Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Posts Tagged ‘texas rangers

Fenway Park

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Let’s talk baseball.

I mentioned in my post yesterday that I was going to be making my first visit to Boston’s Fenway Park last evening, home of the Boston Red Sox, and a 100 year history of baseball that will be officially and ceremonially recognized later this week.

My own baseball team, the two years running World Series participants (but not champions!) Texas Rangers, showed up in Boston last night to play, and play they did.  It was the Great Boston Massacre of 2012.

The Rangers leapt out early with a 2 run homer from Mike Napoli, who sent a shot over an advertising sign for “Volvo” atop the famed “Green Monster” (all 37 feet and 2 inches of it) and out into the streets of Boston.  But, it was only a half-inning later before Boston’s Dustin Pedroia answered with a two run homer of his own.

But after that, it was pretty much all Texas, all the time, including a home-run laden top of the eighth that sent a couterie of Boston fans sprinting for the renowned Cask and Flagon sports pub on Landsdowne Street.

And who could blame them, the Texas Rangers’ offense last night was beyond potent.  I just wish this Texas offensive line-up had shown up last October in the last two World Series games against the Cardinals!

But as I fessed up on Facebook earlier, I was impressed with the grace and humor with which the Boston fans took their beating.  It was an absolutely gorgeous night for baseball, in Boston or anywhere, and the Boston fans who stuck around for the full torture given over by Texas sang along with a rendition of “Sweet Caroline” that seemed more Rocky Horror Picture Show than Norman Rockwell:

“Swee-eeet, Caroline…..BOM BOM BOM….Good times never seemed so gooood!” (So Good! So Good! So Good!)

Somehow, I think Neil Diamond would still approve, and little did I know at the time that this has come to be something of a tradition in Boston, even if unofficial.

What was official and entirely self-evident to me was that Fenway Park is a national treasure and most elegant representative of our national pastime.

Fenway Park is the way baseball is meant to be played, and I’m not sure until you’ve seen a game there firsthand you can comprehend the history and intimacy it and its emblems provide: The Red Seat.  The Pesky Pole.  The Citgo Sign.

I’ve visited quite a few MLB baseball venues throughout the country (although I’ve not made it to the new Yankee stadium as of yet, but frequented the original several times during my time in New York), but none have I ever walked in and looked around with the kind of awe that I had last evening here in Boston.  It’s a kind of waking history for an entire American century.

Ponder this for a moment: The first game at Fenway was played April 20, 2012.  According to Wikipedia, then-mayor John F. Fitzgerald, the grandfather of John F. Kennedy, threw out the first pitch.  In that game, Boston defeated the New York Highlanders (renamed the Yankees the next year) 7-6 in 11 innings.

Overshadowing this debut, of course, was the sinking of the Titanic just a few days earlier.

But emerging from that week was an age-old rivalry and the beginning of a baseball legacy.

The 1912 Red Sox would go on to win the World Series that year, helped along by the famous “Snodgrass Muff” (A Giant’s outfielder who dropped a routine fly ball — something that Boston’s left fielder did last night, one hundred years later).

A ship could be sunk, but not a stadium. Especially not Fenway.

Written by turbotodd

April 18, 2012 at 2:39 pm

World Series Of Analytics: Josh Hamilton, Twitter MVP

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I’m still trying to get over the fact that my Texas Rangers lost the World Series two in a row.

But that didn’t stop the Rangers’ Josh Hamilton from earning the social media MVP award, based on positive-to-negative sentiment from fans in the USC Annenberg Social Sentiment Index that I mentioned in a couple of recent posts.

Texas Ranger Josh Hamilton just edged out St. Louis Cardinal David Freese for the "Twitter MVP" in the USC Annenberg Social Sentiment Index for this year's MLB World Series.

The final analysis from the 2011 World Series between the Texas Rangers and the St. Louis Cardinals revealed that Hamilton took home the MVP, but just edged out the Cardinals’ David Freese by 1 percent.

Thank Heavens for small favors.  Freese was the Rangers’ clutch hitting nemesis during those last two games.

The USC Annenberg Social Sentiment Index is an ongoing project between IBM and the Annenberg Innovation Lab (AIL) students to explore Twitterology trends, the moods associated with social media communication.

Students are using IBM Social Analytics technology to analyze millions of tweets in order to assess public social media engagement and opinion from sports and film to retail and fashion.

Each game in the World Series averaged a million tweets, totaling seven million total tweets for the entire series as diehard fans exuded their social media voice and opinions on the players and coaches they followed.

