Boston, which can go fuck itself, has won seven titles in the last 10 years. Part of that is luck, part of that is because God hates you, and part of that is because, well, they’re smart and embraced advanced analytics – in all sports – early on.
Beantown is Braintown when it comes to professional sports.
Fueled in part by what one team executive called the “intellectual horsepower” of the area’s universities, Boston’s professional sports teams more than any other city are the domain of statistical-analysis devotees armed with advanced degrees from schools like Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and University of Massachusetts Amherst.
The city’s professional teams cooperate and drive each other to innovate, fueling their success on the field, said Lisa Masteralexis, department head of the sports management program at the Isenberg School at UMass Amherst, whose alumni include Red Sox General Manager Ben Cherington.
“And that may be what’s unique about Boston, that relationship and that dynamic between the pro teams,” Masteralexis said. “There’s a lot about thought leadership in the group — who’s leading the process, where are we headed, let’s learn from each other, and let’s work together.”
Among those mapping the way are Jessica Gelman, vice president of customer marketing and strategy at the Robert Kraft-led Kraft Sports Group, which owns football’s New England Patriots and soccer’s Revolution. The Red Sox are owned by John Henry, formerly a hedge fund manager, while Celtics managing partner Wyc Grousbeck is a former general partner at Highland Capital Partners.
“The owners, especially the Krafts, are well-versed from all of their business backgrounds in the value of analytics,” said Gelman, who has a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard. “While Boston doesn’t have the same technology as you have in Silicon Valley, there are so many startups that have a focus on sports analytics because of the intellectual horsepower here.”
Meanwhile, in Philadelphia [WHO SAID IT?]:
“We’re going to make some changes. I think we’re doing some stuff analytically to change the way we do some evaluations. Look, we are going to continue to be a scouting organization.”
“We haven’t won a championship, but we’ve been in the Stanley Cup Finals a lot of times and the playoffs a lot of times and the culture is to win. 30 teams are trying to win the Cup. And we’re doing our damndest to do it. That’s our culture. THAT’S OUR CULTURE!”
The Flyers are a lost cause. But to be fair, the Phillies did hire their analytics intern – who perhaps instructed them to make a grab for gurney groper Chad Gaudin – full-time, so there’s at least one person in the front office who might have an idea what the fuck they’re doing. Chip Kelly and the Eagles are all sorts of progressive. And Sam Hinkie is essentially the Billy Beane of basketball. So now… we just wait for the titles?