Who’s the Bossard (June 16, 2015)
Over the next two episodes we’re going to be looking at a virtual dynasty of a family in American sports turf — the Bossards. We start with a Bullpen Session all about how Paul had to turn over (?!?! yep, turn over) Camden Yards to the film crew of Major League II while they pretended it was Jacob’s Field. We then sit down for our Outta the Park interview with Tom Burns and Mark Razum who tell us all about being fledgling groundkeepers working with Marshall and Harold Bossard in the 70s and 80s at Cleveland Municipal Stadium. And in Turf Science, Theresa walks Paul through her process for checking out turf products, especially those she suspects are “magical” or too-good-to-be-true.
Segments: Bullpen Session, Outta the Park, Turf Science
Guests: Tom Burns, Diamond Pro and a former head groundskeeper for the Texas Rangers; Mark Razum, head groundskeeper for the Colorado Rockies
▶ Bullpen Session: Major League II (imdb.com)
▶ Outta the Park
▶ Turf Science: Unless it falls under the pesticide umbrella (herbicide, insecticide or fungicde) there’s very little in the way of regulation that’s involved in bringing new products to market in our industry — you have to prove environmental soundness and that your ingredients and quantities are properly labeled and that’s about it. In most cases the U.S. does not provision that manufacturers prove their product does what they claim.
THE PRODUCT EVALUATION PROCESS:
1) What claims are they making? Too many, too fantastical, too perfect for your situation? Does something feel “off”?
2) Check the manufacturer’s website for the product itself. Is there a website? Does it look professional and well maintained? Is there a label and MSDS available on their website or only marketing materials? Do they provide working links to university or third party scientific testing results? Do the linked scientific articles actually support the products claims (no, seriously, I have found products where this isn’t the case)?
3) Do a basic web search. Use Google, Bing, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo, or your favorite search engine. How many articles can you find in just a few minutes? The easier to find and the more work the more reliable the results. Even if there are opposing views it shows there was validity to early claims and it has been studied thoroughly.
4) Any scientific literature? Look up the chemical name (like Trinexapac Ethyl for Primo) or dive deeper into the science by searching scholar.google.com.
5) Quantitative vs. Qualitative measurements. Quantitative measurements are taken with tools. They are less likely to show accidental bias and are repeatable for double-checking results.
6) Are the studies done in the field or the greenhouse? Greenhouse studies are easier to do and cheaper to fund but do not adequately test products under real-life enough conditions. There are a number of old studies showing that greenhouse conditions can drastically affect the outcome. Actual “on-field” scientific studies are expensive, time consuming and thus very rare. Many claim to have “on-field” work but usually these are not statistically proper and are therefore unable to provide true scientific results.
7) Marketing claims: the more forceful or definitive the words used the less likely there is hard science behind the claims. Real science is NEVER definitive because nature and the universe are never definitive. There are always special cases and outliers — and lawyers will make sure that marketing based on hard science is NOT definitive in its claims. If a company doesn’t have real science to back it up — or a legal department — you should to be cautious.