And, Craig could very well be right. Maybe it is the fact that baseball is more of a team effort than the other sports.
But, it gnaws on me that there are stars in the game, and many go to see them. Ichiro, Matsuzaka, Ortiz, Vladimir Guerrero… they’re out there.
And, while I have never been one to bring up the topic, I look at some of the star player names, and it just makes one say, “Could their ethnicity have something to do with it?”
On the field, MLB surpasses all comers in diversity. Last year, MLB saw 239 players
hale from outside of the U.S., or 28 percent of the total 855 Major League players (749 active 25-man roster players, 106 disabled or restricted Major League players). The country with the most players outside the U.S.? The Dominican Republic with 88, followed by Venezuela (52 players), Puerto Rico (29), Japan (16), Canada (14), Mexico (11) and Cuba (8).
One of MLB’s strongest assets could be a negative to Park Ave. advertisers and corporate America. Is it a language issue? Is it that Latinos or those from the Far East do not resonate with the average American household?
While I still think the game's dynamics are the biggest consideration -- when you use a baseball player in a commercial you can't show your product pitchman dominating an opponent in a quick montage as easily as you can show a basketball player dunking on someone -- I think there is a lot of truth to what Maury is saying. For proof, just look (or don't look) at Yao Ming's utilization as a pitchman in the U.S. Yes, he's in ads, but they're like novelty bits more than endorsements in the truest sense of the term. The European stars are virtually MIA.
Not that the ethnicity of endorsers is the only demographic factor at work. I've not seen the actual numbers recently, but I get the strong sense that baseball fans -- this one included -- are simply older and stodgier than your average NBA or NFL fan. As we've so often heard, advertisers are interested in going after twenty somethings. While ShysterBall readers are a savvy lot, my guess is that your average Nike, Red Bull, or PlayStation purchasers wouldn't know who David Wright was even if he showed up in their kitchen in-uniform and started making omelets. Not so with Kobe Bryant.