mlb.com | Sports Marketing & PR Roundup

The Price of Information Just Got Higher…

What price, big data? That’s becoming more and more of a question as the need for real time in depth statistics for sports around the world become more valuable to the end user, be they brands looking to add value to consumer offerings, broadcasters trying to get an edge in providing added value to viewers, or companies providing information to paying customers in the fast-growing gaming, fantasy and gambling world.  The days of waiting even minutes for detailed numbers are quickly becoming a thing of the past, as connectivity improves and transaction speeds elevate and morph into a data-driven consumer environment.

One of those companies who has found a growing service business on the back end is Chicago-area based Stats. The company’s sweet spot is in providing almost instantaneous game and player information to fantasy football applications and TV broadcasters through partnerships they have with leagues such as the NBA and over 230 organizations sports leagues globally.  Some of the data is proprietary, some is shared, but from the US to China and India, the company co-owned by Fox and Associated Press News Service is a must-have for over 600 clients around the world who pay top dollar for their back-end service.  Now Stats is not the only company with high-end data deals. The UK-based company, Perform, is also a mega-player in the space, licensing out their data in sports like soccer to broadcasters and others with a need for raw information or customized feeds. The Elias Sports Bureau has long been the source for Major League Baseball data, along with the work that MLB.com does as well. Then there are also smaller providers who pull data close to real time from the public domain and service other outlets who need the information for their consumer services, but not in light speed. So the space can be muddled, and because there are a finite number of games being played at any one point, the data collection does have somewhat of a ceiling.

However what does not right now have a ceiling is the way analytics can be used by any number of growing global audiences and who can ultimately pair that data with consumer-facing businesses or media companies to turn a profit margin.  Connectivity for the consumer in the mobile space, an area which is still growing in fits and starts in North America, makes the customizable data even more valuable as services like pay fantasy games, lottery games involving stats, and eventually mobile gambling outside of where it is currently licensed in Nevada, becomes more and more of a viable tool for revenue in sports. And as that viability increases, the data providers become more valuable.

How valuable? That market appears to be coming clearer. A report in Wednesday’s  New York Post said that STATS is seeking a buyer for their technology services and their licenses and partnerships at around $200 Million dollars. If that is a realistic number, then other data providers can fall into line for what their market value is, depending on the amount of proprietary content they can offer. That number is also one that has value in today’s environment, where analytics are being provided to a very select number of gambling organizations who can use the data for their clients legally. They include sports books in Nevada and then other houses in countries where wagering is legal at this time. If and when sports gambling becomes legal in the US outside of Las Vegas, those relationships held by STATS and others become infinitely more valuable.  That data is not just of value to the companies providing information to potential gamers and gamblers; it also has value for brands that may go and create their own fantasy games or apps for fans to engage during live sporting events. Companies like SAP or Microsoft for example, can build very elaborate platforms to engage their customers, but without the back-end data their offerings won’t be as robust. That is where the value of a data provider really comes into play in the consumer world.

So where all this data mining go for companies that were in early like a STATS, an Elias, or a Perform?  That is the question at this point. The value is in what a consumer or a media company will pay, and with multiple lower cost providers out there mining what is essentially free information as games go on, what is the fair market price for information. All that is still to be determined, but in a world where the consumer, the media company, even the league and the athlete, has an ever-growing thirst for customized and proprietary data, the market appears to be growing, and a price, maybe $200 million at least for a part of the business, may about to be set.  

Trading For Brand Exposure…

The relative quiet of post-MLB All-Star has given way to NFL Training camp and one of the most active times of the year for baseball before the pennant races kick in…the MLB Trading Deadline. The Trading deadline, now at the end of July, grabs a lion share of the media and public attention, even if it is just for select hours at a time. Fans fret and wonder, experts ponder, talk shows speculate, blogs fill up as player movement is rumored and franchise futures hang in the balance. While some may say that the days are examples of healthy franchises taking the hammer to the less fortunate, in reality the days are all about hype, hope and possibility for every team, even those not making moves. The ability to send positive messages even with inaction is high, and it is a prime time for fan engagement. Like National Signing Day in college for football, there is a media frenzy with blockbuster moves, hurried press conferences and lots of attention, whether your team is good or not. In recent years, media outlets like ESPN and CBS College have gone to great lengths to brand and activate on signing day, but why not on trading deadline day?

