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A Gritty MLB Reboot (Part 3 of 3): The Epic Conclusion

 

 

 

 

Here it is, the moment you’ve eagerly anticipated… PART THREE!  Calm your bones, kemosabe.  The conclusion to my epic rant can also be seen here [ECBS], at the Emerson College Sports Business Society Blog.  Tell your friends about this blog!  I’d love to see double digit views…. once…. ever…. though, to be fair, if you are reading this blog, you must be AWFULLY bored.  Enjoy.

 

 

She blinded me with science! Ad by 'she,' I mean my laptop....

The growing trend in baseball and all of sports is a focus on the mathematics and science behind it.  From medicine, to recording, to broadcasting the technological advances of our lifetimes are revolutionizing the way we play and consume sports.  Metrics and measurements are quantifying things as mundane as a receiver’s overall reach (Calvin Johnson allegedly has the reach the same cubic measurement  of a 2-car garage.  It is the ironies of ironies that baseball is currently riding the wave of interest caused by Brad Pitt aka Billy Beane, sabermetrics, and Moneyball.  While baseball has readily welcomed the math and science to study the game, the game has stubbornly refused to accept the incredible technological power before them.  Replay has been integrated beautifully into football and basketball.  Hockey has used advanced cameras for years.  Baseball, if they cooperated, funded and guided science, could have solutions to everything from strike zones to out and safe calls.  I am not calling for a erasing of the human element, just an integration of the relevant technologies to make the game more interesting.  The key to successfully remaking, reimagining or re-branding is acknowledging the past while incorporating the future.

Redesigning the league as I described relates to an overarching, re-branding strategy.  Upon closer inspection, some redesigning could go on in the parks themselves too.  Infusing the competitive landscape with a dash of creativity makes sense for the brand of MLB.  Infusing the individual competitive landscapes (i.e. the stadiums) with some of that same creativity is a logical extension.  That technology I spoke of before?  It’s everywhere.  Including architechture.  Baseball teams used to have weird stadiums catered towards the build of their team.  I want more odd dimensions (Polo Grounds), more hills in centerfield (Houston), and more 37 foot walls in odd places.  Stadiums give the teams themselves personality, not to mention advantages if done right.  Some of the new stadiums do a great job of creating an engaging atmosphere (Baltimore’s Camden Yards comes to mind).  Others waste serious potential (The Nationals’ stadium has a slew of design oversights, not the least of which is it misses an obvious opportunity for an amazing view of our capitol city- same stadium, different orientation means same dimensions with a different view.  Not rocket science.).  Where is all the money going into the new ballparks if not into a little creative, competitive advantage?  Astroturf is one of those technological ‘innovations’ making baseball wary of change.  I’m not suggesting odd field surfaces, but the oddities of the teams’ cities and stadiums used to give the teams character.

Baseball could use more characters.  A rogues gallery.  From the front office to the utility men, some oddballs and amusing characters could spice up the MLB landscape.  Baseball needs to let its creative juices flow.  As the media seems to be telling us at every turn, from fashion to film, sometimes old is new, which is cool.  In the interest of making money and reigniting interest, I suggest baseball gets on board with the rebooting trend.

Thank you to any brave soul who read through all my musings.  I appreciate it.  We here at DotP cherish each and every one of our readers, or some BS Lifetime channel crap.  Tell your friends.  Tell your family.  Tell the people trying to do work int he library.

 

As always, FOLLOW ME! FOLLOW ME TO FREEDOM!

 

-w

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Baseball, Cajones, GOOSE, JUAN URIBE, MLB, offseason, Opinion, Posted, Random Thoughts

A Gritty MLB Reboot (part 2 of 3)

This is the second part or my 3-part rant about the current state of the MLB.  It is also up on the Emerson College Sports Business Society website.  My brilliance cannot be held to one mere blog. Enjoy.

 

you look nervous....

