As one era closed with the final All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium this week, Major League Baseball (MLB) enters a new one, employing software technologies from IBM to improve the way baseball is officiated.
Using IBM Portal software to exploit the next generation of the Internet, Web 2.0, MLB can create entirely new ways of connecting players, umpires and fans, to improve the game and make it among the most advanced sports businesses in the world.
From technology to fight counterfeit memorabilia to giving umpires and security staff new insights on weather conditions and potential risk factors, IBM software installed by the MLB IT Department and various business partners is changing the way the Office of the Commissioner runs its business, communicates with staff and manages relationships across its 30 ball clubs.
“The IBM WebSphere Portal software architecture allows us to consolidate information from a variety of sources. It enables collaboration within our user community and provides a strong platform for future growth and development,” said Mike Morris, Vice President of Application Development and Program Management for MLB.
MLB is using IBM collaboration software to provide improved intelligence and historical data directly to umpiring crews. With MLB’s Umpire Desktop, powered by IBM Portal software, officials gain advanced insight into players’ behavior, based on historical issues or likely tendencies. Within the Umpire Desktop, you can also see Google Gadgets at work, mini-objects that can be placed on an internal Web page to offer more dynamic, real-time content. This way, umpires can get up-to-the-minute weather views from Google Gadgets, along with statistics and other key information.
“The Umpire Desktop provides significant, real-time information to our crews, and is a valuable resource with respect to the overall Major League Umpiring effort. It is assisting not only in training and development, but also every other aspect of what game officials do,” said MLB’s Vice President of Umpiring, Mike Port.
MLB memorabilia is a multi-billion dollar industry in which everything from home run balls, autographs, bases and name plates are purchased by fans around the world. To sell, authenticate and license these products from today’s big game in a more timely and accurate way, MLB relies on IBM WebSphere Portal software and Symbol handheld wireless devices to scan and automatically upload information on a product. Previously, product authentication was a manual process that was not accessible to fans, and forgery was a legitimate concern.
Here’s how it works: When a fan catches a home run ball, a security guard will link up with the fan and place a unique hologram on the ball. This information will be wirelessly up-loaded to MLB’s IBM DB2 9 data server. This way, if the fan decides to sell the ball to a retailer, potential buyers can verify its authenticity immediately online.