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Smart Ball

Marketing the Myth and Managing the Reality of Major League Baseball

Publication Year: 2010

Smart Ball follows Major League Baseball's history as a sport, a domestic monopoly, a neocolonial power, and an international business. MLB's challenge has been to market its popular mythology as the national pastime with pastoral, populist roots while addressing the management challenges of competing with other sports and diversions in a burgeoning global economy. 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 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, the author 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, and often violent, present.

Published by: University Press of Mississippi

CONTENTS

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pp. vii-

LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS

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pp. ix-

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ON DECK

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pp. xi-xii

This book probably began in spirit in 1948, when I, at the time a seven-year-old boy inspired by my father and grandfather to become a baseball fan, fortuitously chose to root for the Cleveland Indians and their player-manager, Lou Boudreau. The Indians won the World Series that year (but haven’t since), and Boudreau was the Most Valuable Player in the American League...

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AT BAT

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pp. 3-8

In 1999, economists James Quirk and Rodney Fort published Hard Ball: The Abuse of Power in Pro Team Sports. A sequel to their generic 1992 treatment of sports economics, Pay Dirt: The Business of Professional Team Sports, Hard Ball argues that professional sports should be more competitive and that government should act as a principal corrective of monopoly abuses. By using...

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FIRST BASE: BASEBALL AS A SPORT: CREATING POWER

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pp. 9-35

In the beginning was the ball. But no one knew when the beginning was. In Baseball before We Knew It, David Block contends, “The roots of baseball were planted the moment the first cave kid hit a stone with a club. Since then, the game’s progression has been a little more difficult to figure out.” He observes...

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SECOND BASE: BASEBALL AS A DOMESTIC MONOPOLY: DEVELOPING POWER

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pp. 36-69

“Play is play, but sport is all business, big business, and it has been for a long time,” observes John Dizikes in his history of American sport.1 Professional sport, including baseball as a significant but declining portion, is now America’s tenth-largest industry, with annual revenue approximating $220 billion.2 Baseball assumed business elements...

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THIRD BASE: BASEBALL AS A NEOCOLONIALIST: ABUSING POWER

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pp. 70-103

As MLB evolved from a sport and matured into a business, it increasingly sought what all businesses seek in the face of competition: cheap resources in the form of players. In baseball, however, the player is the labor as well as the raw material, while the processors are managers, coaches, and trainers. As a combined labor/material resource, a player group is subject to neocolonial appropriation in base-...

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HOME PLATE: BASEBALL AS A GLOBAL BUSINESS: BALANCING POWER

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pp. 104-132

This chapter concludes the progressive synthesis of baseball, viewed through MLB, as sport, domestic monopoly, neocolonial power, and global business. Each of those elements is an important part of MLB and is represented in the World Baseball Classic (WBC), an international showcase competition initiated by MLB and MLBPA in 2006 and cosponsored by league organizations of the ...

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FINAL SCORE

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pp. 133-137

Baseball is baseball wherever it is played. The only difference is the game.Exemplified by the World Baseball Classic (WBC), Major League Baseball (MLB) is a composite of a sport, a domestic monopoly, a neocolonial power, and an international business. The WBC represents the blend of myth and reality that MLB strives to balance in pursuing its international strategy. MLB’s “smart ...

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NOTES

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pp. 139-151

...8. Casey Tefertiller, “A’s Extra Effort Lands Inoa,” Baseball America, July 28–August 10, 2008, 3.1. Block, Baseball, 94, xx, 101–8, 75. Block’s work is the most comprehensive investigation of the 2. For further explanation of Cartwright’s diminished role in rules documentation and in 4. Barthes, Mythologies, 144, 130, 143. While unrelated to baseball, as one would expect of a French work, Barthes’s theses correlate very closely with MLB’s development and promotion of its ...

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

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pp. 153-161

Aaron, Hank, and Lonnie Wheeler. 1991. I Had a Hammer: The Hank Aaron Story. New York: Abrams, Roger I. 1998. Legal Bases: Baseball and the Law. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.———. 2000. The Money Pitch: Baseball Free Agency and Salary Arbitration. Philadelphia: Temple Alexander, Charles C. 1988. John McGraw. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.Altherr, Thomas L., ed. 1992–2004. Sports in North America: A Documentary History. 10 vols. Gulf ...

INDEX OF MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL NAMES

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pp. 163-165


E-ISBN-13: 9781604732177
E-ISBN-10: 1604732172
Print-ISBN-13: 9781604732078
Print-ISBN-10: 1604732075

Page Count: 176
Publication Year: 2010