Author: Guest Blogger


About Guest Blogger

From time to time we have professors, students, staff, alumni, or friends who are not regular contributors, but want to share something with the community. Be sure to look at the bottom of the post to see the author.

Our annual visit to Florida’s baseball mecca began inauspiciously. I deferred, as usual, to Elaine’s preference for checking bags on airlines, but nonetheless reiterated the standard arguments against doing so. Southwest proceeded to confirm my “fast thinking” by misplacing Elaine’s luggage. (Mine was delivered without incident.) The loss of Elaine’s bag meant that she had to sleep in my “well-aged” undershirt, but dormant passions were not aroused. No harm, no foul: the bag arrived the following morning and Elaine switched back to her own threads.

UnknownThe second day we went to breakfast at a favorite deli, TooJays, and pigged out on carbs, oblivious and delirious. After blinnies, potato pancakes, both with sour cream, cherry preserves on the former and applesauce on the latter, we belched our way to the new Ball Park of the Palm Beaches, a pretentious name for a quotidian ambiance. This is the new spring home shared by the Houston Astros and the Washington Nats (lovingly, the Nits).

Deploying my most authentic Janet Yellen accent, I was able to “schnorr” two (almost) free tickets from a generous bystander. For the $10 cost of parking his car he gave us two $32 face value tickets behind home plate. I was wearing my L. A. Dodgers windbreaker and newsboy cap so he probably knew I was a displaced crypto fan of the Mets who suffered an ignominious defeat.

Gio Gonzalez and friends managed to pitch a one-hitter. The Mets were so flat I became dispirited and totally unprepared for the 16-2 walloping they administered to the Cardinals at the Mets’ home park in Port St. Lucie the following day. Indeed, Wainwright and Weaver of the Cardinals managed to gift the Mets 14 runs in the first three innings. The hitting star of the game was Wilmer Flores, no longer tearful, with a double, a grand salami, and six RBIs. Less than suspenseful, this game was good for laughs and it exposed the managerial limitations of both the Mets and Cardinals field managers, an enduring condition I fail to understand.

Unknown-1The only adventure came with obtaining tickets for this game. We have lovely friends at the Cardinals who comp us when the Mets play the Cards, home or away. However, this was the second time the efficient Mets administration could not find the tickets set aside for the Greenbaums. We were rebuffed at the VIP window maybe five times and were ready to throw in the towel and pay for proletarian seats in the far off outfield when an apparently delusional woman circulated among the crowd of fans screaming “Greenbaum, Greenbaum, Greenbaum”. I fearlessly confessed and she seemed mightily relieved, explaining that they somehow had found our tickets. No harm, no foul: the Mets-Cards spread of 14 more than doubled that of the University of KY over Northern KY in the March Madness tourney. The previous year the people at Port St. Lucie similarly could not find our tickets and Travis D’Arnaud’s dad happened to be standing nearby to generously offer us two from his bulging envelope.

The third game we observed again pitted the Mets against the Cards, but the venue was the Cards’ home field at Jupiter. We were thrilled at having seats #1 & 2 immediately behind the Cardinals’ dugout. No sooner had we settled in than another frantic lady approached us imploring that we exchange our tickets for seats #7 & 8 in the same row behind the dugout. It seemed the DeWitts, the managing owners of the Cardinals, were claiming their regular seats. Being appreciative “Schnorrers,” Elaine and I obligingly moved over. Noblesse oblige!

Greenbaum at spring training
This game again offered a striking contrast to its predecessor. The Mets led 4-1 going into the last of the eighth when the Cards managed to score three runs and all in attendance at Roger Dean Stadium seemed to expect the Mets to cave. Surprise, the Mets, thanks to Carpio and Carillo, minor leaguers both, stroked back-to-back doubles producing the leading run. Then Corey Taylor, an A-ball closer, closed out the Cards for a 5-4 Mets victory. Thus, we had ridden the rollercoaster of baseball emotions and exited elated.

