Game Changers

Baseball is my favorite sport, hands down.

Today we are going to start with the greatest player of all time.  A true game changer.

George Herman Ruth, Jr. (February 6, 1895 – August 16, 1948), best known as “Babe” Ruth and nicknamed “the Bambino” and “the Sultan of Swat”, was an American baseball player who spent 22 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB) playing for three teams (1914–1935). Known for his hitting brilliance, Ruth set career records in his time for home runs (714 since broken), slugging percentage (.690), runs batted in (RBI) (2,213 since broken), and on-base plus slugging (OPS) (1.164). Ruth originally entered the major leagues with the Boston Red Sox as a starting pitcher, but after he was sold to the New York Yankees in 1919, he converted to a full-time right fielder. He subsequently became one of the league’s most prolific hitters and with his home run hitting prowess, he helped the Yankees win seven pennants and four World Series titles. Ruth retired in 1935 after a short stint with the Boston Braves, and the following year, he became one of the first five players to be elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Ruth is credited with changing baseball itself. The popularity of the game exploded in the 1920s, largely due to his influence. Ruth ushered in the “live-ball era“, as his big swing led to escalating home run totals that not only excited fans, but helped baseball evolve from a low-scoring, speed-dominated game to a high-scoring power game. He has since become regarded as one of the greatest sports heroes in American culture. Ruth’s legendary power and charismatic personality made him a larger than life figure in the “Roaring Twenties“, and according to ESPN, he was the first true American sports celebrity superstar whose fame transcended baseball.   Off the field he was famous for his charity, but also was noted for his often reckless lifestyle.

Ruth’s name quickly became synonymous with the home run, as he led the transformation of baseball strategy from the “inside game” to the “power game”, and because of the style and manner in which he hit them. His ability to drive many of his home runs in the 450–500 foot range and beyond resulted in the lasting adjective “Ruthian“, to describe any long home run hit by any player. Probably his deepest hit in official game play (and perhaps the longest home run by any player), occurred on July 18, at Detroit’s Navin Field, in which he hit one to straightaway center, over the wall of the then-single-deck bleachers, and to the intersection, some 575 feet (175 m) from home plate.

Thank you Wikipedia for the above information.

26 days until pitchers and catchers report for spring training. 🙂

Enjoy the weekend.



Money Ball 2

Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game is a book by Michael Lewis, published in 2003, about the Oakland Athletics baseball team and its general manager Billy Beane. Its focus is the team’s analytical, evidence-based, sabermetric approach to assembling a competitive baseball team, despite Oakland’s disadvantaged revenue situation. Sabermetrics is defined as “the search for objective knowledge about baseball.”

The central premise of Moneyball is that the collected wisdom of baseball insiders (including players, managers, coaches, scouts, and the front office) over the past century is subjective and often flawed. Statistics such as stolen bases, runs batted in, and batting average, typically used to gauge players, are relics of a 19th century view of the game and the statistics that were available at the time. The Oakland A’s’ front office took advantage of more analytical gauges of player performance to field a team that could compete successfully against richer competitors in Major League Baseball.  Big city teams such as the NY Yankees, Boston Red Sox and the NY Mets have consistently outspent small market teams over the years.  Oakland has been quite successful with this new strategy and many other teams have now adopted this analytical approach to measuring the impact a player can have on the team.

Major League Baseball (MLB) measures the average cost of attending a game as something called FCI, the Family Cost Index.  The Fan Cost Index™ comprises the prices of four (4) adult average-price tickets, two (2) small draft beers, four (4) small soft drinks, four (4) regular-size hot dogs, parking for one (1) car, two (2) game programs and two (2) least expensive, adult-size adjustable caps.

It is quite expensive for a family of 4 to attend a game.  The MLB average Family Cost Index in 2011 was $197.35.  The most expensive FCI’s in the league are the Boston Red Sox at $339.01, the NY Yankees at $338.32 and the Chicago Cubs at $305.60.  The least expensive FCI’s are the Arizona Diamondbacks at $120.96, the San Diego Padres at $125.81 and the Pittsburgh Pirates at $127.71.

With the exception of the Boston Red Sox, all other teams have plenty of seat supply that they are trying to sell.  The Red Sox have a major league record of 712 consecutive sellouts, with no empty seats dating back to May 15, 2003.  Red Sox Nation is alive and well.  Today the ticket prices are essentially the same for all games with the exception of promotional programs run by the teams.  But this is about to change.

I have recently been doing some analysis of sports marketing and came across a trend that will forever change how a ticket is priced for a major league game. New technology enables MLB teams to offer “demand based pricing” for available tickets.  We have seen this approach for many years with airline tickets and hotel rooms but now it is coming to a stadium near you.  Two companies are leading this revolution for sporting events – and Digonex –

The Oakland A’s applied advanced analytic capabilities to find the “diamonds in the rough” and out maneuver other teams for lower priced talent, enabling them to be more competitive with the big market teams.  Qcue and Digonex provide very sophisticated algorithms to analyze real-time sales data and other external factors to generate sales and revenue forecasts based on various pricing strategies. Once approved, price changes are pushed to ticketing systems which process the changes at the point of sale and across all channels.

How does this impact you?  For example, seats for the Milwaukee Brewers three-day stand against the Kansas City Royals in mid-June are all selling for about the same price right now — $12 to $51 apiece. But as those games draw near, the Royals will bump prices up for the contest that will feature Brewers ace pitcher Zack Greinke, who won a Cy Young Award while hurling for Kansas City in 2009.  As you can imagine their will be many “attributes” that will impact ticket pricing, either up or down.  These include former players returning to face their former teams, think Albert Pujols playing in St. Louis again, or a marquee pitching match-up, such as Roy Halladay against Tim Lincecum in San Francisco or a game that is critical to winning a division or wild card late in the season.  The flip side of this is that pricing for games without this type of hype will be priced more cost effectively.

Here are just a few of the MLB teams that will be utilizing Qcue’s service this season:

  • Arizona Diamondbacks
  • Chicago White Sox
  • New York Mets
  • Oakland A’s
  • San Diego Padres
  • San Francisco Giants
  • Seattle Mariners
  • St. Louis Cardinals

Get your tickets early baseball fans – Play Ball!