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How to visit all 30 MLB ballparks

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How to visit all 30 MLB ballparks

Last month, I covered the Orioles series at Miami’s Marlins Park. I’ve now been to all 30 major league parks. Lots of writers have done that, but then I started adding up the older parks, the ones no longer in use, and I found that I’d been to 53.

That’s 23 that either no longer exist or host major league baseball.

Many fans I meet have a goal of visiting all 30 parks. It’s a great goal, though not an easy one to attain.

Here’s some advice:

Don’t try and visit all 30 ballparks in one summer.

If you’re a teacher and have the entire summer off, it can be tempting. There’s too much rushing around, and one of the fun things about visiting new ballparks is exploring new cities, and it’s more fun if you spread your adventure around and savor it.

Planning a trip is harder than it may seem. Put lots of thought into it.

Let’s say you’re an Orioles fan, and you’re determined to see the six West Coast ballparks in August.

The Orioles play at Oakland Aug. 3-5, at Anaheim Aug. 7-9 and Seattle Aug. 10-12.

That’s three, but you’re going to have to miss some Orioles games and stay an extra day to see Dodger Stadium, AT&T Park and Petco Park.

That’s a lot of travel to try and get six parks in 10 days. But, you can do it.

Enjoy the sights and the food.

I’m not talking about the ballpark food. Try the barbecue in Kansas City at Jack Stack’s or Oklahoma Joe’s. Eat some real Mexican in San Diego, some clams in Boston and the ribs at Cincinnati’s Montgomery Inn.

If you think that visiting all 30 is unrealistic, which ones do you have to see?

If you’ve already seen games in Baltimore and Washington, you need to see the rest of the East.

On many ratings, Yankee Stadium ranks low. On my scale, it’s one of the best.

It feels intimate, the fans are involved, and the sound system is clear, if a bit loud.

If you see the Yankees and Orioles on Thursday July 23, you can take the subway to Citi Field for the Mets and Dodgers that night.

While Citi Field is kind of forgettable, Yankee Stadium isn’t.

Fenway Park is old and cramped, but with the Red Sox playing poorly, tickets are now easy to come by.

Don’t miss Philadelphia. Citizens Bank Park is pretty, easy to get to and has lots of good food options.

I’m often surprised how overlooked PNC Park in Pittsburgh is. It’s one of the best ballparks in the country. You can see downtown Pittsburgh from the ballpark, and it’s only about four hours from Baltimore.

Any I can miss?

Oakland and Toronto are on everyone’s list of most forgettable stadiums, but I’d add Milwaukee’s Miller Park to the list.

I love eating German food at Karl Ratzsch’s and eating the Commish, a roast beef sandwich named after former commissioner Bud Selig at Jake’s Deli. But, Milwaukee leaves me cold.

I’m not a fan of retractable domes or parks built on parking lots.

Milwaukee missed a great opportunity to build something special, and they didn’t.

What are the most underrated parks?

While everyone justifiably rates Oriole Park, AT&T Park, Wrigley Field and PNC Park highly, don’t forgot about Target Field in Minneapolis.

It’s got the best scoreboard I’ve ever seen with lots of pertinent information on each batter including his Twitter handle.

Comerica Park is in downtown Detroit, and while the skyline isn’t inspiring, the ballpark looks great, and the fans are wonderful.

I haven’t been to Seattle for a number of years, but I have fond memories of Safeco Field.

Most overrated?

Many have Petco Park on their favorites list. I didn’t dislike it, but thought it was pretty unoriginal. Lots of ideas from other parks cobbled together, but its location in downtown San Diego is terrific.

And, the weather isn’t bad, either.

You say that you’ve been to 23 ballparks no longer in existence. That seems hard to believe.

Yankee Stadium, Shea Stadium, Veterans Stadium, Municipal Stadium (Cleveland), Tiger Stadium, Qualcomm in San Diego, Candlestick Park, Comiskey Park, Three Rivers Stadium, Cinergy Field (Cincinnati), old Busch Stadium, RFK, County Stadium (Milwaukee), Arlington Stadium (Texas), Fulton County (Atlanta), Sun Life (Miami), Olympic (Montreal), Memorial Stadium (Baltimore), Astrodome, Exhibition (Toronto), Mile High (Denver), Metrodome and Kingdome.

Sadly, my father refused to take me to the Polo Grounds in the two seasons the Mets played there because as a Brooklyn Dodgers fan, he despised the Giants, and the Polo Grounds was where they played.

But, instead my first game was at Yankee Stadium in 1963, and I got to see Yogi Berra play.

Fifty-three ballparks later, I’m still counting.

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Baltimore Orioles add to their rotation, sign RHP Andrew Cashner

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USA Today Sports

Baltimore Orioles add to their rotation, sign RHP Andrew Cashner

SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Baltimore Orioles signed right-hander Andrew Cashner to a two-year, $16 million contract on Thursday after searching for starting pitching all offseason.

The 31-year-old Cashner is 42-64 with a 3.80 ERA in eight major league seasons with the Chicago Cubs, San Diego, Miami and Texas, including 11-11 with a 3.40 ERA for the Rangers last year. The deal with the Orioles has an option for 2020.

He'll join right-handers Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman in the rotation.

"I do know that they need some starting pitching, and here it is, show up every day and whoever I can help out, help out and my job is to come here and pitch and win," Cashner said.

