What the Toronto Blue Jays Can Teach About Options Investing

Investing using options is very different from constructing a classic long-term buy-and-hold portfolio.

In this segment from Motley Fool Live that first aired June 7, Motley Fool Canada analyst Jim Gillies and Fool.com editor/analyst Ellen Bowman discuss how to make it into the Hall of Fame — in options investing as well as in baseball.

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Jim Gillies: I used the analogy one time at some point in options. This will have no meaning for most people. I’m a lifelong Toronto Blue Jays fan in baseball. Throughout the ’80s and very early ’90s, the Toronto Blue Jays always had the team that they’re going to win the World Series, they have one more step and they always fell short.

Ellen Bowman: The Cubs were worse than that. [laughs]

Gillies: The Blue Jays, I think they’re founded in ’77, they came of age in the mid ’80s, and by the mid to late ’80s they’re like, “This is baseball’s next great team.” They always stubbed their toe, they always found a way to spit the bit. In 1990, I believe it was, on December, when everyone’s thinking baseball. [laughs] This announcement came out of the blue, there was this blockbuster trade and the Blue Jays were trading two of their superstar players, Tony Fernandez at shortstop and Fred McGriff at first base. They’re trading two of their superstars to San Diego for two of their stars. Well, Joe Carter was a star player, he wasn’t super, but he was known to us because he played for Cleveland for years and he hit a lot of really great home runs, a lot of tape measure home runs. Struck out about as often as he homered, but those homers, you remembered the homers. He could play first base, he could play a little outfield. Then they also got this guy, young player, second base, the name of Alomar who had a lot of upside. Roberto Alomar did not put too fine a point on it. This trade change the Blue Jays. Changed them, turned them into the team that always stopped a bit and always found a way to lose, turned them into contenders and they won two World Series back to back in ’92, ’93. It was that trade that did this, and then they added pieces around it. But it was that trade changed the culture and it changed what was going on in the locker room. But the interesting piece was Robbie Alomar. Because Robbie Alomar today is in the Hall of Fame. Robbie Alomar is the best player the Blue Jays have ever had. He was only there for four or five years, but he is still the best player they’ve ever had. Robbie Alomar could hit for power, but he hit for average. He was a great defensive second baseman, so he could prevent runs as well. He could steal a base, he could do all. He was a complete player. But the most famous home run in Blue Jays’ history that won them the ’93 world series was the aforementioned Joe Carter. Joe Carter is not in the Hall of Fame, hit the most important home run in Blue Jays history. But again, kind of a strike out artist. He was a decent enough player, but he wasn’t the level player that Robbie Alomar was. The whole point of this horribly taxed out analogy is that you want to be Robbie Alomar, you want to be the complete player who’s hitting for average. There’s nothing wrong with hitting single, after single, after single, after single, but not striking out that often. There’s nothing wrong with being defensive and winning the game or at least not losing money, but winning the game being defensive about things rather than trying to swing for the lights because again, the guy swinging for the lights got that big super home run, the ’93 walk off home run. But he and I get into the baseball Hall of Fame the same way, we both have to buy a ticket. [laughs] Alomar is there.

Bowman: Exactly. Basically you’re saying is that being boring over consistently over long periods of time can get you into the Hall of Fame in your particular field. Whether it’d be investing, baseball, Irish dancing, which I would like to pretend is mine, [laughs] but it is not. But it makes sense, it’s something I remember you saying a lot in various communications in the option service. What are the points that the article in the guide book makes is that long term stock ownership can be as little as three years. Not to Fools, but out there in the world that can be a long term holding. If you can just steadily execute a option strategies over the course of 3, or 5, or 7 years, The metaphor will get away for me, you may not hit big home run, but you may still end up in the Hall of Fame in terms of having money in your pocket and having successful strategies at the end of the day.

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