Peter Theis and Jeremy Hastings, MBA students at my home base, the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon, have independently reminded me that I have been getting some press about the baseball schedule that I should be pointing to. Not all of it has been positive, but most of it talks about how difficult creating satisfying schedules is. For those who don’t know, some colleagues (Doug Bureman, George Nemhauser and Kelly Easton) and I, through our company the Sports Scheduling Group, created the 2005 and 2007 Major League Baseball Schedule. ESPN.com has an article on the 2007 schedule. They talk about some of the rough parts of the schedule:
For baseball players, grousing about the schedule is as routine as chewing sunflower seeds or making rookies wear cocktail dresses and high heels to the airport during the obligatory hazing trip. The average fan might regard it as just another case of millionaires whining, but fans don’t have to step in the box in front of 50,000 people and produce while bleary-eyed and jet-lagged.
Listen closely, and you’ll hear the Pittsburgh Pirates groaning en masse as they look at their schedule and contemplate that geographically challenged Houston-to-San Diego-to-Chicago trip in late September.
Or consider how thrilled the Texas Rangers must be looking forward to a nine-game Detroit-to-Oakland-to-Minnesota jaunt (with no day off) in the final month.
But ESPN.com also talks about the challenges:
Each team has its own unique circumstances. Cincinnati is always home on Opening Day, while Boston plays at Fenway Park each Patriots Day. The Mets have potential traffic and parking concerns when the U.S. Open tennis tournament is in town, and the Minnesota Twins share the Metrodome with the NFL’s Vikings.
And lest we forget, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area and Baltimore-Washington are all two-team markets. In a perfect world, one team will be at home while the other is on the road.
Throw in six pages of whys and wherefores governing scheduling in the collective bargaining agreement, and you have an extremely complicated jigsaw puzzle.
“You can take any short part of a team’s schedule and say, ‘That’s awful. Why would anybody schedule that?'” Feeney said. “But you can’t look at it that way. It’s not a two-week schedule. It’s a 26-week, 30-team schedule.'”
Starting next season, MLB will create the schedule within its offices. In other words, no more outside consultants.
Not happy news for the Sports Scheduling Group!