February 16, 2017
By Justin Lasher
We touched briefly earlier in the week on Major League Baseball’s need to find a way to increase its fan base. After a few days of thought, I believe I have struck an idea, that would allow the MLB to engage fans during its offseason. I believe that the MLB should look into holding an offseason fan fare event that would find ways to allow fans to interact with some of the league’s star players and managers. In the next few paragraphs, I will attempt to breakdown some activities that could be incorporated into this event that would make it a success and help Major League Baseball reach some of the younger fans that it may now be missing out on.
First, I think the offseason would be a great opportunity to engage fans. The NFL is constantly finding things to announce and get its fans excited during the offseason. I think an event like this would be even better. For all the fans in cities where snow is a frequent visitor during baseball’s offseason, they would more than welcome a visit to a warm city state such as Arizona or Florida. The offseason would be perfect because outside the winter meetings, there isn’t much to promote fan excitement between the end of the season and the start of spring training.
There are a series of player challenges that could be incorporated into an event like this that we don’t get to see during the All Star festivities. One such challenge would be a pitchers challenge. While I understand pitchers arms are not in the best of shapes during the offseason, I wouldn’t expect them to be throwing at top speeds or anything like that. I think more of an accuracy challenge would be exciting to watch. This would be something like the shot accuracy challenge that the NHL does during its All Stars skills competition.
The next thing I’d love to see is a base running/speed challenge. We don’t often get to see a player showcase his speed on the base path. There would be a couple of different challenges that could be incorporated here and a winner could be crowned based off the total points accumulated over all the challenges. You could time runners on how long it took them to run from first to second base. You could time runners on how long it took them to run from home plate, around all the bases, and back to home plate. There could be a variety of different things to chose from here.
A third challenge would involve hitters, but wouldn’t necessarily have anything to do with home runs. We get that with the Home Run Derby during the All Star Weekend. I was thinking more along the lines of setting up giant boxes throughout the field with different point values assigned to them. Each batter would have the same number of hits and the batter to collect the most points wins.
After all of these player challenges, I would suggest that this fan fare event would also have a few things where the fans would have opportunities to really interact with the players and managers. One way I believe that would be a sure fire way to engage the young fans (5-18) would be to offer a coaching clinic, where players and managers would work one on one with young players and offer them tips and advice on hitting, pitching, etc.
Video games play a huge role in fan engagement in today’s society. The NBA has been all over trying to find ways to reach their audience through video games. How awesome would it be to give fans an opportunity to beat one of their favorite players one on one in a MLB video game?
In a league that is desperate for increased fans, I believe that offering an event or series of regional events like outlined in this article would go a long ways in reaching younger fans. Major League Baseball must get creative in finding a way to engage a wider audience and keep their excitement throughout the entire year. What do you think of my proposed idea? Do you have any thoughts of your own? Let us know.