View Full Version : Some random open questions on the GBL
Silver Sox Fan
03-30-2007, 02:43 AM
I am new to this board but have been following the GBL since its inception. i was intrigued by the Samurai Bears and Rickey in the first year and then was ecstatic to get our own team here in Reno. Since everyone on here is either really knowledgeable or works for the league, please help me with the following questions.
1. Any chance of seeing another iteration of the Samurai Bears or having an influx of Japanese talent? The Japanese play a unique style of baseball and do so at a level high enough to compete on the MLB level. The success at the WBC as well as the influx of great Japanese talent into the MLB has the American public intrigued. Bringing those types of players to the league can only help with attendance. And what Japanese players are going to be in the league this year?
2. Does the sale of the Fullerton Flyers put the rest of the league at a disadvantage? With the other teams run by the GBL and with their finances capped by the league does that mean the Flyers' ownership can outspend their competitors in advertising, player salaries, etc? Obviously the new owners will want to see a profit and they may be willing to spend to get it. Will the GBL put them under the same caps as the other teams or are they pretty much treated as an independent franchisee?
3. Are advertising budgets really low or does Reno just not do it? The question is blunt but maybe it has to be. Reno is a fickle town where fan loyalty to pro teams is basically non-existant. We have had multiple minor league baseball and hockey teams fold and most people I know are skeptical that the Silver Sox can survive. The team is virtually unknown in town and there is no positive press--no billboards, no radio ads, no game broadcasts, and very little coverage in the local paper. It seems that advertising dollars should be put into that or at least some less expensive options like free hats, shirts, player cards, etc or anything else that gets the name of the team out there. And players should be marketed, even if they end up leaving. And there should be some catchy slogans. One of my favorites when I grew up watching the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes was "Come to where it is just a big a thrill to give an autograph as to get one". Reno needs something like "A record six players were sent to the Majors last season; find out who will be next".
4. What surprises are in store for us to look forward to? Year one was Samurai Bears and Rickey; year two was Jose Canseco. What do we get this year? Any former pros in negotation with the league? Anything else? And does anyone have any Silver Sox specific info to pass along? Even rumors are good at this point since we still have a few months until the first pitch of GBL baseball.
Thanks for reading and I look forward to your feedback!
03-30-2007, 11:02 AM
Hi Keith, welcome to the board. It'll be nice to have some new blood here :)
I can't respond to all your questions, but I can tell you what I know/have figured out about advertising (at least for the first two years). No, there is no budget at all at the local levels. The league depends on word of mouth and what little shameless (and free) advertising they can get doing such things as signing Cansucko and the Wassup guy. They have left it to the frustrated fans to arrange player appearances at Little Leagues or begging local morning news to do a human interest story. Same with getting them in the local newspapers. It's been all about what the fans can get done.
Hopefully (nudge, nudge) they'll have learned their lesson that it takes (advertising) money to make money and they'll loosen the purse strings this year.
BTW, we visited Reno last year before the All Star Game and found your field and fans unique and your players talented. Good luck this year.
Silver Sox Fan
03-30-2007, 12:33 PM
Thanks for the response, Mary! That is really too bad about the advertising. As you said, hopefully they work on it because all the other independent teams here did no advertising and were gone after a couple of years; some didn't even make it that long!
I actually moved to Washington DC for a while and missed how players were selected for the teams. How does a team get its players? Are there tryouts in every city or at a central location with a draft process. Do teams get their players back (those who decide to return)? I looked for rosters and all of them are blank so does that mean even returning players can be picked up by other teams? And Les Lancaster did a great job last year getting a competitive team from scratch. Does the league balance that out by not letting him have certain people and sending them to other teams?
03-30-2007, 03:34 PM
Hi Silver SoxFan,
Just like the first response, I don't know all the answers to your questions, but I do know that the Flyers have to live to the same rules as the rest of the league, which includes salary caps and number of players at different levels (veterans, experienced and rookies). The advertising budget is another thing, yes the league has really, really low budgets for their teams, but the Flyers have their own budget since they no longer receive financal support from the league. The Japanese team was fun, I hope they bring it or something similar back.
03-31-2007, 01:12 AM
Thanks for the questions and your email as well. Here are the answers to your questions from this post:
1. Samurai Bears
It is possible that there may be a return of the Samurai Bears in '08 -- either as a traveling team or in a fixed location. Due to the publicity around the movie (which hasn't even been officially distributed or released yet), and the sale of the Fullerton team which opened up the possibility of franchise ownership in the GBL, we've been approached by a couple of groups to resurrect the SamBears. Too early to tell yet, but it is a possibility. As for Japanese players in the GBL in 2006 we will have former Samurai Bear Daisuke Ikenaga with the Long Beach Armada and former Japanese maor league catcher Masashi Chikazawa plans to be back with your Reno Silver Sox.
