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Baseball and Technology: Manny Upton Is Only An Ipad Away From His Star Sons

Manny Upton has always worked very hard at striking a balance for his Major League sons B.J. and Justin, both in life and in their professional careers. However with one son with the Tampa Bay Rays and the other with the Arizona Diamondbacks there are limits to time and effort that “Bossman” can put into assisting both players in the mental and physical aspects of the game without being physically in both places at the same time.

However through the use of technology, Upton has found a way, almost in real time, to help both sons while they are away from the eye of their coaches and are in the reflective quiet of their homes or a hotel room. Working with Mike Dillon and the management team at Reynolds Sports, the senior Upton has become a bit of an Ipad whiz, downloading real-time video and stats through the program Bloomberg Sports has developed for Major League players. The result has been a blessing for both Upton’s, who may not spend as much time around the batting cage with their mentor father as they had in the past, but still get to hear and see his thoughts through the use of the Ipad.

We caught up with Manny and with Dillon to talk how baseball tech is helping the Uptons, and others, continue to progress in the dog eat dog world of Major League Baseball:

How important has technology become for you and your sons, and how has it helped you assist both B.J. and Justin in their games?

Manny: Technology has been great to us as a family. I can’t be in two places at once so being able to watch games with the Extra Innings Package and being able to watch one game on the Ipad and see how the stats sync to the action while at another game has been a blessing. Being able to see the boys games married to that stats on an Ipad allows me to be able to assist them and give them feedback after every game no matter where they are.
 
Are there any examples of how you have been able to use a tablet to assist both BJ and Justin on the same night when you could not be in two places at once?

Manny: The Ipad program Bloomberg Sports built allows me to be able to see every at bat. I usually talk to the boys after each game and we talk about each at bat and I give them my feedback. The Ipad tool allows me to see every at bat, rewind it, slow it down and really see what they are doing mechanically. It is clear and we can put it against whatever matchups are coming up so they are best prepared, and it frees the coaches up to work with them in person.

What has been the one thing that the use of technology has helped either BJ and/or Justin with their on-field performance?

Manny: The one thing I can pinpoint is again being able to see every at bat. It’s the little things that make a difference when it comes to hitting and the Ipad tool really lets me see everything I need to help the boys. Being able to slow the at bats down, rewind them and really see what’s going on is something I couldn’t do as a father three or four years ago. The Ipad program gives me access to all that information wherever I am.

Technology has obviously changed the way teams and players can evaluate performance, how has it changed the way agents and their staffs can also look at both current and potentially future talent?

Dillon: In evaluating both current and future talent I don’t think there is anything better than seeing players with your own two eyes but technology certainly has aided that process and has become a big part of it. Video of players is almost instantly available and you can catch most games online both Major and Minor league. Just google a player and you will be hard pressed not to be able to find video.

It is obvious that technology is not for every player or individual for that matter. Are there certain positions or certain character traits that you see in players you work with that make technology more appealing to some more than others?
 
Dillon: I find that at least with Reynolds Sports Management Clients the players that grew up with technology are more eager and willing to embrace it quicker. We have some players that didn’t grow up having internet access and cell phones and email addresses so I think it’s definitely a generational thing. A lot of guys have had a lot of success doing things the same way for a long time and aren’t as open to changing their routines or looking at information in a new way, guys are very superstitious and routine oriented. With that being said though I don’t think I have come across a player that isn’t always looking to improve and looking for every possible advantage they can get, some just take a little longer to embrace the new technologies.

From a brand standpoint, what do marketers look for more today when engaging with an athlete that they didn’t a few years ago. How does social media play into those endorsement discussions?

Dillon: A week doesn’t go by that I don’t get multiple calls from Digital Marketing Companies looking to work with our players. These are calls I didn’t get 2 years ago which just goes to show you the importance of players having a strong digital presence. Digital Marketing alone is becoming a major source of income for our players and in most of the more traditional deals we secure for our players more times than not there is a digital component.  Player Websites and Blogs are giving way to player Facebook pages and tweets and we encourage our players and assist them in having a strong digital presence to make sure they are able to take advantage of those opportunities.