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What is the toughest part of being an MLB player?
Some fans probably think it’s hitting a 100 mph fastball. Others may say it’s the pressure that comes with performing in front of thousands of fans.
In reality, the toughest part of a Major League Baseball player’s life is the grueling schedule and travel he must endure to live out his childhood dream. Major League Baseball players travel all over the country to play 162 games in 182 days.
That does not count spring training and the postseason. From early April to late September, players only experience 20 days off from playing and traveling.
When you flip on a game and see the San Francisco Giants playing in New York City against the Mets, it is common not to think about the fact that a team from the West Coast traveled all across the country to play a team on the East Coast which begs the question:
How do these MLB teams travel during this long, grueling season?
The most common way that MLB teams travel is by chartered airplanes. Occasionally, they will fly on commercial flights, and when they play a team within 200 miles, they often travel on charter buses.
Yes, Major League Baseball players do make a lot of money to play a game, but don’t underestimate the toll that all of this traveling takes on their bodies.
More About Travel
Because teams are located all over the country, the MLB schedule consists mostly of three and four game series between teams. While this makes road trips longer, it makes the travel more worthwhile for all involved.
Teams normally start their travel as soon as a series is completed. They take their showers, pack up their stuff, and head on to the next location.
Does this make for a long night of traveling? Yes, but it does allow the team to get to their destination as soon as possible and allows time for any delays.
In instances where the teams do not need to travel as far, they may wait until the following morning to travel. If teams are traveling back home, they will normally leave at night to allow their players an extra night in their own bed.
Most often, the players fly on chartered flights where only team personnel are allowed. This makes things easier for all involved as they don’t have to go through airport security and work around anyone outside of the team’s schedule.
Collective Bargaining Agreement
The MLB Players Association and the owners have what is called a collective bargaining agreement. This is a contract between the two parties that essentially defines the working relationship between them.
Travel requirements and expectations are listed in the contract. Some of them are as follows:
- Teams must provide first-class transportation.
- If first-class isn’t available, owners must provide the next highest class.
- A flight is required for trips over 200 miles.
- All flights must be direct.
This was written into the contract in order for players to ensure that their travel experience would not be compromised for the sake of saving money.
How teams handle travel of the families of the players differs from team to team.
Some teams will allow players’ wives and children to pick a few series in which they can travel with the team. Others allow them on all flights that are returning home. Some don’t allow them at all while others allow players to vote on if and when families are allowed on flights.
Every team handles this differently, but family travel is typically only reserved for wives and children. Sometimes, teams allow girlfriends to travel on flights, but it all depends on the team.
Most of the time when players’ families are in attendance at away games, it is because the family members chose to fly/drive separately, but there are cases where the teams provide travel expenses for them.
Travel During COVID
The 2020 MLB season which took place during the COVID-19 pandemic created all kinds of logistical issues when it came to travel.
This eliminated any thought of flying commercially as only team personnel who had tested negative for COVID-19 were allowed on the flight. It also did not allow for family members to travel with the team as well even if they had tested negative and showed no symptoms.
Teams were also allowed to have what was called a taxi squad. The taxi squad consisted of one catcher and two other players who travelled with the team but were not on the active roster. If a player on the 25 man roster tested positive, one of the taxi squad players could take his spot.
With minor league baseball canceling its season altogether last year, MLB teams were allowed to have some of its minor leaguers stationed at an alternative training location and could pull from that group of players to use for its taxi squad.
The taxi squad did not have to be the same each series.
Hotels and Meals
MLB teams do stay in hotels and are provided meals which are both paid for by the team. Before the season starts, the players and owners agree upon hotels in which teams are allowed to stay in each city to ensure that they have the best lodging experience.
Teams are required to provide meals for players until 1 am. If no meal is provided, players are given meal stipends of just above $100.
Some players work their own hotel preferences into their contracts. If they prefer a suite for every road game or prefer to stay at a different hotel than the team, then they can work that into their contract. This typically only happens for the game’s highest paid players.
Each team has a traveling secretary who coordinates all travel, hotel, and meal accommodations on the road.
How do minor leaguers travel?
Minor league teams rarely get the same first-class treatment as Major Leaguers. They travel on buses more often because their opponents are typically closer. However, they do fly to games outside of their regional radius, but the planes aren’t usually as nice as the Major League planes.
What happens when a player is traded?
When a player gets traded, the team to which he has been traded is responsible for taking care of his travel. The traveling secretary takes care of the travel logistics for the player, and he is often expected to be in uniform by the next day or even that night.
The team is required to provide 7 nights in a hotel leaving the player a week to get everything else situated and find a new place to live. For more in-depth information about trades in the MLB, watch this video.
When do teams leave for the next destination after a night’s game?
Usually, MLB teams leave for the next destination right after their last game at a particular venue. They know the importance of every single game. Therefore, to make players feel as rested as possible for the next game, teams like to reach the match destination as soon as possible.
Do teams stay at the same hotels used by other units?
That depends on individual teams. Each franchise has a preferred hotel in every city. Therefore, they almost always stay in the same hotel because they like the location and services offered by that facility.
How many games will be played in the upcoming season of MLB?
Each team is set to play 60 games. To limit travel distances, teams have been grouped to play a majority of games against their division opponents. Teams will play the rest of the games with their geographic counterpart in the other league.