Duke Students Simulate being MLB General Managers

For Evan Glasner, a senior in Professor Scott D. Yakola’s Sports Finance class this fall, working on the latest class project was somewhat like a dream come true.  “It has always been a dream of mine to be the General Manager of a MLB baseball team and now I finally am one (or at least can pretend to be),” said Glasner. 

Working in pairs, the class was assigned the task of serving as General Managers of a Major League Baseball team for the evaluation of talent and trading simulation project.  As Professor Yakola explains, “This project gives students a chance to put into action concepts we discuss in class, like productivity to value ratio and opportunity cost, in a simulated real world setting.”  Students used a team’s current 40 man roster and depth chart to analyze and strategically plan a course of action for improving their team through a mock trading day.

As part of the simulation, students collaborated with students in the Sports Media class during a Media Day session.  Here the GM’s from the sports finance class were interviewed by students from the sports media class acting as reporters from the team’s hometown newspapers.  The sports media students then had follow up interviews with the GM’s to complete their class assignment of writing an article based on the plans and actions of the GM’s.

Senior Kenny Anunike saw this as a glimpse behind the scenes, “This project is a prime example of how what the general public sees on ESPN barely scratches the surface of what actually goes on.”

Twenty three trades were completed on Trade Day and each GM involved believed they improved their team significantly.  Senior Monica DeMairo, one of the GM’s for the Boston Red Sox, described her experience this way, “I have really enjoyed the experience working on this project.  It has been interesting to do research on different players and teams, thinking about their value compared to our needs.  We explored certain negotiation tactics in reaching out to teams prior to trading day, then had to think on the fly when new deals came up in our discussions and finally we had to convince other GM’s why they should close on a deal.”

How did DeMairo’s Red Sox’ fair on Trade Day?  “We feel that we had a successful Trade Day!  And while we will miss David Ortiz, who we traded to the Rangers for Matt Harrison, we are glad to have Papelbon (acquired in another trade) back in the bullpen!,” she said.