The MLB doesn't market superstars well

Quite frankly, I'm pretty shocked why more people haven't been talking about this topic in the sports world. Or is it that I'm just behind, or is baseball actually "dying"?

Some of baseball's top stars like Mike Trout, Clayton Kershaw and Bryce Harper aren't getting nearly the amount of exposure and popularity as celebrities in other sports such as basketball, soccer and football. This data goes on to support this trend.

" James was selected as America's favorite athlete in a Harris Poll last year. Jeter ranked third. The only other baseball players in the top 25: Ortiz, ranked 13th, and his Boston teammate, Dustin Pedroia, ranked 18th. (2014)"

Comparing basketball to baseball, the NBA seems to thrive on marketing stars, in particular, around 5-10 of them. Some average sports fans could barely even tell you the top 10 marketed stars in the MLB.

I can't exactly put my finger on it, but for some reason I'm just not running into advertisements for MLB Players. Whether that may be products, commercials, etc. It's much different when I see kids walking down the street in a Kobe sweatshirt and Lebron sneakers. In addition, the only time I'm ever seeing baseball players on television besides the games is when I'm seeing a bland Sunday Night Baseball commercial. Maybe I'm wrong about the bland part, but I see way more basketball and football endorsement commercials than the MLB. It could be just where the money is now.

It could also arise from the MLB's higher percentage of international players. These players could be trickier to market due to the ethnicities of Americans not exactly amounting to the amount of people that would adore these players in their home countries would alone.

For all you baseball diehards out there...what can the MLB do to mix ups its marketing efforts?

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Comments (33)

Aug 8, 2016

It's tougher to market these guys because, well, baseball is a sport of averages. Lebron James posterizing a guy on a dunk, or scoring 40+ points is just simply more sexy than Bryce Harper's on base percentage, or Kershaw's strikouts. The most exiting part of baseball are the big sluggers which is why guys like Ortiz get on that list.

I also find that viewership for baseball is more local during the regular season at least. A ton of people will tune in to watch Golden State vs. Cleveland during the regular season (the two finals teams from last season), but will even half of that tune in to watch Mets vs. Royals (two baseball finals teams from last season)?

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Aug 8, 2016

I agree whole-heartedly

Aug 8, 2016

This is why the steroid era was so great. I want to see monster crushing the ball every night.

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Aug 8, 2016
Bobb:

This is why the steroid era was so great. I want to see monster crushing the ball every night.

Completely agree. The anti-steroid witch hunt is what ruined baseball. Who the hell cares?

Aug 9, 2016

Agreed. Back in the steroid era, baseball used to be great because it was a whole lot more fun to watch the long ball soar off of Barry Bonds' bat into McCovey cove. Back then it was a hitters game. Nowadays it's a pitchers game and frankly it's not as exciting to watch a pitchers duel with less than 5 hits on both teams, those games are boring as fuck, even for die hard baseball fans.

Aug 9, 2016

I would still assume October baseball ratings are that of the same in the last five years. Postseason baseball is intriguing.

Aug 10, 2016

Agreed with baseball being a sport of averages. Baseball stars/superstars are more difficult to market simply due to the fact that baseball takes so long to play within a single game and during the season. There's simply too much games for people to follow on a day-to-day basis and there's not much drama some people would like to anticipate as they would in the NBA or NFL which always dominates the sports headlines, which also has considerably less games to follow.

Aug 8, 2016

Would have to assume, at least on a player by player basis, that this is more correlated with endorsement deals outside of league performance than a league effort perspective. There simply aren't the kind of the deals in baseball that there are in other sports. For hitters, this may be because pretty much every star in the 90s and 00s had some sort of doping controversy (some who didn't - Jeter, Griffey, Ripken - have great recognition). For pitchers, I would have to imagine this is because they throw once a week.

I agree with the above being a localized market, but would consider as well that baseball doesn't need the same reliance on merch, etc. as other sports as they play at least twice as many games as every other sport.

Aug 8, 2016

Do you have any numbers on that? Top baseball stars like Trout and Harper absolutely make bank on endorsements.

Aug 9, 2016

It might also just be that there are more baseball players than NBA players, and they're actually doing something for a relatively small portion of the game. Hitters spend basically 48% of their time standing still in the field, 48% in the dugout, and the rest at the plate/making a play/on base.

