Oakland Baseball Simworld
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Introduction - A Real World Class Sim For You, The Student
In the Oakland Baseball Simworld you get to play a role coveted by many: President of the Oakland Athletics
in this role you are responsible for decisions leading to ticket prices, expenditures for player payroll, manager hiring and firing, and new stadium design and financing, to name
some of the main decision areas. There are nearly 100 decisions that you can make over a 15-year period. The objective is to cause increases in
franchise value while not causing the organization to lose money, and to field a competitive team annually. Please review the SBS Oakland Baseball Simworld page to read about the orgin of the simulation (click here)
SBS's primary charge is the development and presentation
of online simulations of sports teams and leagues for use in the
college classroom. SBS's products are not designed to replace textbooks
or, for that matter, the "in-class" experience. SBS's products,
all of which are available with one SBS World membership, are employed
to enhance the classroom experience. While this section presents a particular way to use the sim in your class,
it also presents other ways that professors have used it in their courses.
The SBS World is online, and
is accessible via any Internet-ready computer, anywhere in the
world. You can become part of the SBS
World right from the computer you're using right now. All it takes
is a $12.50 membership fee. As SBS is designed for the classroom,
the rate goes down with the number of students in a membership
group. Once a part of the SBS World, there are various ways to
use SBS to enhance the classroom experience
The big question that this simulation answers is: Can you learn to think systemically and dynamically,
such that you can understand baseball business dynamics?
The end result of your operation of the sim over time will be
an understanding of baseball business dynamics. In other words, when someone says "Oh the Houston Astros increased spending on player
development, so they will go to the World Series this year" you will know enough to explain why that would not be the case.
You will also know the different kinds of business models that can actually work to build a winning, money-making organization. Finallly, should
you be fortunately enough to land a position with a baseball organization, you will better understand the logic behind macro-level managerial positions,
placing you at an educational level such that you can run the organization at some point in your career. The instructor should emphasize dynamic
relationships between information you use in the sim, decisions you make, and their outcomes, then how you should change your strategy:
You should have some very basic understanding of using computers and web-based applications.
You should also have access to a computer with Internet access. Beyond those basics, what ultimately separates the best players of the simulation from the worst, is a desire to
try different rounds of simulation play, with reading about the results and review of the sims classroom section after each run.
The "measurable objective" is your score at the end of the
15-year sim run. The scoring system is as follows:
- Below 100 points: Intern ranking - poor score
- Between 100 and 150 points: Vice President ranking - good score
- Between 150 and 175 points: Senior Vice President ranking - great score
- Between 175 and 200 points: Executive Vice President ranking - super score
- Over 200 points: President ranking - awesome score
What should occur over time is the evolution of a basic understanding of baseball business dynamics, and more specifically, the relationship between managerial decisions and
organizational outcomes. While baseball and the macro business practices of the Oakland Athletics are the foundation of the simulation, what is learned has applications in many aspects of business.
The test that accompanies a simulation account you open for your class is written to determine the how well the student has evolved in understanding of baseball business dynamics.
The simple meaning of "dynamics" for this presentation is 1. information, 2. analysis, 3. decision, 4. result, 5. information.
The more complex meaning of "dynamics" is related to specific
business actions and activities unique to baseball and how managerial decisions impact their common (or uncommon) behavior over time.
For example, increasing expenditures for player development essentially means expanding a team's "farm system," the set of minor league teams and
player scouts and facilities required to discover and then nuture future baseball stars. But increasing spending for that doens't impact a team's won/loss record in the same year, it generally
takes two years from expenditure to impact.
The basic class process is described here. But your teacher may vary from this, so consult your instructor's material if you're assigned a
more specialized class program.
If the instructor wants you to use the SBS website as your quide, then the process is as follows:
- Play the sim to familarize yourself with it, don't worry about the score
- Purchase and read the material referred to in the "resources" section below
- Go to class and take lecture notes on baseball business dynamics.
- Play the sim, only this time it should be to post a serious score. Work with other students and trade notes. The sim can be used by teams of students. Your professor can review your runs, even if you don't post the score, so act with care.
- Study for the final test on baseball business dynamics, which is based on the sim.
- Take the test.
