Let me start by saying this: The MLB not taking advantage of social media is like a slugger with home run power who refuses to swing the bat. It just doesn’t make sense.
The Four Major Sports
In the heat of this past NBA season, Twitter exploded and Facebook pages were redesigned for businesses. The NBA was smart, saw the opportunity, and has never looked back. The NFL season was ending as social media was becoming relevant for brands, and they’ve done a nice job attracting a large following. By the numbers, it’s obvious that the NHL has failed to this point.
To be fair, the MLB is taking advantage of social media to some extent. They operate a Twitter account with 242k+ followers and a Facebook page with 36,000 fans. They have iPhone and Facebook applications. They’ve integrated Twitter into MLB.tv, and placed ads on Citizen Sports applications. It’s just not enough. Their thinking is too limited and too narrow-focused.
Where Are the Superstars?
There are very few MLB players involved in social media. Most teams have one or two players represented at a maximum. More importantly, the superstars are missing. I love the Phillies more than I love most things on Earth, but the fact that Chad Durbin is the only Phillie on Twitter makes me cry. I’m not saying I don’t want to see Chad or I don’t support what he’s doing, but where is Ryan Howard? Where are Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley? I want to hear from those guys, too!
The other night, the Seattle Mariners hosted a forum on social media highlighted by their only player on Twitter, Ryan Rowland-Smith, a 26-year old pitching prospect from Australia. No offense to Ryan, because I think he’s the smartest player on the Mariners roster, but what about Ichiro, Griffey, or King Felix?
The guys fans really want to hear from are nowhere to be found.
There are so many instances where social media can have an impact.
What if Mark Buehrle had gotten on uStream.tv fresh off of his perfect game to talk about his experiences and answer questions from the fans?
Or what if David Ortiz had uploaded a video to Youtube telling his side of the story about being on the 2003 positive list? (See what Rashard Lewis did when it was reported he tested positive and again after his official statement).
The list goes on and on.
The Bottom Line
The MLB and its players have not taken advantage of social media and they have no excuse. Who’s to blame? The league, the players, or both? All I know is that we’re two-thirds through the season and I’m not impressed. It’s time for these guys to swing for the fences.