Aug 11, 2016

@CRE while i agree that trout/harper/baseball elite make bank on endorsements, I think the point is that nike and UA throw millions at everyone, but the public generally couldn't pick out Harper's signature cleat line from any other generic cleat (hell there are people who cant even tell baseball and football cleats apart). By contrast almost anyone can look at Kevin Durant/Kyrie Irving/Steph Curry's shoes with some level of appeal (plus you can actually utilize the product outside of the game), whereas baseball bats/gloves/cleats/those sweet ass pants, really don't do anything for me if I'm just a gym rat.

I would also like to comment on the appeal of the sport outside of America, other than the Caribbean/Japan/Korea there is none, (whether or not the rest of the world matters is up for debate), go to Europe and ask who you think is better Harper/Trout, or if A.Rod really belongs in the hall of fame, they'll look at you like you have seven heads. But you can go anywhere in the world and they will have a Ronaldo/Messi opinion, a Djokovic/Federer opinion, with jersey/shoe/apparel sales to back that up.

Baseball is still fun to go watch live (read: drunk), don't get me wrong, but it is an older man's game now.

Aug 8, 2016

Baseball is an aging sport, young people do not follow it, plain and simple. Most athletes market to a younger demographic (16-45). Also, the sport is just not that exciting to be honest.

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Aug 8, 2016

Young people, yes. Millennials who like to go from one thing to the next in a very quick fast-paced environment (think twitter or any social medias IE quick flashes of things that go away) I think it also has to do with how kids who get drafted at the age of 18 don't even get a sniff of the MLB until they're 23-25. Young people don't want to wait that long anymore.

Aug 8, 2016

this doesn't make sense. a.) young people's affinity for social media does not stop them from supporting bball in large numbers and football as well & b.) assumes that viewers (not potential players) care whether an 18 yr old or 23 yr old is up to bat for their hometown team.

Aug 8, 2016

I don't think harper or trout will care when they get a $350mm contract

plain & simple, baseball takes a backseat to every other sport. think about it, spring training comes at the tail end of football & the beginning of march madness, season heats up around NBA finals, and we're in the dog days where nothing really interesting is going on (except olympic divers' asses). pretty soon NFL & college football will rule and the world series will become a footnote on sportscenter behind johnny manziel's latest arrest and rex ryan blabbing about something

Aug 8, 2016

yeah the season is WAY too long, 162 games + pre/post season?!?! they'll never (in our lifetimes) change to anything less than ~150 though...

WSO's COO (Chief Operating Orangutan) | My Linkedin

Aug 8, 2016

It's because baseball is shit.

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Best Response
Aug 8, 2016

Some of you aren't old enough to remember how big baseball was in the 90's. Helped that I grew up with Griffey, RJ, and Arod (how did we never win a championship?!).

Baseball was HUGE (no pun intended) back then. When McGwire was chasing 61 homeruns (1998) it seemed like everyone was following it. Homeruns were fun to watch. Tiny Bret f*cking Boone was jacked and hitting 40+ a year. No one batted an eye. Then they got caught. And then the ship sank.

Overall, what happened?

In a nutshell, as others have said they can't market to the younger generation, the steroid era tainted the game, the NFL took over, it's not good TV, etc etc etc. Additionally Bud Selig was/is an idiot.

In some areas baseball still is king in some areas.... but it's definitely a regional thing. I dont give af about any other team, nor do I care about my team once they're out of the playoff hunt. Whereas in the NFL, I'll watch other teams if it's a good game. MLB... maybe if Kershaw is pitching. And i LOVE baseball, and still play in an adult league.

A slow death is hard to watch, but it won't go anywhere in our lifetime.

WSO's COO (Chief Operating Orangutan) | My Linkedin

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Aug 8, 2016

Why was/is Bud Selig an idiot? I don't disagree, I just want some perspective.

Aug 9, 2016

Perfectly said.

Aug 8, 2016

this post (http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/mlb-big-league-stew/...) lists 5 "good" and 5 "bad" things that Selig did.

Yes he did some good for the game, but imo the bad far outweighs the good.

WSO's COO (Chief Operating Orangutan) | My Linkedin

Aug 8, 2016

Baseball's culture doesn't really favor individuals standing out. I know that there are other factors involved and that baseball has never really "recovered" from the steroid era, but I imagine that some of the lack of individual fame for baseball players is due to pressure to keep your head down.

