Comic actor and Funny or Die co-founder Will Ferrell will be taking part in a fun spring training stunt tomorrow to benefit the fight against cancer by playing 9 positions with 10 different teams in one day. Details of the event can be found on the Athletics official release HERE. It has been reported that Ferrell, a life long baseball fan, will play shortstop with the Athletics.
The stunt is part of a Funny or Die special that Will Ferrell is producing for distribution by HBO and is inspired by Athletics legend Bert Campaneris who played all nine positions in his second season with the Athletics, while they were still in Kansas City. Mr. Campaneris will be in attendance at the start of the day which will take place at the A’s/Mariners game.
Jane Lee tweeted earlier today that Will Ferrell will also be participating in all of Oakland’s pregame activities including batting practice, yoga and the team physical.
Scott Kazmir, who will be pitching for the Athletics during Ferrell’s visit, is going to tailor his pitches to optimize the number of balls hit directly at their rookie shortstop.
To the already jaded Athletics fan, this will come off as a silly publicity stunt or somehow demeaning to the sacred exhibition game but to the more light hearted fan, this is exactly the type of thing baseball needs to do more of if they want to attract the coveted younger demographic. More than pace of play or defensive dominance, baseball struggles from an image of being an old fashioned game with old fashioned fans and participating in events like this, which are charity events after all, can go a long way to youthanize their perceived image. Yes, I know. It’s a play on words.
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The sad part for fans, though, is that it won’t be on television. Instead, A’s fans will be treated to another infomercial for an over-priced counter-top cooking device instead of being able to see baseball on their cable network. And don’t look for it on your radio dial either as it is clearly not important to team owners to build excitement during these exhibition games. In what world is it not worth televising Will Ferrell playing shortstop for your team during a lunch time game? Every bar/restaurant television in the bay area would be tuned into that.
If major league baseball truly wants to appeal to the younger crowd, stunts like this are a nice start but people need to be able to see them. Football televises every breath their players take from the moment they weigh in until the moment they retire. Every pre season game is televised and the draft, where 32 teams sit around in a hotel and take roll call, is an anticipated event. Baseball, give your fans something to get excited about. We should be able to see these 10 games Will Ferrell is taking over tomorrow. What good is the publicity if you’ve got no product to show for it for four months?