26 Major League Baseball teams open their season today as baseball season begins in earnest. Fans that can't get away from the office for a day game should pick up Robert Lewis' Smart Ball: Marketing the Myth and Managing the Reality of Major League Baseball.
No better time than opening day to read up on Major League Baseball’s historical evolution as a sport, a domestic monopoly, and an international business.
For all of its staying power and success, the popularity of the national pastime has has waned in recent years due to controversy and competition. Fans are able to point to the more direct problems manifested by steroid testing policy and salary cap disputes.
Baseball researcher Robert F. Lewis II argues that MLB for years abused its legal insulation and monopoly status through arrogant treatment of its fans and players and static management of its business.
As its privileged position eroded in the face of increased competition from other sports and union resistance, it awakened to its perilous predicament and began aggressively courting athletes and fans at home and abroad.
Using a detailed marketing analysis and applying the principles of a “smart power” model, Lewis assesses MLB’s progression as a global business brand that continues to appeal to a consumer’s sense of an idyllic past in the midst of a fast-paced, often violent, present. While preserving and enhancing its public mythology, it is developing stronger business partnerships throughout the world.
Smart Ball is available now from UPM.