Variations: Different Approaches by the Teacher
Here are other ways the SBS World can be used in
the teacher's classroom:
1. Students can engage in a business
competition. In this, students work in groups, each developing
a strategy to use in the simulator and in isolation from the other
group. The students can run as many trials as they want to, but
the rounds of simulation runs are only to test their strategies,
not for the competition. Then, two lab competitions are held with
the professor's in-person supervision. Here, the highest score
counts. The professor takes the average of the group's scores and
the group with the highest average score wins; the student groups
can't alter their strategy from one round to the next round.
2. In an effort to understand how different stadium financing
strategies impact a baseball organization, the professor has students
try each financing approach, then write a paper on their effects
on the baseball organization. Representatives of local sports organizations
are invited to class to provide a "real world" perspective beyond
3. An economics professor wants her students to understand that
the real world of product price and demand is much more complex
than what's presented in the typical textbook. So, rather than
throw her students into the world of complex system equations,
she has them run simulations in the SBS World, changing ticket
prices and recording their effects on the organization's revenue,
with respect to real world variables like a terrible team or a
4. A labor economics professor wants students to understand how
employee negotiations impact the "bottom line" of a business. The
students use the Oakland Baseball Simworld within the SBS World,
and quickly learn that one can't just pick a salary for a baseball
player, and that at a certain point the player has more control
over salary than the organization.
5. A high school teacher wants her students to understand how
important TV ratings are to the success of a sports league, so
she holds a class competition using the XFL Simworld.
There are more examples that are variations on the five above. But from this,
it's clear that the SBS World can make the classroom experience more fun for
teacher and student alike.
SBS is also available to create specialized simulations for your
classroom needs. Please contact SBS with any curriculum assistance
or simulation development needs.
Computer Resources - First you need to have access to a computer with an internet connection of some kind. If you're reading this, it's a fair bet you do, so that's a good start. If you don't, make sure your college
or university has computers connected to the Internet. Beyond that, the computer should have ideally the latest browser available, like Internet Explorer 5.2 or Apple Safari or the Opera Browser.
The oldest browser you can use is Netscape 4.7. But if you can convince your college or university's computer managers to upgrade to the latest browers, it will make your experience better.
Also make sure that there is sufficient memory available in the computer. At least 128 M of RAM is best at the least.
- Book Resources - SBS recommends the following books for the class, and to be used in conjunction with the simulation:
- "Pay Dirt" - By Professor Rod Fort: A Book on The Economics of The Sports Franchise
- "May The Best Team Win" - By Professor Andrew Zimbalist: A book on baseball franchise operations. More of a critique than a "how-to"
- "The Fifth Discpline" - By Peter Senge: A book which is a primer for systems thinking, and essential for the proper use of the sim in a class
- "The Art of The Long View" - By Peter Schwartz: This book presents the art of scenario planning. It also a great companion to The Fifth Discpline, in that
it opens you to the idea of thinking about long-term outcomes of short term decisions. The very focus of the Oakland Baseball Simworld.
- "Taking on The Yankees: Winning and Losing In The Business of Baseball, 1903 to 2003" - By Henry Fetter: This book gives a great "who said what to whom"
view of the business of the NY Yankees. It's perfect as an economic history, and you will find situations in this book actually played out in the sim.
- "MoneyBall" - By Michael Lewis: This now famous book presents the unique player development strategy and poltics of the Oakland Athletics. This book provides a
personal, eye-level view of the player development aspect of a successful organization.
- "Sports Business Journal" - By Street & Smith: Considered the "sports business bible" by some, this weekly publication gives an in-depth presentation of sports industry news and issues.
- Website Resources - SBS recommends the following
Collective Bargaining Agreement for Fans:
This web site was developed by two students of the Sport Management
Program at the University of San Francisco. It's a well-designed
and easy-to-access site that offers the history of labor negotiations
and collective bargaining agreements in Major League Baseball.
Sports Business Journal:
A valuable and widely-read resource of weekly information on breaking
business news in the sports industry. Considered the weekly sports
The Official Web Site of the Oakland Athletics:
The Internet home of the organization that is the basis for our
Oakland Baseball Simworld.
