Tonight in Unpacks: MLB All-Star Game festivities kick off this weekend, and T-Mobile will be flying its colors in and around the ballpark that bears its name. SBJ's Terry Lefton reports on the Seattle-based cellular brand's activations for the Midsummer Classic -- and how tech is playing a role in a number of them.
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Capital One, Chevy, Constellation, Mastercard get in on MLB All-Star Game
U.S. Soccer signs Coca-Cola to its second-largest sponsorship deal
NASCAR Chicago street race sees strong merch sales
Rose Zhang adds to her growing deal roster with AT&T endorsement
Apple sells sponsorships for F1-themed film
MLB sponsorship revenue on pace to meet or exceed goals
Must-read tech stories for the first half of 2023
In this morning's Buzzcast, SBJ’s David Albright fills in listeners on:
AT&T signing Rose Zhang just in time for U.S. Women’s Open
Saudi Arabia planning company to expand sports holdings
More details emerging on NBA’s in-season tournament
NASCAR’s Chicago street race a hit for NBC
NBA Finals, U.S. Open among top TV draws for June
Sponsors revealed for Apple’s F1 film
T-Mobile greets 2023 MLB All-Star Game with slew of activations, robot ump test
When it comes to sponsor activation around the MLB All-Star Game, this year’s story centers on T-Mobile, an MLB corporate sponsor since 2023, which has the Midsummer Classic in its hometown of Seattle and played in the ballpark it has titled since 2018, reports SBJ’s Terry Lefton.
“We’ve built awareness through 10 years with MLB,” said Amy Azzi, senior director and head of sponsorships at T-Mobile. “By enhancing the fan experience, especially here, we hope for stronger connections, and to make our network the center of that. We want to show customers what our technology can do for them.”
One of the most intriguing parts of T-Mobile’s most recent MLB renewal is connecting its technology and brand to robotic umpiring. When that technology will come to MLB games is unclear, but T-Mobile will be testing a version of it at Saturday’s Futures Game.
“That’s to show where 5G can really be game-changing," Azzi said. “From a measurement standpoint, we’re always looking at how these events can enhance awareness and consideration and consumer perception of our network -- which is paramount."
Additional T-Mobile highlights:
Pushing an augmented reality feature of the MLB Next app, through which fans can track balls in the Home Run Derby.
Offering an NIL deal to an exemplary player in the HBCU Classic, a showcase for HBCU baseball players.
The annual ASG Red Carpet Show will take on T-Mobile’s magenta color this year, and the cell-service provider is behind a branded headphone gate premium for Monday’s Home Run Derby.
T-Mobile is also underwriting the “Derby After Dark" party after the competition. Retail activation includes player appearances and personalized bats at a downtown retail location.
Content plays for T-Mobile include a 30-second spot on “how T-Mobile has impacted the game of baseball” and a 15-second integration during the ASG with Ken Griffey Jr. and Sr. to be shot at Club Magenta inside T-Mobile Park. It also has a new spot with Mariners CF Julio Rodriguez, who is slated to participate in the Home Run Derby that T-Mobile has titled since 2016.
There will also be new TV creative from MLB corporate patrons FanDuel, Booking.com and Google.
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Corey LaJoie has enjoyed a season of improvement this year driving for Spire Motorsports.
When he got his chance, though, to drive the Hendrick Motorsports No. 9 car at WWTR Gateway for the suspended Chase Elliott, it didn’t go as well as he hoped with a 21st-place finish.
LaJoie talks to FOX Sports about his season, the Hendrick experience and his popular "Chasing Pennies" podcast.
The conversation has been edited for brevity and clarity.
This year, you are averaging 18.3 points a race. Last year, it was 12.9 for the full season. That's over five points more a race. How did that happen?
By finishing races. We only completed 83 percent of the laps last year, and you cannot get points If you don't finish races. We had a lot of mechanical mistakes take us out of contention. We also had a couple driver’s mistakes as well that resulted in DNFs. Cleaning those up was certainly the No. 1 of our priority list. And we've done that so far halfway through the year.
I don't want to jinx you, but you don't have a DNF (the stat for races where a driver does not finish the race) this year. Last year, you had eight over the course of the year. How much do you feel is your responsibility and how much do you feel like you've contributed?
The street course was new to everyone and no driver had experience on it. Part of the race was run in the wet, which van Gisbergen has more experience with as well.
The biggest thing, though, was that NASCAR went to single-file restarts for the race. It is in the double-file restarts where Cup drivers and their aggressiveness excel — or create chaos. It would have been much more difficult for van Gisbergen to keep spots on the double-file restarts when he wasn’t out front.
Take nothing away from van Gisbergen and his accomplishment. He is used to sitting on the right side of the car and shifting with his left hand. Just to change sides and perform the way he did was remarkable and shows incredible talent and skill.
But did he beat Cup drivers at their own game? Not truly, considering this was their first game on a street course themselves and the rules were different for this race than virtually any other race in several years.
Have a question? Respond to this Twitter post with your question:
What is your favorite paint scheme since you've started your work? - Liam
Going back more than 30 years is hard, but I think when Dale Earnhardt Jr. drove the Wrangler paint scheme in 2003 to a win in the Xfinity Series, that was cool.
How much will the NASCAR Trucks be affected when the guys go out in Mid-Ohio for the first practice since all the Firestone rubber will have been worked into the track versus the Goodyear rubber they’ll be using this coming weekend? - Joshua
IndyCar raced there last weekend with Firestone tires and now ARCA and trucks head there this weekend with different tires. Will it make a big difference? No. Will it make a little difference? Yes. It initially could be a little slicker in some areas just from the amount of tire rubber in and it being different. But typically after a few laps, it isn’t a huge deal. By the time the teams this weekend race, it shouldn’t matter.
They Said It
"Project91 was just as crazy shower idea that I had that I brought to the executives at Trackhouse.... if you do the work and you believe in a big vision and work hard towards that, amazing things can happen." —Trackhouse owner Justin Marks on Shane van Gisbergen’s victory at Chicago