Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association did long-term damage to their brand in 1994 when they canceled the season because of a collective bargaining dispute. In the 26 years since, MLB slowly repaired the damage with its older fans, but not completely. We run into people all the time who cites 1994 as the last time they watched a Major League Baseball game to this day.
Let’s face it, MLB has lost the personal touch with its fans as an organization. It has lost touch with the media. The world has evolved around MLB which is still using an early internet model of top-down information delivery.
One of the people who are actively breaking that horrible mold is “former” Cincinnati Reds pitcher and yes, the 2020 National League Cy Young award winner Trevor Bauer. Bauer did something Major League Baseball hasn’t done since the 1980s with the old “This Week in Baseball” program hosted by Mel Allen and Ozzie Smith..he took fans behind the scenes in a way that is real and authentic.
And MLB seems to hate him for it. Bauer is no fan of boomer MLB commish Rob Manfred and Manfred is apparently no fan of Bauers, but Bauer is revolutionizing the way fans view and interact with Major League and professional baseball players through his new multimedia startup company, Momentum Films.
According to Momentum Films, “Momentum is an athlete-driven media company that uses storytelling to connect athletes and fans on a human level. Trevor Bauer and Taiki Green founded Momentum in 2019 with the goal of sharing authentic player stories and ultimately affecting the public perception of baseball. Since the launch, it became the first-ever player-led media company credentialed by Major League Baseball and has produced over 500 pieces of original audio and video content including popular series like Bauer Bytes and Live At-Bats. Momentum is changing the way that that baseball players and fans connect and ultimately how the sport is marketed. Content lives across Momentum digital channels as well as distribution partners including PlayersTV and FOX Sports.”
Bauer’s Momentum videos are seen by millions of fans monthly and have over 100,000 followers. That’s a small drop in the bucket compared to the overall Major League viewing audience, but he’s getting there and his ‘momentum’, pun intended, is pushing forward, and pushing forward hard.
Let’s face it, being a lifetime Yankees fan, I came into 2020 not giving a single crap about the Cincinnati Reds, their season, heck I’ll admit it, even Trevor Bauer. During the pandemic, we came across Trevor’s pandemic season VLOG and became instant fans. He was and still is, the only game in town when it comes to looking deep inside the inner workings of MLB during the pandemic. He was giving news at the ground level, not canned, regurgitated MLB press releases painting a rosy picture.
Trevor pushes limits, he might talk the talk, but at the same time, he walks the walk on the field. Bauer dominated his National League bubble in 2020 in now he’s one of the most coveted free agents in the league heading into 2021.
I went through the entire season not watching a single ‘pandemic’ game, but watched every single episode of Momentum’s coverage of Major League Baseball. Trevor has become the Bar Stool Sports of Major League Baseball, an entirely new way to look at sports coverage. Like Barstool Sports, Bauer is hated by the suit guys as much as BSS CEO David Portnoy is hated by the sports media suit guys.
I can’t imagine anyone under 30 being remotely interested in watching canned sports programs on ESPN or the MLB Network these days, so there’s a great market to capture for Bauer and Momentum and to solidify his brand as a major media presence for the under 30, heck, even under 40 MLB fan. If Bauer signs with the New York Yankees, the minute he steps into the Yankees dugout with his camera will make him an instant and overnight media sensation in the world’s largest sports market, New York. Add into the mix the uneasiness between Bauer and “Frenemy” Gerrit Cole and you have an instant media hit.
Bauer’s Momentum has a bright future, especially as MLB continues to downplay its success and continues business as usual on its mundane MLB.com platform.