Our our fourth and last day in Florida took us to the Flagler Museum in Palm Beach for a taste of over-the-top opulence. I found this supercilious and invidious consumption off- putting, a persuasive argument for progressive taxation. We further celebrated over pastrami at TooJays on our way to the airport at Orlando, a long and tiring schlepp.

No report of this kind would be satisfying without a few dark horse picks and prognostications. Watch for Phillip Evans and Corey Taylor, the former a third basemen who played in double-A last year and the latter a closer in advanced single-A. You heard it here, both seem ready for the show, even if management is probably too conservative for that to happen. I also believe the Mets may face frustrations with their vaunted rotation. Matt Harvey is currently 0-4 with an embarrassing ERA and Zack Wheeler is being mollycoddled two seasons past Tommy John. On the other hand, I like Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo, the latter starting for Puerto Rico in the WBC finals, and Rafael Montero is having a surprisingly good spring. Fitting together the rest of their one-way players into a smooth functioning team is likely a managerial feat that exceeds available managerial talent in the dugout.

Oh well, this trip was great fun, even if too brief. I do hope Elaine and I have the will, wealth, and wigor to return next year.

Guest Blogger: Stuart I. Greenbaum, edited by Margaret Elaine Greenbaum


The Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) Analytics Conference brings together the top minds in the baseball analytics community to discuss, debate and share insightful ways to analyze and examine the game of baseball. The Washington University Sports Analytics Club made it a priority this year to attend the conference. Now is in its third year of existence, the club wanted to allow members to learn from professionals in the field and increase networking opportunities at the SABR Analytics Conference.

Events-Analytics-2016-new-borderNot only did we – Tyler Brandt, Kenny Dorian, Brent Katlan, Ben Rosenkranz, and Brody Roush – attend the conference, but we also competed in the Diamond Dollars Case Competition that invites students from across the country to analyze and present a real baseball operations decision. We ended up winning our undergraduate division, and learned a lot from our own experience presenting, watching other teams present, and listening to expert panels talk about analytics in baseball.

The case itself was on pitch tunneling. We were handed a data set that was just recently unveiled by Baseball Prospectus, and asked to use that data to “develop insights into how this information can enable a MLB team to gain a competitive advantage on the field.” Our specific case looked at the ball in play effects of pitch tunneling. If you want to know more about how pitch tunneling affects groundball rates, pull rates, or the value of certain fielders, come find one of us. What follows here is a recap of some of what we learned.

Lessons from the Case Competition

SABR competition

The WashU Sports Analytics Club team included: Tyler Brandt, Brent Katlan, Kenneth Dorian, Brody Roush, and Ben Rosenkranz, pictured with Vince Gennaro, developer of the case and author of Diamond Dollars: The Economics of Winning in Baseball, and consultant to MLB teams.

In reality, the simple things helped us the most. We knew that MLB analysts were going to be the judges, and knowing our audience helped a lot. The judges were well aware of what pitch tunneling was, but the teams were split about 50/50 on which ones defined terms regarding pitch tunneling and which ones did not. Our decision not to define terms like the tunnel differential (see the link above) gave us an extra 7-8 minutes to get into our process and results. That extra time gave the judges a much clearer idea of how we came to our evaluation of how pitch tunneling can help a Major League Baseball team.

Additionally, just attaching values to our insights played a major role in our presentation. In baseball, each value must somehow be connected to the number of wins a team can get. Nevertheless, it’s pretty easy to put yourself in a situation where you just can’t get to a number that can be translated into wins. One common denominator among the winning teams at the competition was that they found a way to value their projects in terms of the one thing that baseball teams really care about: wins.

Lessons From the Conference

Players Don’t See the Same Things that the Front Office Does
One of the common refrains that we kept hearing was that using the insights gained from analytical work can be very difficult, because of the disconnect between players and analysts. Analysts try to break things down in terms of data and numbers, while players are trying to think through an actual game and see how that would affect the individual players. Many people brought up the idea that the front office and the players are “speaking two different languages.” What became clear to us is that the team that can communicate the results of new studies to its players better will have a sizeable advantage on the field, at least until others catch on.