Aug 8, 2016

-No one wants to follow such a slow sport over a 162 game season

-Baseball doesn't offer too many opportunities to witness great displays of athleticism. Aside from an occasional great catch from an outfielder or a home run, or a perfectly thrown strike that absolutely baffles a hitter if you really want to be generous, Baseball guys do lots and lots of standing around. Basketball and football are way more kinetic, momentum driven, and action-packed...crossover dribbles, alley oops, fast breaks, dunks, deep throws, sacks, etc. No one even steals bases anymore

-Baseball has a high failure rate. The best players only get hits 30% of the time, and even a sacrifice fly that generates points is usually just a simple pop out. Pitchers only pitch every 4-5 days. Compare that to an NBA star dropping 25 and 8 a night or a QB lighting it up each week.

-Baseball's stars don't really show personality and no one buys baseball cards anymore. Everyone knew Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz, but most people can't pick Bryce Harper or Mike Trout off the street. Cabrera won a TRIPLE CROWN and I still have no idea what he looks like. A few animated high flyers would be great ambassadors for the game. I'd love to see a shortstop w/ Ozzie Smith's prowess, range, and personality, flipping around all over the place while making backhand assists.

-only upper middle class kids really play it anymore in the states, so the younger generation isn't growing up to embrace it

-The greatest hitter any of us had ever seen was a gigantic steroid addled mutant of a man who grew an extra head size and had a terrible attitude

Don't really see how to improve it at this point-it's just slowed down far too much compared to more exciting sports and w/ the glut of entertainment options we have now there are better ways to pass the time.

Aug 9, 2016

Its an interesting conversation. I have close friends that work in professional sports industry (pro team front offices)...its a known fact that the average age of a 'fan' in baseball is much much older than other sports. Is there a shift? Its a big enough problem where they are talking about it internally (in baseball) anyway.

Aug 9, 2016
pere797:

Its an interesting conversation. I have close friends that work in professional sports industry (pro team front offices)...its a known fact that the average age of a 'fan' in baseball is much much older than other sports. Is there a shift? Its a big enough problem where they are talking about it internally (in baseball) anyway.

I think the pace of the game is the biggest problem. Football games are long but there is non-stop action. Soccer games are slower and more tactical but they're only 90 minutes.

I played baseball from T-ball through highschool, play softball for fun, play fantasy baseball, and go to a handful of games a year. All of those are or were a blast. I wouldn't watch a game on TV before the World Series though unless you paid me. 4+ hours of dudes adjusting their pants, pacing around, walking back to the dugout, etc. It's pretty terrible television.

My neighborhood played a ton of backyard sports growing up - basketball, football, baseball, soccer etc. There were 10-12 of us all within 6 years of each other and all relativity athletic. Today, I still see kids throwing a football around, shooting hoops, and kicking a soccer ball, but I rarely even see someone playing catch anymore.

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Aug 9, 2016

All i will say is that baseball is pretty boring, at least to me, but that game a month or two back between the KC Royals and the Chicago White Sox was pretty epic (KC came back from being down huge in the 9th and won). I guess it's only exciting when players crank an abnormal amount of HRs or there is something unique to the game like the KC/CHI example above.

Aug 9, 2016

Huge fan of baseball, played in high school and played club in college... part of the issue is they need to adjust the actual mechanics of the game, to both speed it up and make it more exciting.

But that's at odds with how sacred the game is -- 60 feet, 6 inches, batting averages going back to the 19th century... if they change the strike zone (make it smaller, more hits more action) or pull in the fences (more homers) then that changes the apples-to-apples comparison we love making between players a hundred years apart. So not really sure how it's going to become more popular with the younger generation.

"I did it for me...I liked it...I was good at it. And I was really... I was alive."

Aug 9, 2016

Another issue is the extra innings scenario. I went to a Nats game this year that went into extra innings, and my friends didn't want to stay and finish the game because it could potentially drag on all night. To make the game more exciting, they should revert to a home run derby after 11 or 12 innings, where each team's biggest HR hitter gets 10 swings to hit as many HRs as possible in sudden death. That mitigate the loss of interest from the new "pitcher's era", where each team is scoring 1-2 runs and getting 3-5 hits a game.

Aug 9, 2016

So in for this idea

Aug 9, 2016

I really do think it is a generational thing at the end of the day. I mean, I think we all love to watch a game here and there, but it's not like the NFL where I'll even watch a dump truck Thursday night game between the Titans and Jags because I've got fantasy on the line. On the other hand, my dad is a HUGE Giants fan and tries to catch every single one of their games. We went to watch them play the Nats over the weekend and he was on the edge of his seat the entire time, yet when I looked around almost every kid I saw was on their phone being lame. I just think as a sport baseball isn't very conducive to meshing with our generation's need for instant gratification. I do remember the 90's though, and god baseball was so much better back then.

'"The floggings will continue until morale improves"

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Aug 9, 2016
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