A-Rod, biogenesis and big data


Timeline: August 5, 2013, 11:50 am, PST

I'm on the treadmill in my gym in Las Vegas, Nevada, glued to the television set. Any moment now, Major League Baseball is going to announce the suspension of Alex Rodriguez. Reports put the suspension at 214 games to life. Many people loathe the narcissistic Yankee slugger.

If we go out for beers sometime, I will go off on my rant on why steroids have been so inimical to baseball. Many players of their day cheated, and A-Rod was the highest profile player on the list of 13 suspended as part of the Biogenesis scandal. For many reasons, A-Rod faces the longest suspension. (He reportedly tried to hamper MLB's investigation by destroying evidence.)

Smoking guns no longer needed

Now, only A-Rod knows for certain what he did and did not do, but long gone are the days in which people only needed to worry about a single smoking gun or a individual email. According to an ESPN story, Major League Baseball investigated suspected users' Facebook friends. They also viewed transcripts of BlackBerry instant messages and records of texts. From the article:

Major League Baseball investigators used an arsenal of high-tech tools to collect the evidence that persuaded a dozen players to accept 50-game suspensions this week for their ties to the Biogenesis clinic.

When it came time to meet with the players' association, the investigators flashed some of their documentary proof. While there was not enough time for the union to thoroughly examine what MLB had collected, there was little doubt there was an electronic trail, one of the people familiar with the meetings said. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because no public statements were authorized.

As I pen these words, A-Rod is appealing his 211-game suspension, much to the chagrin of just about every baseball fan out there. The controversy is just getting started. Expect a great deal more of A-Rod fatigue over the next few months.

Simon says

We're all leaving behind digital breadcrumbs – even and especially celebrities, and double that if they are particularly despised ones like A-Rod. Like the NSA with its PRISM program, MLB recognized the inherent value and power of these digital breadcrumbs.

While your organization is probably not conducting steroid investigations of overpaid, egomaniacal third basemen, the larger point remains: there's tremendous value in tweets, Facebook likes, e-mails, call detail records and other forms of big data.


Is your organization collecting these breadcrumbs? If so, what are they doing with them?

Tags baseball

About Author

Phil Simon

Author, Speaker, and Professor

Phil Simon is a keynote speaker and recognized technology expert. He is the award-winning author of eight management books, most recently Analytics: The Agile Way. His ninth will be Slack For Dummies (April, 2020, Wiley) He consults organizations on matters related to strategy, data, analytics, and technology. His contributions have appeared in The Harvard Business Review, CNN, Wired, The New York Times, and many other sites. He teaches information systems and analytics at Arizona State University's W. P. Carey School of Business.

Leave A Reply

Back to Top