Orioles’ new owner is quickly becoming the model for how to market a baseball team

Baltimore fans in the right field stands aka The Splash Zone are in for a treat on Friday.
2024 Library Of Congress Gershwin Prize Dinner
2024 Library Of Congress Gershwin Prize Dinner / Kevin Mazur/GettyImages
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Baseball has had a real marketing problem for a long time now. The big names like Ohtani, Acuña Jr., Trout, and Judge are household names around the country and even the world. However, MLB has steadily lost ground to the NFL and NBA over the years, and the sport's fandom has become very, very regionalized. This has created problems for some teams, especially those in smaller markets, as they don't know how to market their product without the free publicity of loads of national broadcasts and long stretches of coverage on ESPN.

Clearly, the Orioles' new owner, David Rubenstein, is looking to change that narrative very early in his ownership tenure. Rubenstein and co. have been extremely active in engaging with fans, embracing social media and trends, and actually acting like they enjoy owning a baseball team instead of treating the Orioles like just another corporate asset.

Case in point: not only have the Orioles embraced the 'Mr. Splash' phenomenon at Camden Yards with a commemorative bobblehead, but Rubenstein himself is going to be getting in on the fun in the splash zone.

Other struggling teams should take note of what the Orioles are doing in terms of marketing

During a time in history when so many people aren't getting out and walking about the world and are tied to their phones and forms of entertainment that aren't live sports, you have to really sell the experience you are offering. Sure, the best way to get fans to come out to the park or to watch games on TV is to win, but the entertainment value of baseball needs to go beyond that.

More teams need to have unique celebrations, fan-driven events and traditions, as well as team-specific perks for coming out to the ballpark. Gunnar Henderson hitting a big home run is great, but Gunnar Henderson hitting a big home run, flipping his bat, and chugging water out of a modified beer funnel while fans hose each other down in the stands is even better.

Rubenstein gets that. Baseball is great, but he knows that he has to help sell the Orioles to the city and their fans. It may seem wild that the 'Mr. Splash' "tradition" that is just a year old is getting such a hard sell with a bobblehead and the owner manning the hose on Friday, but Orioles fans LOVE this sort of stuff.

It is these experiences that turn a fan attending just one game into several games' worth of devotion, and those attending a series into people buying season tickets. It gets kids excited to go to baseball games, which is crucial to the future of the sport. It gets the fans loud, which helps the players on the field, and folks at home will be watching wishing they were there.

Orioles fans can point to a lot of things that making attending and watching Baltimore games special and unique. The same can't be said for teams like the Rays and Guardians who are winning, but are struggling to get fans interested. It definitely can't be said for teams like Oakland and Colorado, who are seemingly run by executives that actively don't want to win baseball games like in 'Major League'. The biggest factor remains wins and losses and how Rubenstein actually supports the team's ability to make moves. That said, he is doing a lot of the little things very correctly right now, and the rest of the league should take notice.

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