Archive | March, 2013

Yankees vs. Red Sox — Can Either Team Win it All in 2013?

28 Mar

With the extended winter weather this year, it’s hard to believe that the 2013 Major League Baseball season is upon us. Opening Day is scheduled for Sunday, but more important to Connecticut fans, the Red Sox and Yankees square off on Monday – the first of a three-game series.

When you think Yankees vs. Red Sox, what do you think of? New York vs. Boston. The Big Apple vs. Beantown. Manhattan Clam Chowder vs. New England Clam Chowder. Political Science vs. History.

Say what? You don’t get that last comparison?

You see, at Southern, the chairmen of two academic departments – political science and history – are avid baseball fans. Both are distinguished academicians in their respective fields, and when they are not teaching, researching, writing and administrating, they can often be seen following their favorite team. The two have been friends and colleagues for years. Art Paulson, who leads the Political Science Department, is a dyed-in-the-wool Yankees fan. Troy Paddock, who is in charge of the History Department, has been a Red Sox fan since he was 10 years old.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAInterestingly, both agree that it will be challenging for their respective teams to win the American League East this year. Both agree that it will be a very competitive fight for the division title and that Tampa Bay looms as the team to beat.

But that doesn’t stop either from talking about why they think their team will finish higher in the standings than their arch rival. Each has given their 5 top reasons why that will be the case.

Here they are:

Troy Paddock’s 5 Reasons why the Red Sox Will Beat the Yankees in 2013:

  1. Bobby Valentine is not the manager of the Red Sox. He cost the Red Sox at least 5 or 6 games last year by leaving pitchers in too long. John Farrell knows this team from his time as a pitching coach and the players like him. Enjoying coming into work matters, even when you are playing a game.
  2. Injuries. The Red Sox had a tremendous number of injuries last year. Jacoby Ellsbury, Kevin Youkilis, Will Middlebooks, Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester and David Ortiz all spent significant time on the DL (as did others). If the starting lineup remains relatively healthy, they should be in better shape than last year.
  3. The pitching – both starting and relief — looks to be better. Buchholz and John Lackey have both looked healthy in spring training; Lester looks to be returning to the form that made him one of the best left-handed pitchers in baseball a couple of years ago.
  4. This Red Sox team is deeper than past teams. There are several players who can make the trip up from Pawtucket to help this team. Jackie Bradley Jr. has caught everyone’s eye, but Ryan Lavarnway, Allen Webster, Rubby De La Rosa and Brock Holt have shown they step in as needed, too.
  5. The Yankees look weak. The decision to become fiscally responsible seems to have been ill-timed. With Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira all starting on the DL and CC Sabathia starting to show some signs of wearing down, the Yankees look like they might be in trouble. That’s too bad. Mariano Rivera deserves better in his final season.

Art Paulson’s 5 Reasons why the Yankees Will Beat the Red Sox in 2013:

  1. The Yankees have become the more experienced team. They have Jeter, Granderson, Sabathia, A-Rod, Robinson Cano, Teixeira, Pettitte and Youkilis. The Red Sox have good young talent, but it won’t collectively be as ready as it needs to be.
  2. New York has the better starting pitching. Not by much, but better. Sabathia is stronger than any of the Boston pitchers and Hiroki Kuroda is a pretty solid #2. He may also be better than any Bosox pitcher.
  3. The Yankees have Mariano Rivera and the Red Sox don’t. If Rivera can return to form after last year’s injury, he gives the Yankees a far stronger bullpen than the Red Sox. If for some reason he can’t – and I think he will – then the bullpen will be a close call.
  4. Stronger position-by-position.  If the Yanks can recover from their injuries, we have to give them the edge. Jeter is Jeter, and Cano is the best athlete on either team. Ellsbury is pretty good, but he’s the best the Red Sox have.
  5. The Yankees are the Yankees. The Red Sox are the Red Sox. Enough said.

Play ball!

Check out additional analysis from Art Paulson and Troy Paddock on the 2013 baseball season.

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Marketing to Millennials — What Works?

21 Mar

Much has been written about the Millennial Generation – those who were born roughly between 1980 and 2000. We plan to talk about some of the trends of the Millennials – also known as Generation Y — in future posts. But one aspect of this generation that hasn’t garnered as much discussion as some of the other characteristics is its consumer tendencies.

Mel Princeblogmillennialconsumersphoto, professor of marketing at Southern, says this generation is more “cosmopolitan” than others. By cosmopolitan, he means that the kids of today see themselves as “citizens of the world” more than in the past. Strictly speaking, of course, there are no citizens of the world. People are citizens of a particular country, or in some cases, more than one country. We are inhabitants of the world.

And Millennials – like those of previous generations — do identify themselves in this country as Americans. Nevertheless, they tend to see things through more of a global lens than do other generations, according to many experts. The consensus thus far is that they also place more of an emphasis on global issues than previous generations and are more likely to accept and participate in a diversity of cultural activities. They enjoy sampling life in a variety of neighborhoods throughout America and in communities around the globe.

And that interaction includes eating and shopping at establishments that are authentically from other cultures, rather than chain restaurants or retail operations.

Prince suggests that businesses should consider this trend when marketing to this new generation.

