From the Mayors to the Players…MLB incorporates giving back and service into every message…

Its the time old tradition…the Mayors of a city betting the obligatory food items and jersey exchanges for the big game. You see it everywhere every year and its cute, it gets coverage and its part of tradition. However not in baseball this year. The Mayors of Philadelphia and New York…Michael Nutter and Mike Bloomberg…changed a the wager from the traditional to the productive, and instead of exchanging cheese steaks and cheesecake only they will exchange working on a community service project in the other city. The idea fits perfectly in line with MLB's continuous ties to giving back that have played out across the playoffs and the World Series in every city games have been played, from assisting with veterans to improving the lives of the impoverished. Even the on field awards ceremonies have highlighted community service, as evidenced by Derek Jeter winning the Clemente Award for his work Thursday night and the Detroit Tigers Curtis Granderson being honored with the Marvin Miller Award for his community work on Friday. Since the All-Star game, MLB has gone above and beyond to tie all their major projects at major events to bigger causes, whether that's player programs or a partner like Bank of America rebuilding houses in St. Louis, and then using all their media…print, TV, digital, to promote the good works. In these challenged times it is a very smart play for the league to take not just a leadership approach, but a leadership approach that is properly messaged so that everyone watching is getting the positive story on all fronts (Terry Lefton's SBJ piece this week had great insight into the ideas). Looking for negativity will take a great amount of work this time of year for baseball, as all efforts have been effectively pushed toward a positive outlook on the field and the good works off it. A very well constructed and clearly delivered and consistent message for a sport that appears to again be putting many of its larger issues behind itself and is making a strong play for its game, its partners and for its fans, to tell positive stories and merchandise those good ideas effectively.

Some other good reads…the blog Subway Squawkers had a very interesting look at how a Philadelphia reporter viewed his position at the World Series…pretty strange to do in these challenged times for newspapers…the New York Times John Branch has a good piece of the continued value of high school football in communities going through difficult times…and the LA Times Sam Farmer has a compelling story of a high school coach in California who continues to lead his team after being diagnosed and dealing with ALS over 31 years ago