The game of baseball has come a long way since the first sanctioned game was played in Hoboken, New Jersey in 1846.
The ways in which the game is communicated to fans has come even farther since the first MLB radio broadcast of a Pirates and Phillies game in 1921.
Fast forward to the year 2013 and Major League Baseball is now broadcast in 233 countries globally. The average value of a major league franchise is $600 million. Almost 75 million fans attended MLB games in 2012 and 16 countries from five different continents will participate in the third World Baseball Classic in March.
So how does MLB and the Dodgers stack up compared to some other sports in terms of social media presence, a must in the digital age.
MLB has 7 million followers on Facebook and Twitter, third among the major sports behind the NBA and the NFL. The Dodgers are ninth overall amongst MLB teams with 1.4 million followers and likes on social media.
The New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox dominate baseball with 11 million followers between the two teams. The World Series Champion San Francisco Giants are third with 2 million followers, so after the Yanks and Sox, most of the rest of baseball’s top 10 are in the 1-2 million range.
Without further ado, here are the Dodgers’ top performers on social media.
1. Matt Kemp – With more than 257,000 followers, Matt Kemp is the fourth-most followed MLB player on social media. Only Nick Swisher, CC Sabathia, and David Ortiz have more followers.
In keeping with his superstar status, Kemp promotes his many public and charity appearances, most recently, as Grand Marshall of the Kingdom Day Parade, and making a run at being on the cover of the video game MLB 13: The Show. Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates would be the eventual winner.
Kemp also tweets to other star athletes such as Blake Griffin and Kevin Durant and actively cheers for his favorite teams the Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Francisco 49ers.
2. Clayton Kershaw – Kershaw is still up and coming in the social media world — with 50,000+ followers. Kershaw generally uses his account to promote his charity work done with his wife in Zambia, as well as humorous quips and shots at his battery mate A.J. Ellis. While Kershaw always has something to say, he doesn’t have quite the public persona that Kemp does.
3. A.J. Ellis – Ellis has 21,000 followers and has shown a penchant for smart comments at any time. A.J. enjoyed a stint as a guest blogger for the L.A. Times during this year’s playoffs. Aside from his humorous quips and tweets to fans, A.J. often tweets about his faith and his family, the two things other than baseball that guide him.
4. Adrian Gonzalez/Hanley Ramirez – Adrian and Hanley are arguably the Dodgers’ two biggest Hispanic stars, and each has a solid presence on Twitter. Adrian has 67,000 followers and Hanley has 78,000 followers. However, there is one major difference, Adrian Gonzalez tweets in both English and Spanish, and much like Kershaw, promotes a lot of his charity work.
A-Gon will chime in with other sports observations as well.
Hanley Ramirez tweets almost exclusively in Spanish. He also might post more pictures than any Dodgers player. From what I’ve translated, there’s not any general theme to Hanley’s tweets, if something’s on his mind, he’ll tweet about it.
5. Dee Gordon – Gordon has 41,000 followers and is extremely active on Twitter. Although his play on the field was forgotten this season, Dee stayed positive and upbeat on social media.
Dee might be among the most friendly players on Twitter, constantly interacting with fans. Dee has recently partnered with Verizon Wireless to “test his speed” against the speed of Verizon’s 4G LTE network.
For all of the players who are active on social media, there are many who simply just aren’t into it.
The Dodgers belonging to this list includes: Josh Beckett, Ted Lilly, Aaron Harang, Chris Capuano, Chad Billingsley, Mark Ellis, Zack Greinke, and Hyun-Jin Ryu to name a few.
Not surprisingly, it’s generally the older crowd that doesn’t really get engaged with social media. The two players who stand out on that list would certainly be Billingsley and Greinke. Both are under 30, making it questionable as to why they aren’t on social media.
However, both are known to be introverted guys. Heck, Billingsley’s walk-up song is Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song. Even A.J. Ellis uses Foo Fighters.
There was a time when Andre Ethier had an active Facebook profile and tweeted frequently.
That’s not the case anymore.
Andre used to post his thoughts on the team, as well as his own public appearances and charity work.
But he no longer has a Facebook, and while his Twitter account is still active, it appears he hasn’t tweeted since 2009.
Ethier is known for the chip on his shoulder and his sometimes aloof personality, and perhaps he is one of those people who had a bad experience on social media.
Angels catcher Bobby Wilson deleted his Twitter account because all he would receive on Twitter would be constant criticism. The Los Angeles Lakers’ Steve Blake received death threats to both himself and his family from so-called “fans” when he missed a potential go-ahead three pointer in the 2012 NBA playoffs.
While there can be drawbacks to the access social media allows people, overall it is a successful marketing tool and a way to draw more fans into the game.
According to Pew Research 69 percent of all internet users are on social media, and 92 percent of internet users age 18-29 are on social media. That’s the key demographic right there, so one can only expect MLB and sports in general to continue to expand in the digital age.