The Oakland Athletics provide a great platform for the study of
how various business models can impact the performance (on and
off the field) of a baseball organization. The Athletics are generally
regarded as the best example of the "efficient baseball organization" obtaining
optimum performance with far less revenue compared to many of
its competitor firms.
Subject: Stadium Financing
This is a controversial area of study.
SBS presentation of information is concentrated on that which
provides a guide for stadium financing strategies. As a rule, politically-motivated
papers and web sites are not included here for presentation.
The rationale is that what the student can learn is clouded by
politically-biased reporting either for stadiums or against stadiums;
thus the focus should be on studies that are not politically-motivated.
With that, here's the list, we will expand it as time progresses:
1. TESTIMONY OF DOUGLAS A. CRISCITELLO, DIRECTOR NEW YORK CITY
INDEPENDENT BUDGET OFFICE ON
PUBLIC FINANCING OF PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL STADIUMS
BEFORE THE NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL
COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENTAL OPERATIONS
2. The Michigan Stadium Story
3. Seattle Seahawks Stadium Costs
4. The Evolution of Miller Park
5. Pittsburgh Steelers Sell Bonds To Build New Stadium
6. Office of The Controller City of Philadelphia: Stadium Myths
7. Harris County Stadium Legal Documents. (These are the core legal
papers forming the deal to build what is now called Reliant Stadium,
and serves as the home of the NFL expansion Houston Texans. These
documents are required reading).
Other Stadium Financing Links and Articles
PNC Park Negotiations
2. Should the City
Fund New Stadiums for the Eagles and the Phillies? (Great background,
although the question has been answered.)
State of Minnesota: Stadium Discussion Points
Stadium Authority Links and Articles
MARYLAND STADIUM AUTHORITY: ORIGIN & FUNCTIONS
2. Virginia Baseball Stadium
Stadium Authority faces another deficit - Local News
4. Sports & Exhibition
Authority of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County
5. Washington State Public
6. Washington State Major League
Baseball Stadium Public Facilities District
7. New Jersey Sports and Exhibition
8. (Minneapolis) Metropolitan
Sports Facilities Commission
9. Illinois Sports
10. Tampa Sports
(Denver) Metropolitan Football Stadium District
12. Georgia World Congress
Stadium web sites
Lincoln Financial Stadium
The new home of the Philadelphia Eagles
- E-mail accounts for all students - should be provided by your university. Your Oakland Baseball Simworld account username and password will be sent to your e-mail address.
software (how many copies?) - The Oakland Baseball Simworld's software is Internet-based at http://www.sbs-world.com You don't need a disk of any kind.
hardware (what kind? How many?) - Students, you will each have your own accounts, but there's no need for you to worry about using
separate computers. If resources are tight, you can use one computer, and each student logs on to their account at different times.
Or professors can have students work in teams with one account per team.
In closing this section, if you know of baseball organizations officials to invite to your class, it will certainly enhance their learning experience.
How your grade comes out overall is a combination of the simulation performance runs the second time, and the final exam score.
You can run the simulation as much as you want. The professor is to take your top four scores and average them. Then combine that score
with your performance on the test.
Score of 50-100 points
Score of 100-150 points
Score of 150 - 175 points
Score of 175 - 200 points
Grade on Baseball Business Dynamics Test
25 Percent Correct on Test
50 Percent Correct on Test
75 Percent Correct on Test
100 Percent Correct on Test
Optional Written Paper: "Management Consultant Report to Team President"
Only basic short paper describing what the president should consider as the
team moves into the future.
Paper describing alternative business approaches and how they work.
Paper that presents several scenarios based on simulation runs, and a matrix of
decisions that should be made to insure a profitable future
Paper that presents several scenarios based on simulation runs, and a matrix of
decisions that should be made to insure a profitable future, and covers new stadium financing and team relocation options
The Oakland Baseball Simworld Baseball Business Dynamics Lesson will cause you to think about how to run a baseball team from a macro business
perspective. What should occur over time is the evolution of a basic understanding of baseball business dynamics, and more specifically, the relationship between managerial decisions and
organizational outcomes. While baseball and the Oakland Athletics is the foundation of the simulation, what is learned has applications in many aspects of business.