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Peanuts and portals ... "at the old ball game"

Major League Baseball (MLB) is adopting collaboration technology from IBM.

According to a press report from IBM, Major League Baseball has deployed its WebSphere Portal software to create new ways of connecting players, umpires and fans. The software is being used on a host of business issues that range from exposing counterfeit memorabilia to providing umpires and security staff with better insight on weather conditions and risk factors.

"The IBM software architecture allows us to consolidate information from a variety of sources," says Mike Morris, VP of application development and program management for MLB. "It enables collaboration within our user community and provides a strong platform for future growth and development."

The solution will offer better intelligence and historical data directly to umpiring crews, IBM reports. MLB's Umpire Desktop, which is powered by the software, gives officials insight into players' behavior based on history or likely tendencies. Within the Desktop, users can see Google Gadgets--mini objects that can be placed on an internal Web page to offer dynamic, real-time content. From Gadgets, umpires can see up-to-the-minute weather views, statistics and other key information, IBM adds.

"The Umpire Desktop provides significant, real-time information to our crews, and is a valuable resource with respect to the overall Major League umpiring effort. It is assisting not only in training and development, but also every other aspect of what game officials do," says Mike Port, MLB's VP of umpiring.

To fight the possibility of forgery with MLB memorabilia, the baseball organization relies on the IBM software and handheld wireless devices to scan and automatically upload information on a product. For instance, when a fan catches a home run ball, a security guard places a unique hologram on the ball. That information is wirelessly uploaded to MLB's IBM DB2 9 data server. If the fan decides to sell the ball, a prospective buyer can verify its authenticity online.

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