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Paul Doocey
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Middle Management

April can only mean one thing-the start of major-league baseball.

For most people, April brings to mind mild weather, sunny days, leaves coming back to the trees and, if you have kids, egg hunts and the Easter Bunny. For sports enthusiasts however, April can only mean one thing-the start of major-league baseball.

I admit I'm one of the people who anxiously await the start of each baseball season. Part of the reason for the anticipation is that I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Red Sox fan, and like the entire BoSox nation, I start each Spring with the firm belief that this will finally be the year the Fenway nine win it all. (85 long years and counting, curses to you Babe Ruth!)

But for better or worse, there is another reason why the start of the baseball season has me as excited as a conservative Republican contemplating a tax cut-I am, alas, a fantasy baseball freak. Yes, I admit I'm one of those men on the train who you think has a Peter Pan complex because his nose is buried in two or three different baseball magazines.

I can't explain why I'm addicted to the game, after all, what enthusiast can explain the passion behind their hobby without sounding slightly deranged? Suffice to say I find fantasy baseball relaxing and fulfilling because in an otherwise uncertain world, my imaginary team is the one thing I have complete control over. Every roster move I make-whether a player trade or cut, deciding who starts and who sits, etc.-directly alters my team's performance, and reflects my aptitude as a developer and manager of talent.

Success in fantasy baseball is predicted on a number of factors, such as the ability to quickly analyze and crunch statistics, so you can put the best players in positions to over-perform, and knowing when to go out on a limb and start an otherwise mediocre player on the educated hunch that they will excel under a certain set of conditions.

But perhaps no skill is as important as being able to draft a team that has talent from starting pitcher to bench warmer. After all, anyone can pick Barry Bonds to start in their outfield. The tougher skill is finding the players with the potential to become all-stars and nurture them until they shine.

Surprisingly, some of these fantasy factors actually equate in the real world as well. In this issue, you will find an article on sales force automation starting on page 22. Executive editor Steve Marlin explores how financial organizations are using technology to generate cross sell and promote a unified sales force across all consumer channels. He also delves into the issue of sales force tracking and compensation, which is essentially using numbers and statistics to augment manager intuition when it comes to deciding who should be promoted, and who may need more seasoning. That sounds familiar to me.

Now if I could only apply this technology to my fantasy team. Then maybe at least one Boston boy can come up a winner this year.

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