Posted on 06 August 2012 by matt
Roy Eisenhardt (President/CEO – Oakland A’s) . . . In 1980, leading Major League Baseball into a new technology-enabled age, hired my company’s STATS, Inc. subsidiary (Sports Team Analysis & Tracking Systems), co-owned with Dr. Richard Cramer, noted Sabermetrician, to develop EDGE 1.000 ™. Eisenhardt made it clear from the outset that he wanted to increase radio and TV ratings, the enjoyment of fans and the value of the broadcasts to advertisers.
This was the first computerized pitch-by-pitch and pitcher/batter/fielder tendencies information gathered in real time for the purpose of player performance evaluation, game tactics planning and the statistical enrichment of play-by-play radio and TV broadcasts (Apple, provided the development hardware which also included Hayes modems, a DEC mainframe and a Corvus hard drive) . Jay Alves, now an executive with the Colorado Rockies, was recruited to be the first system operator.
We also worked closely with the broadcasters, Bill King and Lon Simmons, to increase their comfort levels with the rapidly updating statistical and trends texture they now had displayed in front of them.
Our EDGE 1.000 provided the initial analytical underpinnings of the A’s amateur player evaluation and drafting process fostered by Sandy Alderson, then Billy Beane and since popularized in the book, Moneyball, by Michael Lewis. The movie version of Moneyball, with Brad Pitt, opens in late 2011.
For the subsequent two decades, the brand image and reputation of the Oakland A’s as well as the confidence instilled in fans would be influenced and shaped by the innovative bent of the Haas family ownership.
Posted on 28 August 2011 by matt
George Steinbrenner (Owner – New York Yankees) . . . in the bowels of Yankee Stadium, having secured buy-in from key executives of the club to purchase our EDGE 1.000 performance tracking and data base management system, two colleagues (Tom Black, Don Leopold) and I presented the system to Steinbrenner for final approval. This was the technology we had created with assistance from Apple, DEC, Hayes and Corvus that would make Moneyball possible a few years later. (The Oakland A’s had been our first customer)
He interrupted my opening comments, pulled out an envelope with ten handwritten questions on it regarding our system, saying the Yankees would buy it if I answered “yes” to all ten. I answered “yes” to the first nine and, with some trepidation, “no, but . . .” to the last. He smiled and nodded at me, turned to his VP Finance, said “buy it”, then abruptly stood up and left the room, others following in his wake, walkie talkies at the ready to warn others elsewhere that he was coming their way.
Side-stepping its telecast and radio broadcast benefits, the Yankees focused on our system’s performance management elements and tools – game tactics planning, player performance evaluation, amateur/professional scouting data base management, draft/free agent selection and trade planning. (The Chicago White Sox, with Tony LaRussa’s encouragement, and the Houston Astros followed).
Posted on 01 August 2011 by matt
Sandy Alderson (President, above)/ Andy Dolich (Executive, left) – Oakland A’s . . . The former (now General Manager of the New York Mets) and latter (most recently COO of the San Francisco 49ers) demonstrated bold business vision in the mid 1980s when they commissioned me and colleague Bob Hallam to evaluate the relationship among ticket demand, pricing and perceived value, an engagement that led to the dramatic upward rescaling of “box” and “reserved” seats, ushering in the concept of premium seating throughout Major League Baseball.
The notion of pricing tickets relative to demand, a long-standing practice of the airline industry, had spread across Major League Baseball within three years of the A’s taking action. The neighboring San Francisco Giants were the first to follow suit. The precursor of flex or dynamic pricing , tailored to day-by-day demand, weather, day-of-week, opponent and other variables, was a courageous move.
An important part of its effective execution was the messaging to fans most directly affected by the changes and communication of the reasoning behind the changes. Not all fans were pleased, but the appropriateness of the philosophy was born out by the sustained results and overall economic benefits. Ironically, the Giants have been at the head of the flex-pricing class.
Lessons learned here have implications far beyond the live sports and entertainment business into the realms of tiered TV/cable and web-based subscriber services.