OPINION: MLB Players Weekend Was A Success, Helped Baseball Move Into The Future
Major League Baseball has had a hard time adapting to the 21st century. The game prides itself on its traditionalist’s approach to change even when the sport seems to be left further and further behind. And even when MLB has tried to take steps into the future, they seemingly always met with serious opposition (i.e., instant replay, various rule changes) from fans and pundits.
But this weekend, MLB can put a huge check in the win column after the first-ever Players Weekend was a rousing success, seemingly celebrated by all.
Players Weekend was billed as an event for the players who slog through 162 games a season but the weekend was truly for the fans and for baseball as an organization.
What made the weekend special doesn’t sound like much when broken down: colorful pull-over jerseys that scream Little League, nicknames on players’ backs, colorful socks, bats, and gloves. But all of it plays in perfectly to the one thing baseball needs in order to transition smoothly and honestly into the 21st century: character.
Now, don’t get me wrong, baseball has always had characters that make the game far more exciting. But MLB as an organization has rarely embraced those characters and has, in fact, often done the opposite, encouraging uniformity and dryness.
But this weekend saw a shift that stands to benefit baseball for decades to come.
With all the expression on the field in the form of nicknames and colors and dedications on the sleeves of the jerseys, fans were able to connect with the players on a more personal level. This connection was designed to resonate strongest with younger fans and there is no reason to suggest it didn’t.
Photos of player’s in the nickname jerseys circulated throughout social media, a market that baseball has tapped into slower than other major sports organizations. Players themselves were extremely active sharing online their own stylistic choices and reasons behind why they play the game, which, again, helps to make connections with fans.
Having a Players Weekend once a year won’t be the one the thing that saves baseball but it is a vital first step into helping MLB realize that adding a little character to the sport goes along way.