A Look At Promotional Giveaways in the MLB

Who doesn’t love free stuff? Promotional giveaways are common in sports, especially in the MLB. Baseball teams are especially prone to promotional giveaways because of the long season (81 home games). Franchises turn to giveaways to increase attendance and excitement surrounding a team. It’s a win-win: fans get something for free and the team sees an increase in attendance, buzz, and goodwill.

Bobbleheads are one of the most common giveaways in sports. Usually, a bobblehead is simply a figurine of a current player, but teams are starting to get more and more creative. Some teams have embraced pop culture and mixed it with bobbleheads. For example, on May 4 the New York Yankees gave away a bobblehead of Aaron Judge dressed as a Jedi for Star Wars Day. In July, the Pittsburgh Pirates are giving out an Incredible Hulk bobblehead. Teams are also experimenting with new types of bobbleheads, earlier this season the Arizona Diamondbacks gave out a bobblehead that plays audio of Diamondbacks’ radio call from last postseason. The Minnesota Twins are putting out three separate bobbleheads of their outfielders that all can stand on their own, but with all three you can put them together to form a miniature outfield. Judge-jedi.jpg

But it isn’t just bobbleheads that teams are giving away. MLB teams are giving away all kinds of stuff. From hollowed out bats, to foam fingers, to rally towels, to hats, to… beard growing plants? The Red Sox gave away a statue of Craig Kimbrel where plants grow to form him beard. It’s like a sports version of a Chia Pet. The Miami Marlins are giving out pool floaties. The Seattle Mariners are giving out wine-stopper with Robinson Cano atop of it. In the world of baseball giveaways, things get a little weird.

‘Tis the season for free stuff at your local ballpark. It’s worth noting that minor league baseball teams also have promotional giveaways that are worth checking out. So go checkout a game and come back with a pennant, bobblehead, or maybe even a nutcracker.

The Timberwolves’ Twitter Account Roasts Bryan Colangelo

Late last night, The Ringer posted a great article investigating five Twitter accounts which appeared to be operated by Philadelphia 76ers General Manager Bryan Colangelo. Colangelo has claimed responsibility for one of the accounts, but has denied using the other four. However, all five accounts share some interesting similarities. The accounts defended some of Colangelo’s moves, criticized 76ers’ players and coaches, and telegraphed some of the team’s strategy. If you haven’t done so, I highly recommend you read the article by Ben Detrick for more information.

The article has sent NBA Twitter into a frenzy, and rightfully so. Even current players on the 76ers like Joel Embiid tweeted about it. But the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Twitter account had an excellent tweet regarding the matter this morning. The tweet was a video of a Twitter login that showed the Timberwolves account and a burner account, and the burner account gets deleted. It’s a hilarious jab at the 76ers and Colangelo. Ironically, much like the account in the video, the tweet was also deleted. Luckily though, a user on Reddit that goes by the username SomaliRection posted a screen capture of the Tweet.

There are still a lot of unknowns in the Colangelo-Twitter kerfuffle, and the 76ers have announced their own investigation into these accounts. However it plays out, whoever runs the Wolves’ Twitter account deserves some congratulating on a hilarious tweet.

Reinventing SportsCenter

I used to love SportsCenter. I would watch it everyday, using it as a tool to catch up on the highlights of games I missed, seeing the very best plays that sports had to offer. Sure, I had to sit through a segment of baseball highlights I didn’t really care for, but what other choice did I have? I wanted to see what was coming next, highlights from games that interested me. There weren’t a whole lot of options as far as sports highlights go, SportsCenter was the definitive place to get caught up on the world of sports. And then it wasn’t.

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Now, you can get the latest highlights just minutes after they happen on platforms like Twitter and Instagram. Podcasts contain a much more detailed analysis than anything you can find on SportsCenter because of time constraints. The downfall of SporsCenter has been much discussed over the past few years, and ESPN has seemingly acknowledged it by tinkering with the format and offering a more condensed show on Snapchat.

The problem is, there really is not a point to tuning into SportsCenter right now. When you can find any highlight you want, minutes after it happens, without sitting through segments of other stuff you don’t really care about, the whole purpose of SportsCenter has been defeated. The shortened edition on Snapchat is a move in the right direction, but there are other things that can be done.

Right now, one of the biggest mobile apps is HQ, a live trivia game. HQ goes live twice a day, at 3 pm EST, and at 9 pm EST. The latter game gets over one million users playing against each other live. It is one big communal event, and you have to be there to experience it.

