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Swing for the Fences

Brad Wurthman's picture

Major League Baseball is in their annual All-Star break and unveiled its new look 2015 Home Run Derby last night, an annual event showcasing the game's elite power hitters. If possible, MLB may have hit the most impressive shot of the night with their decision to be bold and make changes that have earned nothing but positive reviews from media and fans alike.

Here are some of my biggest takeaways from the new-look event:

1) Be bold with the adaptation of your event. MLB took a completely new approach last night with a single-elimination timed event and it was a fantastic change. It took a traditionally mundane first round and forced the All-Stars to hit video game lasers that created drama that will only help it dominate additional coverage today. The new format resonates with everyone and forces a moment of instant gratification - survive and advance. Kudos to their team of marketers, operations staff, and programmers as they were willing to take a chance. We could have been sitting here talking about how miserable the format was but without their team willing to hit for the fences, we never would have known.

2) Play to your audience. I am fortunate to have spent seven years in Cincinnati and have always respected the manner in which the Cincinnati Reds addressed the business of sports. Their staff is full of professionals who do a fantastic job each day and I was thrilled to watch their plan come to life. Todd Frazier, THEIR GUY, is a hometown favorite and they couldn't have asked for a more impressive moment in the short history at Great American Ballpark. He hit walk-off home runs to win rounds and ended the night on a blast that sent the pro-Reds crowd home in a frenzy. All the while, he made a point to thank the fans and cement himself as the face of the franchise.

3) Embrace the moment. Any event management plan contains contingency plans. I'm sure the Reds staff had conversations about what they were required to do for each media timeout, how the flow of the event would occur, and what they would do in all situations. However, I imagine they were also prepared to take advantage of the situation if the opportunity presented itself. As Frazier celebrated with the other MLB players and fans, they took the chance to play his normal walk-up music and cemented a memory for all Reds fans. They were presented with an opportunity that may never happen again and they seized it. Great job by all involved to slow down, create a memorable moment, and savor it instead of purely moving on to the post-game script asking everyone to "please, drive home safely".

4) Josh Donaldson was robbed but the World Series will still run through Toronto!

Thanks for reading the blog today. I'd love to connect with you so feel free to drop me a line at or connect with me on twitter @wurthman.

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