Video: Rob Neyer’s Mailbag on SBNation

Posted on May 3, 2012 | in Baseball, Employee Knowledge, Lean Wastes, Sports | by

Rob Neyer, National Baseball Editor for SBNation, shares a video mailbag where he answers readers’ emails. He provides an answer for a question I sent his way about what sports organizations can do to enhance the customer experience.

Thanks for the response, Rob!

I think that’s a nice idea about preventing fans from going to/from seats in the middle of hitters’ plate appearances. Seated fans might not want to miss any game action.

If I haven’t harped on in-game music in a blog post already, I certainly have on Twitter. Excessively loud music makes conversation and communication hard. Baseball is a quiet game, so why take that away?

Probably the biggest issue I have had with music isn’t the volume but the music selections. Most minor league teams allow hitters to select their at-bat music. Not to sound like an old fogey and go all “GET OFF MY LAWN!!” but most young minor league hitters are between 18-23 years old while most game attendees are either 25+ years old, or younger than 12 – you know, families. I’m betting the paying fans aren’t going to care much for the music enjoyed by 18-23 year old players. If the minor league game experience is to be geared toward the fans, select more fan-friendly music.

I’ll use an example. I have great love for the in-game programming of the Dayton Dragons. When I last attended a game, they played fun family-friendly music for their hitters as they came to bat (it’s possible the management took suggestions from players or provided a list of select songs they could then choose) and they picked silly music for opposing batters (think the Sesame Street theme or Daydream Believer by the Monkees). I thought it was quite novel and I’d like to see more teams do that for their fans.

Not exactly a discussion on implementation of lean concepts, but in minor league baseball the primary focus of any activity should be on the fan experience. Using lean thinking feeds into that, as does in-game programming.

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2 Responses to “Video: Rob Neyer’s Mailbag on SBNation”

  1. Mark Graban says:

    One of the most important Lean concepts is “customer focus,” so I think this topic isn’t out of bounds…

    In many organizations, we have to strike a balance between customer needs (value) and staff needs. In a hospital, for example, a TV in the nurse’s lounge doesn’t directly add value to the patient, so you might call that “waste.” However, having happy nurses will lead to happy patients (and, arguably, to better patient outcomes). To an extreme, that TV would be bad (if the nurses watched it all day instead of caring for patients. But, eliminating the TV because it’s “waste” would be really demoralizing and might harm patients.

    So maybe the same is true with a hitter choosing their music. Maybe the “respect for people” principle (and good business sense) says don’t play music that needs to be bleeped… but giving the batter choice makes them happier and more comfortable and then the team wins more… what fan doesn’t love that?

    • Chad Walters says:

      I’m glad you saw it that way too, Mark.

      I have a couple counterarguments against allowing players the full gamut of plate appearance song choice – one, many minor league teams still have stagnant attendance despite on-field success (Oakland and Tampa Bay as MLB examples), and two, the level of genuine novelty I felt when I heard the Dragons not playing the same genre of songs as other teams would play (their player demographics are the same as other low Class-A minor league teams).

      If the Dayton Dragons allowed batters to choose their music but within certain constraints, then it appears to me to have been a very solid process that I hope other teams would duplicate. Giving full control of music to the player or the team certainly isn’t fair to the other party. I know I’m kind of nitpicking here, but it says something when there is such a noticeably-refreshing shift in stadium atmosphere between that of the Dragons and that of most other teams.

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