Tuesday, December 07, 2004

How IT helped the Red Sox win the World Series

At Anandtech's news page, I found a link to a fantastic (if brief and superficial) case study on how IT made the Red Sox more competitive. An excellent read if you're interested in how IT can be used in this world. Here's a quote:
The turning point of this fall's epic Boston Red Sox comeback in the American League Championship Series took place not in the ninth inning of Game 4—when Dave Roberts stole second base, putting the tying run in scoring position—but two innings earlier, when Roberts made his way from the dugout through the team's clubhouse to the weight room, where the Red Sox video command center is arrayed against the end wall.

There, Roberts asked Billy Broadbent, who handles video systems for the Red Sox, to queue up footage of New York Yankees reliever Mariano Rivera pitching from the stretch with a man on first base. Two innings later, Roberts put to good use what he had learned from the team's massive digital archive of opposing pitchers.

In The Art of War, you must know your enemy, huh? Talk about information warfare. :)


  1. lol, oh come on, video archiving is just a tool used by many sports. It's not like it has direct effect in helping a team win the championship. Rivera could have also known Roberts speed on the basepath and react better to him. So just like any sports, such as hockey, you could study your enemies well, but if you dont execute it on the playing field, it's useless :)

  2. While video archiving may be common in all the realm of sports, the ability to call up specific video on-demand is not. It takes an insane amount of prep time and resources to prepare a library of video that would be useful for each game. With an IT system like this, you don't waste time on that and can focus on more important things; your costs are allocated more efficiently.

    Let's look at the alternative, what existed without this IT system. All video would have been stored on analog video tape, which would have required a large volume of storage space. In addition, a complex catalogue and categorization system would have existed by which the players and coaches would have been able to physically find multiple videos from multiple areas of the physical library. Finally, there's the inconvenience of having to fast-forward through multiple video tapes in order to get that desired information, needing multiple VCRs, TVs, and personnel. Implementing this IT system vastly decreased both the time and space complexity of the Red Sox video library. We're going from a polynomial order of complexity to possibly logarithmic (depending on how well the IT system is able to utilize economies of scale in its data infrastructure).

    And while it's true that video is useless if you can't execute on the field, there is no execution on the field without video. Thus, while video is not logically sufficient for success in today's sports, it is logically necessary.

  3. yes, that's what I wanted to say, it's necessary but not sufficient :P

    It's just the title of your article seem misleading.

  4. Well, I'm not sure what else I would be able to say. How IT was necessary for the Red Sox? Why IT was useful for the Red Sox? The efficacy of IT for the Red Sox? Bleh, we're getting into petty semantics here. :)