Who knew Jose Ramirez resting on a Sunday baseball game against the Chicago White Sox would allow fans of the Cleveland Indians to see the true personality of the AL MVP candidate shine through?
While playing, Ramirez’s ever-confident strut and ultra-cool persona can come across as less than jubilant. The brief glimpses of him at the plate and instants in the field making plays just do not capture the fun-loving, Mario Kart obsessed player Ramirez has been described in the clubhouse by The Athletic’s Zack Meisel and others. The most obvious on-field indications of who Ramirez truly is comes from his never-ending energy and aggressiveness on the basepaths- oftentimes with helmet flying.
The STO production crew did a fantastic job during that Sunday broadcast not ignoring the resting Ramirez, but rather highlighting him. The playful nature of Ramirez was seen as he stood center stage at the top step of the dugout directing the tomfoolery of the afternoon. The highlight of the game was not solely a play on the field. Ramirez and Francisco Lindor egged on Jason Kipnis to steal second base after a pickoff attempt; to the great delight of all, Kipnis was off-and-running on the next pitch though it wound up to be a hit-and-run situation that allowed him to reach third base.
Lindor’s personality shines through on a regular basis. His Player’s Weekend jersey reads Mr. Smile as a nod to his most common facial expression. The All-Star Game mic’d up interview with him on the field highlighted his precociousness. Lindor enjoys showing off his fashion sense. His offseason New Balance Fearless in Japan promotion hit the perfect notes to appeal to people of all ages. And, of course, Lindor has also always been known to make sure the youngest Tribe fans feel appreciated.
— James waits (@Jameswaits04) August 14, 2018
The Indians have two AL MVP candidates on the left side of their infield whose value on the field might only be outweighed by their personalities; so, where is the huge marketing campaign?
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred made Los Angeles Angels star outfielder Mike Trout the center of the marketing discussion, but Trout prefers the quiet life. The bigger missed opportunity is with the stars on the team who have won more games than any other since 2013.
Small efforts have been made by the team such as quirky All-Star voting campaigns and quick video clips sent out on the Indian’s main social media feeds. However, a deeper window into these two individuals1 is warranted and would be happily consumed by the fanbase. The Cleveland Browns have three separate reality programs dedicated to the franchise.2 Former Browns players Joe Thomas and Andrew Hawkins host one of the most successful running sports podcasts.3 The Cavaliers have provided fans a look into the inner sanctums of the team through their own podcast hosted by current players.4 And, of course, the past four seasons of LeBron James have seen the entire team dynamic put under a microscope.
Not voting for our players is a crime.
— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) June 19, 2017
The Indians only real foray into a full social media marketing campaign for their players was The Jerry Kipnis Show in 2016 during Spring Training. The show highlighted some of the current stars in a fun way but ended once the regular season began.
MLB’s overall lack of such shows, YouTube channels, podcasts, and other consistent marketing efforts have left them behind the other major sport leagues in terms of their players being culturally relevant. If they want to play catch up, then it would behoove baseball lovers everywhere to start with Ramirez and Lindor.