Before baseball: our Final Four for March Madness (see Colleges)

                                                                                   

We suggest you follow and/or read our top 10 world thinkers, writers and/or readers through the pandemic crisis 2022. Until the world pandemic is over, attending public gatherings is not advisable. :

1. Julio Cortazar, Argentina, Writer

2. Wallace Stevens, poet

3. Pablo Neruda, Chile, poet

4. Sahle Work Zewd, Ethiopa, leader

5. Cristina Rivera Garza, Mexico, writer

6 Jorie Graham, USA, poet

7. Carlos Fuentes, Mexico, Writer

8. Chico Buarque, Brazil, writer/singer

9. John Ashberry, USA, poet

10. Tim Sherry, USA, poet

 

Top 64 Baseball Clubs and Venues: Where we like to watch baseball games in 2021

These rankings based on expected quality of baseball games and venues:

1. Chicago Cubs. This baseball nirvana needs to reload its farm system (ranked 17), but we are confident that will happen.

2 St. Louis Cardinals. One of America's baseball core cities, always with strong minor league system. Currently ranked 12 by Baseball America.

3. San  Francisco Giants. Minor league system ranked 15 by Baseball America, but spectacular setting.

4. Los Angeles Dodgers. This team has players, the classic stadium, farm system ranked No. 9.

5. Boston Red Sox. The best venue, fans that act like they are  post-docs, but one of the weakest farm systems (No. 20 of 30.)

6. New York Yankees. Nice stadiumplenty of money, but weak farm system (No. 18).

7. Philadelphia Phillies. Great tradition, fake superstar, weak farm system (No. 27 of 30).

8. Atlanta Braves (boycott all sporting events in state of Georgia until voter suppression laws eliminated). Baseball America magazine ranks this organization's minor league system No. 5 of 30. After rocky 2021, things should improve. Move the club to Vegas?

9. Chicago White Sox

10. Baltimore Orioles

11. Cleveland Indians

12. Cincinnati Reds

13. Pittsburg Pirates

14. Minnesota Twins

15. Detroit Tigers. Minor league system strong; life should improve soon for Detroit baseball fans.

16. Oakland Athletics

17. Kansas City Royals

18. San Diego Padres

[The remainder of these teams can be viewed on t.v. screen or on site with less difference than the 17 teams and venues listed above]

19. Tampa Bay Rays (boycott all sporting events in Florida until voter suppression ends). Minor league system ranked highly by Baseball America magazine 

20. Washington Nationals

21. New York Mets

22. Milwaukee Brewers

23. Arizona Diamondbacks (Boycott all Arizona sporting events until voter suppression laws are ended.) This club's minor league system ranked 16 of 30 by baseball America.

24. Colorado Rockies. This club low on talent from top to bottom (minor league system ranked 25 of 30 by Baseball America)

25. Seattle Mariners. Minor league system No. 2 of 30; Mariners will be trending up. 

26. Toronto Blue Jays. This organization has strong foundation with third best minor league system in majors.

27. Los Angeles Angels

28. Houston Astros (Boycott all sporting events in State of Texas until voter suppression laws eliminated). Minor league system ranked 26 of 30. Astros have dubious future. 

29. Texas Rangers (Boycott all sporting events in State of Texas until voter suppression laws are eliminated). Minor league system ranked 24 of 30. Future for Rangers not bright. 

30. Miami Marlins (Boycott all sporting events in State of Florida until voter suppression laws end). Minor league system ranked No. 11 of 30. Future of Marlins: hopeless for next three years.

[Criteria: 60 years experience observing live games, net worth of team, quality of baseball stadiums, seriousness of purpose of fans present at games.] 

Want the full 64 venues?  Check out these leads from 2018 [to be updated]

31. Yomiuri Giants:(AAAA Nippon Professional Baseball). Iconic team that has the history of the Giants and the Yankees. If possible, the team you want to see want to see during your first in Japan. Admission: miniscule compared to cost of transportation from U.S. or what it would cost to see the Yankees in NY. Net worth: approximately one billion dollars. (Japanese fans could argue for some of these teams to be on the top 64 internationally of all professional teams, but until they start releasing official figures on budget and/or play in World Series, this will be difficult for us to pin down; we welcome to send their financial figures directly to us and we promise confidentiality with our small inner group of approximately 1000 viewers per day and our corporate leaders, Williams/Medrazo.

