5 Creative Ways to Grow the Brand of Baseball Internationally
The game of baseball is known as "America's pastime," and while the game has certainly planted itself in countries outside the United States, the MLB could use an upgrade in terms of branding in other countries.
So many of the game's past MVPs, World Series winners and Cy Young hurlers were born and raised in another country. This highlights the need for the MLB to expand itself internationally.
The NBA is well established overseas, while Roger Goodell and the NFL continue their efforts to bring an NFL franchise to London.
So what can the MLB do to implant itself around the globe?
Here are five creative ideas.
Exhibitions Outside the U.S.
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One way to draw attention to the MLB and the entire brand of baseball is to play exhibition games outside of the U.S.
Bringing two MLB teams to a different country to play an exhibition game would be one of the easiest ways to grow the game outside of the U.S.
Perhaps a portion of spring training should be spent in a warmer climate country, where intersquad scrimmages and spring training games can be played before baseball fans from a different country.
The ideal situation would be to send high-profile teams like the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers overseas to represent the game, as they're some of the most recognized teams in all of baseball.
World Series Champions Play Champions of Other Leagues Outside U.S.
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Another creative way to bring the MLB brand to countries outside the U.S. is by bringing our best talent to them.
With that, I mean the defending World Series champions from the MLB travel to other countries to take on the champs of their respected leagues.
For instance, the San Francisco Giants would take a trip to Japan and play a seven-game series vs. winners of the Japan Championship Series, which would be the Yomiuri Giants if it happened this year.
Pinning subpar teams against each other isn't going to do a thing for the brand of baseball here or in another country, which is why the MLB would be wise to bring its best talent to another country and have them duke it out on their turf.
Hosting the World Series at a Neutral Site Abroad
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Fans wouldn't be pleased, but MLB executives might be.
While I'm not necessarily in favor of pulling one of the greatest events in sports and moving it to another country, one of the easiest ways to showcase baseball and the MLB is to host the world series outside of the U.S.
A country like Japan would do just fine, as we know their fields and equipment are up to par.
The MLB already draws enough excitement off of the World Series in the U.S. Can you imagine how many fans from other countries would be immediately hooked on the brand after watching a seven-game series?
I hope it never comes down to this, but hosting the World Series outside of the U.S. would be one of the most successful ways to grow baseball in other countries.
Funding Developmental Programs Overseas
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This idea will force the MLB to spend some bucks, but it's also one of the best ways to not only grow the brand of baseball, but to breed talent.
If the MLB was to fund developmental programs in other countries, it would bolster the game of baseball around the globe and could even pay off for the game in the future.
If these developmental programs are successful, some of the top players from other countries will likely bring their talents to the MLB, making this program come full circle.
Just think about how many stars in the MLB were born outside of the U.S. and this will begin to sound like a no-brainer.
The Best of the U.S. vs. the Rest
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Similar to the World Baseball Classic, the MLB could put a team of recognized stars together to represent the U.S. in competition against other countries.
It would be like a traveling road show for MLB players, as they'd be visiting and entertaining a new country with each stop on the tour.
Essentially, it'd be like assembling one large U.S. all-star squad and showcasing it around the globe.
It's not easy to establish a brand in the U.S. let alone in foreign countries, but the MLB has the money and talent to expand the game overseas.
These are just a few ideas that came to mind, but if the MLB is serious about expansion, it needs to open its wallet and let the brainstorming commence.
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