2. Fullerton Flyers
All teams, including the Flyers are under the same cap rules. However the GBL Bylaws do allow the Flyers to exceed the cap if they are willing to pay a luxury tax (similar to cap rules in most professional leagues). I like the innovativeness and marketing skills of the Flyers' new ownership group as they've already made noticeable awareness improvements with their use of James Denton (Desperate Housewives actor who is part owner) in marketing and season ticket sales campaigns and the re-branding/naming of the team to the OC Flyers to expand their reach broader in Orange County.
3. Reno Advertising
Reno does have an advertising budget and is slated to begin about 60 days before the season with print, radio, and TV ads. That begins late next week -- I'll send you a separate email with the entire campaign if you are interested so you can watch for their ads. The Silver Sox did not have a radio deal last year, but one for this coming year is already completed. You'll be able to listen to all Reno games, home and away, on ESPN Radio which is, I believe, KPLY 630 AM in Reno. You're right, that should have happened in the first year but didn't get done. I'll respond to your email with some questions about effectiveness of the various Reno media in reaching fans that I'd love to hear your thoughts on.
We're working on some surprises for the fans this year. One that is all ready done for Reno is the appearance of the famous San Diego Chicken for the first time ever in Reno. Widely considered the greatest sports entertainment act, he'lll be peforming at a Silver Sox game in mid-July. We have started to add a number of ex-major leaguers to the rosters but no one of superstar marquee level ala Rickey and Jose yet (Garret Stephenson in St. George, Pascual Matos in Yuma, and Chris Wakeland in Long Beach all are recent signees with big league time). It will be interesting to see what else develops -- current rumors include the return of Jose with his brother Ozzie, Pete Rose managing, Rickey managing, the Russian Olympic team pariticipating in the league, and a major television network reality show based within the GBL (actually, all of the above have popped up in this off-season, but let's just say they are all verrrrry long shots at occuring - but who knows ;) ).
Thanks for the heads-up on the team rosters being blank we'll get those populated next week now that signings of the newly released minor leaguers from affiliated teams are beginning. Teams have the ability to exercise a one year option for any players they want to bring back for another season. By November 15th players must either have their options exercised for the next year or they become free agents. Most GBL teams exercise options on 10-12 players. They fill the rest of the roster from either tryouts, the Arizona Winter League, working the MLB release lists, or by having players and agents contact them directly looking for a job. Your manager, Les Lancaster, is also considered one of the best in independent baseball at building winning teams and has taken his team to the playoffs in all but one of his eight years of managing and has twice earned Manager of the Year awards. One of the keys to his success is the stunning number of players that he gets signed by major league organizations which has given him a tremendous reputation with recently released players and agents. Les even had two of his off-season signees placed with the Orioles and Royals before they even played a game for the Silver Sox this year.
Thanks for your interest in the GBL and the Silver Sox and I'm looking forward to meeting you at Peccole Park this summer!
Golden Baseball League
Silver Sox Fan
04-03-2007, 09:10 PM
I responded to Kevin by e-mail but I thought I would post it here for all to read since their were so many "views" of this post. Just my opinions as a Reno resident since 1999 but it is still nice that our commissioner took the time to listen.
Thank you so much for the thoughtful, detailed reply.
First some background to your question.
I work about half a mile from the ballpark (I am an ROTC instructor at UNR) and no one I talk to in my daily interactions knows anything about the Sox. In fact, the UNR sports climate is such that it is all about football and basketball so most don't even support the college baseball team. But there are baseball fans all over. Just look around and see the A's and Giants clothing, bumper stickers, etc.
My opinion (and it is just that) is that too many are quick to buy into the hype that Reno will never support a professional baseball team. I think that isn't true. Thousands of people were hyped about building a triple-A stadium and bringing a team here. There is a bill in the State Senate now to keep the funding alive that was raised for the stadium and make it available to ALL professional baseball teams which makes the Silver Sox eligible. So it is on peoples' minds.
The problem is that after the affiliated minor league team moved on we got a couple years of WBL substandard baseball. The GBL does a great job of keeping the league focused on guys trying to get back to the Show whereas the WBL was a place for people to go and die. Then both those teams went away because the level of play was poor and Moana stadium was old and just an overall poor place to watch a game. It felt bush league and got treated that way.
We then got the rumors of this new stadium and a Triple-A team. I am sure you checked out the Sierra Nevada baseball website. Between the polls/surveys there as well as the hundreds of people that showed up at city coucil meetings to support the team, baseball fans showed they are here. But then the deal dragged on and eventually we were told the deal is dead because the investors fell through. So people were disappointed and it added to the stigma of "Reno won't support baseball".
Then the Silver Sox come in and they have all the strikes against them--independent team, playing at a college ballpark, and seen as a concession prize as everyone was still hoping for a triple-A team and was seeing hope fade away.
