When Data kills your business ... and the sport
Baseball is one of the most popular sports in the USA. Also, the Major League Baseball the oldest major professional sports league in the world, being founded in 1876.
A very interesting characteristic of baseball is the very close correlation with statistics. Since the early times, a lot of data has been collected and it is possible to find all this information easily on the web containing the very first season in 1876.
The fans care
Whenever you talk to a baseball fan, one of the first things you will notice is their ability to talk about stats, probability, odds of winning, etc. They know the chances of a better hitting the ball, of scoring a home run, etc. And everything gravitates towards that.
It sounds almost like the stats is more important than the individual ability of the individual players and their roles.
When you talk to fans of other sports you won't find the same level of interest for stats. Even in other collective sports like Soccer, American Football, Volleyball you won't find this level of interest.
The killer stats
So, stats are used all the time in baseball, not only by the fans but also, by the teams. Coaches pick their team players positions based on who is the actual batter and the fact that this strategy has gotten so accurate, the batters had their ability to help their teams to advance in the scoreboard diminished.
So, they must try to hit a home run, otherwise the stats will play and it will tell where the ball will likely end up landing in a "regular" hit.
So, it became an all or nothing situation and this has removed the emotion of the game. Before there was a constant action in the game with players moving partially between the bases in the field.
Now this is not common anymore and the game that has 4 hours of duration became not so attractive anymore.
With all the stats in hands, the game became a configuration game based on math.
In this video, Pat Doney from NBC5 in Dallas explains the situation very well.
The whole situation has created more complications for MLB. The overall popularity of baseball has been consistently declining and the fanbase is also growing older which puts the future of the sport in an uncomfortable spot.
Changing the rules
So MLB changed some rules to make the game more dynamic and attractive to the audience. The results might take a while to be seen but in any case, it is always a very smart thing to do something to try to recover the business.
Big Data and analytics can kill your business?
In the case of MLB, it clearly drove the game to a bad situation.
But in another types of business, can we also find examples where data is not helping? This is food for thought and I will publishing more on this topic later.