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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Gene Collier: Australia games make cents, but not sense

Another mess for brother Collier to chime in on.

For reasons unclear and probably even unnecessary, there is a concerted push all of a sudden by Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith and the producers of the official beer of Major League Baseball to designate Opening Day a national holiday.

Where, in Australia?

They had better hurry.

Opening Day 2014 is just 24 days away, 24 days and about 9,500 miles, give or take a slow walk to the mound.

The Los Angeles Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks will play the opening series March 22-23 in Sydney, another burst of baseball genius explainable only by the grow-the-game marketing wonks in the commissioner’s office.

...Baseball still considers Opening Day the first day on which more than one game is played, a feeble ploy to cleanse its conscience of the lingering guilt brought on by abandoning the traditional opener in Cincinnati. Since that dark day, the season’s first pitch has been thrown in Mexico, Puerto Rico, Japan and, soon enough, Down Under. Were we privy to the internal memos of the grow-the-game division, we might discover the next three openers are scheduled for Kazakhstan, Romania and Somalia, which is the only place the Pirates could rely on for national publicity until Clint Hurdle’s team won 94 games a year ago.

If you prefer to see the traditional opener for our national pastime settle down in the nation where it actually, you know, is the national pastime, you probably should be rooting for Smith and his petition to the White House initiative called We The People.

Repoz Posted: February 27, 2014 at 06:55 AM | 14 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: mlb

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   1. TerpNats Posted: February 27, 2014 at 10:15 AM (#4663469)
Gene, the traditional (AL) opener in Washington -- on the same day as Cincinnati's -- was abandoned in 1972, and I didn't hear many complaints from what Ted Williams used to call "the knights of the keyboard." You're treading close to "get off my lawn" territory here.
   2. The District Attorney Posted: February 27, 2014 at 10:26 AM (#4663483)
Well, at least he didn't pull a Furman Bisher and say that they shouldn't be playing in Australia because Australia is evil.
   3. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 27, 2014 at 11:35 AM (#4663542)
If anybody knows tradition, it's Collier - he's been a lame, unfunny columnist since before I was born.
   4. Joey B. Posted: February 27, 2014 at 11:53 AM (#4663558)
Gene, the traditional (AL) opener in Washington -- on the same day as Cincinnati's -- was abandoned in 1972, and I didn't hear many complaints from what Ted Williams used to call "the knights of the keyboard." You're treading close to "get off my lawn" territory here.

I agree with Collier's basic point though that these "home openers" in Japan and Australia are stupid and pointless. The idea that these gimmicks help to grow baseball internationally is specious. Regular and continued exposure to a sport is needed in order to accomplish that, and even that doesn't necessarily guarantee a sport a major explosion in popularity and growth in a particular country.
   5. if nature called, ladodger34 would listen Posted: February 27, 2014 at 01:14 PM (#4663643)
I agree with Collier's basic point though that these "home openers" in Japan and Australia are stupid and pointless. The idea that these gimmicks help to grow baseball internationally is specious. Regular and continued exposure to a sport is needed in order to accomplish that, and even that doesn't necessarily guarantee a sport a major explosion in popularity and growth in a particular country.


One thing I will add is that there is nothing quite like the experience of going to the ballpark. During the season, baseball is pretty much on the TV (unless my wife takes control of it) from 4pm until I fall asleep (I live on the west coast). My kids play baseball, my siblings and dad are baseball crazy, etc. They are quite literally immersed in baseball all the time.

But you know what really got them? Going to a game last May at Dodger Stadium. It could have been the treats they got, riding the train from Pasadena to Union Station, or the bus from Union Station to Dodger Stadium. Or it could have been hanging out with their cousin, uncles, and Aunt. I don't know. But going to that game is what hooked them. They ask me all the time "When are we going back to the Dodger Stadium?"*

I really dislike the idea of the Dodgers going halfway across the globe because of my rooting interests. But now that I've seen it with my kids, I do think that the casualish/on the fence fans just need one big league game to be hooked.

* sidenote: Took my oldest (almost 5 at the time) to Opening Day last year and he hated it. Crowd was just too much for him. He liked the game in May much better. I get that, we're similar in lots of ways and I hate crowds (except for Opening Day and playoffs). His brother (who will be 4 this season) is the exact opposite. He would relish the opportunity to be in a gigantic crowd.
   6. Flynn Posted: February 27, 2014 at 03:42 PM (#4663760)
The idea that these gimmicks help to grow baseball internationally is specious. Regular and continued exposure to a sport is needed in order to accomplish that, and even that doesn't necessarily guarantee a sport a major explosion in popularity and growth in a particular country.


Then do it every year. Interest in the NFL in the UK has skyrocketed since they started playing a game (now up to three) at Wembley every year. It's absolutely a wise business decision by MLB, there are hundreds of thousands of well-off fans all over Europe, Asia and Australia who currently have no real outlet to pour money into the game other than a handful of merchandising opportunities and MLB.TV.
   7. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: February 27, 2014 at 04:10 PM (#4663781)
Then do it every year. Interest in the NFL in the UK has skyrocketed since they started playing a game (now up to three) at Wembley every year.


It's hard to equate an event-Sunday in the NFL with even a three game series.
   8. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: February 27, 2014 at 04:17 PM (#4663784)
Well, both Japan and Australia have domestic leagues. MLB is in the unique position that growth in the game of baseball is pretty much by default growth for MLB the brand.
   9. Pirate Joe Posted: February 27, 2014 at 09:21 PM (#4663895)
If anybody knows tradition, it's Collier - he's been a lame, unfunny columnist since before I was born.



There is no one who tries harder to be funny and fails so consistently at it as Gene Collier.


   10. The Yankee Clapper Posted: February 27, 2014 at 10:13 PM (#4663909)
MLB.TV provides a significant overseas revenue opportunity that was non-existent just a few years ago. It's probably going to be mostly expatriates for years to come -- their money counts, too -- but the potential for growth is hard to overlook.
   11. tshipman Posted: February 27, 2014 at 11:16 PM (#4663934)
Well, at least he didn't pull a Furman Bisher and say that they shouldn't be playing in Australia because Australia is evil.


Well, Hitler was born there, after all.
   12. Ben Broussard Ramjet Posted: February 28, 2014 at 06:06 AM (#4663955)
MLB.TV provides a significant overseas revenue opportunity that was non-existent just a few years ago. It's probably going to be mostly expatriates for years to come -- their money counts, too -- but the potential for growth is hard to overlook.


I was surprised to see Chris Addison, a British stand-up comic and writer, tweeting about the Pirates-Yankees ST game yesterday. He may have gotten hooked through his work in writing/directing 'Veep' - which, as I recall, filmed an episode at Camden Yards recently. Still, good to see the native Brits starting to catch on.
   13. Greg K Posted: February 28, 2014 at 08:52 AM (#4663986)
I was surprised to see Chris Addison, a British stand-up comic and writer, tweeting about the Pirates-Yankees ST game yesterday. He may have gotten hooked through his work in writing/directing 'Veep' - which, as I recall, filmed an episode at Camden Yards recently. Still, good to see the native Brits starting to catch on.

As a corollary to #5, quite a few of the Brits I know who are baseball fans are fans because they happened to catch a game while on vacation in America and got hooked. This has the unfortunate effect of creating a lot of Yankee fans, because New York is a popular place to be on vacation, but Yankee fans are better than nothing (or so I keep trying to convince myself).
   14. Hang down your head, Tom Foley Posted: February 28, 2014 at 10:19 AM (#4664037)
It makes scents too.

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