Wednesday, December 31, 2014

MiLB teams in Google My Maps

Just thought I'd share a small project I've been working on bit by bit over the past several days. This all started while I was working on a Minor adventure I hope to do this coming summer. You'll notice I capitalized "minor" - that is a clue that it involves Minor League Baseball. The plan is to take in the Carolina League's North division over the course of several consecutive days. The tentative plan is to invite MINI folks along for the ride, so I've been trying to work on some twisty routes between stadiums.

Last weekend I discovered that most of the teams had posted game times for the upcoming season. While working on the schedule it turned out one of the teams is holding a day game, which would leave the evening free. Can't have that, so I started searching and found another MiLB team in the area had an evening game the same day, so I squeezed that into my plans. That did get me to wondering about having a map available of all MiLB teams.

I hit the My Maps gallery and found there were a few maps available. After searching around, I could not figure out how to add them to my own library of Maps (which now lives in Google Drive thanks to some recent changes by Google). That meant exporting a kml then importing it into my own map. That worked well enough, but the data consisted of the team name and location and that was it.

With so many teams in the file, this gave me an opportunity to work with the data table some. I decided to add a couple data points for each team - what class they play in (e.g. AAA, AA, etc.) and what league they play in. After a couple missteps, I finally figured out how to edit the data table fairly quickly and added columns and info for all of the teams. I also found a couple updates that needed to be entered due to teams changing names or moving to new locations since the original database was put together.

Once I had all of that entered, I decided I really wanted get the teams in each class into their own layer so I could turn them on and off to see them a little more quickly and discretely. This will also make it possible to color the points by league. Unfortunately, My Maps does not let you move points between layers. That meant figuring out how to edit the kml file (which is really a text xml file) and then re-importing those back into the map.

With that completed, I think I may add yet another data point for each team - the division they play in within their league. That information is currently embedded within the league info, which makes it look like there are more leagues than there really are.

After finishing up (is it really ever finished?) this phase, it has convinced me more than ever just how rudimentary Google's My Maps product is when it comes to mapping. I was already well aware of the 10 point limit in place when editing driving directions and had recently discovered a similar limitation on the number of layers (which is why I cannot create separate layers for each league as there are more than 10 leagues). Working with the data table is rather difficult within the My Maps platform and the inability to move or duplicate points between layers is exceedingly frustrating.

As I wrap up this post, I'm wondering if I can use the data to create my own POI file, via Basecamp, to load on my Garmin gps. May have to check that out. And think about some additional data to add for each team.

If you want to check out the map, here it is:

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