Power brokers in the NFL, NBA, NHL, Major League Baseball, and soccer are all present for this week’s MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference at the Hynes Convention Center.
Among the topics of emphasis so far for the two-day conference has been wearable technology and how the technology and data being poured into each respective sport is helping to determine an athlete’s peak performance as well as health and safety.
Basically, an article is either inserted or attached on player uniforms to measure heart rate, explosiveness, or simply movement.
Take for instance Zebra Technologies International, which has a display set up at the conference to promote it’s service to teams. The Illinois based company just got in the sports tech business a little more than a year ago and currently has two NFL clients and numerous college football teams. (They won’t disclose who these clients are citing competitive disadvantage.) Zebra inserts little stickers onto players to measure the force of each activity, helping to better define player movement, hits, and, essentially, trauma.
“In college, what’s really fascinating about using wearable technologies on players is there is a lot of emphasis on health and safety,” said Jill Stelfox, vice president and general manager for Location Solutions at Zebra. “So if you’re a linebacker, I think traditionally what we want is big guys on that front line. Well that comes with a lot of force. So force is mass and speed. So the bigger you are, the more force you bring and the more force is brought on you. When you look at health and safety in linemen, for example on injuries, we can tell you on every play what the force is on any given player.”
I’m on the record for how I think the 2013 MLB playoffs will shake out. Here’s my brief expectations as they first appeared on Boston.com:
World Series I’d like to see: Red Sox vs. Giants World Series I think we’ll see: Giants over Angels ALCS prediction: Angels over Rangers NLCS prediction: Giants over Phillies Red Sox in or out of the playoffs? In
– See more at: http://www.boston.com/sports/blogs/thebuzz/2013/04/bostoncoms_pred.html#sthash.LjnMuh8u.dpuf
The Celtics are squaring off with the 76ers in the NBA playoffs and the Red Sox are beginning interleague play against the Phillies. Between Boston and Philadelphia, there’s much ado in sports, politics, and history. Trust us when we say we’re over Benjamin Franklin’s departure. But what is interesting is the storied series between the teams in each city, whether that is the old Celtics-76ers rivalry, Sox-Phillies, Bruins-Flyers, or even Patriots-Eagles. It’s all worth a deeper look. Here are the bullet points on Boston vs. Philly. I promise no cheesesteak or clam chowder references.
How interested are you in the best baseball player “you have never heard of”? That’s one of the tie-ins for the Museum of African American History in Boston’s new exhibit, “The Color of Baseball in Boston.”
Riding the fanfare of Fenway Park’s 100th anniversary, the museum has put together a collection of rare photographs and articles of clothing of black baseball players in Massachusetts from the 19th and early 20th century. One of the main draws will be the more than 20 articles of clothing, including a full uniform, of William “Cannonball” Jackman, a negro league player for the Boston Royal Giants who was regarded as the best black pitcher from Boston from 1920 through the 1940s. He played for 30 years, before integration, and was otherwise known as the “best ball player you have never heard of.”
Well, really, there’s lots more left to concern myself with. As winter winds down, I’ll be focusing more and more on high school sports content for the Boston Globe. That includes prep hockey and basketball. But if I weren’t such a nut, I wouldn’t be here. So I’m also going to be paying close attention (not reporting or anything like that) to the Boston Celtics and the Boston Red Sox. Spring training is a hop skip away and the Celtics are in full swing. The only thing that’s missing is my presence on both topics. I’m sure I can rectify that right here. Stay tuned.
Look, just thinking about this being the end to the Barry Bonds saga is laughable. A 30-day home sentence, if that, and a $4,000 fine is reprehensible for the evasive nature, and half truths he relayed to the grand jury in response to their questioning. This dude will have learned nothing. If anything, this case and it’s eight-year running saga proves that they put the wrong prosecutors in place. Absolutely ridiculous.
Is there any argument to the notion that Boston is a baseball town? With a legion of Red Sox fans — an overwhelming number of which can be categorized as diehard — there is little competition. Even with the dynamic of a Stanley Cup title in tow, I doubt the scales have tipped in hockey’s favor.
But in San Francisco, last season’s World Series title has created a shift in what was most definitely a football city. It’s fair to say that the reign of Alex Smith has destroyed any semblance of the golden years for the 49ers. And the reign of Tim Lincecum — and before that Barry Bonds — has given the Bay Area a sense of unbridled success that none of the five other professional sports teams has provided in a long time.
