30 Ballparks in 35 Days? A Computer-Aided Roadtrip…

A story in The Wall Street Journal’s Sports section (yes, they have one) caught my eye. Written by Jared Diamond, it talked about a summer road trip where a fan can visit the ballparks of all 30 Major League Baseball teams in a mere 35 days. Sound exhausting, right?

Think about how mind boggling it would be to plan such a venture. Has your brain exploded yet?

No worries. Ben Blatt of the Harvard Sports Analysis Collective has taken care of the heavy lifting by building a computer program to figure out the routing.

In his post, Blatt said:

I defined the ‘shortest’ trip as the trip with the smallest difference between the start time of the first game and the time to return to that city after seeing all 30 teams.

There are many reasonableness constraints that I had to apply to the problem. I assumed that each game took four hours to attend. To determine the time it takes to travel between two cities I used the time estimate by Google Maps. Originally, I had no requirements for rest which led to a 30 ballpark trip in less than 30 days. However, this featured many day trips of about 15-20 hours which I didn’t feel were in the spirit of a road trip. To combat this, I put in a rule that requires 8 hours of rest for every 12 hours of driving.

The entire trip, which covers 18,000 miles, starts and ends in Kansas City. It takes 34 days and 3 hours to complete.

As Journal writer, Diamond noted, “Completing this challenge requires considerable backtracking and crisscrossing (one segment has travelers going from Boston to Washington to New York to Philadelphia in four days). It also calls for a couple brutally long drives, like leaving an afternoon game at Coors Field in Denver and heading straight to Miller Park in Milwaukee for another game the next night.”

Blatt admits that it wouldn’t necessary be a fun road trip.

I tend to agree. The Spring Equinox Tour, on the other hand, would be a blast.

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The Harvard College Sports Analysis Collective (HSAC) is a student-run organization at Harvard College dedicated to the quantitative analysis of sports strategy and management. Founded in 2006, the club meets weekly and is for students interested in sports statistics, sports business, and problem solving.

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