Now the outlets like MLB Network and MLB.com are tied to all things trade deadline, even bringing in Old Spice on MLB Network as a sponsor of all things in the rumor mill. However the ownership of the Deadline, and the activity surrounding the week, still comes and goes.  For all the millions financial houses spend on sport, no one steps forward to own all things about trades, replete with fan interaction that can reward those who are on, or well off, with trade predictions as the deadline comes.

Granted many trades do happen the day before or a few days before.  but the activity leading up to the deadline, which is a hard and fast time, is phenomenal, and summary shows, best trades/worst trades, smartest mover, smartest not to move etc., could all be packaged together for brands that already spend or might want to find yet another unique way to engage with unique content. Especially now with the immediacy of social media to deliver eyeballs and buzz, there are any number of platforms that can be creatively engaged to deliver the latest and greatest around the hype and results of such big move days for MLB.  Now baseball is not the only sport that lives and dies with the deadline for fans. The NBA has its mega-activity day as well, and that also goes relatively unscathed in terms of broad scale activation.

Say what you want about good preying on bad or weak, the trading deadline for baseball sits right in the middle of a long run of summer baseball, and remains one of the solid activation days on the sports calendar yet to find a brand owner.

The Dickey Brand Grows…

As we near the Presidential election I keep waiting for President Obama or Governor Romney to invoke the name of R.A. Dickey as they search to find metaphors to engage casual voters in their narrative. They have used various platforms to gain support tied to sport…Olympics, NASCAR, hoops, golf, some baseball…but not yet the knuckleballing Cy Young Award candidate for the New York Mets. Why would they be interested in the Dickey story? Let’s see. he is a thirtysomething white male who has overcome great adversity to find an entreprenurial way to succeed in his field against great odds. He is an Olympic athlete, an All-American, a father, a success story on the largest of stages, a great positive example of the American Dream. He has string ties to the south but works in the most urban of environs, he is not flashy or overstated, he doesn’t look or act like an elite athlete…he goes to work and gets his job done. Sound like a good story to bring up on the campaign trail? It’s also why the brand of R.A. Dickey may be the best brand to come out of another exciting season of the business of baseball

I am a little biased being a Mets fan and also having worked on the “Knuckleball” film project the past few months. However it is because of that exposure that the Dickey brand looks ripe to be engaged. Here are some other thoughts as to why.

By luck and determination, the multi-media side of Dickey is already accessible to anyone who wants it anywhere. This past spring, Dickey’s life story was written by Wayne Coffey, detailing not just his on-field experiences but his struggle to overcome family and personal issues and his belief in using his fame, which was limited at the time, for a great good. Then you have the fortutious opening of the documentary “Knuckleball,” which tells the story of Dickey and the other knuckleballers BEFORE all the hype and success arrived this year. It gives anyone a chance to see these players and their stories really unvarnished and in many cases away from the limelight. It is not a forced rush to production to capitalize on Dickey’s run this year…it all takes place BEFORE, giving his appeal even more universality.

With all due respect to Gio Gonzalez and the Washington Nationals, Dickey has achieved his success this year in the biggest media market with a team that is greatly challenged to win. He does not have the support of the Nationals hitters and he does have the brightest of lights shone on him…that makes his success this year all the more marketable. That potential 20th win and a potential Cy Young Award also is great for brand baseball. Like it or not, winning in New York helps lift the tide of the sport.

While he pitches in new York, it is also of great appeal that Dickey is not just a New Yorker. He has strong ties to Tennessee, and to the many stops where he has left his mark across the country. That means that brands don’t have to worry about his appeal being just to Madison Avenue. his workman like approach and his surprising success can make him interesting to everything from tool companies to media brands…he is well spoken with a solid social media following as well. His appeal to faith-based programs will also make him very appealing on the speaking circuit and could even tie him to other brands (Chick-Fil-A anyone?) and his interest in young people and education will also give his upcoming children’s book (another gift of great timing) another bounce when it comes out.And for the video game generation? The knuckleball is tailor-made for all the nuances of online engagement and fun.

Sure there may be a worry that Dickey’s amazing year may be just that…a one trick pony. However a 20 game win season does have long-term brand value no matter what comes next, and a Cy Young Award will help to double down on any brand looking to hitch on very soon. There is also a feeling that throwing a knuckleball at 37 will give Dickey another strong set of years ahead of him, as the pitch doesn’t destroy the arm or diminish with age. There is always risk with athletes, but with someone like R.A. Dickey, it seems the reward can outweigh the risk. By the way, Dickey himself  also has to buy-in to the hype and support the brands who want to support him as well, an element that still has to be examined, but one that should be able to be overcome.

