Ideas to help promote baseball; Remembering Unseld; A baseball bar lost to the pandemic - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Ideas to help promote baseball; Remembering Unseld; A baseball bar lost to the pandemic

Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

On Tuesday, we ran part of our interview with Greg Bouris about compromises the owners and players of Major League Baseball might make to have a 2020 baseball season, provided the health issues can be addressed.

For nearly two decades Bouris was the director of communications for the Major League Baseball Players Association. He is now the president of power x communications, a sports marketing organization.

Today’s section of the interview focuses on ideas to promote the sport.

Question: You’ve said that players may have some innovative ideas. Some of the ideas floated are an offseason All-Star Game and Home Run Derby. How realistic are things like that?

Bouris: “One could argue that those activities and events are a little more feasible than trying to pull off an 80-game or 100-game season with all its moving parts.

“You can imagine the risks go up when you start moving from city to city, getting on public transportation, airplanes or buses, going into hotels when there are people who are working in those hotels who are coming and going. Looking at the health risk aspects of that, that becomes a little more high risk.

“Some of these one-off activities and events like an All-Star Game or Home Run Derby concept requires maybe a little less moving around of the group, going in one location, sequestering that location, having a fixed number of people involved in turning out a spectacular event that’s made for TV, streaming and every other distribution platform out there.”

Q: Could there be additional opportunities through these difficult times to make money for the game?

A: “When something like this happens, and you see your expenses, your revenues taking a hit, the immediate human nature, perhaps, bottom-line reaction is, we have to cut costs, we have to cut our expenses.

ADVERTISEMENT

“But also there’s the mentality out there, I think where you see things like this, you want to be careful and budget conscious, but you want to maybe do some strategic investing. This might be one of those opportunities.

“Baseball, if you want to connect the dots in the last year or so, the teams won back their rights to stream their local games in their markets, so maybe there are opportunities here that now push the curve, something that may have happened two or three or four years from now, may happen now.

“The opportunity may present itself now to implement streaming options, if not market by market, but at least on the league side. I think the players would be really amenable to sit down and discussing, what are some of these events, activities and ideas that we can do to take advantage of technology and the fact that now consumers, some of whom right now are not now baseball fans. How creative can we get?

“Baseball, in a ballpark that doesn’t have any fans, you’d be making a mistake if you put cameras in the old, traditional spots. You would want to reinvent how you broadcast the games. They make cameras very small now. They can put cameras on batting helmets or catcher’s masks.

“Those might be the type of things that players, under normal circumstances, would not agree to, would compromise kind of the competition on the field with this technology, but now this may present an opportunity. We’re going to play 80 games, let’s try some things.

“It may work. It may not work. Let’s do catchercams, a pitchercam. We’ll do a drone. We’ll put cameras in different places. We’ll mike up players. We’ll mike the umpires. We’ll do two or three different broadcast feeds.

“You want to watch the game from the drone perspective, maybe there’s a streaming version of that on MLB website or platform or rightsholder platform. You want to listen to the players only, with no play-by-play, you just want to listen to the player-ump mike and manager mike, do that there’s another feed to watch that broadcast.

“If creative minds sit down and think about these things, the technology exists to kind of reinvent the broadcasts and now may be the opportunity to do it.”

Remembering Wes Unseld: Tuesday’s death of Wes Unseld, at 74, was another reminder of how many truly great athletes performed in Baltimore in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Although Unseld played in Baltimore for only the last five seasons the Bullets were in town (1968-1973), he was associated with the city for more than 50 years.

His wife, Connie, established the Unselds’ School, a private school from kindergarten-Grade 8. Unseld, who was later the team’s coach and general manager, lived in the area and didn’t move to Washington with the franchise.

In the five years Unseld played with the Baltimore Bullets, he was one of four Hall of Famers to play for the team. Elvin Hayes, Gus Johnson and Earl Monroe were the others.

Unseld was perhaps the most underappreciated star in NBA history, and while he was unquestionably an all-time great, a 6-foot-7 passing center might have difficulty finding a home in today’s 3-point happy league.

Besides being a great player and charitable person, he was an honest and direct man.

It’s a shame that when great pro athletes in Baltimore are remembered, that many think of Colts, Orioles and Ravens. Unseld and the Bullets’ contributions to Baltimore sports history shouldn’t be forgotten.

The End of Foley’s: Few readers have been to Foley’s, the wonderful New York bar and grill that closed because of the pandemic last Friday.

But its demise won’t go unnoticed here. Owner Shaun Clancy, an Irishman who had a passion for all things baseball, ran a great gathering place in midtown Manhattan.

Foley’s location was ideal. It was across the street from the Empire State Building, two blocks from Penn Station and Madison Square Garden and near MLB’s West Side replay center.

It was a place where those in sports who weren’t boldface names could eat and drink and be treated as if they were special

Clancy welcomed MLB umpires, writers and team officials and had an enormous collection of about 3,500 autographed balls. Somewhere in there, is a ball marred by my illegible signature.

