ROOT FOR THE HOME TECH

Astros executive addresses innovations in sports

Courtesy photo

This article originally appeared on InnovationMap and was written by Natalie Harms.

Over the past decade or so, sports franchises have seen a boom in technology integration. The fact of the matter is that both the teams and the players need to tap into tech to have a competitive advantage on the field — and especially when it comes to the business side of things.

"Technologically advanced companies want to do business with technologically advanced companies," says Matt Brand, senior vice president of corporate partnerships and special events at the Houston Astros. "Old cats like me need to realize you have to stay current or else you're just going to get passed up."

Brand was the subject of a live recording of HXTV — the video arm of Houston Exponential — at The Cannon. He addressed several trends in sports technology, and shared how the Astros are approaching each new hot technology.

The Astros are pretty ahead of the curve when it comes to technology, Brand says, and the trick is keeping a pulse on potential game-changing technology far in advance of implementation.

"The things that we're developing now in 2019 and 2020 are the thing that are going to help us in 2024 and 2025," Brand says.

The approach to technology in sports is changing as younger players enter the scene.

"This generation of players want all the technology they can get," Brand says. "They want what's going on up to the day."

From esports to sports betting sites, here's what the hometeam has on its radar, according to brand.

The evolution of pitching technology

One aspect of the game that's been greatly affected by technology is pitching. Brand says that pitching coach, Brent Strom, is better able to do his job nowadays that there's better quality video and monitoring technologies. Brand cited the transformations of former pitcher Charlie Morton and current pitcher Ryan Pressly. Both saw impressive transformations in their pitching ability thanks to Strom and his technology.

"Brent has the ability to take technology and blend it with the craft," Brand says.

The players as industrial machines

One way the franchise thinks about its players is as machines — in the least objectifying way, surely. But Brand compares baseball players to major, expensive oil and gas machines, and in heavy industry, it's very common for a company to drop $30 million or more on a machine. Of course the company would schedule preventative maintenance and service appointments to protect their investments.

"We've got players now who are high performance machines," Brand says, citing players like Justin Verlander. "We want to make sure we have the best technology and the best care around them."

From doctors and nutritionists to the latest and greatest technologies, implementing the best practices is a good way to protect your assets.

Wearables and sleep technology

Another trend within sports is tracking sleep using technology. Wearable devices to track sleep and health are widely used, says Brand, but the Astros weren't comfortable with the constant monitoring.

"They feel like it's an invasion of privacy," Brand says. They feel like the data would be used against them when it came time to negotiate their contracts.

But prioritizing sleep is crucial in a sport where players travel across the country playing 162 games a season. Brand says investing in the players' sleep equipment is something they make sure to do.

Esports

Brand says, somewhat controversial, that esports is pretty low on the franchise's priority list, and there's one reason for that: Money.

Continue reading on InnovationMap to learn about a movement coming in marketing and betting within sports.

Astros finish the series with a win

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 3 hits from the 6-2 win

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

With an overpowering win on Wednesday night, the Astros went into the series finale on Thursday night hoping to split the series and travel back to Houston on a good note. Here is how the game went:

Final Score: Astros 6, Angels 2.

Record: 61-37, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Wade Miley (8-4, 3.25 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Matt Harvey (3-5, 7.09 ERA).

1) Bats stay hot

Houston's offense provided another significant lead early in Thursday night's game, getting two two-out walks in the top of the first to set up a two-RBI double by Yordan Alvarez to take an immediate 2-0 lead. They followed that up with a three-run third inning, including RBIs from Josh Reddick and Yuli Gurriel along with a solo home run by George Springer.

Alex Bregman extended the lead in the fifth, getting a solo home run of his own to make it a 6-0 lead. They would ride those six runs all the way to the end to the victory.

2) Miley with a decent start

Wade Miley had an excellent start to his night, getting through the first four innings without allowing a hit with just a couple of walks. He allowed the first hit to the Angels in the fifth, but would not allow a run until the sixth.

In the bottom of the sixth, Miley would have his worst inning of the evening, allowing a couple of hits which paired with an error would end up putting the Angels in position to trim the lead to 6-2. Will Harris came in to finish off the inning.

Still, it was a decent night for Miley, and with the early offense behind him, he was able to leave in line for the win. His final line: 5.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3K, 0 HR.

3) Bullpen finishes off the series split

After Harris finished off the sixth for Miley, the seventh belonged to Collin McHugh. Mchugh worked around a one-out double, keeping it at 6-2 heading to the eighth.

Ryan Pressly took over for his usual eighth-inning role, and he was able to work around a leadoff double by Mike Trout by retiring the next three batters to send things to the ninth. Roberto Osuna came in for the ninth and recorded the final three outs, despite a two-out triple, to complete the win.

Up Next: The Astros will take a late-night flight back to Houston tonight to start a weekend three-game series with the Rangers beginning on Friday night. The series opener will be at 7:10 PM tomorrow and it the expected pitching matchup is Mike Minor (8-4, 2.73 ERA) for the Rangers going up against Houston's ace, Justin Verlander (11-4, 2.98 ERA).

The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E.

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