There are many splashy and sexy stars who have emerged from this season… the great Trout of the Angels, Harper and Strasburg of the Nats, the ever-interesting cast of the Giants, the Tigers’ Verlander and on and on. However when the dust settles, and if he can get umber 20, R.A. dickey’s everyman story may trump them all for the year and may just be the one that brand marketers will talk about as the all-encompassing pone that is a great across the board fit not just for 2012, but for a few years going forward.

Ready to climb aboard as well candidates? Don’t miss the story.

 

A “Little” Social Media Mix In Williamsport?

We are all aware of the explosion, good and bad, of youth sports in America. Every family is scheduled, and too many families it seems are tied to this manic obsession with athletic success. One of, if not the biggest, youth sports event is just on the horizon, the Little League World Series. Little League has always been in rarefied air in terms of media exposure, with its longstanding broadcast every year on ABC’s Wide World of Sports. Now early rounds find their way to ESPN and ESPN2, even bumping key soccer matches from the tube (as happened this past week with USA-Mexico) so we can watch the little leaguers take their swings. Little League has been both praised and vilified by media and parents in the never-ending battle for exposure, both good and bad. For every ten or 12 positive stories gracing blogs, newspapers and television, there is the one bad story about age fixing or poor sportsmanship that makes it to the top of the page. Brands have found ways to activate to some degree of success in the space, often times using Little League World Series alums like Fred Lynn to tell the positive stories of their experiences not just in Little League, but with baseball’s life lessons in general.

In addition to the traditional exposure this year will be the social media exposure that the LLWS can generate, either on its own or virally. Although there hasn’t been much controversy in the space thus far, an overexcited or entreprenurial parent out there could take to the social space to post some first hand accounts of the games good and bad…although twitter is not really the messenger of choice for those 18 and under, there could be some brothers and sisters, or coaches, who may find ways to use social media to have fun and share positive experiences from Williamsport. Facebook is a natural to follow the teams moving from regionals to the World Series, since it would not be surprising to see many of the participants online and engaged with their friends at that age. Will LLWS shot off the digital space, will coaches block kids and staff access to the internet on their trip to Williamsport? Will there be a texting controversy over a close call?

Now it doesn’t all have to be about exploitation. There are many, many positive stories that get told through the eyes of the LLWS every year. It is a very difficult road to get to Williamsport. Many groups have huge obstacles to overcome with fundraising and sacrifice, and the digital space can be a great call to action for those stories as well as the great charity and underdog stories we hear about with each team. There is also the great international aspect that does bring together teams from all over to play, and the digital space can be a great common ground there as well. Regardless it will be interesting to see if some new territory can be forged, or will it be avoided, in social media as the baseball eyes turn to the LLWS.

USA Baseball Cleans The Closets, Grows Their Following…

Sometimes a little clutter is the spark for innovation, and the folks at USA Baseball, the national governing body for the National Pastime, seem to have come up with new incentive for those late on their spring cleaning. USAB remains an undervalued resource for many in the lexicon of baseball, many times placed between the quaintness of little League and the success of the professional side. However nary a pro has made it to The Bigs without benefiting from the training or exposure that USA Baseball brings through its development programs, international and national tournaments. The growth of baseball as a global game would not be where it is, where it not for the work of USA Baseball working with its compatriots in other national federations or with MLB to help grow the game.

So it should come as no surprise with all that work that a great number of valuable and unique mementos gather at the USAB headquarters in North Carolina from time to time. It should also come as no surprise, since USAB is all about young developing males who have taken to the digital world, that the governing body should look to the digital space to grow its footprint and exposure. So into the mix came a solid idea, hold a summer long series of promotions designed to get some unused “memorabilia” into the hands of fans, with the social media space as the catalyst. The result is a summer long promotion, “9 innings,” which has fans join USAB’s social media platforms in order to be involved in a giveaway for some fun items, ranging from signed Bryce Harper to Clayton Kershaw items. Each “inning” runs for ten business days, with an item going each day to a deserving fan. The result? Some good buzz and increased awareness for USA Baseball among casual fans, a jump of over 50% for the Federation’s twitter followers, and most importantly for those minding the storage space, closets which will now be a little more empty for the next round of items to come in from various elite events.

