Does Major League Baseball Really Need A League Wide “Face” To Promote The Game?

Jayson Sterk is one of the few widely respected baseball writers on ESPN.  His articles (despite not using saber) are usually must read; that includes his most recent article. It does raise an interesting question, and it is something that definitely deserves attention. That being said, it is a premise I completely disagree with.

The premise is that Major League Baseball needs to have a “LeBron James type of player” to help really promote the game…the League. While LeBron has really helped the NBA increase its reach, he has also brought some welcome attention to the NBA as well (The Decision was not that smartest idea ever). The idea that a one-or two-players can help to promote an entire game is a little wonky.

Can you think of any other players that’s who has dominated the public’s imagination?

Major League Baseball really hasn’t had a player transcend the game, and completely capture the Nation’s attention since….I wanna say, Babe Ruth. That’s just over eighty years that the MLB  hasn’t had anyone really reach a LeBron status with the Nation. During that time frame MLB really has seen a rapid increase of the stadium sizes, TV Contracts, and number of teams in the League.

Since the Babe last played; Washington D.C (twice), Toronto, LAA, San Diego, Seattle (twice), NYM, Tampa Bay, Miami, Arizona, Colorado, Kansas City (the Royals), and Montreal have all been expanded too. The majority of these teams have also recieved new-or heavily renovated-stadiums since they were added to the league…most of them with heavy tax payer involvement.

The continued growth of the MLB, and the fact that Cities are constantly fighting to get and/or keep teams is an indication that the League is doing just fine without one big superstar. That being said, the All Star game has been falling in popularity lately…and less people are paying attention to it. There definitely needs to be something done to help improve the game’s popularity, and I highly doubt one superstar is going to fix that.

The biggest thing that is going to help improve the interest of the All-Star Game is for the teams in the League to do a better job of marketing the game…and their stars. Currently, the team’s end up promoting it in-game and on their social media. For the teams that are legitimately in the playoff hunt before the All-Star Break-therefore actually attracting crowds-it is pretty easy to advertise your players and get them in through the fan vote.

For the teams who aren’t in the playoff hunt (see the Mariners for the majority of the last decade), it is harder to promote your players because of the fact that many people aren’t going to the games/watching them on TV…or paying attention to the team’s social media accounts. It then makes it hard for the teams better players to get any traction going in the fan vote.

Puig captivated Dodgers Nation, and the Dodgers’ attempts at getting him into the All-Star game gained national attention…despite their slow start

It has to take significant improvement from the teams in marketing their players-around the All-Star game-to make the game more interesting for the fans. That way, the fans will actually recognize the names that are going on the teams-especially if they are on their favorite teams-it would definitely increase the popularity of the game for the average fan.

That is going to be the biggest difference going forward for the All-Star game…and the MLB.

  1. Does MLB really need a league wide “Face” to promote the game? HELL NO! All MLB needs is a commissioner who isn’t a total douche bag.

    1. While I agree that Selig has had his share of issues as commissioner (and needs to step down), he has also done some good for the game.

  2. Of course Selig has done good for the game. He knew that players were juicing but he didn’t care because those muscled up hitters were hitting them out of the park with regularity and at the same time they were putting asses in the seats. Let’s not forget that at the time of most of the steroid use, the drugs were not banned by baseball. But at best, Selig was in on it with the owners and players. At worst, he’s an idiot who should have put his foot down at the time. The only good thing about Selig being the MLB commissioner is that he makes Reichsführer David Stern look good. Bottom line is that a commissioner serves at the pleasure of the owners. He doesn’t owe jack shit to the fans. As for a “face” to promote the sport, its not necessary. Just have a good product and the rest will take care of itself. I don’t watch the NBA because Lebron James is the “face” of the sport. As a matter of fact, its his ugly mug that just may tear me away from basketball.

    1. This too aahha,,and please use the reply button…makes it easier to follow the conversation

  3. Riddle me this. If the argument is that baseball needs one big star to be “the face of the game,” then why doesn’t football need one. Answer: Because football knows how to market both its product and its stars. that the true key to success here.

    1. What he said.

    2. That’s a really good point as well.

      1. That being said, we also need to realize that Peyton Manning, and Tom Brady have done wonders for the promotion of the NFL…and the game of football. Those to guys are obviously going to the hall of fame and have championship rings; while also being easily accessible to the media.

        I guess what I’m trying to say is, that having a league wide “face” helps the league out…but by no means is a requirement.

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