One of the key elements of a remake is to venture into totally new territory, while remaining familiar.  In theory, at least, this is the most likely way to proceed. New origin stories, new ways for characters to meet and interact, new interpretations of old ways drive the consumer. We are always curious about ways to repeat ourselves. Part of what makes baseball special is its fascinating history.

Baseball has become bloated with excessive teams and excessive salaries. An expanded playoffs looms.  I’m resigned to the fact that consolidating teams to a more manageable number, allowing more good players on fewer teams, makes entirely too much sense and is a pipe dream for many reasons. I know that something drastic needs to change in our society before player salaries don’t become so ridiculous.  But small changes to the makeup of the league(s) can yield far-reaching results.

The proposed move of the Houston Astros to the American League is a step in the right direction. Jim Crane is a genius if he can get MLB to pay him his requested 50 million dollars for what he has to know is a good idea. If all the MLB teams are going to be hanging around, let’s use that to rile up some pride.  People complain about the Red Sox, Yankees, and Rays playing so often.

But what they don’t realize is that this is a good thing. Any good marketer knows that sometimes it makes more sense to appeal to your strengths. I’m willing to bet viewers will like a big Texas Astros-Rangers showdown.  Play up the states and teams that have history. But, for the love of Honus Wagner, please, please, please don’t think for a second that the rich history of baseball needs to be polluted with any more interleague. The magic is gone, and baseball fans are moving on to see other people. Part of what makes what many consider the most ingenious re-imagining in media recently; The Joker in “The Dark Night,” so interesting within the ethos of the Batman world is his evil presence.  Heath Ledger nailed the role and put everyone on edge by representing a deranged, but realistic “other.”

(quite honestly one of the greatest sports clips you will ever see)

The idea of “the other” is a common phenomenon and is studied across the realms of sociology, psychology, marketing, PR, and many facets of the media in general. The concept of “the other,” the “barbarians at the gates,” an unseen opposition is the driving force of suspense throughout literature both new and old, and is fundamental in any horror movie (yes, even the bad ones). It’s a fascinating notion, how humans instinctively react to outsiders and strangers.

Here’s the contradictory dilemma; technology has outpaced baseball (we’ll get to that in a moment). Anyone can see any game with the right platform and a few clicks of the mouse. Not only is the magic gone, but apparently so is the mystery. Everyone needs an “other.” Everyone needs a villain. Or at least a worthy adversary.  MLB will never be the same as the old days, when the World Series came around and people had “holy cow” moments seeing a great player from an opposing league- fantasy sports and television have erased that notion of surprise. Two fully separate leagues with two newly established identities (a gradual, nuanced part of the process too detailed to truly envision now) can help provide an “us vs. them” feeling for both sides.

This brings me to the All-Star game. Sigh. Oh how the mighty have fallen. I honestly do not see the right answer for the league. On the one hand, taking only the flashiest of All-Star concepts and borrowing from the NBA could be fun. Skill competitions and celebrities drives viewers, drives interest, and in this new era of 25/7 (not a typo) news coverage, steady coverage during a break. Making the MLB All-Star game a summer hangout destination could be a money-making phenomena. Concerts, showcases, and festivals take place even in what we might take for the most boring city.

Done right, an MLB All-Star Weekend similar to the NBA could be a brilliant shift for a commissioner (though it is highly unlikely Bud would allow this to happen in his reign). However, running with the current state of baseball, a strategist may have to shift their goals based on the current mess. If the All-Star game is going to count, it should count. MLB should figure it out whether it be with contractual guarantees, a deal with the players union or a Commissioner descending from his office with a new set of unwritten baseball commandments. Baseball needs to assess a way to make its players care about the game like they used to in the sport’s past, when the players’ pride factored heavily into All-Star games.

