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Volume 26 No. 178
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MLB's Marketing Arm Embracing Celebrations In Decorum Debate

Anderson's (l) home run celebration, despite causing a fight, was promoted on MLB's social media pages
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Anderson's (l) home run celebration, despite causing a fight, was promoted on MLB's social media pages
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Anderson's (l) home run celebration, despite causing a fight, was promoted on MLB's social media pages
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

MLB is "stuck in an ongoing debate regarding on-field decorum," and the league's marketing department has left no doubt where it stands on the issue since restructuring a year ago, as its promotional efforts have "taken up arms against the old school," according to Jake Seiner of the AP. When White Sox SS Tim Anderson "spiked his bat and yelled toward" his teammates after hitting a home run last week against the Royals, MLB's "self-described 'spicy' Twitter account was among the first to weigh in." The league's promoters have "made their stance clear on social media." Cut4 and MLB's other accounts, including its main @MLB handle, "routinely highlight players showing the kind of raw emotion Anderson displayed." MLB Senior VP/Marketing Barbara McHugh said, "We see 'Let The Kids Play' not just as a name or a hashtag or not just the name of a campaign, but really an overarching umbrella theme or rallying cry, if you will, to the work that we are dedicated to, which is to help promote our collection of diverse players and their personalities" (AP, 4/20).

STUCK IN THE MIDDLE: In Cincinnati, Bobby Nightengale wrote MLB "wants to market itself to younger fans and celebrations are one way to do that." Reds P David Hernandez said, "Kids enjoy that part of the game. I don't think it should be something that should be taken away." Nightengale wondered if the league "endorses bat flips and other celebrations, why are there retaliatory pitches?" Reds P Zach Duke said, "It can't be one of those things where the celebrations are OK, and retaliation is OK because you're going to have situations where injuries are going to happen" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 4/21). In Boston, Sean McAdam wrote it "sure feels like baseball is stuck somewhere in the 1950s, unwilling or uninterested in acknowledging any changes or evolution in the game." McAdam: "How can it run slickly produced promos, designed to show that it has turned the corner from its hypersensitive past and welcome on-field expressions of personality, and then turn around and levy punishment at those who aren't afraid to drag the game into the 21st century?" (BOSTONSPORTSJOURNAL.com, 4/21).

LET EM' PLAY: In Seattle, Larry Stone wrote the "fabric of the game is changing." Many MLB players have "dramatically different ideas about what are acceptable displays of emotion." The "Let The Kids Play" campaign is recognition by MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred that the sport "needs to find a way to appeal to a new generation of fans." It is why he is "trying to make it easier for players to let their personalities flow, without fear of retribution" (SEATTLE TIMES, 4/20). YAHOO SPORTS' Tim Brown noted "Let The Kids Play" has "become an anthem for the next baseball generation, a glorious idea in the macro that in the micro will earn a behind-the-neck fastball." Brown: "So your kids are playful. Theirs are disrespectful. Your kids are expressing joy born of the game, of the neighborhood, of the culture. Theirs need to learn a little lesson in decorum." There is "no winning that" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 4/19).