Major League Baseball has been having trouble marketing its stars, and it has impacted the league’s ratings and online MLB sportsbook odds for the last few years. According to a recent report, the league is currently working on a new strategy to market its most popular players, expanding the sport’s popularity.
In a recent article, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal gave an example of how difficult it has been for MLB to market its stars. Last fall, Zack Greinke visited the San Francisco Giants as a free agent, after spending the last three years of his career playing for the Giant’s biggest rivals: The Los Angeles Dodgers.
After his meeting with San Francisco executives, Greinke decided to walk around San Francisco to explore the city, but was not recognized by anyone as he walked the streets. If Greinke was a player that spent most of his time on the bench, the lack of recognition might have been understandable. But Greinke is a CY Young award winner, one of the biggest stars in the sport. He’s proving just how much of a marketing problem baseball has.
If Greinke was a football or basketball player, I doubt that he could walk around a city without being hounded by autograph seekers and others that want to take a picture with him.
Rosenthal made a note that basketball and football players would be easily recognized because their size and height. Rosenthal also pointed out that if a player like Stephen Curry was walking down a street in a city like Cleveland, there is no way he would be able to make it down the street without being recognized, despite the fact that he didn’t look like a typical basketball player.
One of the reasons that baseball stars aren’t as recognizable as athletes that play other sports is the fact that it is no longer America’s most popular sport. There are still some recognizable players in the sport like Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, and Clayton Kershaw. But their popularity wanes in comparison to players like Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa, and Barry Bonds.
McGuire, Bonds, and Sosa are considered the faces of the steroid era. They are also responsible for bringing a lot of fans back to the sport because of their prolific performances. In 1998, the McGuire and Sosa homerun chase was must see television, because they were going after one of the league’s most prestigious single season records.
A few years later, Bonds brought even more fans to the stadiums when he obliterated the single season record and was going for the all-time home run record.
In between the McGuire/Sosa/Bonds era, the New York Yankees were busy winning three consecutive championships, which also attracted viewers to the sport.
Since then, baseball has undergone some changes, especially in its drug testing, which has led to fewer home runs and less excitement.
According to Rosenthal, one of the most likely reasons Greinke wasn’t recognized is because he is a pitcher, and pitchers only once every five days. This theory would make a lot of sense if not for the fact that pitchers like Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, and Greg Maddux were some of the most recognizable faces in baseball when they played, and they also pitched once every five days.