Dale Murphy isn’t known for his hot takes on baseball. Murphy is most notably known for his play on the field. A seven-time All-Star for Atlanta was known for his bat, winning two MVP honors and hitting 36+ homers and 100+ RBIs in four consecutive seasons. However, Murphy is back in the news for something else: his marketing expertise.
Dale Murphy went on The Jim Rome Show and gave some insight into the issues with MLB’s marketing to a younger generation.
“I think we’re a little slow to react in some of the changes in viewing habits of young people,” Murphy explained to Rome, via telephone. “I think we’re not going back to the old days of cable and TBS, but maybe we rested on our laurels a little bit. This is such a competitive situation now, with having more young kids see the game and be exposed to it.”
Murphy would continue on to say, ” I think the marketing of baseball is one of the most challenging that someone in [Marketing] could think of. How do you market this game that is relatively slow? And with the numbers, it sounds like it’s getting slower, with the high strikeout rates, etc.”
Murphy’s right. The MLB is entirely behind the 8-ball, with their competition taking the social media reigns. The NBA crushes the social marketing game and the NHL and NBA are hot on its heels. You can’t compete with the NHL when it comes to being hip? You’ve got a problem.
The oddest, yet sharpest moment of the interview for me was when Murphy said, “I’m all for making it fun again, but I think we need to make baseball COOL again.” And that’s why this isn’t working.
With the league fighting with Mike Trout about how he could help the league by marketing himself, I’m not sold that MLB knows what’s cool or fun about the game anymore.
Fans want to see Mike Trout hit dingers and rob home runs at the track. They want to see Chris Sale strikeout 13 batters and Scherzer punch out 20. Fans want to watch the Cubs not because they’re cool and hip, but because they are energetic and fun. They’re also very good. That helps.
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While I 100% understand Murphy’s frustration and the uphill battle that the game faces, there’s a way he can help. Perhaps Murphy can call upon his former teammates and colleagues and have them back the game in its current form.
At a time when the bat flip was the hottest thing in the game, a pure expression of joy and dominance, Goose Gossage decided it was time for him to get back on the horse… his high horse. Gossage slammed José Bautista, the Bat Flip King of the World, for disgracing the game.
“You are talking to an old-school guy. There are things I have a hard time with. I was passed the torch about a certain way to act. Flipping the bat isn’t part of that.”
You have both Gossage, and most recently Jayson Werth slamming the many MLB front offices using analytics, going against the trends that are bringing baseball to new fans. With all of this infighting going on about the future and present of the game, no wonder the game is losing younger viewers. This kind of bickering closes the door to the game and sends new fans packing for other sports.
Perhaps for the league to succeed they need everyone to get on board, instead of stopping all progress in the name of tradition.
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