Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Who likes puzzles?

Have you ever built a schedule for a league? To paraphrase a fellow member of the WCL scheduling committee, it is like doing a 5,000 piece jigsaw puzzle - except halfway through the process, the pieces are switched out with another puzzle and then it becomes a rubik's cube. But you still need it to look like the finished product of the original puzzle. And then your dog eats a few of the pieces.

That being said, we are close to finalizing the 2013 schedule - and I am excited for it to come out. One challenge this year that is a by-product of the success of the league - scheduling 11 teams versus 12 (the WCL went from 9 to 11 teams due to expansion markets Medford, OR and Victoria, BC) is a significant challenge. You will always have a team that isn't playing league games. You also want to make sure that, as close as possible, everyone has a fair number of weekend games to allow each club a fighting chance at financial success.

Another challenge this season was a consensus to start the season later than the first week of June. In addition to traditionally bad weather throughout much of the Pacific Northwest the first two weeks of June, many of the league's top players don't arrive until after June 15 (quarter schools). By starting so early, we have a massive upheaval of the roster as 10-day players leave and full-season signees are shuttled in. As a general manager, it is a bit of a cluster. That change, however, compacted an already compacted time frame in which we play our season.

Other factors that come into play include black-out dates (dates a team can't use their ballpark for various reasons). For instance, in Walla Walla, our great Legion programs have traditionally hosted (3) tournaments at Borleske Stadium and we try to make sure that we are on the road for those weekends so that they can successfully host these games (I enjoy that so many high school players from around the state and region are coming to see what a fantastic facility we have). Mileage and time on the road are major items to consider as well - you can't travel more than 10 hours at a time or exceed a certain amount of mileage (legally). To make it even more fantastically fun, (1) change always has a domino effect and creates (10) other problems.

SO - what does this mean? A lot of late-night phone calls, crumpled papers strewn about, and frantic calculations of miles to get to a schedule everyone can be happy (almost) with. And then the real fun begins (hotels, charters, meal money, etc). It's a good thing I have a great secretary. Oh wait, I don't.

Back to the spreadsheets!

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