June 3, 2011
From the Wall Street Journal
Still looking for vacation plans this summer? We may be able to help—all you need is an unhealthy obsession with baseball, a functioning automobile and five weeks to spare.
Ben Blatt of the Harvard Sports Analysis Collective recently built a computer program that devised the best way to visit all 30 baseball stadiums in the shortest possible time. The results are not for the faint of heart—it's a grueling, convoluted journey sending courageous souls on a 35-day road trip covering more than 18,000 miles of American (and briefly Canadian) highway.
To make his conclusions, Blatt used a mathematical method known as linear programming, which takes loads of data and crunches it into an optimal outcome. In this case, Blatt plugged the schedule for each team into his model, while setting one key parameter: For every 12 hours of estimated driving between ballparks, the system must allow for eight hours of rest, ensuring that the road trip is, at least in theory, humanly possible.
But possible doesn't mean desirable. 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. (That one, Blatt admitted, "just barely made it.")
So if you're brave enough to give it a try, the trip starts at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., on Monday night and ends at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on Sunday, July 10. "I wouldn't say it would be a fun road trip." Blatt said, "Well, maybe if you wanted to get into the Guinness book of world records."
by Jared Diamond
The Wall Street Journal
The Perfect Baseball Odyssey
The itinerary for the optimal way to see all 30 baseball stadiums
this season (all times local):