IBM and AIL analyzed each game, identifying the players and coaches with the highest tweet volume and most positive sentiment, then generated a final analysis for the series.

While it’s obvious that Freese and Hamilton both had stand out performances, other noteworthy findings were revealed through the sentiment analysis, such as:

  • Texas manager Ron Washington generated five times more tweets than his counterpart, St. Louis Cardinals’ managerial veteran Tony La Russa.
  • Freese earned an 85% ‘T’ score – the ratio of positive to negative tweets; Albert Pujols earned an 82% positive sentiment rating. Texas’ Derek Holland pushed ahead of St. Louis’ Chris Carpenter.
  • Holland garnered the most tweets for any pitcher during the series, and a respectable 82% sentiment score.  While Carpenter, clearly a star and critical to the Game 7 victor, earned a 75% rating.
  • Clutch player Lance Berkman from the St. Louis Cardinals earned an 81% sentiment score, putting him in close contention for social media MVP.
  • Fans appreciated the game’s specialists, such as Arthur Rhodes from St. Louis, who appeared in three World Series games.  He got one batter out in each game that he faced, helping him earn a fan high of 94% in Game 7.

More social sentiment as discovered in the USC Annenberg World Series Social Sentiment index using IBM business analytics technology.

The analysis found the volume of tweets associated with players and coaches had a strong correlation to the amount of television face time each received during the games – regardless of the caliber of player or coaching performance.

What mattered was personality and fans’ affinity for it defined the social sentiment.  With each additional game, fans couldn’t wait to turn on the TV and their Twitter accounts, generating a higher TV audience and higher volumes of tweets, igniting the power of fans’ banter, usually limited between themselves and their televisions and inserting it into a measurable voice in the Twitterverse.

“This analysis underscores why the social media element in sports — and in any industry — should not be discounted as an unimportant source to glean actionable insights,” said Professor Jonathan Taplin, Director of USC Annenberg Innovation Lab.

“Relying solely on traditional channels to measure fan and customer engagement just won’t cut it anymore.”

IBM and AIL are collaborating to help students explore how analytics technologies can be used by organizations from news outlets and journalists to movie studios and film marketers in order to understand information buried inside Big Data – structured and unstructured information.

To date, the Index has been applied to film forecasting in order to accurately predict movie blockbuster success rates, and most recently was used by students to identify top trends for retailers from the New York Fashion Week shows.

With this project, social analytics is proving you can find out how a fan is feeling directly from the fan’s mouth, or in this case, Twitter handle, versus relying on what traditional media is telling us the fans are feeling.

The same principle applies in the business world too, social analytics is changing in the way research is conducted as the rise of social media has participants discussing openly what they like and dislike, what their plans are, and so on. For marketers, business analytics may take the place of traditional market research in the future as a growing number of companies start to use the technology to track market sentiment.

In fact, according to IBM’s 2011 Global CMO Study  of more than 1,700 chief marketing officers, the majority of the world’s top marketing executives admit they are not sufficiently plugged into real-time conversations about their brands.

Eighty-percent or more of the CMOs surveyed still focus primarily on traditional sources of information such as market research and competitive benchmarking.  Many identified their key challenge as the difficulty in analyzing vast quantities of data to extract meaningful insights that can improve products, services and the customer experience.

However, eighty-two percent of CMOs say they plan to increase their use of social media over the next three to five years.

“While in this case, its fan sentiment, the opportunity to get closer to your customer through social analytics is an opportunity organizations across the industry spectrum can’t afford to miss,” said Rod Smith, Vice President of Emerging Technology, IBM.  “Harnessing Big Data for insights is the key to having a competitive advantage.”

IBM’s collaboration with the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab is part of its continued efforts to advance student skills in analytics across academia. IBM is working with more than 6,000 universities around the world to develop curricula and provide training, resources and support for business analytics.

You can learn more about IBM business analytics capabilities here.

The World Series Of Social Media

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Baseball is like church.  Many attend but few understand.  — Wes Westrum

I cannot tell a lie.

I’m extremely excited that my Texas Rangers made it to the World Series for the second year in a row.

Growing up in north Texas, the Rangers were a team we loved to hate…or is that hated to love?  They had no pitching.  They rarely had winning seasons.  But they were our team.

IBM and USC Annenberg have partnered to use analytics technology to catch Major League Baseball fan sentiment via the social media for this year's MLB World Series matchup between the St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers beginning tonight in St. Louis, Missouri.