Cashner's deal could be worth $41 million over three seasons if he pitches 200 innings annually. He gets a $3 million signing bonus, payable in equal installments each Jan. 15 from 2020 through 2021.

RELATED: VEGAS SETS OVER/UNDERS FOR 2018 MLB SEASON

Cashner has salaries of $5 million this season and $8 million in 2019, and there is a $10 million option for 2020 that would become guaranteed if he pitches 340 innings combined in the next two seasons. If he reaches 360 innings, it would become a player option.

He can make $5 million in performance bonuses each year.

There are $1,525,000 per season in bonuses based on starts: $250,000 each for 10 and 15, $625,000 for 20 and $400,000 for 30.

Cashner also can make $3,475,000 each year based on innings: $250,000 each for 110 and 120, $275,000 for 130, $350,000 for 140, $750,000 for 150 and $400,000 apiece for 170, 180, 190 and 200.

Cashner was at the Orioles' spring training facility, and was due to head to his Texas home for a few days before returning on Sunday when Baltimore's full squad is required to report. He'll likely work out with the team for the first time Monday.

He has little experience against the Orioles, but said he was excited to join the team.

"It's a lineup you can't really make a lot of mistakes against," Cashner said. "It's a lot of power in there, and I got to pitch (for) San Diego one year in Baltimore. Really cool stadium, really neat, a lot of history. It's one of my favorite places to pitch, so I'm looking forward to making that my home (stadium) every night."

RELATED: ORIOLES TO SHUFFLE UP INFIELD AHEAD OF MACHADO'S FINAL SEASON

Manager Buck Showalter said Cashner would be an ideal addition to the club.

"He's a veteran starter. That's a good deal for both us and him," Showalter said. "He's a guy who's pitched well in the American League. That's something that I think played in his favor."

Cashner said that he began negotiations with Orioles Vice President of Baseball Operations Brady Anderson last fall and in a challenging offseason for free agents, he said patience was vital.

"I don't think it's been difficult. It's been interesting. It's been different," Cashner said.

To make room for Cashner on the 40-man roster, Baltimore placed left-hander Zach Britton (Achilles) on the 60-day disabled list.

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Manny Machado to switch from third base to shortstop in final season with Orioles

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USA Today Sports

Manny Machado to switch from third base to shortstop in final season with Orioles

BALTIMORE -- Even if Manny Machado doesn't switch teams this season, he almost certainly will be changing his position in the infield.

Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Saturday that Machado will move from third base to shortstop this spring, and shortstop Tim Beckham will be shifted to third.

The shuffle will become permanent unless something goes wrong -- or Machado gets traded to another club.

"There could be some adjustments if we don't like the feel of it, but that's where we're going to head into it," Showalter said at FanFest, an annual offseason event designed to promote interest in the club.

Machado and second baseman Jonathan Schoop did not attend.

RELATED: TWO FORMER ORIOLES ELECTED TO HALL OF FAME

Machado becomes a free agent after this year and is sure to demand a huge contract. The Orioles have entertained trade offers for the 25-year-old, who's been an All-Star in three of his six seasons with Baltimore.

Dan Duquette, vice president of baseball operations for the Orioles, has to decide whether to deal Machado sometime between now and September or seek to sign him to a long-term deal.

"That's a big decision for the organization, obviously," Duquette said. "But we're planning on Manny being with the club. We explored all those options. We think the strongest option is for Manny to be on the ballclub."

Machado played in 156 games last season, offsetting a career-low .259 batting average with 33 home runs and 95 RBIs. He has averaged 35 home runs and 92 RBIs over the past three years.

Machado avoided arbitration this month by agreeing to a $16 million contract for 2018. He received $11.5 million last season.

Drafted as a shortstop as the third overall pick in 2010, Machado played third base with Baltimore next to slick-fielding J.J. Hardy, whose contract expired after last season.

So when they return to the field next month in Florida, the Orioles will have Machado at shortstop with Beckham on his left. Beckham came to Baltimore from Tampa Bay in July and played shortstop for the injured Hardy over the final two months.

"I think Tim would rather play shortstop, as Manny would," Showalter said. "Tim's big thing is getting an opportunity to play every day at one position. We need to settle both those guys into a spot and let them get into it."

Showalter said Machado was enthusiastic about the switch.

"All indications are, he's really excited about this," Showalter said. "I can't imagine him being in a better frame of mind or setup to do this. I think out of his respect for J.J. the past few years he's been very professional about it. But it's not like he's changing positions. He's going back to the position he's equipped to play."

RELATED: ZACH BRITTON TEARS ACHILLES

Deciding what to do with Machado is only one problem Duquette has faced this offseason. He's also been trying to fill out a starting rotation that currently consists of Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman and perhaps Miguel Castro, who made his first major league start on Sept. 30 after pitching in relief for 75 games over three seasons.

"Obviously we have work to do to address some of the deficiencies on our ballclub," Duquette said. "We're going to continue to build our pitching staff, most notably the starting pitching."

If Castro joins the rotation, the Orioles will be further pressed to fill out the back end of the bullpen. Closer Zach Britton tore his Achilles tendon during an offseason workout and will likely miss the entire 2018 season, leaving setup man Brad Brach the odds-on favorite to take over as the stopper.

"I'm hoping I get a shot to close. I'd be lying if I say I didn't," said Brach, who served significant time as a closer in 2017 while Britton was sidelined with elbow and knee issues.

Brach had 18 saves but blew six chances.

"I think I did all right," Brach said. "Hopefully, I get another chance to do it."