ICYMI: Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports and the MLB Network recently reported that MLB brass and the player’s association “are giving more attention to the issue of marketing and promotion of the players in the latest CBA negotiations, sources say.” At last, after years of fans and analysts alike clamoring for increased exposure and advertising of baseball’s stars, the league may finally give the topic its well deserved consideration. I have only one thing to say to Rob Manfred and his cronies… NO SHIT SHERLOCK.
I don’t want to stand on top of “I told you so mountain” and pin this on Manfred solely, because the commish only took over the reigns this past season after all. But, anyone with half a brain has been able to comprehend that baseball’s waning national popularity and its increasing regionalism is primarily a result of the league’s inability to showcase their top end talent, for a multitude of reasons.
The MLB is stuck in Medieval Times in regards to modern day advertising.
The league’s aversion to embracing the youth of the league.
The MLB’s obsession with “traditionalism,” the “unwritten rules” and “team before individual” mentality.
Look no further than the MLB’s outlawing of GIFs. For those that aren’t well versed in the Twitter-sphere, a GIF is comparable to a short movie clip of an action scene with no sound. Today, they are all the rage on social media… You know, the preferred media outlet in which every millennial or individual who gives any fuck about staying up to date on the happenings of the world utilizes. GIFs are used to not only create incredibly entertaining clips of athletes, but they also provide FREE ADVERTISING FOR THE PLAYERS. A single GIF can go viral at any moment. Instead of harnessing this immense power, MLB has outlawed GIFs, reserved solely for their own use. For fuck’s sake, even the NHL permits GIFs (for the time being) by fans.
But that’s not all, MLB also lacks in commercial advertising. Take Paul Goldschmidt, arguably the best hitter in the game at the moment. Would you be able to recognize him walking down the street? Do you even know that he plays in Arizona?! Have you seen him in a single freaking commercial???
Mike Trout, unquestionably MLB’s greatest talent, is a prisoner on the West Coast playing in a “city” (Anaheim) that is anything but a metropolis. Sure, he does some mediocre Subway commercials, but a player of his caliber should be the centerpiece of MLB advertising ALL DAY EVERYDAY.
Then look at Bryce Harper. Perhaps the only player that is effectively showcased, and certainly not by the virtue of the league’s. Harper’s popularity (or vilification, whichever way you view him), is completely self-made. Why? Because the dude is one of the few who gets how marketing in today’s world actually works. Not only is Harper a freaking baseball hitting machine, he’s young, exuberant, flamboyant, and doesn’t give a fuck about what others think about him. He wears his emotions on his sleeve. He has a burning passion for the game. And he is doing his damn hardest to “make baseball fun again.”
This guy gets it!
But sadly, MLB brass and the elder baseball community have persistently exhibited that they do not. Instead of embracing the Bryce Harpers of the game, they castigate them. They preach the “play the game the way it’s supposed to be played” mantra ad nauseam. Instead of advertising the substantial crop of young talent that this game has produced over the last few seasons and harnessing their inherent energy and spirit, retired legends like Goose Gossage spew the “unwritten rules” of baseball.
Baseball is at a pivotal juncture people. The average run time for games last season was still 2 hours and 56 minutes, despite the implementation of “pace of play” rules. The length of games will continue to be cumbersome, and the topic of “how to fix baseball” will continue to hover for sports radio gasbags like a hurricane over Florida. A simple fix exists, however, and perhaps the league is finally moving towards it if Rosenthal’s report is accurate. It’s time to move out of the Stone Age for the game of baseball.