In a day and age where all entities are looking to grow following and move some distressed merch after a long season or series of years, USA Baseball came up with a fun and innovative one that helps everyone, especially those who love the game. A homer of a promotion with no downside and little effort, just ingenuity.

What’s Next For The Jeter Brand? Follow Yogi’s Lead…

As the baseball world heads to All-Star and everyone celebrates the brand of Derek Jeter, It is interesting to see how Brand Jeter going forward can take some pointers from another Yankee great…Hall of Famer Yogi Berra.

Yogi Berra’s legacy is as vibrant today as it was when the St.Louis native first arrived in the area to take the first steps as a Hall of Fame catcher with the New York Yankees. The difference today is that Berra legacy is not just about sports or his Italian American heritage or even his larger than life presence in and around Montclair. It is about pride and education, a legacy which can now be told year-round to an even larger audience with the recent re-opening of the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center, hard by the first base line of Yogi Berra Stadium on the campus of Montclair State University in Little Falls, New Jersey.

The Center opened recently following a $3.2 million renovation, with Berra and a host of luminaries like Bob Costas and Joe Torre on hand to celebrate. The original museum opened in the late 1990s on the campus of Montclair State. Its space was filled with memorabilia from Berra’s career, and hosted a slew of events over the years. However, other than Yogi himself, many of the pieces became static, and the site needed a facelift.

The new center houses plenty of things Yogi, and features new video displays and other tidbits to enhance the experience, as well as the stadium shaped auditorium, which will host more programs dedicated not just to baseball, but to learning experiences for all ages, with programs that focus on sportsmanship and social justice, two traits Berra has always held in high regard on and off the diamond.

But how can Berra’s legacy, built on malapropisms and baseball, withstand such a test of time? The key comes from the man himself, someone who was able to balance a successful business career in the offseason with a legendary career on the field. A man who stood by his principals and rarely bent the rules, and went on to take those same ideals to the front office, leading both the Mets and Yankees to the World Series.

The Yogi brand was seen on Yoo-hoo and Wiffle balls, in commercials and card shows, and was never associated with anything that was controversial in nature. It is a brand that stands for loyalty and family, and as the years go on, has incorporated stronger social values and education into the plan as well. All of those factors speak very clearly in a challenged society, and have made the museum and learning center so much more than the precious artifacts it has and the events it holds. It speaks to a larger societal issue of positive values and dedication to community, which is really why the Yogi brand has continued so long. Yes it is about a quirky former ballplayer and the stories he can still tell so well. But more importantly it stands for quality in a world where sometimes quantity is placed on a higher level.

How does this serve as a primer for Jeter?
His image as an endorser has been handpicked and pristine. No questionable ads, no risqué products. Some in the media may have questioned deals with collectors like Steiner Sports for his shoes etc., but the man has never restricted access to the public and does yeoman work with his Turn Two Foundation, so answering the demand of a public looking for memorabilia is not a bad thing, and does not besmirch his image.

Now going forward it does not seem like Jeter will be the money grabbing opportunist, given his past. Spots for prime endorsements, yes. The ability to forge a legacy through education? Probably. And for that model, number 2 needs to look just up the chain of Yankee heroes to Number 8 for a legacy of a model brand that has been effective and transcends time.

Tigers’ Martinez Loses The Vote, Wins On Creativity

MLB’s fan-riven final spots for the All-Star team have always made for fun competition, and in the past few years the advent of social media components have driven the fan awareness factor to new heights. The teams have come up with a series of creative campaigns to drive awareness, making the old process of ballot box stuffing a thing of the past, while helping bring more casual awareness to the game and to the Mid-summer Classic, one of the few All-Star competitions in professional sport which still finds ways to draw renewed interest every year. So while the Phillies Shane Victorino and the White Sox Paul Konerko earned the victory by grabbing the last two All-Star spots through fan votes, it was really the Detroit Tigers late creative push that stole the show and maybe grabbed the most publicity of any All-Star push. A combination of good timing and a cute charismatic young face brought the Tigers Victor Martinez storming through the pack in the final days, almost taking the spot of his division rival in next Tuesday’s game.

