Saturday, April 9, 2011

First MLB Homestand Recap

My last blog was February 21st.  A lot has happened since then.  Moving, New Job, Pregnant wife, etc...
But the focus here is going to be a recap of my first homestand as an MLB mascot and the comparisons that I can draw after seven years in Minor League Baseball.

I know it's cliche...but the trick really is to dance like no one's watching.

Since I started on March 16th and Opening Day was on March 31st, I had a whopping 15 days to learn a new staff, new PA person, new music guy, etc...  That's one of the first things that stood out to me at the MLB level is just how specific people's jobs are.  Gone are the days that the person running the music was a marketing intern that also did ticket sales and PR appearances on the side.  In MLB, the music guy is the music guy.  The mascot is the mascot.  The tickets sales department just sells tickets.  You get my drift. 

In my minor league days we would have our production "Channel 8" meeting approximately 3 or 4 hours before game time, due to the necessity of working gates, handing out promo material, handling parades, etc...also because our staff wanted to make sure that things were done the right way.  In MLB we have our production meeting 1.5 hours before first pitch.  Our MiLB meetings would have about 5 or 6 of us, my first MLB pre-game production meeting had 36.  There are so many different things I need to learn about production at this level.  Things such as High 1, High 3, Low 1, Low 3, intro graphics, timing and the sheer amount of production that goes into a show that highlights the world's largest outdoor HD Board.  Don't get me wrong, the mascot is important to the Royals, but picking your spots and getting maximum exposure at this level involves a lot more people and I quickly learned that means being a lot more efficient in communication.

During the games it was obvious to me just how family friendly the personality of the character was.  The past seven years I've been an edgy performer with a big belly and a carefree attitude.  Here, I am facing a crowd that for the past 15 years has seen a mascot that didn't take many risks.  It'll be a process of working in those risks at the appropriate times and begin to shift the mindset of what the fans and management can expect on a nightly basis from the character.  With that being said, I don't plan on abandoning all the hard work put in by my predecessors, I'd be a fool to do so.  The reception I've gotten at all the events around KC has really shown me that the character is a hit.  My challenge and goal is to make the character more well known outside of KC, while at the same time growing the base of fans in KC as well.

Another glaring difference is the way my timing/communication is done.  I wear an earpiece like a lot of newscasters and security people wear on the inside that allow the producer to talk to me during skits and crowd work and allows my assistant to help me navigate through crowds of fans and keep me abreast of where the game is at.  It took a couple of games to get used to, but I'm becoming a fan of the increased communication. 

Getting the crowd involved at this level is a completely different animal than at the minor league level.  First off, the stadium is just so big that you can only really get 4 or 5 sections paying attention to improv crowd work.  Secondly, there are a lot more baseball purists at this level who just want the mascot out of the way so they can watch the game.  I literally have to get out of the way of these fans during every play and work in-between plays.  It's proving to be difficult.  I come from the mindset where every fan is important to the survival of the franchise and I want to keep it this way.  I'll find ways to get around this, but it's going to take time.

I'm also finding I have more energy during the games, due in large part to being able to just focus on mascotting and the creative side of it and not worrying about 25 other things during a game.  It's really refreshing.  I truly believe that anyone who is successful in Minor League Baseball for 7+ years can do anything.  While I miss MiLB, this is a great challenge for me and I constantly remind myself of how lucky I am to still be doing what I love to do.  Getting that taken away from me at my last job was tough, but it has solidified my ideology in the power of fun and the process of chasing your goals.  I'm a passionate person when it comes to this type of work and I know that is one of the foundations for my sucesses.

As I look forward to the next homestand and the rest of the season, I'm constantly reminding myself to keep learning.  Just because I had great success at the Minor League level, I need to adapt to be successful at the MLB level.  I feel that as long as I'm learning and making daily progress towards my goals, those goals will be reached.  It's the only way I know how to do it.

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