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June 17, 2003

Breaking Balls

Marketing Tips

by Derek Zumsteg

We spend a lot of time here at Baseball Prospectus shooting our collective yaps off about how badly baseball is marketed. I know I do.

But could we really do a better job? No question about it. To demonstrate, I've assembled a list of selling points for baseball to promote today that would certainly increase fan interest and result in more ticket sales in any market with no money down by harnessing powerful positive attributes already present in the game:

  • Your authentic ticket guarantees you a custom-assigned, individually numbered seat for the duration of the game, which may include a seatback! And that seat is yours and yours alone for as long as the game goes on--with no charge for additional innings past nine!

  • A trained attendant will personally inspect your ticket to ensure that you have purchased a valid ticket for that game, so you can rest assured that there will be no embarrassing confusion when more than one person shows up with the same ticket.

  • For your safety, outside food and drink is greatly restricted so that baseball can guarantee you're only eating the finest concessions possible. Trained attendants will search your bags to ensure you haven't inadvertently chosen food or beverages that don't meet our rigorous standards of safety and quality.

  • We guarantee at least one run will score in every completed game! Don't worry your head about the possibility of a tie, like in some other sports. By the end of the game, one team will win, and the other will lose, forever deciding the issue of which team is better.

  • Colorful poles determine whether a well-hit ball is fair and foul in a clear, decisive, and aesthetically-pleasing way.

  • Between every half-inning you'll be entertained with highlight (and lowlight!) films hand-picked from MLB's vast library of games played between 1980 and 1995, or by amusing games like races of a local flavor, or a ball that doesn't want to be found! You'll never have to talk to your neighbor again, and your kids will stop their incessant whining for at least one blessed minute.

  • Professional stadium personnel will periodically update some kind of in-stadium scoreboard to keep you informed of the overall score of the game you're watching--great for narcoleptics or people suffering from short-term memory loss.

  • Professional stadium personnel will periodically update some kind of in-stadium scoreboard to keep you informed of the overall score of the game you're watching--great for narcoleptics or people suffering from short term memory loss.

  • You'll get to see at least nine members of each team, for a total of 18 Major League Baseball Players (20 in the American League!). And don't worry if you can't recognize them, because every player is uniquely numbered within their team for your convenience. And before the game, the starting lineups will be announced for your enjoyment, and if you're forgetful, we'll remind you of each player's number and name before their plate appearance.

  • At least one, and as many as three, patriotic songs (not necessarily for the same country) may be sung for your heart-swelling enjoyment! And at least one flag will be flown at the ballpark for your continuing patriotism needs.

  • For those of you who love ceremonial first pitches, you'll get to see at least one and as many as eight different first pitches by sponsors, local youth, well-wishers, former players, and surprise guests, each more surprising than the last.

  • During the game, vendors may approach as close as the nearest aisle hawking the food and drink you wanted, offering them directly to you in the convenience of your seat--with no middleman!

  • Enjoy up to three different short musical snippets as each home team player steps up to bat. All the drama of a professional wrestling entrance, without dangerous fireworks.

  • You'll enjoy doing fun-filled calisthenics with the rest of your audience to the tune of "YMCA'"by the Village People, and at the same time learn valuable tips about picking up young men for purposes of hot gay sex. And for John Denver fans: "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" is now played at least once every game in many ballparks...and not the Chipmunks version, the real deal! It's a hoedown at the ballpark, and everyone's invited. The more pitching changes, the greater your chances to hear this timeless classic.

  • Players are guaranteed to be in their team uniform--just like you've seen on TV.

  • Majority of the field will be green in appearance, offering a reassuring outdoorsy contrast to the hustle and bustle of the modern workaday life.

  • Thrill as foul balls whip into the crowd, threatening inattentive fans. Shudder as frustrated men in their 40s and 50s charge over their fellow fans in pursuit of balls. Boo as fans on the rails choose their own safety over dangerous and thrilling leans or even dives.

  • Don't know when to clap? Or why? Don't worry, you'll be guided by professional mascots and scoreboard operators. You'll hardly have to pay attention at all to know when to make noise, or chant a name in a particular rhythm. It's like an on-the-job primer for old and new fans alike!

Baseball doesn't have to wait for the excitement of expanded playoffs, or additional competitive balance measures to start marketing itself. These are suggestions baseball can, nay, must pick up and run with as soon as it can.

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