You don’t blow off the NFL for Arena Football or the NBA for its D-League. It’s different with baseball. While watching the Cubbies at Wrigley shall always be one of life’s true pleasures, there are a million good reasons why attending a minor league baseball game is better than attending an MLB game. Here are 12 of them.

1. It’s cheaper.
Currently the average price for two people to attend a Major League Baseball game is $77.92. (That includes parking and a pair of tickets, beers and hot dogs.) But the tab can go much higher: In 2015 the Red Sox averaged $52.34 per ticket and the Fan Cost Index found a family of four spent $350.86 at Fenway. (That’s wicked expensive!) That same quartet would spend an average of $64.18 in the minors for four tickets, four hot dogs, two beers, two sodas and a program. You don’t have to be a math major to know that’s significantly less pricey.

2. It’s more accessible.
Anyone parking near Yankee Stadium can expect to shell out at least $35, but at least there’s the option of squeezing on an already overcrowded subway. That’s how it tends to be with major league stadiums: Getting there will be expensive or stressful or slow or all of the above. You will not have these struggles seeing minor league baseball.

Why? Every major league stadium holds more than 30,000 people, with Dodgers Stadium leading the way at 56,000. Minor league stadiums, on the other hand, usually run 10,000 or less. Fewer people means fewer cars, shorter lines, briefer waits and quicker door-to-stadium trips. And there’s another bonus to small ball…


3. It’s less empty.
It’s electrifying when a sold-out stadium goes wild. It’s less so when the place is silent because of tens of thousands of empty seats. This is a real concern for some parks. Cleveland has crammed in over 43,000 fans for a playoff game, but right now they average barely 15,000. You don’t have this issue in minor league parks. Five thousand fans in a 6,000-seat stadium allows for some energy (and legroom) while everyone still gets to be nice and close to the action. Indeed, so close that…

4. Players can actually hear you.
Which is good. Because your genius heckles have gone unacknowledged for too long. But go easy on the players because…

5. Minor leaguers are usually good folk struggling to make a living.
While major leaguers make $20 million dollars a year and still can’t bother to run out ground balls, a first-year minor leaguer is probably pulling in about a grand a month. So support them and enjoy the ego boost of knowing they’re looking up at you and thinking, “I wish I had the kind of money where I could have a burger and the nachos!” Besides…


6. You get to watch future stars.
Telling people you’ve seen Mike Trout play with the Angels is whatever. Telling them you saw him back when he was with the Cedar Rapids Kernels is amazing. (And yes, his host family at the time has confirmed he was a very nice young man.) Also…

7. Minor league baseball is about the game, not the individuals.
If you see Tom Brady, you’ll see touchdown passes. If you see LeBron, you’ll see dunks. If you see Bryce Harper, there’s a decent chance you’ll watch him go 0-3 with an intentional walk and no plays in the outfield. Quite simply, the experience of just being able to watch a game is often more important than the quality of the game itself, which is why it’s easy to enjoy the lower levels of baseball. Particularly when…

8. They have the best team names.
Wichita Wingnuts. Batavia Muckdogs. And one to bring a tear to Homer Simpson’s eye, Albuquerque Isotopes. Plus…

9. They have the best damned mascots.


10. They have even better promotions.
Could there be a more magical childhood moment than seeing the San Antonio Missions and getting picked to tackle the Puffy Taco? (Not a euphemism.) And even if your team loses and you’re feeling down…

11. You can affordably splurge the pain away.
The Portland Maine Sea Dogs offer All-You-Can-Eat-Seats as a $26 advance ticket. (If you buy day-of, the price goes all the way up to $27.) And finally…

12. You can leave when you want.
With the majors, you can’t head out early because you need to get your money’s worth (“Don’t worry, honey, I’m sure the kids will stop vomiting soon”). Yet you can’t stay to the end because you need to beat traffic. In the minors, you’re in charge. Show up in the third inning, leave in the seventh. It only cost you $9 anyway.

So if your next big league game leaves you beaten down, broke and disillusioned, check out our nation’s pastime at the level where every man feels like a Heisenberg.