32. Fukuoka Softback Hawks (AAAA Nippon Professional Baseball). Ticket price: if you paid for a ticket to fly to Japan, you probably do not care what it cost for a few baseball games there. This is the best team from 2017. Net worth: seemingly very comparable to Oakland A’s, but baseball teams in Japan do not have a sense of accountability for which Toyota is famous.

33. Tokio Yakuit Swallows (AAAA Nippon Professional Baseball). The beauty of this location is that you can take overnight flight to Tokio, arrive in morning, go to game here in Tokio in afternoon.[ This is what MLB teams will be doing in the near future.] The baseball equivalent of the ideal sushi buffet would be these three teams; it is likely that they will play better on the field than our San Diego Padres and Tampa Bay Rays are playing in April, 2018. Net worth: comparable to Oakland A’s.

34. Charlotte Knights. (AAA, BB&T Ballpark). They were tops in the nation in attendance for a minor league team, drawing 628,000 for the season. Ticket prices in MLA are 76 per person in 2018; in Charlotte, they range from $14 to 34 per person.

35. Oklahoma City Dodgers (AAA affiliate of Los Angeles Dodgers, Chickasaw Bricktown Park). Also known as Cielo Azul de Oklahoma City, as minor-league teams in general very pro-active in making Hispanic population feel welcome at baseball stadiums. Since we favor opening baseball more to the Hispanic population and shortening the season, we like the Oklahoma City version of the Dodgers even more than the Dodgers, about whom we are divided. Single tickets cost $8 to $25 in 2018.

36. Indianapolis Indians. 636,000 attendance last year was second in nation for minor leagues.

37. Lehigh Valley Ironpigs (AAA affiliate of Philadelphia Phillies; Coca-Cola Park, Allentown, PA). Donated $82,000 in grants to benefit Lehigh Valley organizations. Among tops in USA in minor league attendance, well over 500,000 most years.

38. Fresno Grizzlies (AAA affiliate of the Houston Astros; Chukchansi Park). Stadium holds 12,500 and Grizzlies tickets include events such as Cornelio Vega y su Dinastía, banda mexicana.[]note: the affiliation in Fresno has changed

39. Round Rock Express (AAA Pacific Coast League). 613,000 fans in 2017 was tops in Pacific Coast League. This place rocks, and tickets range from $7 to $35. Former Giant star Tim Lincecum is rehabbing this spring with them: go skate boarding with Tim after the game.

37. Toledo Mudhens (532,000 total attendance in 2017 was among tops in country).

38. Memphis Redbirds. (AAA affiliate of St. Louis Cardinals). We know the fans of the St. Louis Cardinals are just as serious as in Boston, although less intellectual and more emotive in approach. Cards fans here in Memphis are as devoted to baseball as in St. Louis, perhaps more so.

39. San José Giants (A affiliate of San Francisco Giants). They have adopted the name Gigantes; big Giants up north sell the same jersey and wear it once a year. We like these Gigantes (the stadium, the jersey, the team); their Municipal Stadium has a capacity of 5k and they usually have it over half-filled.

40. Lake Elsinore Storm (A-level affiliate of San Diego Padres; Lake Elsinore Diamond, also known as the Stadium). Wearing Hispanic Heritage-inspired baseball caps in June. A relatively new and comfortable place to see a baseball game. Usually do not play worse than the father club, and the local temperature in the summer tends to be more comfortable than nearby SoCal surroundings. With the best season attendance in California League in 2017, this a nice place to be. Not quite as zen as the stadium in Rancho Cucamonga, but dude, it’s like fun.

41. Great Lakes Loons (A-level affiliate of Los Angeles Dodgers; Midland, Michigan, Down Diamond). The mascot adds to the appeal of this baseball venue; everyone in the upper middle part of the nation (that part about which Hillary forgot in the last elections) wants to wear a cool jacket with the loon mascot on it, which is as pricey as more urbane (i.e. really cool as opposed to this corny cool) stuff in LA and NY.

42. San Antonio Missions (AA-level affiliate of the San Diego Padres). They claim to be changing name to Fly Chanclas, which sounds like something we would fictionalize for humor, but it is true. Another of the minor league teams to reach out to Hispanic community.

43. Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (A--level affiliate of Los Angeles Dodgers). Attractive stadium that is quite popular among locals. The team is not very good so far in 2018, but perhaps better at the fundamentals than the Dodgers. On his trip from Cuba to the Dodgers, Yasiel Puig stopped over for a few months here. Other Dodger stars occasionally rehab here, so Rancho can be a place to not only see future stars, but past ones. The most star-power in minor leagues, and the stadium is usually filled with fans who arrive late from their yoga or pilates class, leave early, don’t really care who wins, and do not know where the Quakes are in the standings. Very Zen: it is what it is. Kind of a mini-Dodger stadium and ATT Park combined in blissful yin-yang harmony.

44. Albuquerque Isotopes (AAA-level affiliate of Colorado Rockies.) Triple A baseball has long history of huge success in this town, although affiliations change from time to time. Usually among top in national attendance, over 500,000 per year. Unlike the Quakes fans, they care who wins.

45. Carolina Mudcats (A-level affiliate of Milwaukee Brewers.) Cool place for baseball; we will try to get this team higher than #46 in 2019.

46. Columbia, S.C. Fireflies. This A-level club outdrew the Miami Marlins on the 4th of July, 2018.

47. University of Florida/Dick Howser Stadium (Tallahassee),/Florida State University. The University of Florida earned ticket to College World Series with dramatic win over Auburn. You go to this wonderful stadium in Tallahassee and you can forget about the Marlins and the Rays (and those missed field goals…). On the other hand, the University of Florida is simply playing the best baseball at the college level today—this is a very good AAA minor league baseball team.) One university has a better team (No. 1 in nation); the other a better stadium—we call this a tie for baseball quality. Now, if we can only get the U in Miami to shift some of those narco dollars from football to baseball….we could have some really tough competition for the baseball dollar in the state of Florida. As a matter of fact, we are waiting for the day that football teams caught with their hands in the cookie jar get the death sentence from NCAA for three years in football (a la SMU) and all the “donations” go to the baseball program and, of course, research grants for the faculty. In September of 2018, the overall scenario for baseball might well lead residents of Florida, to start focusing on NFL's Tampa Bay, Miami and Jacksonville. 

48. University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill). Eliminated  late in playoffs from 2018 College World Series. Ranked number 6 among college teams in U.S., this is the best baseball in the region, but baseball quality has more nuances than Baroque poetry or García Márquez in North Carolina. For example, NC-State and Duke are both nearby and national powerhouses too. Even unheralded East Carolina, the John Donne of this group, is nationally ranked. And over in Shelby, where they have the coolest high school baseball stadium in the U.S., the American Legion national tournament keeps things interesting.

49. Oregon State University/ PK Park (Eugene) University of Oregon. Surviving well into the College World Series. Oregon’s American tackle football team has been going downhill ever since they lost their coach Chip Kelly, but things got very serious about baseball in Eugene as soon as neighboring rival Oregon State won the national championship a few years ago. Tickets for college games can range from $5.00 to $150, but are systematically much cheaper than the major or minor leagues. The more you attend college games toward the southern regions of U.S., the higher the prices. The Mariners are playing decent baseball right now, but for baseball fans living near I-5 from Olympia, Washington to southern Oregon, it simply does not get better than a game in Eugene with Oregon State, Stanford or Washington. We call the two Oregon baseball teams a draw: one has a better team (Oregon State going to College World Series in 2018), the other one (very solid) has a better stadium. If you wonder how they do all this in the rain, go to a football game and the Oregonians will explain it to you.

50. UFCU Disch-Falk (Austin), University of Texas. This team was back in College World Series with a slugger who is the son of Roger Clemens.There was no reason to travel to Houston or Dallas for hardball in the major—league style with this venue of national powerhouse UT, as well as the professional-like skill of nationally ranked Lake Travis High School. We rank them as the 50th best place to see boys play hardball, but arguably the best medium-size city (if you include Lake Travis High School) for not only music, but baseball. The summa of baseball quality, music quality and library collection at UT could well mean that Austin, if you are a monolingual English speaker, is simply one the best places on the planet to be.(Forthcoming: the Top 64 Places to be).The U of Texas eliminated from College World Series by U of Florida. Start watching now for the 2019 schedule Feb 2019.