He offers the following recommendations:

  • Use high tech media as never before. Sure, the world has embraced the use of Facebook, Twitter, the Internet and other forms of advanced technological communication devices. But it is intertwined in the lives of Millennials in an unparalleled way. If you want to communicate with the Millennials, use of social media is more than just important — it’s critical.
  • Stress authenticity of products. Just as they prefer the “real deal” in consumerism when traveling abroad, Millennials also have more of an allegiance to independently-owned businesses at home.
  • Emphasize sustainability in business motives. Putting aside the cultural debate on the cause of climate change, today’s youth seem to be more concerned about the potential consequences than in past generations. They tend to place more value in businesses that highlight respect for the condition of the planet.
  • Employ urban cosmopolitan atmospheres in advertising messages. Generally speaking, Millennials seem to embrace life in the cities more than those of the Baby Boom Generation or Generation X. Therefore, it can be helpful to use cosmopolitan themes and stress the big city atmosphere when marketing to Millennials.
  • Use sophisticated brand messages that reflect increased cultural capital of this generation. Millennials are generally more comfortable and more attuned with the cultures of other races, ethnicities and nations. This sophistication should be represented in any marketing campaign toward Millennials.

Question to Millennials and non-Millennials alike: What are your thoughts and experiences pertaining to the new generation in the work place? Are they appreciably different from Baby Boomers and Gen Xers? If so, how?

Running With Pi

7 Mar

Apple-Pi-413x275pxHigh school and middle school track runners learn early that the shortest distance around a 1/4-mile track is on the extreme inside. The further out you go on the turns, the longer you run. And in a close race, saving ground can make the difference between victory and defeat, or between placing well enough to gain points for your team or not.

But exactly how much extra ground do you save by staying on the inside, rather than venturing out into Lane 2 or 3 or beyond? And how do you figure that out mathematically?

The answer is as easy as pi. Not pie, but pi (same pronunciation).

Pi is a Greek letter used in mathematics referring to the ratio of the circumference of a circle to the diameter. The approximation is 3.14, but the digits of its exact value are believed to go on forever. In fact, researchers now say they have calculated pi to well beyond a trillion digits and there is still no end or repetition in sight.

First, let’s try to determine the circumference of a simple circle using pi. The circumference of a circle equals 2 x pi (~3.14) x radius (or simply pi x diameter). So, taking the C = 2 x pi x radius formula, if the radius of a circle is 5 inches, the circumference would equal about 31.4 inches (2 x pi x 5). So, using another example, if the radius of a circle is 3 inches, the circumference would be about 18.84 inches (2 x pi x 3).

You can take that same formula and apply it to the track, as well, since a track is basically two half circles joined by two straight lines. To calculate how much further you would need to run if you are running any distance outside of the extreme inside, here’s what you do:

Example 1: We’ll assume that the track has been constructed so that it is exactly 440 yards per lap. (Many modern tracks are actually slightly smaller at 400 meters, but let’s assume the track is 440 yards.) Someone running along the extreme inside for the entire trip would travel 440 yards. But if you were to run 2 yards away from the inside for a full lap (putting you somewhere in the middle of Lane 2), the radius of your lap would be 2 extra yards. Using the formula (2 x pi x 2), the circumference of your lap would equal about an additional 12.56 yards, for a total of about 452.56 yards. In other words, you ran about an extra 12.56 yards.

Example 2: In this scenario, you’re competing in the 2 mile and are merely 1 yard away from the inside, which would put you on the outer portion of Lane 1 on most tracks. Almost nobody would stay that same distance out from the inside for the entire race, but it wouldn’t be unusual to see someone do that for a portion of it. So, if you’re running 1 yard out for 3 of the 8 laps, that would mean you ran about an extra 6.28 extra yards (2 x pi x 1) per lap. If you did that for 3 laps, that gives you an about an extra 18.84 yards of running.

In reality, runners often have to go to the outside to pass someone. But passing on a turn requires you to run longer, whereas running on the outside on a straightaway requires no extra ground (except for a miniscule addition of moving diagonally for a step or two).

Many schools will celebrate “Pi Day” on March 14. (It’s designated as March 14 because of the approximation 3.14.) Rich DeCesare, associate professor of mathematics at Southern and the certification coordinator for the university’s Math Department, offers some historical tidbits about pi:

•The Hindu mathematician Aryabhata (476 to 550 A.D.) gave the following rule for determining pi. “Add four to one hundred, multiply by eight and then add sixty-two thousand. The result is approximately the circumference of a circle of diameter twenty thousand. By this rule, the relation of the circumference to diameter is given.” (Believe it or not, that formula actually gave us a pretty good approximation – 3.1416.)

•In 1897, the Indiana House of Representatives almost passed a bill that would have declared pi to be equal to 3.2. The bill was stopped at the last minute, saving the Hoosier State from a “not so precise approximation” declaration.

•Pi is sometimes called “Ludolph’s number” or “the Ludolphine number” after the mathematician Ludolph van Ceulen (1540 to 1610), who computed the numeral to 35 decimal places. His widow had the 35 digits carved on his tombstone. Talk about dedication to a cause!

•There are many mnemonics for remembering the first several digits of pi, which depend upon counting the number of letters in words. One example is: “May I have a large container of coffee?” That gives you 3.1415926. (Three letters in “May”…one letter in “I”…four letters in “have”…etc.) The longest mnemonic can only have 32 words since the 33rd digit of pi is zero.

Does anyone have other interesting anecdotes or practical applications of pi?

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