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Tuesday, March 27, 2018

MLB: so much more than just baseball

Por Jack Leyva

The Major League Baseball (MLB) is a well-orchestrated show in all its dimension. It has the best baseball players of the world and the kind of money invested by each one of the thirty franchises cannot be surpassed by any other league in any other country. As we may assume, the greatest strength of the MLB is precisely the tremendous quality of the game, backed up by hundreds of statistics and specialists that study the rivals and have developed clever and effective field positioning systems as well as training methods to help the players improve their swing dynamics or their throwing skills. But beyond sports, the MLB has intelligent mechanisms to promote their shows, and one of them is the theme days at the stadiums, which cause a special turmoil among the fans.

For example, in the last few years the MLB has popularized the bobbleheads also known as nodders, a type of collectible toy. Its head is often oversized compared to its body, it is connected to the body by a spring or hook in such a way that a light tap will cause the head to bobble, hence the name. They have been the cause for a frenzy among the fans, who have found in these miniatures the perfect accessory to bring home after a game.

By 1960, Major League Baseball had gotten in on the action and produced a series of Papier-mâché bobblehead dolls, one for each team, all with the same cherubic face, and a few select players over time so they have been using bobbleheads for over 50 years now. Each MLB organization has specific days in each one of the sevenths months of the season, in which they make bobbleheads’ drawings. This strategy has increased ostensibly the flow of people attending the stadiums on these days dedicated to these dolls representing some baseball players in their uniforms.

On the other hand, there are countless Beer Festivals that are celebrated month by month, although with some degree of measure, not like the famous day of June 4, 1974, when the Cleveland Indians, a team that had been at the bottom of the classification of the East Division of the American League the last year, made a promotion and sold beer at 0.10 cents. As expected, baseball fans as well as beer fans attended massively to the point in which they had more than 20 000 people in the Municipal Stadium. It is true that the attendance to the stadium was increased for one day but it became a catastrophe, with more than a thousand drunk people, some of them running in the field and even a lady that stepped in to kiss the umpire.

They have also frequent theme days, like the night of the Marvel Superheroes, the celebration of the Latin and Jewish heritages, the day dedicated to the dogs, in which the fans take their dogs to the stadium and some dates focused on fighting cancer. Besides, there’s the always popular Memorial Day or the Fourth of July, the day of the North-American Independence, in which the teams wear the commemoratives uniforms with the stars and the colors of the American flag on the sides and the names of the teams. On top of it all, there are festivities for the Fathers’ and The Mothers’ Day, in which all the baseball players wear pink and blue uniforms, from the spikes to the bats, gloves, socks, and different parts of their T-shirts.

Another one of the popular events is the Stars Wars Night, dedicated to the epic George Lucas’ saga. It has a main day, which is May 4. On that day you can see everywhere the phrase “May the Fourth be with you”, paraphrasing the very famous line “May the force be with you”, highly used by the characters of the films. But beyond the May festivity, each team determines particular dates to continue with these celebrations, motivating the fans to attend the stadiums with their favorite costume from the saga.

The most highlighted celebration of the MLB is the Jackie Robinson Day, dedicated to the first African American that ever played in the Mayor League. It is celebrated each April 15, the day of Robinson’s debut in 1947. On that day all the members of the teams wear the number 42, which was the one that Jackie used when he played second base for the Brooklyn Dodgers. He made it six times to the All-Star Games, won an MVP, a World Series and was Rookie of the year in 1947. These are all the variants used by the MLB, partly to keep the memory of old glories alive and also to increase marketing and broadcasting options, with the aim of raising the popularity of a very well-known sport in Asia and America but not so much in Europe.