But even with that, you still got a "hardcore" baseball audience of 1000-1500 every game so you know they are there. You can spike that with a Canseco appearance or whatever but to build it you will have to beat the stigma of "Reno won't support baseball" and "I won't watch indy ball because it stinks (ala the WBL)."
Effective advertising would focus across all the spectrums you mentioned. But the key is to get the players known. I know it is difficult with a transient league but when people feel an affiliation with a player or two they are more likely to come as you know. We saw that with Rickey (I'm not too ashamed to mention I drove all the way to Chico to see him during the first season) and we need to get it back with the current crop of players.
You made the first step that was missing last year--getting the games on the radio. Now the casual fan will hear games (with player names said multiple times) and interviews with guys in the league. Many don't know the Silver Sox exist but when they hear commercials and the like as well as actual games, they will come out to see what is going on. And hearing those player names I mentioned means they may know a kid or two when they show up.
In Reno, I think you need to look at billboards with catchy phrases. We all hate them but we all read them. Find a way to hook folks and put players on the boards or in print adds with a quick blurb "UNR grad" or their connection to MLB (if they were a high draft pick), etc. With the Japanese players, if you can get a link to one of the current Japanese MLB players that would be good--"He struck out Ichiro three times in a game; now he's your starting pitcher, Reno"
You are right--Les Lancaster (though I haven't met him) is one of the best in the business. He puts great teams on the field and he won the league title in his team's first year of existance. Those things need to be played up--maybe a free baseball clinic for kids with Les and a couple of players.
And don't forget free advertising. I think, besides myself, I have seen only one other person in an non-game environment wearing Silver Sox Gear. Go to the grand openings of businesses or attend some of the shows or events. Give out free hats, shirts, etc and make sure it is more than just "Reno Silver Sox". Many wouldn't know if that was a pro, semi-pro, or adult softball team. Make sure some catchy phrase is on there..."The biggest little pro team in town" or something. Then when people see others wearing the gear they may actually ask about it and first hand testimonials will do more to get folks there than anything. I have two friends who love baseball, go over the hill frequently to baseball, play fantasy, etc but then dismiss the Sox out of hand. I convinced then the level of play is excellent, probably in the high A to double A range and now they are coming this year with me. Once they see it, they will keep coming because we all love baseball--good baseball that is. But if they never knew me, how do they get past that Reno bias to indy baseball? Make your hardcore fans your ambassadors by giving them free gear to wear. Once others see the product on the field and see you're great prices, they'll keep coming back.
My last suggestion is a little out of the box but I got the idea from Burger King and the Army. You need a video game to hook some folks. Again, hard with a transient league and I am not sure of your licensing rules but every kid plays video games (as well as many adults). If you sold a game for a low price ($5-10) or even doled it out as a free giveaway several times in the season, people would learn league rules, schedule, teams, logos, player names, etc. in a fun environement. They would be gaining an affilitation with the league without even knowing it. And kids wanting to go means parents who have to take them. I realize there is a big cash outlay for XBOX/PS so maybe even a PC game. There are plenty of folks online who make baseball simulators (Puresim is my favorite) who probably could make a game for you for much less.
TV would be good but I would say limit it. It is too expensive considering you are only going for brand recognition at this point. Print and Radio are better, cheaper alternatives to get that. Once you get that, then I would recommend TV. A flashy 15 second piece with outstanding plays and the logo and a catch phrase at the end would be great.
Finally, in terms of Peccole, it needs to not feel like a college stadium on gameday. Sort of how Arco or America West don't feel like pro stadiums during the NCAA Basketball Tournament. During the first game last year, the announcer was not very dramatic and there was no organ music. Both of those have to be amped up like MLB/MiLB baseball. Fireworks were a nice touch and maybe some Huge banners or the like to further differentiate that this night is special and not just a college game or some bush league contest are key.
Also, look at better giveaways (along the lines of items mentioned previously) that you advertise in the paper and on radio. People love giveaways, especially bobbleheads. I would make a four player set so people keep coming back for the other three. Everyone wants a complete collection and if they are of actual team players they will be more interested in some players if they have a bobblehead made for them: "Who is X? His bobble head is #2. Oh, look, he played for the Giants. I love the Giants. Wow, he also has good stats at the AAA level. I'll be listening to the game--he's ptiching on TUE, etc"
I am by far no expert in advertising but I was an Army Public Affairs Officer for a number of years and I think you saw how we got our story out and many of the same principles would apply to baseball.
Thank you for taking the time to listen. I wish everyone could have the info you shared with me and I will pass it along as much as possible. My Army committments this summer take me away for a couple of months so I won't be a season ticket holder but pencil me in for 10 games plus the playoffs. Keep up the great work!
04-04-2007, 09:38 PM
Keith, great email with lots of ideas that can be used, I hope they do.
Also, thanks for serving, I appreciate your sacrifice.
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