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Inspired by similar events in the world of soccer fandom, a sports fan from Croatia who said they knew nothing about baseball emailed all 30 MLB clubs to ask why that team should be their team. Seven teams responded. He wrote about his adventure at reddit, so it's anonymous and we haven't verified the responses he reproduced. We reached out to the Marlins intern—Miami was one of the seven—but we haven't heard back.
Seven out of 30 teams works out to about 23 percent. The inspiration for his project, a Bosnian fan who famously-ish contacted all 92 professional soccer teams in England, got 10 replies. About 11 percent, but seven of the replies came from English Premier League teams, the top 20 in the country. So it's 35 percent in a "major league" sense, although one feels like the "minor leagues" in England and North America don't quite mean the same thing. If the fan keeps looking, there are 244 more minor league baseball teams to contact.
Anyway, assuming the introductory email from user "sesve" looked like what (s)he posted in his introduction, the percentage of response sounds about right for MLB. It's a $9 billion industry, the future of which is constantly fretted over. So while it's doing well, better than well, it could do better to gain more fans. Yeah, we're working on it, Commissioner Rob Manfred says. Well, start by answering your mail!
In addition to the Marlins, the Phillies, Nationals, and Dodgers responded from the National League and the Orioles, Indians, and Mariners checked in from the American League. Whose response was best? Baltimore's and Miami's were the longest, written and signed by interns (but real people certainly.) Baltimore's probably was better because it didn't try to sell him tickets as hard as Miami did, but the Orioles have the advantage of 60 years of history and Camden Yards and Eddie Murray and Cal Ripken and Boog Powell and Earl Weaver and Alice Sweet's tomato plants.
Most of the replies were earnest, but it should not be surprising that the Phillies seemed to be the most honest:
While we appreciate the support of all of our fans, the reason for choosing one team versus another is a strictly personal reason. We do not try to 'sell' fans, rather we allow them the opportunity to choose to follow the Phillies for their own myriad of reasons.
Good luck with your choice.
They're like, look, we're writing back so we're meeting you halfway, but we don't have the time or the inclination to go the whole nine yards, or whatever the baseball equivalent is. Your choice is up to YOU. This attitude alone might get me to choose the Phillies, if I am Croat ballfan.
This experimenter is going about the process the right way. Baseball is popular in the U.S. but most of the popularity is regional. People pick their team and root for it and that's it. It's why the TV ratings are seldom great for national games, but teams potentially make huge bank with local cable deals. For now. Until that bubble bursts. In the meantime, here's hoping user "sesve" finds his team and recognizes his "dream" of becoming an MLB diehard. It's kind of the cutest thing ever.
h/t Hardball Talk