Like a lot of Jays fans, when the 2017 season started without Barry Davis on Sportsnet I felt a giant loss.
He was always the one sportscaster that I felt I related to the most. He seemed down to earth and a god honest baseball and Jays fan. He was the sportscaster, the interviewer that we all wanted to be. Hanging out in the dugout, interviewing our favourite players and being right in the mix of things with a smile on his face and encouraging words where everyone else always seems so negative and critical. I hadn’t known he was doing a podcast until June when I saw tweets for the Mental Health and Anxiety Episode. I listened to the first episode they had done, laughed hysterically at how down to earth and real it was (seriously, Barry needing a bathroom break will always be my favourite) and tweeted both Barry and Matt, not once expecting a response. I lurked for a few days on the mentions and tweets seeing that there was already a pretty solid ‘core group’ going and thought ‘wow, this group is pretty tight’. Little did I know that in mere days I’d fall through the rabbit hole. With that one tweet I received, I got tweets and retweets from both Barry and Matt and I was enveloped into the group.
Everyone was welcoming, friendly and encouraging. They talked baseball, but not just. There have been great movie discussions, endless music conversation and more recently Hockey. I was brought deep into what would later be called the ‘OTP Family’ immediately and I saw how inclusive it was. It is. The podcast grew with the family and more segments were added. #AskBarryDavis and Wouldn’t You Like To Know grew into Fans Across the Globe and correspondents were recruited and it became this baseball mecca of awesome. No questions are too dumb, no expert level of the game necessary. It is a bunch of people hanging out over the podcast world (live at some episodes with call ins and the such) having differing and sometimes the same opinions on issues where we are all accepted and our voices welcomed. My favourite differing argument has been the great Barry and Matt debate of regulating stadiums vs keeping them all different and unique.
When the conversation came up to the listeners about whether or not they should offer a membership to listeners without hesitation I said ‘Hell yeah I’d pay for this show’. What I thought was the most respectful was that both Matt and Barry asked our opinions on what we would recommend if there were to be a “Membership” option with paid listening. It’s rare to find that a podcast that charges would ask its listeners if what they are doing is worth the money to pay and what we would expect if we did start to pay. Barry and Matt were doing it right from the start. Extra interviews, exclusive content, even more than we were already getting from the podcast, which was already so interactive and hands on to begin with.
There are no other podcasts that I can think of where the people doing the podcast are as accessible as Barry and Matt are. Fans ask for content and Barry and Matt find a way to make it happen. Interviews, segments, quality inside information that we wouldn’t get elsewhere (Thank YOU Johnny The Batboy for your never-ending insight and answers to all of our questions). I couldn’t even imagine what more they could give to Members Only to make it even better than it already was.
And then came the contests.
To discuss contests, we have to look at the sponsors. The sponsors that Barry and Matt have, offer listeners (ALL LISTENERS) discounts if you mention them. My 3D Agency gives you a discount if you mention NSR Media. The Jaywalk not only created tee shirts for the podcast, but also held a contest for a fan to name one of their Blue Jay hats/mascots. And don’t even get me started on Seat Giant. Okay, maybe I’m started.
The first contest that was run for Members Only was run by Seat Giant who already gives listeners a discount when you mention NSR Media. So that alone is great, you listen and you save when buying tickets. But they brought even more to the table when they decided to have a contest for Members Only that when you signed up, your name would be put in a draw to win 2 NHL tickets in your hometown. So anywhere you listen to Outta The Park, if you are a member… which by the way $5 a month is absolutely nowhere near what the content that OTP is worth. Personally, I think it’s worth way more, but who am I to judge!
So, wherever you live, if you’re a member you were entered to win 2 tickets to an NHL game in your city. Which, for those of us living in Toronto, normally you have to sell both kidneys and your liver for those kinds of tickets so…
Of course, the moment that memberships went live, I signed up and they entered me in the draw. I thought the odds of me actually winning were slim but figured I’d wait it out and congratulate whoever won. Because that’s what we do in the OTP fam. We congratulate each other, are supportive and genuinely like and respect each other. It really is a group like you’ve never seen before. I’ve seen this group of people befriend others, see something that they can do for someone in the group, band together and make things happen. Memberships. 3D figurines of loved furry family members. Items to assist in other members that make their day to day activities easier due to illness and injury.
Then the Sunday episode with the winner being announced happened. And I heard my name called. Let me tell you, it was glorious. I’m not even exaggerating, like, you hear your name and you realize you’ve just won tickets to a Leafs game and you know it’s ‘just a game’ but at the same time, you won. And it’s the Leafs. Hockey is my admitted winter mistress. Baseball is where my heart is, but a girl needs something to get her through the long, cold winter months. Hockey is that to me. I received an email from Seat Giant congratulating me (and let me tell you, they’re all so freaking great there) and letting me know I’d won and that my tickets were the next night.
Best hockey game I’ve ever been to. No joke. I’ve been to games at Maple Leaf Gardens but not the ACC. I’ve been to concerts at the ACC but the excitement, the fun and the energy at that game was phenomenal. And the whole night I kept saying to myself ‘wow, I got this literally for doing what I was already going to be doing (listening to Outta the Park) and helping support Barry and Matt produce a podcast that I can’t even imagine my baseball life before they started it and I found them.
It blows my mind.
They do this podcast weekly which has now turned into multiple times throughout the week. Interviews with people I’d love to listen to and ask questions but haven’t ever been given the opportunity to do so before. If I want to ask someone a question, I can submit it and they’ll ask. It’s interactive, it’s entertaining and they genuinely care about everyone that they are doing the show for. Not only that, they have found a way to further the incentive to become a member by having contests that the listeners actually want. NHL tickets? Books written by some of our favourite athletes? All for listening and supporting this phenomenal content?
Barry and Matt do this podcast with their whole heart and it shows. It shows in the nightly chats during Jays games. It shows in each and every response and mention they make on twitter to listeners. And it shows when they are consistently asking listeners who we want to hear from, what we’d like to see and how they can make their already stellar podcast better. I can guarantee you it is the best $5 a month you’ll spend. You’ll get that back ten thousand fold with the entertainment, the community it brings you and just the quality of sports discussion (and non-sports discussion) that you’ll find as a Member.
Become a member! Its simple, click here.