And they still are. Tonight, in Saint Louis, they’ll be playing the Cardinals in the first game of this year’s World Series.

Which is why it’s also exciting to note that today, IBM and the University of South California Annenberg Innovation Lab announced a new social media analysis project focused on Major League Baseball during the World Series.

The USC Annenberg Social Sentiment Index is being compiled by students and relies on IBM Social Analytics technology to analyze millions of Tweets in order to assess public social media engagement and opinion from sports and film to retail and fashion.

Students from USC have done an initial analysis of the National League Championship Series (NLCS) and will now broaden the index to follow the World Series games beginning today to determine “social media MVPs.”

The goal is to uncover hidden insights from Twitter followers that could help better understand player and team sentiment, and illustrate how advanced analytics technologies can help identify important trends.

The students have used the technology for an initial test of more than 1.5 million public baseball-related tweets during the National League Championship Series, gauging positive and negative nuances and establishing overall sentiment rankings among a sampling of NLCS players.

Initial index findings show:

  • The Cardinals’ Chris Carpenter garnered the highest number of tweets indicating sentiment at 1,573 — 61.4 percent positive and 21.6 percent negative.
  • However, fellow Cardinal David Freese, a fan favorite and official NLCS MVP of the pennant race, garnered 768 tweets; 89.3 percent of his tweets were positive and only 15.4 percent negative; securing one of the highest “T’” scores — winner of the most uniformly positive tweets.
  • The Texas Rangers are winning the Twitter buzz battle: the American League’s social media champion was the focus of more than 56,600 tweetsfive times more than the St. Louis Cardinals — with 79 percent of the tweets being positive. While the Cardinals are behind in the number of postings, they have matched the Rangers’ level of enthusiasm in their tweets. St. Louis garnered 11,500 tweets, 80 percent of which were upbeat.

For baseball fans everywhere, social media is now as integral a part of the game experience as keeping score or enjoying hot dogs and peanuts.

In fact, during the post season, a banner behind home plate has been encouraging spectators to connect using the hashtag #postseason, giving fans an opportunity to both share and learn from others instantly, and providing researchers with an unfiltered voice of the fan that is ripe for analysis.

USC and IBM are collaborating to broaden student skills in analytics and demonstrate how Watson-inspired technologies, such as sophisticated semantic and linguistic analysis software, can provide new insights into public opinion by crunching complex data in real-time.

Analyzing Data Is Not A Game

“Analyzing data is not a game – it’s an important way to understand different constituencies and gain competitive advantage,” said Rod Smith, Vice President of Emerging Technology, IBM. “Whether it’s analyzing fan sentiment during a sports event, hospital patient data for personalized treatment programs, or the latest fashion trends for more targeted marketing campaigns, organizations are realizing the value of analytics to better respond to customer needs.”

The ability to glean insights into viewpoints from Big Data — structured and unstructured information — carries value across all aspects of baseball, from the media outlets covering reactions to the game and players, to businesses marketing to the fans, and most importantly, to the players and coaches themselves.

In fact, analyzing data to generate actionable insights in the baseball world has already afforded major league teams better decision-making to create productive ball clubs year after year. For example, Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane has become famous for his [explain what he did for people like me that don’t know] through the use of analytics, made famous by Moneyball: The Art of Winning An Unfair Game, the best-selling book and motion picture.

IBM’s collaboration with the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab is part of its continued efforts to advance student skills in analytics across academia. IBM is working with more than 6,000 universities around the world to develop curricula and provide training, resources and support for business analytics.

The USC Annenberg Social Sentiment Index on baseball is being conducted as part of the 2011 IBM Information on Demand and Business Analytics Forum taking place next week in Las Vegas, October 23-27. (Blogger’s Note: I’ll be in attendance blogging the general sessions, and Scott Laningham and I will be LiveStreaming from the IOD Expo floor.)

The index on baseball will be updated during the World Series on asmarterplanet.com to illustrate the ongoing shifts in fan sentiment throughout the series.

For more information about IBM and analytics, visit www.ibm.com/analytics.

Bronx Bombers

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I went to my first and only ever American League division baseball game at the old Yankee Stadium back in the late 1990s.

A buddy from work was there with me, and every time the Texas Rangers did something right, my buddy would stand up and yell.

Then, without fail, about two thousand New York Yankee fans’ heads would turn our way and glare.

I tried to remind my friend that we were in the Bronx, at the revered Yankee Stadium — admittedly, hallowed ground where baseball is concerned — and perhaps we should just keep our Texas Rangers fandom to ourselves.

