47°35’28” N, 122°19’59” W. Let those coordinates sink in. These are the coordinates for Safeco Field, the home stadium for Major League Baseball’s Seattle Mariners. The northernmost Major League Baseball venue, and the second westernmost Major League Baseball venue.
Given this geographic position, this makes the Seattle Mariners the most remote Major League Baseball team. Geography plays a major part in baseball. How does this work?
Let this number sink in. The Seattle Mariners fly over 43,000 miles, more than any other Major League Baseball team. Tucked away in the Pacific Northwest with no MLB teams in Vancouver or Portland, the nearest MLB team to Seattle is the Oakland Athletics, 673 mile flight from Seattle to Oakland.
Then consider this. With the way baseball game scheduling works, it heavily favors teams within one’s own division. In the case of the Seattle Mariners, that means playing a bulk of its games against teams in the American League West. This consists of playing:
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
And then the Mariners have to fly throughout the rest of the USA, going as far east as Boston(ironically, both Seattle and Boston are connected by Interstate 90).
It is important to consider that there are no teams in the American League West located in Mountain Time Zone, which separates Pacific Time (where the Mariners, Athletics, and Angels are located) from Central Time Zone (where the Astros and Rangers play, both in the state of Texas. Houston, on the Gulf of Mexico, is closer to New Orleans than it is to the Dallas-Ft. Worth suburb of Arlington, where the Texas Rangers play). The National League West, however, has teams in Mountain Time Zone, the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies, which play in Phoenix and Denver respectively.
In comparison, teams on the Atlantic Coast, such as the New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, and Washington Nationals, do not have as far to travel. These Bos-Wash corridor teams are in cities that are closer together, less of a distance to travel. A flight from Washington,DC to Boston, MA is less than 400 miles, passing Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York City along the way.
Being so far away from the rest of Major League Baseball’s teams creates a situation where long distances need to be covered. There are things to consider. The cost of traveling. The fuel needed for the airplanes. Flying long distances can be tiresome on the human body.
A question to ask is this. How does one make a seasonal baseball schedule to take into account distance from other MLB teams? Does MLB go to a more balanced baseball schedule that doesn’t favor teams within the same division? MLB already has interleague play. Should we look into solar-powered airplanes? How close are we to having a fleet a commercial planes powered by solar cells? It is being experimented with: http://www.popsci.com/solar-plane-completes-historic-atlantic-crossing . However, it has to take off(pun intended). This would save alot of fuel in the long run, and money.
Geography plays a big role in professional sports, especially with traveling in mind. With the Seattle Mariners, this is even moreso.
Below, there is a video about this topic.