It’s hard to characterize it completely, but with the 49ers’ playoff drought so long and the depths of its porous play so low, you’d think the fervor over the red and gold would waver. That’s not the case. But the overriding feeling is that the 49ers have become a hopeless franchise — one that is habitually one or two pieces away from being complete. However, for the Giants — who havn’t been stacked with talent through the lineup in generations — the fervor over the G-Men has risen past the dominating football fandom. Casual baseball fans now count themselves among the diehards. Transplants to the city now claim the Giants as their team. It’s all topsy turvy in a city that has a changing culture and changing demographics.
Nothing about San Francisco sports is the same as it was 10 years ago. Steve Mariucci was still in town. Terrell Owens, too. The Warriors didn’t have an identifiable league star. The Raiders were Super Bowl contenders. The Giants were on the cusp of the playoffs. But everything revolved around the 49ers. Not until 2002 did the Giants steal a bit of the limelight with its first World Series trip since with Bay Bridge series in 1989. Barry Bonds followed that up with the home run chase.
The only blip on the Bay Area sports timeline that surpassed the interest of the 49ers and Giants in that time was the Warriors’ 2007 playoff run. The excitement over their series win over the Dallas Mavericks reverberated throughout Northern California — speaking volumes about the need for a viable basketball team. But it was quickly forgotten with the dismantling of the team, starting with one of its core players in Jason Richardson.
(On a side note: Remember Monta Ellis being a super sixth man on that team? Good times.)
The last time the 49ers went to the playoffs was 2002. Their last Super Bowl win was in 1994. For the diehards, it has been an eternity. For the casual fan, it’s been an opportunity to divert their attention to the region’s better team: The Giants.
A whole generation of young fans in the Bay are growing up on the success of the Giants and will know nothing of the 49ers’ glory years. Specifically the kids, who are always the lifeblood of new fans, don’t know that in the last 30 years the 49ers went to the playoffs 18 times. That’s because those playoff trips were within a 22-year time span starting in 1980. (Before last year’s World Series win, the Giants’ previous playoff trip was in 2003. They’ve been to the playoffs 7 times in the last 23 years.) That generational shift in fan favor, coupled with the casual observers and the transplants to boot, are painting a new picture in San Francisco. A picture in black and orange.
So while pessimism and angst are sorely ingrained in the conversation about the 49ers — who are expected to do well in San Francisco — optimism and cheer reverberate around the Giants. The two are polar opposites of where they were just a decade ago.
If you pay attention to such things, for the last week the most recent post on my site has been about the 2-9 Red Sox. Trust me when I say I’m acutely aware of the shelf life of such posts and understand how stale a site can look if not updated regularly. I do, however, have a day job. And, thankfully, a nightlife.
(It’s actually been 12 days since my last post. Almost two whole weeks.)
So in the last week and a half, the Red Sox started a pretty good streak. They went 8-2 since my last post and are now sporting a 10-11 record. The bellyaching that was so prevalent in their 2-9 start has subsided and what’s mostly heard is a low howl of dissatisfaction for particular players. Through 20 games, the nation is starting to form its opinion about select members of the laundry and I believe rightfully so.
So it’s without any surprise that those receiving the brunt of criticism are those that are still struggling, i.e. Carl Crawford, Marco Scutaro and even Daisuke Matsuzaka.
In the last few games, it was nice to see Crawford get his first jack and Dice-K to dazzle teams with not one, but two one-hit performances. (He was, as he said to the Globe, motivated by losing his spot in the rotation.) This stretch has been representative of the roller coaster of an MLB season. That’s always worth noting. I’m sure, in no time at all, the Sox will go through another stretch of poor pitching and hitting and losing. I just hope the general public (read: Massholes) doesn’t treat the losses like they’re football losses. It’s not that big of a deal.
In between time, we’ve watched the Boston Bruins (yes, that’s hockey) turn an 0-2 series deficit into a 3-2 lead against the Montreal Canadiens in the NHL playoffs, the Celtics have swept the New York Knicks in the NBA playoffs and the Boston Marathon was played out suspensefully as an American woman vied for the win finishing second and a course record was broken in the men’s race. A ton of time and resources at Boston.com and the Globe have been dedicated to covering all of these events.
I find it extremely humorous that Red Sox fans have called for the heads of numerous players in this young MLB season. Daisuke Matsuzaka, deservingly so, is getting the brunt of it after his terrible outing Monday night against the Rays. (The term meatball was overused at least a million times yesterday. I shit you not.) But Jarrod Saltalamacchia is getting it too, as is Carl Crawford and even Terry Francona. That’s a little far out there in my book. Continue reading “The 2-9 Red Sox”