The Major League Baseball Players Association last week announced a new baseball-themed social media platform that’s supposed to revolutionize player-fan engagement.
The site is called “Infield Chatter,” and, according to a press release, it will facilitate easy interaction between the more than guys in uniform and the fans at home.
Here’s how Twins pitcher Hector Santiago explained the concept to CNBC:
“We asked for a better way to communicate directly with fans and learn more about them, and make it easy for them to learn more about us,” Santiago said via email. “We believe this is the way to go, a true baseball community so that we can just be ourselves.”
So basically it sounds like Twitter but for baseball only. So… Baseball Twitter.
The MLBPA seems awfully excited about Infield Chatter, and they’ve put a lot into it. Per CNBC, the idea is several years in the making and may have cost more than a million dollars to develop. Clearly players want to engage more with fans, which is cool for the fans and good for the sport.
But nowhere in a lengthy press release nor an equally lengthy CNBC story does anyone involved explain how Infield Chatter is actually different from existing platforms. When you thumb through Infield Chatter, it basically appears how Instagram would look if you only followed baseball accounts.
One focus seems to be on filtering out the type of trolls who ruin social media for many celebrities and athletes. Here’s Oakland A’s outfielder Rajai Davis, via CNBC:
“Other social media serve their purpose, and that’s fine,” Rajai Davis said via email. “But there is a lot of crazy activity on some of those sites, and they’re not always the safest places to post personal stuff. There hasn’t been a good spot for baseball fans to gather, until now. I think this is one of the best programs that the players have agreed to work on together.”
Plus, sports fans don’t use social media only to follow athletes. Most also value interacting with each other and consuming news and opinions from reporters and analysts. If Infield Chatter focuses primarily on the athlete-fan dynamic, it will miss out on the rest.
Where Infield Chatter has a chance at success is in its exclusive content. The site supposedly has more than 1,000 registered players (which is more players than there are in MLB, for what it’s worth), and if those players share truly interesting photos, videos and anecdotes that fans can’t find elsewhere, Infield Chatter could become a destination for baseball fans.
We’ll see whether an idea that is clearly appealing to MLB players can catch the eye of enough fans to be worthwhile.