by Ken Murphy
It’s Opening Day. Since SAP is now partnering with nearly every major sports league to re-engineer the fan experience, I’m wondering if that means they can predict (guarantee?) more than 69 wins for the Boston Red Sox?
As most Red Sox fans can tell you from the experiences of the past few seasons, there’s more to rooting for a team than the number of wins it amasses. Before Boston’s infamous 2011 collapse (a 7-20 September), the Red Sox were arguably the best team in baseball for most of the season, but they were still pretty tough to root for – as evidenced in the middle of last season by the pennies-on-the-dollar trade to the Dodgers of three superstars who just a year earlier had been expected to be the core of the team for the next half decade.
From a fan’s perspective, the mountains of real-time data available to players and fans alike through the SAPBusinessObjects Player Information Application Plus program (PLA+) can certainly enhance the fan experience, but it doesn’t trump the human element – the player behind the stats. For example, if Josh Beckett – one of the players the Red Sox unloaded – studies a particular lineup’s batting tendencies and uses the information to strike out 15 and pick up a “W”, well that’s all well and good
, but it doesn’t necessarily endear him to fans. Not when he’s partial to missing a start due to injury and hitting the golf course when he should be in rehab and then insulting fans by insisting “my off day is my off day.”
I suppose it’s the same in business; an organization’s powerful business intelligence solution isn’t going to amount to much if its public relations department “pulls a Beckett” and keeps shooting itself in the foot. Then again, Opening Day does mean a fresh start, slate wiped clean and all that. So let Dodgers fans worry about Beckett. As of this writing – and for the next hour – PLA+ doesn’t have a single statistic on new Red Sox left fielder Jackie Bradley Jr., but the promise of a 22-year-old kid who is still just genuinely happy to be on a major league roster makes him a fan favorite regardless. (Update: Bradley Jr. drew a walk off C.C. Sabathia in his first Major League at-bat).
And if Bradley Jr. tanks and the Red Sox again stumble to last place, we’re just a few weeks away from the NFL draft and only five months from kicking off the 2013 NFL season. Then fantasy football players like myself can dull the pain by relishing in SAP’s latest partnership with the NFL, where SAP’s cloud solutions will power the league’s fantasy football offerings on NFL.com.
Until then, it’s time to Play Ball – and maybe buy a new Bradley Jr. jersey while the Red Sox are still in first place?