New Developments in Baseball Analytics
There were a couple of interesting new developments that are worth sharing. The one that will affect fans the most is Statcast’s new catch probability. For fly balls, they can now tell how likely a ball is to be caught by the average fielder given flight time and distance from the nearest fielder. When you watch games this year, you might see those numbers on your TV screen, in addition to a rating that tells you the difficulty of each catch. Some other highlights include: the Mariners employ mental experts at all levels of the minors to help their prospects develop the toughness needed to succeed in the majors, Bill James implored us to think on a more macro level about where we need more insights in baseball, and Tom Tango* revealed himself!

*Tom Tango is the Senior Data Architect, Stats at MLB Advanced Media and is the co-author of The Book: Playing the Percentages in Baseball. He also developed the website, where fans and analysts will find a large number of research pieces devoted to sabermetrics. Tom has previously worked as a consultant for major-league teams in baseball and hockey.

Guest Blogger: Tyler Brandt, A&S ’19

Photos from SABR Flickr page.

CATEGORY: News, Student Life

Mike Matheny was a speaker at Olin’s “Defining Moments: Lessons in Leadership and Character from the Top” course. 

“Leadership and high-level achievements go hand-in-hand,” began Mike Matheny during his presentation at Olin’s Defining Moments course in January. Mike is the manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, a role he’s held since 2012. Mike was a professional baseball player, playing as catcher for the Milwaukee Brewers, Toronto Blue Jays, St. Louis Cardinals, and the San Francisco Giants before hanging up his gloves in 2006. After his stint as a professional catcher, he became involved in youth sports, coaching Little League, publishing a book on youth sports, as well as starting a non-profit, the Catch Twenty-Two Foundation, before following the infamous Tony La Russa in becoming the Cardinal’s manager. Mike has won numerous awards and accolades, both as a player and as a coach. He is a four-time winner of the Gold Glove award as well as the youngest and most winning manager in recent history.

Mike Matheny is a high-performer, having achieved the pinnacle of baseball by playing in the Major Leagues. It’s not his position, but his performance that Mike says makes him to be a leader—and he believes that high performers are leaders because others want to follow them. Mike shared with us five attributes that separate the highest performers from the rest. He believes that living a lifestyle of learning, having the discipline and focus to do the right thing, being inherently tough with grit, having positive energy, and selflessness are the hallmarks of high-performing leaders. Matheny goes further to say that showing up with energy and enthusiasm are non-negotiable for any leader, quoting his mentor, Willie McGee: “Some people light up a room when they enter, some when they leave.”

Guest blogger: Tony Nuber is a 2017 MBA Candidate in the Full-time MBA Program at Olin Business School. 

Move over, baby boomers. In the past few years, millennials have become the country’s largest living generation—and the country’s largest employee demographic. Known (OK, stereotyped) for their sense of entitlement and need for constant praise, these job-hopping 20 to 30 somethings have flooded organizations from coast to coast. And the resulting clash of work styles and preferences has created challenges for business leaders.

Employers can throw up their hands and keep managing the way they’re managing—or they can get tips and tools from Andrew Knight, associate professor of organizational behavior.

“The generational change in the composition of the workforce has been like a wave crashing,” he says. “Companies must adapt or they won’t survive.”

Knight has developed a survival guide.

In April, he’ll launch Managing Millennials, a daylong, open-enrollment seminar offered through WashU’s Executive Programs.

The seminar will begin with millennial myth busting.

Prof. Andrew Knight

Prof. Andrew Knight

“Group-based stereotyping has a negative impact on employees and results in employers missing out on a lot of talent,” he says. “No one likes being put in a bucket, especially if they don’t fit in it. Millennials are individuals, just like members of every other generation. Actually, in some cases, employees will have more in common with people in their functional area than with people their same age.”

Still, many millennials do share certain characteristics and motivations.

Pew Research Center asked millennials what makes their generation unique. Their No. 1 answer was technology use.

Knight says they’ve grown up with the assumption that information is readily available. Employers can leverage millennials’ affinity for information, especially when they push them to check sources and to interpret findings.

In comparison, work ethic was boomers’ No. 1 answer and Generation Xers’ No. 2 answer to Pew’s question on uniqueness. But work ethic didn’t make millennials’ top five responses.

