Random Thoughts

A “Wild” Time of Year

Well after five months and many cycles of celebration and frustration, I’m once again facing the opportunity of my St. Louis Cardinals being in post-season play. It looks they have a real chance to be one of the Wild Card teams in the National League. They still have some work in front of them against some contending teams – and that is as it should be.

A Wild Card team? I grew up with the belief that there were winners and losers (and definitely no participation awards). No one cared about 2nd place (or in the Cards case this year, maybe 3rd in our division as a Wild Card winner). Getting to the playoffs was an award to the division winners to participate in post-season and have the potential to win the championship. I struggled the 1st time the 1997 Florida Marlins won the World Series as a Wild Card team.

I have since come to understand the value of this approach to baseball. I’ll admit that it hasn’t hurt that my Cards have been a Wild Card team – even winning a World Series Championship as the result of it in 2011. I’m still a strong believer in traditions and history, but I also (sometimes grudgingly) accept change as a positive force. And as a small business owner in the technology world, change is often not just a positive force – but a competitive advantage.

The 2018 season offers a great example of the positive benefits of the Wild Card. At this stage on the calendar, there are still a more than a dozen teams that are fighting for a post-season opportunity. That opportunity did not exist 40 years ago.

Without the Wild Card, Boston would have been crowned American League champion already and there would only be a couple teams in the National League with even a chance to win the title.

The Wild Card approach has added a higher level of interest for millions more fans – and it is also an economic boom for the industry, the employees, vendors, etc. Even the players say it helps keep them motivated and playing at a higher level because there is more meaning to these late games in the season.

So in this case change is good. It provides more joy to a greater number of people. It brings positive economic improvement. It promotes a higher caliber of play by teams. And without it, my Cards probably wouldn’t have a change to be in post season this year (definitely a good thing). The only drawback is the season doesn’t end until close to the holidays! (Maybe we could get MLB to accept a shorter season!)

Change is inevitable and we’ve discussed its impact with HL Group in previous posts. Over the course of our two decades in business we have re-written our business plan more times than sometimes I care to admit, but always with an attitude towards success. This month alone we are launching our latest version of the website, a new CRM and a couple of new teaming / marketing initiatives. Embracing strategic change is a competitive advantage – and like the Wild Card, change can be a positive force.

My only request for this week is that whatever higher power you connect to – would you ask that they look after my Cardinals? I’m mentally ready and strong enough to handle a few more weeks of baseball until Halloween!



Wes Haubein is the President of HL Group, Inc., a premier provider of mobile asset inventory management and warehouse solutions. He writes regularly about management, solution integration and technology, and sometimes the St. Louis Cardinals.