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“Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True. And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona.”

So said George Frederick Will, a true American, a Pulitzer Prize winner and author of two best-selling books about baseball. But enough about Mr. Will. Onto baseball. Specifically, the National League and the best baseball cities. Okay, brief history…go!

It was established in 1876 with eight charter members, but by 1880, six of the eight original teams had folded. The two remaining NL (National League) franchises were Boston and Chicago—still going strong today as the Atlanta Braves and Chicago Cubs. The Cubs are the only charter member to continuously play in the same city. And to continuously have the worst “luck” (but maybe that’ll change this year…and maybe not.)

In 1903, the stubborn National League officially accepted the American League as an equal partner in Major League Baseball—difficult as it was for them to recognize another league in the same “league” as their own (A League of Their Own? Best. Movie. Ever. Btw.) The National League clearly was not a fan of change—it remained the same 8-team league for 60 years. In 1969, after some long-overdue expansion, the National League was reorganized into two divisions of 6 teams (East and West). And, in 1994, after expanding to 14 teams, the NL was re-orged again into three divisions: East, West and Central—all currently represented by five teams.

OK, done with the history lesson! On to the best baseball cities in America.

Which teams are the best? We’ve got the answer—but not in standings or history so much as their placement in the most fantastic, fanatic baseball cities. These are the teams that have the most entertaining stadiums to visit with the yummiest hotdogs…the important stuff. Plus, fun and affordable hotels to stay at when you go cheer ‘em on.

Photo: St Louis Cardinals Busch Stadium | Francisco Diez, Flickr CC

Photo: St Louis Cardinals Busch Stadium | Francisco Diez, Flickr CC

St. Louis Cardinals @ Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri

This NL (National League) Central Division gang is one of the most successful franchises in baseball history, winning 11 World Series Championships, 19 National League pennants and 13 division titles. So, they pretty much make everyone else look bad. Or, they have as big a budget as the Yankees (yeah, right)…

One thing everyone knows: Ballpark Village, the new dining and entertainment attraction right next to Busch Stadium, is hoppin’. All the time. The beers are hoppin’, the beats are bumpin’, the live shows are jumpin’, the food is yummin’. It’s the perfect pre- or post-game hang time. They hit it out of the park with this one (had to do it), making it without doubt one of the best baseball cities in the country.

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Where to stay: Casino Queen

It’s called a Cardinals Preferred Hotel for a reason. Stay at the Casino Queen and you’ll be right on the river, close to the arch, a dice throw away from the onsite table games, and, most importantly, less than 2 miles from BS (Busch Stadium—pretty sure no one actually calls it BS). If you buy a St. Louis Cardinals Package, you get a deluxe room, up to 4 tix to the game, transport to and from the stadium and a couple other treats—starting at $109. Crazy, right?

Photo: ATT Park | Lisa Suender, Flickr CC

Photo: ATT Park | Lisa Suender, Flickr CC

San Francisco Giants @ AT&T Park in San Francisco, California

Originally known as the New York Gothams, then the New York Giants, the San Francisco Giants are one of the longest-established and most successful pro baseball teams, having won the most games of any team in the history of American baseball. They’ve won 23 NL pennants and have played in 20 World Series competitions, both of which are NL records. Since arriving in San Fran in 1958, the Giants have won six pennants and three World Series. Plus, the charm, character and breathtaking views at AT&T Park put it at the top of the must-see-stadiums list. And forget best baseball cities—San Francisco’s culture and beauty make it one of America’s best cities, period.

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Where to stay: The Inn at Union Square

97% of CheapTickets guests (that’s 835.17 people) recommend you stay at this stylish three-and-a-half-star boutique hotel, located a mere 1.3 miles from AT&T Park. Its gorgeous rooms feature hints of Victorian charm, plus the hotel offers complimentary breakfast and daily evening wine-and-cheese plates beside a wood-burning fireplace. Oh, and it’s within walking distance of Lombard Street and the famous Fisherman’s Wharf.

Photo: Wrigley Field | PandemicPhoto.com, Flickr CC

Photo: Wrigley Field | PandamicPhoto.com, Flickr CC

Chicago Cubs @ Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois

The Chicago Cubs were a founding member of the NL in 1876, and won back-to-back World Series in 1907 and 1908, becoming the very first Major League team to play in three consecutive World Series, and the first to win it twice. Totally impressive, right? But, that’s a distant memory now. The Cubs have not won the World Series in 107 years—a record drought in Major League Baseball. That’s a long time for increasingly anxious fans to wait for something winning to happen. But every year, Chicagoans root and hope and pray and get disappointed by this team. Different year, same story. For 107 years, and counting (but this could be the year, they say)…

Wrigley Field is baseball’s second-oldest ballpark, where fans can see ivy-covered outfield walls, the classic hand-operated scoreboard and the brick wall behind home plate. Stepping inside Wrigley Field is like stepping back in time; you have to be there to appreciate all of the ancient wonder and old-fashioned goodness of baseball’s storied and beloved past.

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Where to stay: The Majestic Hotel

Boutique flair. Classic charm. Upscale decor. Okay, but what do all these yummy words mean? The Majestic is reminiscent of an English manor country estate. With a fire-lit lobby.And 24-hour coffee and tea service in the lobby. And freshly baked cookies, complimentary breakfast and a vigilant, caring crew of staff. Most importantly, this boutique Chicago hotel is a mere seven-tenths of a mile away from iconic Wrigley Field. Bloody fabulous!

 

Photo: Coors Field | Heath Alseike, Flickr CC

Photo: Coors Field | Heath Alseike, Flickr CC

Colorado Rockies @ Coors Field in Denver, Colorado

April 26th, 1995 marks the first game ever played at Coors Field. When the stadium opened, it became the first baseball-only stadium built since Dodger Stadium in 1962. Visitors can see dramatic views of the Rockies, hand-laid brick and the clock tower, all delivering the nostalgic feel of a 1920’s urban ballpark. Fun fact: So as not to impose on its neighboring neighborhood buildings, the field is actually located 21 feet below street level. And here’s another fact: Coors Field’s is ranked as one of the most picturesque ballparks.

Although the Rockies won one National League championship in 2007, they are one of only two franchises that have never won a division title. So, if you’re a glass-half-full kind of guy or gal, you see that fans still have some excitingfirsts to celebrate in the future of this Rockies franchise!

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Where to stay: Queen Anne Bed And Breakfast

The Queen Ann is a three-and-a-half-star, adults-only B&B in Denver’s historic district, just three-quarters of a mile from Coors Field. Here, you’ll find an added bonus: This locally minded hotel is striving to become a no-waste property, and offers amenities and eats from local businesses. In short,it’s stylish comfort meets eco-sensitivity.

And the rooms themselves? Art lovers can stay in a room decorated by a talented local artist. Romantics can turn up the passion with a room that features a private hot tub and expansive downtown views for two. Every room is different, so finding one that fits your needs and finds your vibe is a slam dunk…uhh, we mean home run!

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Tagged: Seasonal, Sports

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