Wednesday, December 28, 2011

MLB's Biggest PR Problem

The following is a guest post written by friend of this site, Jesse Goldberg-Strassler. A pro baseball broadcaster, Jesse is a life-long sports fan, who calls it like he sees it.

The problem with baseball is not that the games go on for over three hours, or that Tony La Russa and Ron Washington used their entire bullpens in each World Series contest, or that the umpires' strike zones are inconsistent.

It's much more simple than that.

Baseball is my favorite sport. Basketball isn't. Yet this page of the NBA's greatest shots is better than anything baseball can ever produce online. Why? Because it has video links.

Baseball's media department, run by Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM) prohibits the sharing of any MLB video away from the official Major League website. It's asinine and counterproductive, and promotion of the game suffers because of it.

If I wanted to show someone why Barry Sanders was so good, I type 'Barry Sanders' into YouTube and a multitude of his highlights come up. Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins, same thing.

The greatest dunks? The greatest hockey goals and saves? They're easy to find and share. A non-fan becomes a fan in a heartbeat. "So that's why Pele's the greatest soccer player!" "That's why Wayne Gretzky's the Great One!" Yes, video proof.

Why should someone become a baseball fan? Who was Bill Buckner? What did Kirk Gibson's home run against Dennis Eckersley look like? Why is Ozzie Smith regarded as the greatest defensive shortstop of all time? Baseball has none of this.

I know exactly why Pete Maravich was the man. Where are the highlights of his baseball contemporaries - Mantle, Mays, Clemente, Banks, Gibson, Aaron, etc.? Ken Burns can show video reels of Babe Ruth in his national pastime documentary - why aren't those videos easier accessed by a curious public?

Of all the sports, baseball is most proud of its history... yet, visually, that history is entirely inaccessible to fans, and that's bush league.

You can read more from Jesse by visiting his blog, The 2-2 Pitch.
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