The Indians create a blogger press box

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Indians script.gifMaybe “press box” is the wrong term, but SportsBusiness Daily’s Eric Fisher reports on what sounds like a cool little initiative:

The Indians have created the Tribe Social Deck at Progressive Field, one
of the first major efforts under a new social media strategy being
pursued by the club. The 10-seat section in the ballpark bleachers is
being occupied each game by bloggers and other social media users and
influencers with the aim of furthering the Indians’ roots within social
media channels.

The section has a wireless hookup and a TV monitor. It likely also has beer-availability and no rule against cheering, so I’m struggling to think why I’d rather be in the real press box instead of what sounds like a nice little setup out in the bleachers (which in Cleveland are pretty good seats as far as bleachers go).

According to the article it’s an invitation-only kind of thing, which is probably the only way such a beast can be handled given that there is almost zero barrier-to-entry in becoming a “blogger and other social media user and
influencer.”  This creates a tension, of course, in that the folks who sit in this section may feel pressure to spin the team and its efforts in a positive light lest they not be invited back again.

This, however, can be handled. The onus is on the team to make it clear to everyone that they don’t expect pro-team propaganda from the chosen bloggers or tweeters or whatnot. The first time someone comes in and rips the Tribe — fairly, and with at least some sense of decorum of course — and gets invited back again such fears will be put to rest.

Basically, as long as the Indians’ press people are not seen as trying to use the limited access to control the message they will find that letting the bloggers in will work to the team’s advantage, even if the bloggers are critical. Maybe even especially so, as it will send a signal that the team is not oblivious or hyper-sensitive to criticism. Fans will tolerate tons of losing baseball because they’re fans. They won’t tolerate it, however, if their team seems more preoccupied with p.r. than winning.

So. Progressive Field is exactly 137 miles from my house. They’re letting blogger-types into the bleachers, giving them wireless internet and everything. I’m not sure how one gets on the invite list, but I’m thinking road trip.

Mike Matheny tried to have his own son picked off at first base

PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 26: Manager Mike Matheny #26 of the St Louis Cardinals looks on from the dugout during the first inning of a MLB game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on August 26, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Diamondbacks 3-1. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
Ralph Freso/Getty Images
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Cardinals manager Mike Matheny has a son, Tate, who was selected by the Red Sox in the fourth round of the 2015 draft out of Missouri State University. Tate, an outfielder, spent the 2015 season with Low-A Lowell and last year played at Single-A Greenville.

Now in spring camp with the Red Sox, Tate is trying to continue his ascent through the minor league system. On Monday afternoon in a game against his father’s Cardinals, Tate pinch-ran after Xander Bogaerts singled to center field to lead off the bottom of the fifth inning. Mike wasn’t about to let his son catch any breaks. Via Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

That’s right: Mike tried to have his own son picked off at first base. That’s just cold, man.

Tate was erased shortly thereafter when Mookie Betts grounded into a 6-4-3 double play. Tate got his first at-bat in the seventh and struck out.

Do we really need metal detectors at spring training facilities?

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Craig Calcaterra
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MESA, AZ — Over the past couple of seasons we’ve, more or less, gotten used to the sight of metal detectors at major league ballparks. And the sight of long lines outside of them, requiring us to get to the park a bit earlier or else risk missing some of the early inning action.

Like so much else over the past fifteen and a half years, we’re given assurances by people in charge that it’s for “security,” and we alter our lives and habits accordingly. This despite the fact that security experts have argued that it’s a mostly useless and empty exercise in security theater. More broadly, they’ve correctly noted that it’s a cynical and defeatist solution in search of a problem. But hey, welcome to 21st Century America.

And welcome metal detectors to spring training:

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Beginning this year, Major League Baseball is mandating that all spring training facilities use some form of metal detection, be it walkthrough detectors like the ones shown here at the Giants’ park in Scottsdale or wands like the one being used on the nice old lady above at the Cubs facility in Mesa.

I asked Major League Baseball why they are requiring them in Florida and Arizona. They said that the program was not implemented in response to any specific incident or threat at a baseball game, but are “precautionary measures.” They say that metal detection “has not posed significant inconvenience or taken away from the ballpark experience” since being required at big league parks in 2015 and believe it will work the same way at the spring training parks.They caution fans, however, that, as the program gets underway, they should allow for more time for entry.

And that certainly makes sense:

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I took this photo a few minutes after the home plate gate opened at Sloan Park yesterday afternoon. As I noted this morning, the Cubs sell out every game in their 15,000-seat park. That’s a lot of wanding and, as a result, it could lead to a lot of waiting.

But the crowds here all seemed to get through the line pretty quickly. Perhaps because the wanding is not exactly a time-consuming affair:

Not every security guard was as, well, efficient as this guy. But hardly anyone walking through the gate was given a particularly thorough go-over. I saw several hundred people go through the procedure soon after the gates opened and most of them weren’t scanned bellow the level of their hip pockets. I went back a little closer to game time when most people were already in the park and the lines were shorter. The procedure was a bit more deliberate then, though not dramatically so. This is all new for the security people too — spring training just started — and it’s fair to say that they are trying hard to balance the needs of their new precautionary measures against the need to keep the lines moving and the fans happy.

On this day at least it seemed that fan happiness was winning. I spoke with several fans after they got through the gates and none of them offered much in the way of complaint about being wanded. The clear consensus: it’s just what we do now. We have metal detectors and cameras at schools and places of work and security procedures have been ratcheted up dramatically across the board. That we now have them at ballparks is not surprising to anyone, really. It’s just not a thing anyone thinks to question.

And so they don’t.