ESPN 30 for 30 Shorts: The Schedule Makers (2013)

Directed by Joseph Garner

The charm of the game of baseball is in its quirk. It is my favorite game for how unique, and how human it is. For the longest time the game resisted the addition of instant replay, until it finally caved. For the longest time it resisted the use of computer programs to generate its schedules, until it finally caved. Before 2005, the Stephenson’s were the the team of two who formulated the schedule of over 2,000 games for Major League Baseball, and they did it all without a computer. Who knew!?

In the latest installment of the Shorts version of ESPN’s 30 for 30 series, director Joseph Garner gives us a wonderful look into the lovely couple who made the schedules for baseball, despite it being the impossible combination. Having to adhere to multiple scheduling rules, they found the right way to break them, and generate schedules to appease all 30 teams. Every year there were impossible variables to deal with, and without the help of a computer the Stephenson’s overcame and developed their own system to solve one of the most complex riddles is sports, How to schedule 162 games for each of the 30 teams.

But while the feat itself, which they did every year from 1982-2004, is impressive, its truly the charm and love of the couple that comes through in Garner’s film. The relationship between the two makes sense given their task. Like the game of baseball, they have their charm, their passion, and they always seem to be there for each other, complimenting each others skills. Holly was the brainiac who developed their tried and true formula, whereas Henry helped out with the baseball side of things, assuring good matchups at the end of the year, making sure Cal Ripken was in Baltimore when he broke Lou Gehrig’s record. Together, for over 20 years, they made baseball tick.

*** – Good

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