Not worth 1,000 words: Player images removed from MLB site

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Those looking for a photo of Mike Trout or the highlights of Atlanta’s Game 6 victory over Houston in the World Series won’t find them on the official Major League Baseball site.

Shortly after the sport’s first work stoppage in 26 years began on Thursday at 12:01 am, the MLB removed all photos of current players and highlights from MLB.com. Major League Baseball said in an email to The Associated Press that “every action we take is on the advice of legal counsel under national labor relations law.”

By removing player names, images or likenesses, the owners hope to avoid violating federal labor laws or implying that any use would be for commercial or promotional purposes to earn money during a labor dispute.

Player photos have been replaced with generic silhouettes, while title lines have been filled with features on retired players or historical videos.

The scrub goes beyond that. The Los Angeles Angels announced their promotional program last month, including a bobblehead commemorating Shohei Ohtani’s season AL MVP on April 8. The program now lists only one “historic season bobblehead” on that date.

On MLB Network, pundits focused on Thursday on the upcoming revelation of Era-era Committee Hall of Fame selections, with clips of retired stars Gil Hodges and Tony Oliva, but no highlights from the 2021 games. .

In Philadelphia, a banner celebrating Bryce Harper winning the NL MVP was won at Citizens Bank Ballpark.

Union Chief Tony Clark and Bruce Meyer, the players’ chief counsel, said MLB cleaned up the footage on their own and they had no input.

Players like the New York Mets pitcher Taijuan Walker, went even further and removed the images from their own Twitter profiles.

FanAI’s chief product and strategy officer Jeff Katz said leagues don’t have an offseason when it comes to promotion, especially in the age of social media. FanAI tracks the way fans watch sports and consumer spending.

“It will be difficult for MLB to post sponsored posts because they cannot share video clips or highlights. The impact on them will likely be worse than that of other leagues, as the NBA and others who have embraced social media have a fair amount of content shared outside of the league, ”Katz said.

The challenges are even greater given that some fans have still not returned to the stadiums for the two seasons since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Marketing data has also become more measured and can quickly assess the market.

“If they can wrap up in a timely manner and not have too much pie on their face, they can get rid of it. If this stops for months and the start of the season on time is compromised, few companies are going to put up with it, ”Katz said. “The sponsorship business is at a crossroads. With the advent of digital over the past 5-10 years and tracking of results, more and more brands are going to demand to see the results of their investments, especially if they perceive that value extraction is threatened. They will not stay on the sidelines for long. They will insist on the results.

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