Why, you can almost smell the chewing tobacco and beard sweat. This week, the Major League Baseball Players Association, representing the commercial interests of the stars of the infield, announced plans to launch a new social media app intended to help fans connect with their favorite players.
In part, the app, called Infield Chatter, is intended to give the players more of an independent voice online, distinct from the social media presences of their teams.
The app, currently in a soft launch phase, will offer users behind-the-scenes-video, fan chat with players, interviews with professional sports journalists, podcasts, statistics, training tips, trivia, and giveaways, among other things.
Among other goals, the Players Association hopes it will help drive engagement by millennial users, who have proved harder to reach than previous generations, thanks in part to the relative popularity of football and basketball.
More than 1,000 players from MLB and minor league teams are already using the app.
Many are also using social media platforms, like Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat, to communicate with their fans. The Players Association was quick to emphasize that Infield Chatter isn’t supposed to compete with any of these established platforms, but play a complementary role.
The app features active moderation by human and automatic filters in hopes of reducing troll traffic and maintaining civil standards — no excessive trash talk. At some point, the app may carry advertising.
This isn’t the first attempt to create a dedicated social space for baseball fans to interact with players.
The MLB Players Association first revealed plans for a social network, also called Infield Chatter, back in 2015, but this project appears to have petered out.In 2015, the league revealed it was partnering with Vixlet to launch a new social network for baseball fans called “MLB Fans.”
The online social platform allows baseball fans to connect with their favorite teams and players, as well as other fans. It enables them to post personal photos, videos, comments and “likes” for a range of baseball-related content.
They can also access a library of MLB videos, photos, GIFs and commentary, all updated daily.