I must admit, I did feel that it was rather strange that the New York Yankees did not play on the 4th of July in 2022. After all, the Yankees brand is an American motif, and the MLB has hats to promote, so it would make sense for the most recognizable brand to advertise the new merchandise. Then on July 5th, I read this tweet:
Being a fan of an American League team, I did not naturally notice that the Philadelphia Phillies were not playing on Independence Day either. I do not believe this is a minor mistake. This is a swing-and-miss on an underhand softball pitch of a marketing opportunity. When fans and media personnel say that MLB does not know how to market themselves, this is an example to their point.
Let’s put this into simple context so that you can give a history lesson to children. Independence Day, July 4th, celebrates the official founding of the United States of America. This was done by the Continental Congress drafting and signing the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia, PA. The United States of America was made official in Philadelphia, and their team did not play on the holiday commemorating that event.
The Phillies use the Liberty Bell as one of their logos and even have a neon version of it in their ballpark. The Liberty Bell is a nationwide symbol of the very freedom that was declared from Britain. Again, the Phillies brand as a whole is based around one specific holiday, and the Phillies did not play on that holiday. How many levels of clearance did this schedule go through, and no one noticed this?
New York City was one of the most important pieces of land during the Revolution due to its geographic and economic advantages. For some time, it remained under British control. Once the British finally left, New York City proceeded to be the de facto capital of the US where Congress would meet, and where George Washington would serve from. The Yankees did not play on the 4th of July, and the Mets played in Cincinnati.
The only saving grace on MLB’s part is at least the Red Sox played at home. However, that feels more like a lucky coincidence than strategic planning.
This whole ordeal is worth recognizing because it demonstrates how MLB cannot seem to recognize simple and obvious ways to promote itself. Baseball is America’s pastime, why would they not put extra care and effort into celebrating and promoting themselves on America’s birthday? How can average-Joes on Twitter figure things out that corporate suites can’t?
Contrast this with the NFL which owns the holiday of Thanksgiving. Every Thanksgiving the Lions play first, the Cowboys play later, and maybe your favorite team gets to be in the third game of the day. It does not take much logic to realize that the MLB should try to claim Independence Day in the same way. Teams in cities important to the American Revolution (Philly, Boston, New York) should have festive and commercially promoted home games on July 4th. Get baseball more in tune with the heart and soul of our country, and make it an extra special day that families want to specifically spend at the ballpark. This just piles on to the aggravation from 2020 when baseball had the golden opportunity to be the first sport to return from Covid and reunite the heart and soul of a depressed and wounded country. Of course, MLB couldn’t get out of its own way, and they whiffed on that chance as well.
NFL capitalizes on Thanksgiving. NBA capitalizes on Christmas. NHL and NCAA football capitalize on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. MLB capitalizes the letters in their alphabet cereal for breakfast, and only because that was done for them.
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