“Some data suggest that millennials are less motivated by traditional financial rewards than boomers are,” Knight says. “Millennials want meaningful, purpose-driven work that’s aligned with their values. They also prefer a flatter corporate hierarchy, with more-direct access to senior leadership.”

Knight will present strategies for millennial engagement and retention. Best practices include clear expectations; regular feedback; reverse mentoring (pairing millennials with boomers for two-way learning); coaching; showing millennials how they can advance their own and their organization’s values; and well-being activities that promote work-life balance and physical, emotional, and financial health.

The goal is to boost organizational and employee effectiveness—and to make sure that companies and their people thrive.

Managing Millennials will be held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.  April 4, 2017, at the Charles F. Knight Executive Education & Conference Center on WashU’s main campus.

Registration is required. For more information, call the Executive Programs office at 314-935-9494 or register here.

Not many WashU students can say they have owned their own business, and some may see it as an impossible feat to grow a business while also keeping up with the academic and social pressures of college. The Student Entrepreneurial Program is a unique collection of student-run businesses on campus that serve a range of student and University needs. We own a business called U-Shuttle, which is a bus transportation company serving students and student groups at WashU.

After purchasing U-Shuttle at the end of freshman year, we were unsure about how this business would benefit us in the future. Now that we are both about to graduate, we are confident in the lessons we have learned, and would recommend this opportunity to every student at this school. Considering StEP? Here are some tips based on our own entrepreneurship journey:

Organization is key.

You don’t have to own a business to know that organization in college is crucial. Getting into WashU would’ve been difficult without having these skills in the first place. However, your toolkit with owning a business will be expanded beyond what you could have imagined in college. We wanted to continue to participate in other activities on campus, and between the two of us, we were involved in a sorority, business fraternity, Student Union, pre-orientations, sports, StEP, internships, and jobs throughout college. As a result, we needed to be flexible and organized to balance and adjust our time. Having a business forces you to master organization and prioritization in every aspect of college.

Classes become even easier.

The concepts learned in college classrooms are often abstract. However, when you can apply these skills in a real-world setting, the concepts become so much more concrete. Classes such as accounting, marketing, finance, psychology, and public speaking give you the tools and skills necessary for owning a business. You have the opportunity to reinforce these skills in a variety of ways that wouldn’t necessarily happen inside the classroom. Capitalizing on things that you learn in class every day and using them outside of class enhances the value of your education.

Take advantage of your resources.

Business owner or not, the resources available to you as a WashU student are broad. During our first year of running the business, we realized that we needed a well-written terms of service for the ecommerce website we had just built. On a recommendation from our business advisor, we made the short trip over to the Law School and utilized the clinic for free. We walked away with a revitalized service contract and additional other legal disclosures that probably would have cost us hundreds of dollars at a Clayton firm. Also, now that the Student Entrepreneurial Program has relocated under the Skandalaris Center, there are even more resources than ever before for anyone interested in starting or running their own business.

Find your confidence.

As a business owner, your reach extends beyond that of your fellow students. Often you will be working with suppliers, contractors, consultants, and advisors who are functioning in their normal day-to-day capacity. Being the expert in your own business, you have to lead effectively and make others understand what you need from them. Gaining the confidence to speak with people who are often older and more experienced than you is an important skill that can be carried over to everyday interactions.

U-Shuttle has been a great way for us to get involved on campus, and we want you to have that opportunity as well! If you are interested, please fill out an interest form at and we will be in touch!

Additionally, if you are interested in buying a business, you must attend a Buying a Business Workshop. The dates for those workshops are also on our website.

Guest bloggers: 

Nicole Nemec (BSBA ’17) plans on graduating with a double major in Marketing and Health Care Management. Nicole manages all of U-Shuttle’s marketing from the website to print materials. 

Risha Rathore (BSBA ’17) is majoring in Finance and Healthcare Management with a minor in American Culture Studies. With U-Shuttle, Risha manages all of the financial accounts, oversees the accounting and reporting, and ensures that U-Shuttle remains financially compliant.