doubleheader attempt at Wrigley Field and Miller Park.

My journey included 4 doubleheader attempts (LAA – SD), (NYY – NYM). (PHI – WSH) and (CHC – MIL) to conclude my 30 park journey in 26 days quest.  (This is Still the CURRENT LAND RECORD – ‘For Fastest to view a complete Game’ for all 30 MLB Parks.’ I was able to raise a lot of money for youth baseball in my attempt.

*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com or their partners.***

***Josh Robbins is a Video-Journalist and Baseball Historian living in Gilbert, Arizona.  In 2010, he earned a Master’s Degree in Sport Management from CSU-Long Beach. 

From June 16 to July 11, 2008, he watched a game in all 30 MLB stadiums in a world record 26 days by car.  Please email Josh at robbinsjosh@hotmail.com or visit 60ft6in.com for more information about the Factor12 Rating.***

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