Patrick Mooney and Sahadev Sharma recently asked the rather clickbaity question “Have you missed the Cubs or even noticed they went away?” in the title of their article forThe Athletic (subscription required).
It’s well-meant, and the article has a lot of good points, or at least touches on them. It is said that the average baseball fan is a 55-year-old white man, and that isn’t exactly the most desirable demographic.
But baseball, in general, doesn’t know how to cater to anyone else. How many of you could identify Mike Trout, if you saw him at the grocery store?
But, upon reflection the day after the anniversary of the passing of the sainted Harry Caray, I finally understand that the Chicago Cubs knew how to connect with fans once and could possibly do it again. WGN as a superstation and Harry as an announcer expanded the demographic of Chicago Cubs fandom to people and places of all ages, across the country.
It didn’t hurt that the Cubs of the 80s made the playoffs a couple of times. But the appeal was there anyway — the Cubs marketed the heck out of their star players, in commercial after commercial, all day long. Who can forget Andre Dawson coming out of the ivy? Ryne Sandberg was a sure-fire Hall-of-Famer and we all knew it.
Take me out to the ball game.
Yeah. And that kind of marketing is exactly what is needed these days, to revive the sport after a series of misapprehensions and misadventures by both spoiled-rich ownership and the likes of Tony Clark, who decided to go up against lifetime labor lawyers himself.
Tell the stories, you knuckleheads. Get the fans involved. Let them get to know the players. Create your own narrative, full of personal; victory over long odds and tie it in to gambling, if you have to.
Because, right, now, conflict is killing the game. The NFL had a galvanizing season. MLB is vacuuming under the couch cushions.
I want to see if Nico Hoerner and Nick Madrigal can man the middle. I want to see how soon Brennen Davis ascends from the minors. I want to see if Frank Schwindel can hit 30 tanks and hit .300. I want to see Patrick Wisdom clout 40 or even 50 and punch out fewer than 200 times. I want to see Ian Happ swat 30 of his own, from the four-hole behind Schwindel and in front of Wisdom. I want to see Willson Contreras sit once in a while and therefore be more effective. I want to see who the DH is.
I want to see the free-agent frenzy that an agreement will cause (about which more in another piece). Don’t you? Or is it just that I basically fit the demographic? Carlos Correa, anyone? Hey, if we’re gonna dream…