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

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.

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“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.

“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.

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Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB



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