51. Stanford University. This 33-6 team was ranked number two in the U.S. among college teams and playing at a level closer to the San Francisco Giants than the A-level San José Giants. They finished their season in NCAA regionals, so we are now talking about Stanford baseball in February, 2019. If it were not for the factor of highly ranked ATT Stadium, in fact, we would be recommending you buy tickets for the Cardinal rather than the Giants in May of 2018. All things considered, if you live near Palo Alto or in locations south of Palo Alto, our recommended baseball outing is in Palo Alto, not San Francisco. Alert to Stanford techno-geeks: if you would like to end this century-long torture of a six-month baseball season, tweet #MLBin4. Stanford begins in February 2019.

52. Alex Box Stadium (Baton Rouge), Louisiana State University. With this stadium and team, along with Sam Houston High School, hardly anyone worries about the lack of Major League Baseball team in New Orleans. Since the early 1990s, LSU has been like a Japanese AAAA franchise, i.e. almost major league baseball. Along with Ole Miss, we will call this our MLB team in the south, and let the MLB go ahead and expand into Monterrey, Mexico as its most southern venue. As we advance through the super-regionals in NCAA tournament, LSU and Old Miss have ended their seasons.

53. Dudly Noble Field (Starkville), University of Mississippi. Their 2018 season ended in regional playoffs, but this is a super cool stadium and this team is a national power ranked much of the season among the top five in 2018. Faulkner and baseball still pervade in this state, and this baseball venue is one prominent artifacts (along with the Faulkner home/museum) of things traditional in the state. Other than September through December, of course, when young boys love to suit up for American tackle football and forget everything else. In May 2018, the boys of the spring/ summer from Ole Miss are playing baseball at a AAA level, among top five in nation. In this state and neighboring Alabama (as well as a two-mile circumference in any direction), Starkville is, once again in 2019, a potential Center of the Baseball World.

54. Founders Park (Columbia), University of South Carolina. Along with UNC, the best baseball in the region, for sure. Here is one prominent setting in which they like to replay the Civil War i.e. play baseball against arch-rival North Carolina. 

55. Jackie Robinson Stadium (Westwood)/ UCLA. We usually find UCLA baseball better to watch than the Dodgers. Arguably the best place to see baseball in southern California, particularly the years both Cal State Fullerton and the Dodgers are down, as might well be the case the rest of 2018. Bruins playing at a AAA level, ranked number 7 nationally in May. Eliminated in NCAA regionals, so 2108 season is over. The other argument favors the next item in Huntington Beach, see below.(If these studs on UCLA team played anywhere but super-cool southern California, particularly the SEC, people would be going crazy. Full disclosure: we think UCLA houses more SoCal space cadets than does USC, but space cadet Bauer of the Indians, a former Bruin, is a league leader in strikeouts in MLB in 2018, so we do not discriminate against baseball teams prone to recruiting SoCal space cadets. Watch for UCLA baseball in February 2019.) 

56. Huntington Beach High School, Huntington Beach, CA. Watch for them in Spring of 2019.(We were fondly remembering this team in July with the Angels playing under .500 and playing home games with 100-degree temperatures).  Near end of high school season in 2018 was ranked number 5 high school team in USA using composite rankings. We will assume they are among the best in 2019 until they prove otherwise. When you just don’t feel like dealing with the traffic to Dodger Stadium, Angels Stadium or Westwood, remember: this is often the best baseball venue in USA in this age-group. Right now, they are playing much more interesting baseball than the Dodgers and Angels. Some of the time, these kids really do play like major leaguers. Dollar for dollar, we think this is the best baseball in SoCal region in 2018—but if we ranked them 5 of 64 we knew you would skip this website too soon. [Prices for watching high school baseball games tend to range from free to $20; we will provide Fan Cost Index number for high school baseball before March, 2019). This team playing the best baseball in SoCal in April and ranked 15th nationally in mid-April. (Full disclosure: we have absolutely no connection to this team, but we wish we did.) 

57. Lake Travis High School, Austin, Texas, for Spring 2019. Was ranked number one in nation in April 2018 for high school hardball, finishing well behind No. 1 Agyle, Texas. We would rank them in top ten of 64 for total baseball experience, but we want to give you at least a year to get to know us before we start comparing with the experience of seeing your favorite MLB team. 

58. Notre Dame High School, Sherman Oaks, CA, for Spring of 2019. We have little doubt that this high-school nationally-ranked team, on a good day, could outplay the college hard-baller team of the same name. If you had started watching this team in 2007, you could have gotten Giancarlo Stanton’s autograph before you had to pay. 