Of course, it didn’t really matter, as the Yankees made mincemeat out of the Rangers.

On Saturday afternoon, Texas took the Yankees on their home turf of Arlington, Texas, 7-2, their first ever post season win at home.

Last night, Cliff Lee led the Rangers to an 8-0 shutout in the new Yankee Stadium there in the Bronx.

That game marked the first time the Yankees have ever been held to fewer than four base runners in a postseason game and the second time they have been held to fewer than three hits in a postseason game (they were two-hit by Warren Spahn in Game 4 of the 1958 World Series).

I don’t have enough superlatives to describe Lee’s pitching last night. I’ve never seen a single pitched so confound a swarm of Yankees (and please remember, I’m a Yankees fan…right behind the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros).

From Jeter to former Texas Ranger Alex Rodriguez, it was a tour de force pitching demonstration, with 13 strikeouts in eight shutout innings, and giving up only two singles and a walk.

As Rodriguez said in a New York Post interview, “He is a handful…He was hitting his spots. Pretty much a masterpiece.”

Also said the Post, this is the 30th time in the 41-year history of the ALCS that a team leads 2-1. In the previous 29 occasions, the club with that advantage advanced to the World Series 22 times.

Though I won’t be counting any chickens before they’re hatched, I can hardly wait for this day to be over so I can watch game 4.

The Yankees will be out for blood after the bludgeoning they took from “Mr. Automatic.”

Tying this back to performance metrics, Lee is now 7-0 with a 1.26 ERA in eight postseason starts (with three of those wins coming from the Yankees, including two in last year’s World Series against Philadelphia).

As for Yankees pitcher Andy Pettite, he pitched just fine, but that hanging cut fastball over the middle of the plate was a gift to Josh Hamilon in the first, which he delivered into right field for a two-run homer.

But there’s one stat that jumps right out at we Texas Rangers fans: In their postseason history, the Yankees have won 8 of 11 best-of-7 series they’ve trailed 2-1 after 3 games. 8 of 11!

As I Tweeted on Friday night, when the Rangers had a heartbreaking loss in game 1 after taking an early 5-0 lead, “Never…ever…underestimate the comeback potential of the New York Yankees.”

Written by turbotodd

October 19, 2010 at 8:36 am

Posted in sports

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The Phoenix Has Landed

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What a great day.

I heard the news last night that rescuers were close to pulling the first of the Chilean miners out of the mine using the “Phoenix” capsule, but went to bed before the first miner had been lifted out of that deep hole.

As of this morning, 12 of the 33 trapped miners have been rescued, and they’re reporting they’ll now be able to pull out a single man every 50 minutes (it was originally taking an hour).

If I were one of those miners or their family, I think those ten minutes might add up quickly and I’d be happy for every shortcut I could get.

Due credit to Chilean president Sebastian Pinera, who was a believer long before they had even confirmed whether or not the men had survived the mine collapse, and to all the parties involved in the rescue: Our own folks from NASA, the psychologists on the surface caring for the men during their traumatically long stay, the American experts drilling the holes, and of course, all the families who stood vigil waiting for their loved ones.

Two months they were down there, people.  70 days, to be precise.  Think about that the next time somebody cuts you off on the freeway or takes the last loaf of bread at the grocery store.

Speaking of the last loaf of bread, I can’t refrain from also commenting on my Texas Rangers who, for the first time in franchise history, won an American League division playoff last evening against the Tampa Bay Rays and are headed to meet the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series starting this Friday.

That’s fifty years of Texas baseball with nary a division breakout and trip to the ALCS.


Cliff Lee’s pitching performance was a big contributor to the road to the show: He won Texas game one, and then threw a six-hitter last night: 90 strikes in 120 pitches.  And, of course, Texas had some sharpshooter base running for the early scoring.

So now, of course, I have a personal moral dilemma.

Any other year I’d be rooting for the Yankees in the post-season playoffs, but with Texas’ chance to finally head to a World Series, I have to root for the Rangers (just as I did for the Astros several years ago when they finally made their first showing in the world championship).

The way I see it, I can’t lose: One of my two favorite baseball teams is going to the World Series this year.

And the entire world wins as the Chilean miners continue to make the trip out of that long, dark hole in the Phoenix.

“The Chilean moon landing,” Kerry Sanders called it on MSNBC reporting live from the scene.

Amen, brother.  The Phoenix has landed.

Written by turbotodd

October 13, 2010 at 2:16 pm

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