Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Will U.S. ballplayers resemble the peloteros of the Mexican League?

It’s always a bit of a jolt whenever I stumble across the baseball played in the Mexican League or any of the other professional leagues of Latin America – the ballplayers themselves are walking billboards.
No, they're NOT all named 'Coca-Cola'
Heck, in some cases the spot on a uniform jersey where we would expect to see a ballplayer’s name winds up being the brand-name of some company instead.

UNLESS YOU HAPPENED to believe that everybody playing for the team representing the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean Series was named “Orange.” Which, in actuality, is a company that provides wireless services and also sells the SIM cards that are often used by people in Latin American countries to make international telephone calls.

My point being that there already is a portion of baseball that views the uniforms their ballplayers wear as yet another place where advertising can be placed – thereby generating even more revenue for the respective ball clubs.

That trend is coming to the United States.

For it seems that Major League Baseball officials are calling it “inevitable” that the uniforms of the Cubs and White Sox – and all the teams they play against – will have advertising patches placed upon them.
Diablos Rojos de Mexico? Or Banamex?

IT’S NOT KNOWN whether they’d be on the shoulder or across the chest, or if there’d be an effort to make them subtle or incredibly garish so that they are the predominant image. Reducing the Old English “Sox” logo or the interlocking “NY” of the Yankees to an afterthought.

It seems like this can’t happen before 2022 because the players’ association would have to give their approval to having their million-dollar ballplayers be reduced to serving as walking, running and throwing billboards for whichever corporate interest pays the teams the most money.
The Elgin watch 'clock' atop Comiskey, … 

Now I know some people are insisting the idea of advertising across the chest of Mike Trout is somehow blasphemous. Would we have ever dreamed of Babe Ruth becoming a pitch for a product?
… or the Budweiser 'rooftop'' outside of Wrigley?

But to me, I can’t help but wonder why this hasn’t occurred long ago.

BALLCLUBS HAVE ALWAYS used their ballparks as a source of advertising income – allowing companies to place tacky billboards all over their outfield walls and scoreboards.

In some cases, creating images that are regarded as a part of baseball’s history.

Who can forget the old “Schafer” beer sign on the scoreboard of Ebbets Field in Brooklyn (the “h” lit up for a hit and the “e” for an error)? Or the old right field wall at Baker Bowl in Philadelphia, where the ad told us in no uncertain terms that “the Phillies use Lifebuoy” soap.

And any baseball fan worth their salt knows exactly what phrase was added on to the ad by a graffiti-ist.

HECK, EVEN IN Chicago, the old Comiskey Park scoreboard clock was an ad for Elgin watches. While one of my own memories of the first ballgame I went to as a kid was seeing the ad for Carta Blanca beer (which made the first time I actually tasted that cerveza brand a complete letdown).
To this day, baseball fans know the Phillies 'still stink' despite Lifebuoy
And while Wrigley Field denizens used to try to claim their ballpark maintained some sort of purity with no ads on the outfield walls, one can’t ignore that house across the street from left field that was turned into a giant Budweiser ad that everybody in the ballpark could see.

The point being that advertising is part of the character of baseball. And seeing how teams are eager to sell the naming rights to their stadiums themselves to the highest bidder, it probably is inevitable that the uniforms themselves will become space to be sold.

Which means we’ll probably get the day when fans will debate which players bear the most interesting advertising logos. And some smart-aleck will probably speculate that Ernie Banks couldn’t have been that special – nobody ever used his jersey for product placement!


No comments: