Andrew Lang On The Next 100 Years Of The Cape Cod Baseball League

CAPE COD, MA — The Cape Cod Baseball League is in the midst of its centennial season, but its influence in the baseball history books is already written with ink.

Cape Cod’s college summer league has long been the premiere destination for top talent, and the organizations and people who’ve helped guide it there are set to get their flowers in 2023.

But new President Andrew Lang understands that, much like the professional league he hopes to guide these players into, there’s a level of evolution that’s necessary as the league starts its next 100 years.

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Technology, analytics and marketing strategy are just a few of the items at the front of Lang’s mind even as he continuously digs out from an inbox filled with bizarre branding opportunities and questions he doesn’t yet know whether to answer or ignore.

And then there are the players, who have evolved from when Lang first got involved with the league in Wareham in 2013 but still have the same status and expectations of years past.

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Players like Aaron Judge, Evan Longoria, Jason Varitek and many, many others have stepped between the lines across Cape Cod, and the players doing so this year likely expect to follow in the footsteps of those three in stepping between the lines of major league ballparks.

“Every kid who plays in the Cape League, in theory, should end up being drafted,” Land said.

“They should, because that’s the type of league it is. But when they come in, they’re playing for that draft position. So they’re really playing for signing bonus money, and we’re just trying to help them in any way that we can,” Lang said.

Lang finds himself in a unique position in 2023.

On the one hand, he’s now one of the most important figures in the college baseball to Major League Baseball pipeline, and he’s thoughtful about how he can improve that aspect.

On the other hand, this milestone for the league is astonishing and worthy of celebration and accolades in and of itself.

The Cape Cod Baseball League started with four teams in 1923. For comparison, the Northwoods League and New England Collegiate Baseball League, two other top leagues in the nation, were founded in the 1990s.

So how is Lang planning to celebrate the last 100 years while planning for the next 100? Patch asked him just that during a recent interview.

Patch: What’s the leadup to your first season as president been like as the league heads into its 100th year?

Lang: It was interesting. Yeah, being involved for a little while, you kind of have an idea, but the only way I can describe it is until you’re doing it, you really have no idea of everything that’s going on.

With Wareham that was nice. It’s just one team, I started off just on the GM side. So you know, taking care of the roster. Pretty much everything baseball-related or that touched the players. Then moving to be the president of the Gatemen, then you’re starting to look at everything else, you know, concessions, merchandise, running game day events, just everything.

But now with the league. There are so many different things. There’s merchandise, each team broadcasts their own games, and then there are different potential deals you have with getting your games on different platforms.

I’m starting to get into a little bit of a flow. It’s the 100th year anniversary, and in some areas, the league is up to date. And other areas, you know, the league maybe needs to do need to do a little bit of work to catch the league up to either where technology is or where the industry of baseball is.

Patch: The league recently partnered with BaseballCloud. Is utilizing analytics a priority for you as you take the helm of things?

Lang: Yeah, it is. It’s the next step in the maturation process of this league.

It hasn’t been ignored, because we’ve had track man since 2016. But, you know, the way the league has operated under that is we’ve been very careful on who we give that information to.

It’s proprietary, right, surely, you never want to do anything that would make TrackMan not make money, or anything like that, or do something that they would be upset about, but on the other side, I think we took that overboard with what we’re doing since 2015.

Major league teams don’t care if you post on Twitter, that a kid hit a home run and the exit velo was 105 and, not that I care about launch angle, but the launch angle was, you know, 18 degrees.

But a lot of people care about it. Especially if you want to reach, I don’t know, younger fans, or you want to reach more fans, or you just want to bring in a little bit more interest in what’s going on.

I mean, it’s all out there, and we haven’t used it the way that I feel like we should, and we’re going to start.

When you’re a player, if you’re collecting all this information, and it’s never getting to you, or if you’re collecting all the information, and then a little bit is getting to you, or if you’re collecting it and it’s getting to you, but there’s no condensing of the information, no actual analytical work to try to make you understand what’s going on, then why are you collecting the information?

That’s the one leg the league never could figure out.

The individual franchises were trying to do it on their own. Taking all the information, condensing it, and using it to help kids, to improve our broadcasts, to improve pretty much everything. And that’s where BaseballCloud, hopefully, will come in.

Patch: The Cape League has an aura that feels very much like a stepping stone for college players to stamp themselves as future pros, yet it does have an old-school baseball vibe at the same time. Is making the league feel a bit more modern and promoting it to a bigger audience a goal with some of these decisions?

Lang: Yeah, that’s the key. If we want to continue doing what we do we need to take that next step. The players aren’t the same players that were here 20 years ago, they’re not even the same players that were here when I first started.

It’s a different age of player, obviously it’s a different type of consumption from the fans. Some fans will be strictly Twitter, some fans will be strictly Instagram, but some will be both. Maybe a fan will watch a game, maybe they’ll just watch the clips and the highlights. But if we don’t provide any of that, then we’ve lost. We don’t have that fan.

It’s just developing and building the brand. I don’t want the Cape League to be the best kept secret.

Patch: From a player’s perspective, what do you think is the purpose of the league? Is it a developmental opportunity? Is it a chance to raise their status and get in front of scouts and front office guys?

I see the league as a mixture of both developmental and showcase. We’re not going totally showcase style because we don’t start people with a one-strike count. We don’t do all the showcase rules.

But you know, if you’re a shortstop at your school, and you’re just not going to play there in pro ball and you need to make a position change to get to the highest level you can come up to the Cape and get that done.

If you’re a right-handed hitter and you think you could switch hit then I could name you two coaches that are in the league just off the top of my head — there’s more — that I would probably steer you to to get that accomplished.

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You know, in Wareham when Jerry was our manager, if you were a catcher, and you needed to work on anything or improve, it made sense to come to Wareham to work with Jerry all summer.

But while you’re doing that, you’re also being exposed to every single major league club, you’re also being exposed to pretty much every big player agency because they send their own scouts down here. So with that, it’s that perfect mix of development because everybody comes up to the Cape.

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