Updated: May 22
Part 1: Marketing
Baseball needs to take a few cues from the king of the american sports world… football. Granted football’s inherent popularity makes everything about the sport much more marketable but if we dive into marketing the TALENT.
During the NFL Draft, we all ’met’ the next wave of players. An NFL roster is 53 players - with an MLB roster at 25 available in a game, and then there is the 40 man roster. As a Yankee fan, the tail end of the 40 man roster is very important because you’re either keeping youth on the roster, or working on veteran presence. There were offensive and defensive linemen who became stars in the NFL.
There have been offensive linemen in the last decade who are household names. Joe Thomas, who played for the Browns during their awful last decade wasnt a celebrity but certainly well known. An offensive lineman from Cleveland on a bad team was a well known player in the NFL. Meanwhile, Mike Trout’s face is noticably absent from MLB marketing. Bryce Harper and Aaron Judge have become ’faces’ of the game in a sense but is it enough? You see Tatis Jr. a little but where is Bo Bichette and Vlad Jr? Did we ever see Verlander in commercials? Sure baseball is a more local game but the marketing pushes should be beyond their home city.
Baseball needs to advertise itself. Baseball but use the players. Be consistent. Get the players to sell products that are unique. Do we see any ads for baseball equipement? A bat and ball? A glove? A batting glove? Nothing. This is not just on baseball but the Nike’s and Adidas of the world to sign youg, cheap talent and get them to market. Get the faces out there.
Part 2: On the field
Football has nailed it from a pace of play standpoint…and this is created by the play clock. Something baseball can implement but it needs to be done right.
The amount of action during a football game is only a few minutes during the 60 minutes of play-time. Much of the game are pre-snap adjustments. Baseball has a similar pace with the time between pitches, where the pitch and hit and baserunning are the action.
The problem with baseball is the time between pitches is straight up boring. Sure a pitcher may check the runner at first, look into the dugout or hold a set. Exciting stuff except for a rare pickoff. Analyzing the previous play in football is much more technical than breaking down a previous pitch. Baseball needs to tighten this window between pitches because they don’t have anything to analyze that won’t lose an audience.
To be fair to the current players, the change should not happen at major league level or even in professional minor leagues. Athletes are creatures of habit and routine - to change that would be to take something away from them which makes them great.
These changes need to start at the youth level: Throw pitch, play happens. Get the ball back to the pitcher. throw the pitch.
Imagine if you were sitting in the stands, and pitchers had to rapid-fire the ball? Not a lot of time to analyze or get bored. In baseball, it’s simple - did the pitch execute, or did the batter win that battle? On to the next one. It’ll be more like punches being thrown in boxing. The only question is how much strain will this put on pitchers and will it favor pitchers? Or perhaps batters won’t over-think.
Keep it simple. Force each at bat to be quicker. Make it so the guy in the middle/cheap seats doesn’t have time to check their phone in between pitches. Keep the fans focus on the play - and turn each batter into a pitch then a break then a pitch then a break…into the same emotion you get into a drive downfield in the NFL but with baseball, now you can condense it for folks who just don’t have the attention span anymore. More importantly though, make sure the fans know who they are seeing on both the home team AND the visiting team.