Billy Beane’s thoughts on how technology is changing baseball…from NBC Sports, Hardball Talk

© Chuck Duboff
As most readers know, I am a big baseball fan; being a baseball traditionalist I struggle with all the changes which technology has brought to baseball; from defensive shifting based on computer printouts, to instant replay…the soul of baseball is being altered. In this piece, written by Craig Calcaterra, and found on NBC Sports, Hardball Talk…Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane discusses the future effects of technology on baseball

Billy Beane: The age of “baseball insiders” vs. “baseball outsiders” will soon be over

Craig Calcaterra Jul 8, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT

Billy Beane

Billy Beane has an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal today in which he talks about the changes technology is and will continue to bring to the game and what that will mean for the business of baseball. Note: to the extent you continue to go after stat-oriented analysis using the language of “Moneyball,” you’re woefully out of date.

Beane mentions 3-D tracking systems like Statcast, new metrics and new teaching techniques that will hone and refine player skills and capture the gains from such techniques in new and ever-more-precise metrics. If you’re tech-phobic, put your big boy pants on and wade in so you can at least know the sorts of things you should be upset about.

But Beane’s real point isn’t about any single technology or approach — it’s not like he’s gonna share the stuff his people are working on with the world; he did that a decade ago and still catches hell for it — but how technology will change the culture of baseball, who the people are who will be influential in its future and how they’ll get the information they’ll use:

Technology will create an equally drastic shift in front offices. Aspirants to the front office already are just one click away from decision makers, thanks to social media. It is not uncommon for a blogger’s analysis post to show up in a general manager’s Twitter feed—a level of proximity and access unheard of a decade ago. Many sports franchises are already hiring analysts based on their work in the public sphere; as social media become more targeted and efficient, the line between the “outsiders” and “insiders” will narrow . . . In sum, sport will no longer be the exclusive domain of “insiders,” and the business will be better for it.

Baseball’s insular culture is one its most frustrating traits, and it has been very nice to see it eroding here and there since the advent of the Internet Age and the expansion of the cultures and philosophies in and around the game in recent years. To be sure, there has been something of a backlash to that of late – for example, I would argue that the rise in “unwritten rules” incidents and hostility by some in the world of baseball towards outsiders and the Internet is a defensive reaction not unlike you often see when an old order is in its death throes — but all in all, baseball is moving in a new and exciting direction.

The stereotypical Old Baseball Men are being joined by young baseball men. Young technology men. Young marketing men. And, hopefully, an increasing number of young women fitting all of those descriptions as well. There’s no sense going through life with one hand tied behind your back, and the willingness of people like Beane here, or Jeff Luhnow’s down in Houston or Chris Antonetti in Cleveland and any number of other GMs to look in new places for ideas and people is one of baseball’s most promising developments.


3 thoughts on “Billy Beane’s thoughts on how technology is changing baseball…from NBC Sports, Hardball Talk

  1. The DUMBEST thing the ever did was to make “the play at the plate” reviewable. The job of the catcher is to prevent a run from scoring……to do that they need to make the plate unreachable by the runner. How the hell else are they supposed to do that without standing in front of it………..


  2. Remember when teams had to send out one of their scouts, to some AAA or AA or a minor league ball park to actually watch a potential prospect for their major league team play and then file a report on said player.
    Upper echelon team management getting together with their managers, scouting staff and actually putting their heads together just to discuss what each one has seen or on file, of a hot young prospect.
    All of this is no longer done with modern technology that is available today to each and every team. Being old fashioned I miss that but also know it is what it is in today’s marketing. Today sitting in even a minor league ball park and a question is asked re a certain player or do you ” remember: this and sometimes you had to go home and try to find something so you can answer it, well now, out comes all our electronic devices and within SECONDS, there is your answer.
    Anyone remember when you used to go and watch just the ball game in front of you?? Go to a game today and a lot of time when you look around you at just the people in your section of the park, an awful lot of heads are looking down at their laps and not watching what is taking place on the field.
    Sad, YES! but is today’s normal happenings. Wonder what it will be like in 15 to 20 years time??????????


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