Last Friday night the Cards and Rangers completed one of the best post-seasons in baseball history with their historic seven game series, St. Louis’ 11th title. In years past, that would have sent baseball off into a lull before Hot Stove talk helped roust fans who have gone on to other topics for a month or two. However today the business of baseball never ends.
Even as the World Series was winding down, MLB was issuing a release about the extension of free agency due to the length of the postseason, while at the same time a team of MLB All-Stars was setting down in the Far east for a series of friendly games and clinics. Already the potential free agent period has begun, and regular season awards are still in the offing to be distributed. On the Hot Stove side, a number of early offseason “clinics” by some of the biggest names in prognostication will begin next weekend, while teams hungry to fill seats begin offseason clinics and information sessions for fans. Who will be where in 2012 follows the end of 2011 by only a few hours. Factor in a retiring Tony LaRussa, and the baseball fan is already stocked with offseason talk, and the winter meetings are just over a month away.
Is it healthy to keep a brand in sport going year-round? in times past maybe there could have been burnout from the fan, and Lord knows many see the season as being too long. However for the fans whose team was out of the race early, or those looking to next year with anticipation, the stoking of the baseball fire seems to be a good fit. For brands looking to engage the fan and get extra bang for their buck baseball needed to find added value, so extended things like awards programs and other fan engagement tools into the offseason gives each brand a shot at the spotlight away from the glare of the World Series and the playoffs, and puts events that were once crammed together onto their own pedestal. Is baseball announcement du jour too much? Only when media stop covering and fans stop being interested. Too much maybe for a weary staff recovering from a tremendous postseason, but it is healthy for a sport which finds its way into the media almost 365 days a year and has lots of dates to fill over a long summer.
So long as the watercooler is full, the bloggers are writing and the news is fresh, the season of baseball never seems to end.