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12-01-2004, 06:43 PM #1
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Major League Baseball gets a new schedule maker
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.''
12-01-2004, 11:08 PM #2
I downloaded the schedule for the Blue Jays and actually noticed it had a different "rhythm" to it, but I wasn't sure what it was. Sure enough, it's those "semi-repeaters" as they call them, being eliminated.
But man, in some respects this schedule severely sucks. Twice they go on road trips to 4 different cities. In June it's Seattle - Oakland - Cubs - Houston in that order (not all that bad I guess). But in August they get one that goes Baltimore - Anaheim - Detroit - New York. How did Anaheim get stuck in there? That'll be a fun trip.
Basically from what I have seen (just of the Jays schedule) both homestands and road trips tend to go on longer. They've also stuck one interleague series in mid-May. Then they play four different AL teams before playing their five other interleague series. That's sort of weird.
Other oddities from a Canadian standpoint.... I know the Jays like to play day games on Canadian holidays, when possible. This year they aren't at home for any of them. Victoria Day (May 23) is an off day for the Jays, with series' @ home both immediately before and after (that should be changed). Canada Day the Jays play away for the third year in a row. And they get an off day on the Civic Holiday as well (Aug 1), despite being at home the day before. Hmmm....
Last edited by GM; 12-01-2004 at 11:13 PM.
12-01-2004, 11:39 PM #3
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curious for sure GM, especially in light of them buying the skydome yesterday...you would think they would want those high end concessions event dates if possible....
Blue Jays agree to buy SkyDome
November 29, 2004
TORONTO (AP) -- The Toronto Blue Jays agreed to buy SkyDome, the team's ballpark, for about $21.2 million.
The 50,000-seat stadium, which opened in 1989, cost about $375 million to construct and was mostly funded by taxpayers. The Blue Jays, who are owned by Rogers Communications, will acquire the ballpark from Sportsco International LP, a Chicago-based group of investors who bought SkyDome out of bankruptcy court in 1999 for about $74 million.
``We're getting it for a very fair price,'' said Blue Jays president Paul Godfrey, a former city politician who was instrumental in getting the building funded by taxpayers.
The sale, which was announced Monday, is expected to close in December. The team plans to replace the artificial turf with FieldTurf and install a new JumboTron scoreboard.
Godfrey said the Blue Jays are looking into selling naming rights to the building. The Blue Jays were the only team in the major leagues that did not either own or control its own facility.
``That was a major handicap,'' Godfrey said. ``Now everything from parking and concessions to buying tickets to the building itself will all be in the hands of the Toronto Blue Jays.''
But Godfrey says the purchase doesn't mean the team will increase its payroll next season. The Blue Jays are expected to lose slugger Carlos Delgado to free agency.
Godfrey spoke to Delgado's agent, David Sloane, last week, but said they haven't received a counteroffer.
``He said he'll get back to me,'' Godfrey said.
The team isn't expected to offer salary arbitration to Delgado, who earned $18.5 million last season, which means that if he doesn't agree to a deal with the Blue Jays by Dec. 7, he can't re-sign with Toronto until May 1.
SkyDome will lose one of its major tenants in 2006. The Canadian Football League's Toronto Argonauts plan to move from SkyDome, which has a retractable roof, to a new 25,000-seat outdoor stadium.