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Riffing off of the idea, why can’t SportsCenter do something similar? Get people engaged with the content and have one time a day where thousands stop what they are doing and tune into SportsCenter. That’s a lot easier said than done. Here’s my proposal: SportsCenter: Fan Edition. This program airs (both on television and via an ESPN app) once a day and features highlights that are narrated by fans.  Fans submit their own clips, and the best ones are played live on the show. Think of the young kids, aspiring broadcasters, YouTube personalities, and just overall huge sports fans that would love to narrate a sports clip on television. People would definitely tune in to see if their clip made the show. For people not interested in submitting their own content, they are still treated to a very diverse and different cast of voices. While Scott Van Pelt, Steve Levy, and Linda Cohn are all SportsCenter staples, SportsCenter: Fan Edition would be a drastically different show everyday because of the thousands of different fan submissions that can be used.

SportsCenter: Fan Edition may not have the broad appeal of something like HQ, but it encourages fan engagement. It also offers a unique experience from the traditional highlight show and a reason to tune in live. It isn’t perfect, but it’s a SportsCenter for a new generation.

Five Predictions for Super Bowl 52

Super Bowl 52 is upon us, which means Sunday will be jam packed with celebrities, million dollar commercials, prop bets, and Justin Timberlake performance. Oh yeah, and the Philadelphia Eagles are taking on the defending champs, the New England Patriots. There’s a lot going on as the NFL season concludes, so here are some predictions on what will surely be a busy Super Bowl Sunday.

  1. People will finally get sick of the “Dilly Dilly” slogan: Somehow, Bud Light’s catchphrase became somewhat of a phenomenon in 2017. Heck, Ben Roethlisberger even used the phrase as an audible in a game against the Titans. Bud Light has gotten a lot of run out the phrase, and I predict that they will continue to push it during the Super Bowl with a commercial or two (or three). After seeing these very expensive advertisements during the game, the fall of dilly dilly will begin. Finally. Dilly-Dilly.jpg
  2. Nick Foles does not throw an interception: Two weeks ago, Nick Foles looked like he was Peyton Manning the way he carved apart the Minnesota Vikings’ defense that many considered best in the league. Foles has thrown two interceptions since filling in for Carson Wentz, and those were both in the regular season. Foles has been much better than expected these playoffs, and he’ll need to continue to play well and take care of the ball for the Eagles to have a chance to win. Meanwhile, the Patriots haven’t gotten an interception in the playoffs against mediocre (mediocre might be generous) QBs Marcus Mariota and Blake Bortles. Don’t be surprised when Nick Foles completes his playoff run without an interception. NFoles.jpg
  3. Justin Timberlake disappoints at halftime show: Look, I’m a pretty big fan of Justin Timberlake, but I think this is going to be a tough sell. Timberlake is undoubtedly one of the music world’s biggest stars, but there’s some issues leading up to his performance. First, Timberlake is already facing some backlash over his last Super Bowl appearance, where Janet Jackson suffered a wardrobe malfunction after Timberlake pulled on her outfit. Timberlake has never apologized for the incident, and while Janet Jackson never recovered from the malfunction, Timberlake thrived. On top of that, Timberlake just released his new album titled Man of the Woods. The album has not gotten a lot of love from critics, and his lead single peaked at number nine and is now down to 33 on the Billboard Top 100. I fear that Timberlake will preform too many new songs, which are not the reason that people want to see him preform. Unfortunately, I think many will walk away from the halftime show disappointed.Justin-Timberlake
  4. The Patriots Win Super Bowl 52: Not a shocker by any means. Vegas originally favored the Patriots by 6 points, but that line has shifted to 4.5 as the big game has gotten closer. Philly has the tools to pull the upset here, that defensive line is ferocious and if they can get to Brady, they have a real chance. But when it comes down to it, how can anyone feel good trusting Nick Foles to win the Super Bowl against Tom Brady? There’s a lot more to this game than Brady vs. Foles, but Brady’s (and Bill Belichick and the rest of the Patriots) experience gives them the benefit of the doubt. The Patriots win 28-20. Super-Bowl.jpg
  5. Tom Brady Wins Super Bowl MVP: This will be Brady’s sixth Super Bowl ring and his fifth Super Bowl MVP. Which is absolutely insane. Brady-MVP