Major League Baseball heads back to Vegas for annual weekend

Chicago Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster delivers a pitch during Las Vegas' Big League Weekend in March 2010 at Cashman Field. Photo courtesy Las Vegas Sun.

Chicago Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster delivers a pitch during Las Vegas' Big League Weekend in March 2010 at Cashman Field. Photo courtesy Las Vegas Sun.

Las Vegas has wooed just about as many Major League Baseball teams as Frank Sinatra did women. OK, maybe not that many, but to put it in baseball terms Sin City is still trying to figure out how to hit a curveball.

The city has kept no secrets about its desire to lure professional baseball here, but while it’s still just a pipe dream on the full-time level, it has managed to keep the big boys coming to town one weekend a year.

Big League Weekend takes place at Cashman Field on March 12-13 where the Chicago Cubs will face the Los Angeles Dodgers on March 12 and the Cincinnati Reds on March 13. Both games start at 1:05 p.m. Tickets start at $35.

The series will feature a split-squad format with only about half of the 40-man roster from each team making the trip, the other half typically stays in Arizona to play in Cactus League Spring Training games.

The Cubs have sold out 12 consecutive times over the past six seasons (2005-10) for their annual Big League Weekend trip to Las Vegas. Chicago was 75-87 last year in a season in which they were expected to reach the playoffs. The nucleus of the Cubs offense will return for 2011, including All-Star outfielder Marlon Byrd, Aramis Ramirez, Alfonso Soriano and firey pitcher Carlos Zambrano.

The Dodgers have a strong fan base in the Las Vegas Valley with much of their team comprised of former Las Vegas 51s, the Triple-A baseball team that is currently the farm team of the Toronto Blue Jays but served as L.A’.s farm team from 2001-08. This is the Dodgers’ sixth appearance at Cashman Field.

Los Angeles was fourth in the National League West with an 80-82 record. Former Yankee Don Mattingly has taken over the helm as manager for the departed Joe Torre. The Dodgers return one of the best young starting rotations in baseball with Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley leading the way.

Cincinnati first baseman Joey Votto was named National League MVP last year after he hit 37 home runs and 113 RBIs.

Other Las Vegas baseball adventures:

After the game, if you feel like taking some swings for yourself head south down Washington Street, where Cashman Field is located, to Big League Dreams. The site features replica fields of Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, Yankee Stadium, Crosley Field, Angel Stadium and Dodger Stadium. You can also step into the batting cages to hit either baseballs or softballs.

Also, don’t forget to stop by one of the area’s many sports books to place a wager on who will win the World Series. The San Francisco Giants were 20/1 favorites to win the World Series to start off the 2010 season before they went on to beat the Texas Rangers for the title.

We recommend checking out the Las Vegas Hilton, MGM Grand Race and Sports Book, the Wynn Las Vegas Race and Sports Book and the Caesars Race and Sports Book.