For 162 games a year, baseball is taken seriously by players. There is no fooling around in the dugout, no signing autographs during games, and definitely no playing with your phone or computer. However, there are two days every season where players are encouraged to use their phones and laptops. The Home Run Derby and All-Star Game are not only exhibitions to show the best talent in the majors, but also an interactive social experience.
During this year’s Home Run Derby, players visited a table setup by each team’s dugout with laptops setup on them. Players were able to live tweet using the hashtag #HRDerby, to allow up-to-the-minute coverage of the slugging exhibition. Players were also able to log into their social media accounts on these computers, or their own devices to answer questions from MLB fans and post their Home Run Derby predictions. Players also posted six-second videos from Fine for the world to see.
Players used to have to compete with fans for internet access and cell phone service, but this year Wi-Fi hotspots were setup for players, creating an easy portal for players to access their social media accounts.
The All-Star Game will also feature a social media component, but only players who were already removed from the game will be allowed to participate. According to Matt Bourne, a spokesperson for Major League Baseball, “Devices will only be allowed on the field for the Derby because it doesn’t have any implications for the league. The winner of the All-Star Game gets home field advantage during the World Series, so we don’t want phones to distract from the task at hand.”
MLB and MLB Advanced Media have been working hard since 2010 to make the Home Run Derby and All-Star Game into a blended television-online experience. Bourne also said that “networks will be showing Twitter handles for players and highlighting certain tweets,” which “helps to promote our online efforts on air.”
So what were players saying at the Home Run Derby?
Bryce Harper was feeling good about his performance after round one:
Mets ace and National League starting pitcher Matt Harvey was rooting for the 20-year-old slugger as well:
And Cincinnati Reds outfielder Jay Bruce predicted Harper would top eventual-winner Yoenis Cespedes in the final round:
But not everybody was talking about Harper – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim outfielder Mike Trout was clearly impressed by his All-Star Game teammate, Chris Davis:
And Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw shared his feelings after seeing some of the hitters he’ll face launch home run after home run:
What do you think of integrating social media into the Midsummer Classic? Is it a good social media marketing strategy? Share your thoughts. Comment below!