The campaign was simple and effective. Martinez’s young son Victor Jose Martinez, took the stage in full Tigers regalia, accompanied by dad and mascot, and delivered a simple, and multilingual pitch to fans to vote for his dad. In a few hours the video, which also had a nice little pop from the Tigers mascot, became a You Tube sensation, and the casual votes for Martinez flooded in. It was not expensive, it was not flashy. It delivered a simple message with the youngest and most sincerest of fans, and really spoke to the effective traditions of baseball…the relationship and the legacy of a game passed down from father to son. It was a great reminder that even in an over the top digital world, the most basic of campaigns can still be effective if they are sincere and speak to the core message, and in the case the Martinez family delivered a simple message that transcended the ages and the commercialism we deal with every day. It was fun, crisp and clean, and certainly worthy of all the attention it delivered. Hopefully even with Victor missing the game, the campaign finds its way to the Fox broadcast on Tuesday, as it is certainly worthy of All-Star promotion. Nice reminder of all the good in the business again by Detroit, a franchise which has been at the heart of a recovering region for the past few years.

Big League Affiliation, No Minor Deal…

Like in many parts of the United States, Minor League baseball across New Jersey is firmly entrenched in the fabric of Garden State sports. From the inner cities of Newark and Camden to suburban Sussex County and The Shore, the ritual of packing up the kids for an inexpensive and fun night at the ballpark is not unlike what families used to be able to do with the Mets, Yanks or Phillies, whose prices and experience are now more the exception for family entertainment, not the rule, due to the high price of the MLB experience.

All the teams across the state offer their own customized experience of mascots, food, and in game fun that provides a great day or night for kids of all ages. The difference in between the states’ two Major League affiliated franchises, the Trenton Thunder (Yankees) and the Lakewood Blue Claws (Phillies) showed again last week, with Derek Jeter making an injury rehab stop in Trenton for a few days before returning to the Majors. That type of brand recognition and affiliation as a chance to really see the next stars of the game gives Trenton and Lakewood just a slightly added edge for the casual fan who may want to get that first glimpse at the future of the game. The financial offset (the parent clubs pay salaries an expenses for players and baseball staff) is also a boost for Trenton and Lakewood, but those intangibles of future stars are what can make or break in pulling dollars for attendance and concession, which leads to more money to invest back into the fan experience.

Now that is not to say that the Newark Bears or New Jersey Jackels or even the new Rockland Boulders just to the north don’t provide quality product. In many cases the play on the field for those teams, who have former MLB players in some cases and guys fighting to get recognized, is a bit higher than with the affiliated teams. But the cache of being associated and being able to use the marks and name of the parent club, especially ones that do as well as the Phillies and the Yankees, gives the other two franchises just that much more of an edge when selling their product to the casual fan. We live in a world where brand value and association is tantamount to success, and although we love to root for the underdog, we love even more being associated with best in class.

By being close enough to their parent club that a Jeter or a Cole Hamels can make a stop by and play a day or two on their field, Trenton or Lakewood get street cred that is hard to beat, and that spillover effect lasts long past the few days those stars are in uniform. It serves as a reminder to the fan that the players they see every day could be the next Jeter or Hamels as well. Does that make all the difference in the world for minor league entertainment? No. But it makes a slight difference, and when every dollar goes to the bottom line in the business of minor league baseball, those differences add up. The Thunder had three of their biggest crowds ever this past weekend, as well as a lifetime of memories for fans in a frenzy as Jeter chases hit number 3,000.

From Players To Teams, NBA Runs Its Digital Play

Much has been made, and rightly so about MLB.com’s innovation and NHL.com’s savvy in the digital space. However over time, especially with such a solid NBA Finals going on, the NBA, their teams and their players has again found unique, effective and very positive ways to use social media to engage, grow and promote products, teams, players and events, without slamming platitudes over ones head time and again.

Last week the league let Fast Company’s Jason Feifer behind the curtain for a well documented piece on how the league has grown their engagement and what they do, and don’t do to activate in the space. The integration on league platforms is pretty seamless, and partners have the ability to create and then drive campaigns from one medium to another…TV to twitter, .com to radio. While that’s not driving huge dollars yet to the NBA coffers, it is growing an allegiance and getting a fan base which has trouble sitting still to pay a little more attention.

However the greatest piece of the NBA’s social engagement is the way it has been translated throughout every level of the league, from teams to athletes to officials. And while blogger policies are still evolving, largely due to space restrictions in arenas, they are becoming more integrated across the board in basketball than perhaps in any of the other major sports. Some other examples across the league of innovative engagement ranges from the Golden State Warriors use of social media to engage their bloggers, while the Boston Celtics incorporated a full blown social media workshop into their partners summit this week.

