Playoff Baseball and IT: How the Game Can Be Won

By Donald Sears  |  Posted Tuesday, October 07, 2008 21:10 PM

Given the Boston Red Sox dramatic win last night over the Los-Angeles-Angels-of-Anaheim-Adjacent-to-Disneyland-Which-Is-In-Orange-County-Southern-California-Don't-You-Know, I thought it a good time to point readers to an excellent Baseline cover story by Mel Duvall (Boston Red Sox: Backstop Your Business) from way back in May 2004, before the New York Yankees nemesis won its first championship in 86 years.

The defending 2007 champion Red Sox had another solid year in 2008, and after eliminating the best team by record in baseball--the Angels-- in 4 games in the American League Division Series, they are poised to play the best team in the American League East. That team is non-other than the Tampa Bay Rays, a group of confident, almost-all young and highly talented pool of baseball players who through great draft picks, how'd-you-get-that-guy trades and serious productivity went from losing the most games in their division in 2007 to winning 95 games this year for a division crown.

The most interesting number from a Baseline perspective is how they accomplished this with a salary rank of 29 out of 30 teams in all of the major leagues with only a $43 million payroll. Compare that to Boston's rank of 4 with over $133 million payroll. Tampa Bay Rays are even behind the bean counters in Oakland who were made famous by that book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game... The reason to refresh this Baseline article on the Red Sox is to once again view how one organization who can afford to spend money on talent does so intelligently by paying for performance, and balancing young performers with older ones. It's a lesson most enterprises can learn from in times of financial stagnation and instability.

Given the way the Rays are playing this October, the consistent winning machine in Boston may need to take a good look at itself again as far as paying for performance. But getting near the point to winning it all again shows a consistency that most businesses and IT organizations would love to call their own.