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Another MLB scheduling question


wdm1219inpenna

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This could apply to almost all sports I suppose, especially sports whose seasons are 80 games or longer.

When the seasons are planned out and scheduled, is this done with the help of a computer program? It would seem like a very long and drawn out arduous task to do so manually, although I'm guessing once upon a time that's how it had to be done, before the advent of computers.

Working it out so all teams play 81 games at home and 81 on the road, having it so there's not a super long stretch of home or road games, not playing the same team too many times too soon, etc. Seems like a great many factors have to be considered, especially for MLB, to figure this out. NFL even seems somewhat involved, especially with the bye weeks, which I could do without.

Thanks,

Bill

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I found this on another forum:

One of baseball's longest streaks comes to an end in January when Major League Baseball puts the finishing touches on the 2005 schedule.

A small company outside Pittsburgh, the Sports Scheduling Group, was selected last month to complete the 2005 schedule, unseating the husband-and-wife team of Henry and Holly Stephenson, who have been doing it for 24 years.

Each year, MLB accepts competing scheduling proposals from outside groups. The Sports Scheduling Group won the contract in part because it did a better job of avoiding ``semi-repeaters,'' in which the same teams play back-to-back series at home and then away, said Katy Feeney, MLB senior vice president of scheduling.

Baseball has been outsourcing the job for decades.

Harry Simmons, who at one time worked in the commissioner's office, used to make the schedules each year, mostly by hand. It became such an extensive task that Simmons eventually left the office and devoted himself almost entirely to scheduling.

``As the number of games and the number teams changed, it just became more and more complicated,'' Feeney said.

After Simmons quit, the Stephensons were hired in 1981. They use computers, which have made the job easier but have not entirely eliminated the human element.

``I think each team looks at the schedule from its own perspective and there is without exception a lot of points of view,'' Stephenson said. ``There will never be a day when everyone sits down and says, `This is great.'''

Baseball officials would not discuss the criteria of a winning proposal but said the process has become increasingly complex, with new divisions, interleague play, extended playoffs and more demands from cities with scheduling conflicts.

As a result, scheduling has become much more of a science and academics now play a larger role, Feeney said.

Doug Bureman, who worked for the Cincinnati Reds and the Pittsburgh Pirates, teamed up three other people to co-found the Sports Scheduling Group. Michael Trick, a business professor from Carnegie Mellon University, and George Nemhauser, a professor of industrial and systems engineering at Georgia Tech, are also in the group.

Bureman said his group would like to handle the job for a long time, as the Stephensons did.

``It's too early to think about it, but it would be great if we could do the same thing,'' Bureman said.

Bureman would not talk specifically about what kind of technology his partners used. Nor would he say how much his group is being paid.

As for the Stephensons, they are already working hard to get their job back.

``I'm a little surprised myself that we've been doing it this long,'' Stephenson said. ``We're working on a schedule for 2006. We'll see whether it takes.''

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That's one thing I've never liked and I noticed that it did kind of fade out this year. I've hated the fact that for the last 5 or 10 years or so, that teams (as an example, Royals-Mariners) play each other at KC, with say Jimmy Gobble and Felix Rodriguez pitch against each other on a Tuesday night, then the next Thursday in Seattle, hey looky! It's Jimmy Gobble and Felix Rodriguez pitching against each other! It kinda sucks that it was pulled away from a couple of people for a company, but hey, you do what you can and it works.

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