Even if you weren’t a drinker, and I’m not, Foley’s was fun. The balls were just a part of Clancy’s memorabilia collection, and the food was good.

Clancy made all visitors feel special, and that’s the secret of a successful restaurant. Unfortunately, the pandemic made his economics impossible, and the hope here is that in the coming months, he’ll find another suitable location, not only for the sports stuff, but for his immense charm.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. Boog Robinson Robinson

    June 3, 2020 at 7:36 am

    Wes Unseld was a great man. The fastest outlet pass in the business and a rock on the team. I’m truly saddened to read this news this morning. RIP Mr. Unseld.

  2. Buckler89

    June 3, 2020 at 9:15 am

    I am all for getting creative with the broadcasts. I love when they mic up the players during the All Star Game and Spring Training and have been wishing they would do it more. During a normal season, I can understand why the players / managers wouldn’t want it, but it does make it more fun to watch when players’ true personalities come through. Let’s face it, the league kind of needs that these days to bring in new fans. Guys like Jones, Betts, Bryant, Freeman, and Rizzo have shown that baseball players are a lot of fun to watch when mic’ed up, so why not give it more of a shot this season?

    I also like the idea of camera placement being mixed up. Not sure pitchers would like the idea of having a small camera on their hat since they generally don’t want anything that might throw them off, but a catcher cam would be awesome and probably more doable. That would give an awesome perspective to see the pitches coming at you. What about dugout cams? Or cameras clipped to second baseman as he’s receiving a throw from the SS and turning the DP to first. I’m with Bouris, this will be a weird season if it happens, so let’s just get weird with everything else and see what works and what doesn’t. I know baseball and many of its fans are big on its traditions, but tradition is out the window this season, so let’s have some weird fun with it.

  3. RustyRussell

    June 3, 2020 at 10:08 am

    Rich, thanks for that heartwarming tribute to Wes Unseld. He and Gus were my BB heroes. Interesting how Baltimore has been graced by three former Louisville athletes … Unitas, Unseld, and now Jackson.

  4. willmiranda

    June 3, 2020 at 10:15 am

    Thanks for the note on Unseld, one of the real greats, athletically and personally. He was not only
    a superb passer, but he was also a great rebounder. And you don’t have to add “for his size..” Guys
    still miss shots, and there’s even more room for the mobile Wes to position himself perfectly for
    the carom. And I like to think he’d come up with a pretty good 3-pointer of his own. RIP

  5. BirdsCaps

    June 3, 2020 at 2:25 pm

    From everything I hear, baseball has a big problem with social media (I’m not a social media junkie) and sharing media. Personally, I hate the idea of mic’d up players. It would likely lead to shameless self promotion and more divas (think nfl wrs). Furthermore, the announcers in baseball are iconic (Vin scully Harry carry, Chuck Thompson etc.) Hpwever, an online streaming option for this kind of broadcast isn’t the end of the world. The comments about Unseld, a passing center not being relevant in today’s Fast break/3 point happy nba are largely why I moved on to hockey. There is no room for a David Robinson or Ben Wallace type in today’s game. It’s scoring via three or layup with no emphasis on physical play, working the ball, or rebounding. If they got rid of the 3 point line the game would be so much more interesting.

    • Rich Dubroff

      June 3, 2020 at 4:12 pm

      Stephen, analytics have shown that the 3-point shot was more valuable than the midrange jump shot, an example of analytics changing that sport, too.

  6. CalsPals

    June 3, 2020 at 3:17 pm

    LOL, I’m quite sure the Astros & Red Sox would love all the new camera angles & such…go O’s…

  7. Nellie

    June 3, 2020 at 9:01 pm

    Thank you for mentioning the passing of Wes Unseld. Like Brooks and Lenny Moore, Wes was an inspiration to me for all of the right reasons. They not only were
    Hall Of Famers on the fields/court, they were also icons for their contributions in the community. They were outstanding role models and family men that played their entire careers in Baltimore and then settled here after their careers were completed. They were under appreciated nationally because they never made themselves the focal point. God speed Big Wes. You will be sorely missed.

    • Rich Dubroff

      June 3, 2020 at 9:44 pm

      You are welcome, Nellie.

  8. Ekim

    June 5, 2020 at 7:13 pm

    In my life I’ve been fortunate to have met and worked with any number of well known people associated with professional sports. But, the one who has stood out in my mind through the years is Wes Unseld. As a transplanted Noo Yawkerr and avid sports fan I was more than familiar with his exploits against my Knicks. So when, through my job, I got appointed to a civic organization and found Wes on the board I was excited. I’ve never been one to approach celebrities (long story) so was just happy to be in his presence. But, that was not to be. Wes made sure that I was placed on the committee he headed. For the three years I was with that company I was impressed with everything about him… his humanity, dedication to the project at hand… positive attitude… and on and on. We stayed in touch for a short period of time but every time I saw his name in print I smiled. What I found really ironic in reading that he’d passed was that I’d told a story about him to friend only days before.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login or Register Here

Leave a Reply

To Top