For the first time in the history of Major League Baseball, all 30 teams will play ball on opening day, barring weather cancellations that derailed similar plans last year.
The 15 American League and 15 National League teams are scheduled to play 15 games this Thursday — the earliest opening day ever.
The national pastime comes to us courtesy of 29 teams from 25 metropolitan areas across the United States and one team from Canada (Toronto).
The four metro areas with two teams each are New York, Los Angeles, Chicago — the nation’s three most populous — and San Francisco-Oakland (the 12th most populous).
Each league has five teams in three divisions: East, Central and West as shown on the map below.
The table below shows the 30 teams ranked by their metro area populations. The metro areas with two teams are highlighted in gold, the ones with one team are in light yellow and the metros with none are in gray:
- The only metro in the top 21 without a team is Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario in California, the 13th largest. But don’t feel too bad for them. The Los Angeles Dodgers and Angels play right next door.
- The smallest metro with a team is the 40th: Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis in Wisconsin. Just one-third the population of Riverside metro. Milwaukee is a baseball town, while Riverside is not, yet.
- California has five MLB teams and seven states have two teams. Can you find them? (Hint: the Royals play in Kansas City, Mo.)
- The San Francisco-Oakland metro is much smaller than the Dallas and Houston metro areas but it has two teams while they each have one.
- Looking at the list, it's clear that size matters: 24 of the 30 MLB teams are in the 21 largest metros (25 if you include Toronto, Canada metro area).
- Seven teams have the name of a state in their team name: Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies, Kansas City Royals (stadium is in Missouri), Minnesota Twins, New York Mets, New York Yankees and Texas Rangers. One team is named for a body of water (Tampa Bay) and one for a range of mountains (Rockies). The "Washington" in the Washington Nationals doesn't refer to a state but to the District of Columbia.
- The name of the New York Mets harkens back to the Metropolitans, an earlier team, while the Washington Nationals are nicknamed the Nats. All team names end with “s” except the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago White Sox, though their names do end with the “s” sound.
- There are 25 states represented in the 25 metro areas with a MLB team, plus the District of Columbia (Washington Nats). The total 2017 population estimate of the 25 metro areas with a MLB team is 133,147,270.
Derick Moore is senior communications specialist at the Census Bureau.