The New York Knicks took great strides to build out a full engaged web campaign to engage fans with product, special offers and access both home and away, while the Oklahoma City Thunder regularly posted players twitter handles on dasher boards throughout the playoffs, encouraging fans to follow along. Knicks fans also learned more about Amar’e Stoudamire, and probably had more access to him than their media did, by his strong social media engagement, where he not only shared his thoughts but gave fans the ability to know more about programs that he enjoyed away from the court, from charity to fashion. In Phoenix, the Suns digital team created a series of sponsor-related programs that note only increased visibility and buzz for the team but helped impact the bottom line by enhancing sponsorships partners and giving brands a direct ROI on promotion nights.

Then of course there is Shaquille O’Neal, whose retirement announcement was the culmination of a strongly developed fan engagement platform built out by his partners at Digital Royalty over time, the right person in the right medium.

Now is social media engagement the Holy Grail for all that ails professional sports these days? Heck no. Like every other form of engagement, some athletes take to the process and do well while some fall flat. Those who look at the medium as a money maker are still sadly mistaken, although pay to tweet and post programs with select athletes do work. Some teams are also still very protective of their messaging and aren’t yet ready to invest in full blown social media programs unless there are sponsor dollars tied to offset cost, and often times when you try to tie heavy sponsor messaging into a grassroots word of mouth program the sincerity of engagement is lost and the program dies. Even the best social media programs, without the mix of traditional media…TV and radio…still fall flat as there are still not enough consistent consumer eyes focused in any one place other than the TV to be truly and completely effective. Changing yes, but change is slow in coming. There is also the issue of WHO is engaged? Do you need the right 10,000 followers or do you really need millions, and who exactly are those people and what are you doing with them?

All of those questions are still in play through this medium, but rest assured the NBA from league through teams to players and staff, have really started addressing effective engagement and appear to be doing very well as they innovate and grow a fan base that remains as international and passionate as any in team sports.

Best Practices Around The Diamond…Giants and Tigers…

While there is still a bit of hand wringing and worry about baseball’s early season attendance, many teams are continuing to find new ways to engage and improve the fan experience at the Major league level. We recently wrote about the Brewers’ well planned scavenger hunt, and also noticed more than a few other teams also looking to engage even more with fans and brands in different ways.

First is the San Francisco Giants. The defending World Champs were singled out by The Sports Business Journal recently as the Professional team of the Year, not just for their on-field work but for their work to continue to capitalize on their success by engaging not just local fans but fans across the country who want to experience the Giants brand but may never make it to the Bay Area. It started with their World Series Trophy Tour, which was a huge hit for those long-forgotten Baby Boomer fans of the team in the New York area. It has continued with an extended outreach with players causes in hometowns and in the area, and in an extensive and fun social media campaign that has used everyone from mascots to YouTube sensation Keenan Cahill. Many times teams that reach the pinnacle get the chance to coast and collect dollars and attention, but as we have seen recently with teams like the Chicago Blackhawks and the Giants, a Championship window allows aggressive exposure for a very short time, and then the casual fan is on to something else. Taking every possible positive advantage of that window…social media, grassroots efforts, unique promotions…is essential without gouging the fan. By being very proactive in a time when traditionally teams have been reactive increases that window and shows both responsibility and good business sense. Take a look at this q and a with San Fran’s Social Media Director Bryan Srabian for more details.

In the American League, the Detroit Tigers continue to lead the rallying cry for a Motor City summer hopeful of continued economic recovery. The team continues to increase and support community efforts with cost effective and timely promotions, and is the beneficiary of writer Mitch Albom’s new play on Ernie Harwell, which will draw even more casual interest to the team. The Tigers have also gone to great lengths to also employ every level of social media engagement for their fans who may not be able to make it to Comerica Park as often as they would like, forming a Social Media Club House for fans to get behind the scenes real time access to players, coaches and staff, as well as customized video and other promotions. While the rigors of baseball sometimes prevent players from being as active in social media as in other sports, the Tigers have seen the value as a brand and know that the need to engage and give added value will pay off not just in sales, but in positive messaging and branding for the community. It is a long term commitment with technology that makes great sense and cements the team in the community. thanks to colleague Bob Roble for the point, and for even more in-depth look at Tigers tech on his blog.