Perhaps I am naïve to think something as simple as a re-branding of National vs. American League as us vs. them will spark that much more passion. If Bud Selig continues to remind us that “this time it counts,” there is only so much one can do. But in that mindset, of pitting the leagues more prominently as, pardon the ugly phrase, ‘separate but equal,’ will lead to a slightly altered playoff/All-Star Game relationship: With the additional rounds, the All-Star winning league gets home field advantage in the first 3 rounds. The World Series? A coinflip. It must be. An added air of mystery to the battle of the leagues.

 

 

 

stay tuned, part 3 is coming very soon!

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A Gritty MLB Reboot (part 1 of 3)

HUH? A WHAT? BE QUIET, MATLOCK IS STARTING!

This piece is part of an 3-part installment (badass, I know), also reproduced at the Emerson Sports Business Society website.  After it goes up on their site, I’ll let all of you read my brilliance here as well.  To build buzz and stuff and get readership up into the double-digits!

Sports, lest we forget, are a form of entertainment.  These men (and women, easy does it WNBA fans) get paid millions upon millions of dollars to do something millions if not billions of us enjoyed doing as children, albeit at a higher level.  Actors live in a similar way.  Yes, these stars make their companies and owners countless dollars, but that is a larger, different issue.  Let us stick with the thread that sports are a form of entertainment.  Baseball is forever stuck in the dark ages.  Rules take decades to be modified.  The slightest alterations to the history and tradition of the sport are instantly vilified.  Technology and society have advanced at an exponential rate in the lifetime of professional sports, yet baseball’s trajectory remains staunchly linear.  Replay, computerizing human decision-making processes, bigger seats (honestly, even the new parks smush you together like Economy seating on Hooters air); the list of things that could be ‘upgraded’ in baseball goes on and on.  I love the history of baseball.  I love the traditions and unwritten rules.  When Alex Rodriguez ran across the pitchers’ mound after a foul ball, I was vigorously offended.  But you don’t need numbers (declining TV ratings, declining Attendance figures) to tell you that the game has become stale for many.  It’s time to get with the times, Baseball.  You are an entertainment industry, and there is an increasingly effective (in a monetary sense, at least) way to inject a little life into an entertainment concept.  I am of course talking about the remake.  The reboot.  The dark re-telling.  Baseball, it would seem, needs a gritty reboot.  Say what you will about the quality of these remakes and reboots compared to the original, but they make money and they create buzz.  The trend is apparent. And MLB needs a buzz of excitement like retirement home sock hop.

New Characters.

awwwww yeaaaaahhhh boyyyyyyy.....

Look around the MLB, at the Executives and Financial Backers.  Now look at me.  Now back to the men with the money.  Now back to me.  Sadly, I am not them (see what I did there?).  Jokes aside, the MLB executive is now a stale brand.  Sometimes bad is good.  The recent death of Al Davis brought light the career of a great man.  The stories coming out about him brought to light the accuracy of the notion that madness and genius lay astride a very fine line.  One of the most interesting businessmen EVER was MLB owner Bill Veeck.  Part Circus showman, part the shrewdest of salesmen, Veeck made everything about the ballpark and team experience was a little… zany, for lack of a better word.  One cannot hope to see another Veeck in the singular, let alone plural.  I speak more generally when I say MLB would be wise to try and recruit/inspire creative, wealthy young men with a little more panache.  Even Within the constraints of millionaires, this subset is a vocal minority.  The juiciest example of MLB resisting this type of change is the hesitancy to let Mark Cuban own a team.  Bud Selig, professional stick-in-the-mud.  It’s a no brainer!  Allow Cuban to take ownership of a team in need of a shakeup and see what happens.   The front office is the face of the franchise.  An interesting man in charge will hire interesting people, it is the transitive property of interesting (a principle I just made up).  The MLB needs more Brandon Phillips, more Dustin Pedroias, more Tim Lincecums and more Nyjer  Morgans (yes, I said it and I mean it).  I like the odd ones, the ones who seem a bit… off.  It makes their triumphs and failures all the more interesting.

Look for the rest of the piece in the days to follow!  Until then, enjoy the band called Wallpaper (this song is a JAM)

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