In Chicago, Javier Baez is synonymous with highlight-reel tags, monster home-runs, incredible awareness on the base paths, and a gold-glove caliber defender to go along with his fun, engaging and entertaining personality. But does anyone outside of Chicago know the star that is Javier Baez?
Is MLB helping ‘El Mago’ spread his magic across the country to make even the most casual fan stop in their tracks upon seeing him? The answer is no.
Major League Baseball is missing a golden opportunity to showcase a young star to usher in a new era of baseball fans. And as they have done in the past, commissioner Rob Manfred believes changing the rules and speeding up the game will excite fans (let’s not forget College Football is 4 hours on average). However, it is the proper marketing of the game and it’s most exciting players that will make baseball America’s game again.
When the Angels signed Mike Trout to his record $430 million-dollar deal, I remember listening to 670 the Score in Chicago, where hosts Dan Bernstein and Connor McKnight could not believe they were having to justify the deal by explaining not only how good Mike Trout is, but who Mike Trout is.
That would be the equivalent of hosts in 2001 having to prove to listeners that Barry Bonds or Ken Griffey Jr. were actually good players.
How is it possible that baseball has fallen so far off the map that fans cannot name or recognize it’s brightest star who plays in Los Angeles, yet in the NBA, Donovan Mitchell who plays in Utah or Damian Lillard who plays in Portland is instantly recognizable?
It all boils down to how baseball is interacting and engaging with their fans. Just like Mike Trout, Javier Baez (.320, 8HR 21 RBI .649 SLG-2019) should be an international star who has highlight plays each and every night, but outside of Chicago, he is a blip on the national sports radar, and that’s a shame.
Major League Baseball needs to recognize and promote Javier Baez as the flashy and energetic player he truly is on every platform possible.
There are two key mediums in which baseball has yet to take full advantage of and need to look at Adam Silver and the NBA as a template.
The baseball world continues to worry about the future of their game, but instead of rule changes, they need to promote their 2018 runner-up MVP Javier Baez (.290, 34 HR, 111 RBI-2018) in order to introduce a new generation to the excitement of the sport.
Step Up The Social Media Game
Night in and night out, Javier Baez deserves to be on your twitter feed. Whether it is a no-look tag, a football juke on the base paths or a towering home run, Javier Baez brings the fun back to baseball. But as a millennial fan, and a league that continues to promote the sport to an older generation, MLB is losing the fans they so very much clamor to entertain, retain, or introduce to the game with these backward practices.
MLB has incredibly restrictive rights rules when it comes to streaming and sharing its content on digital platforms. For the analytics baseball is known for these days, it is surprising they do not realize they are hurting their own reach by sticking to the conservative nature of how they spread their footprint.
Besides official MLB social media outlets, the MLB At-Bat App, official MLB sponsors or MLB Cut 4, rarely are you able to find real-time highlights of some of the best plays nightly around the league shared on social media.
While Damian Lillard’s game-winning shot over the Thunder this week was trending within minutes, Javier Baez’ stutter-step juke around David Freese on Tuesday or towering game-tying home run on Wednesday was no-where to be found.
Or on an even bigger level, when the MLB season started in Japan this year with the retirement of one of the greatest players ever, Ichiro Suzuki, I had huge sports fans and fellow writers asking, ‘wait do these games count and is this Ichiro showcase/retirement even on TV?’ When one of your greatest stars is retiring and it is the kick off to MLB season and the content or pre-game marketing is nowhere to be found, that is a problem.
As fans continue to engage with sports more and more on social media and their phones than any other platform, it is imperative to make sure players like Baez flutter the feeds of sports fans.
In an interview with Business Insider, NBA commissioner Adam Silver talked about the league’s embrace of social media and how his allowance of less restrictive content sharing rules have allowed the NBA to rule social media, with teams, outlets and fans able to share the unbelievable highlights the minute they happen.
While it sounds incredibly logical, baseball has not caught on. By restricting access to a new generation of fans to some of the best highlights each night, it is hurting the future growth of the sport.
I am of a generation that was able to see MLB highlights every night on Sports Center or Baseball Tonight, but those mediums do not hold the same power to engage with fans as they used to 10 years ago.
Fans deserve to see Javier Baez and all his glory, and MLB is letting the sports world down by continuing these backward media practices.
Lack of Video Game Presence Spells Doom For MLB
If someone asks you to play ‘2K’ there is no question what game they are talking about. Everyone knows you want to play them in NBA 2K19, a game that sold over 1 million copies in its first week on the shelf. Or if you look at the NFL, while the NBA is making a name for itself, EA Sports Madden 19 sold 130 million copies in its first week on sale.
With these huge number of sales coming from mostly younger audiences, it ushers in a better understanding of the sport themselves and a photographic memory of every single player on every single team. Fans are exposed to an impressive social media campaign for these leagues on twitter, and then follow it up by playing with their favorite players each and every day through video games.
So if I want to play as Javier Baez and have an Xbox One (which I do) where do I turn? There is no MLB baseball game available for Xbox users and there hasn’t been since 2013. MLB The Show for PlayStation is the only baseball game available, meaning 70% of video gamers are missing out on even the opportunity to play the game, learn about the game, and connect with their favorite stars.
In an era where social media and video games are the way to connect with potential new fans, how is it acceptable that the MLB has not had a multi-platform baseball game in six years?
Fans have been clamoring for a game that lives up to the altar in which MVP Baseball 2005 stands on since it was discontinued 14 years ago, and baseball has yet to respond to their (and my) pleas.
I want to see Javier Baez on my twitter feed, and then play as him on my Xbox, and I cannot do either.
There is a reason why I know who Jose Macias, Ben Grieve, Gabe Kapler (before he became a manager), Scott Spiezio, Juan Gonzalez and Mendy Lopez are. These are not household names by any means, but because I played MVP Baseball 2005 every day, I was exposed to the entire league and the excitement of the sport each night through the game. I was able to name every player on every team, and translate that when I was able to watch the next day on TV. It is the same reason besides star-power why Ken Griffey Jr. was such a household name so quickly, he had his own video game.
Javier Baez deserves your attention as a sports fan, and the MLB needs to understand that changing rules to make the game more appealing will force more fans away then towards the game.
The MLB needs to embrace change, alter their media rights and for goodness sake make an awesome video game! Allow fans to begin to embrace the sport again or be introduced to its beauty and excitement for the first time, vs trying so hard to hang on to the aging fan base.
More and more players like Javier Baez are starting to take the league by storm, and they deserve to be marketed and treated as the stars they truly are. EL Mago is here to stay, so take advantage MLB and showcase your star to the rest of the sports-hungry fans outside Chicago.