59. Blessed Trinity High School (Roswell, GA). Baseball America thinks they are number one high school team in the nation. Given the high price of a ticket in Atlanta for the Braves, we would be recommending this team over the MLB option., if the Braves were not playing so well in early May. For a family over four, however, this is a no brainer: take a family trip to Roswell at the start of the 2019 season next Spring. 

60. Harvard-Westlake High School/Arcadia High School (Los Angeles, CA). Watch for these two schools in spring 2019. Max Preps computer had Harvard-Westlake No. 5 in the nation at one point, and we know this school always recruits elite athletes training for NBA or NFL while playing baseball here…so we recommend you get autographs while they are still free. Arcadia started out 23-0 and finally lost a game in early May. Full disclosure: we have no personal connection to this team. 

61. Orange Lutheran High School (Orange, CA). With the Ohtani rage, much of the Spring of 2018,then Pujols 3000 hits, this team was a little overshadowed in Orange County, California in 2018, but for a family of over four, this is still an excellent 2019 baseball option for Spring of 2019. As the Angels fade each spring, keep this OC team in mind. In late July, with Angels under .500 and home games at 95 degrees, we were counting the days until spring games with Orange Lutheran.   (Full disclosure: we have no connection to this team, but wish we did.) 

62. Puyallup High School. (Puyallup, Washington). Composite national ranking is twenty. Not quite competing with the Mariners for your best baseball buy in the region, but highly recommended for quality baseball viewing. For families of more than four, this is definitely a team you want to see in 2019. (Full disclosure: we have no current connection with this team, but provide this heads-up for 2019: after the Mariners tank in the second half of 2019, keep active on twitter in favor of a four-month season by tweeting #MLBin4 and watch for the schedule of Puyallup High School baseball in Spring 2019. We note that relief pitcher Tim Peterson of the New York Mets played baseball here. 

63. Valley Christian/Bellarmine College Prep, both in San José, CA. When big Giants and local Gigantes are not town (and you live closer to San José than Stanford), do not miss an opportunity to see these kids play baseball in Spring 2019. They finished the 2018 season ranked No. 8 nationally. 

64. Hoyt S. Keeter Stadium of Shelby High School, Shelby North Carolina. The team is not projected to be a national powerhouse in 2019, but keep a visit to their stadium in Spring 2019;the stadium is arguably one of the best places for viewing boys play baseball anywhere in the nation. We might rank it among the top fifty places to be at a baseball game at any level if the team were a little more accomplished. The setting is so aesthetic that if it were located in Colombia or Nicaragua [two nations of many poets] they would have would have written poems about it.. Tickets for high school games can range from $2 to $20. If you want to see high quality baseball played on this field, get details on American Legion World Series each May. Seats for this World Series as cheap as $5.00 for students. The state of Florida, as one example, sets a standard of $6.00 to $7.00 for high school baseball playoff games. On the Bubble: Double AA Binghamton Rumble Ponies, where Tim Tebow hit a home run in his first at bat; University of Houston; Indiana University; Vanderbilt University; San Diego State University; Coastal Carolina University; University of Illinois;; American Heritage High School (Plantation, FL); Blessed Trinity High School, GA); Providence School (Jacksonville, FL); Mater Dei High School (Santa Ana, CA) Vianney (Kirkwood, MO); Argyle (TX); Valley Christian (San José, CA). Baltimore Orioles in that Borgesian troubled spot between the Bubble and the Mendoza line in first half of May both in overall play and paid ticket attendance. We like the Orioles a lot, so we will just leave in this ambiguous Borgesian troubled spot until the second half of May and into June with our fingers crossed. Worse than the Worst: thanks to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Cleveland Indians and print media, we have a newly refined category (“worse than the worst”) for those teams with a mediocre overall record, not yet below the Mendoza Line, but playing the worse baseball right now than you are likely to see at any level (past 10 days or so) than the worse teams in MLB (that would be Baltimore Orioles and Chicago White Sox).For 2019: watch for Cal-State-Fullerton, University of Mississippi, UCLA, Univ of Florida, Argyle (Texas) High School, Montverde Academy (Florida); Capistrano Valley High School, Orange Lutheran and Huntington Beach High School in Southern California, Calvary Christian High School (Clearwater, Florida); Harvard-Westlake High School and Arcadia High School in Los An