Off Base
Baseball Advertising - It's the American Way

February 19, 2007

“Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet.” OK, everybody, sing it with me now. They go together, in the good ole USA. Baseball and hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet. Rah.

Notice how the word “baseball” comes first? And have you noticed how baseball goes together with advertising; just about as well, and in parts equal, as the hot dogs, the apple pie and the Chevrolet? And starting this April, notice how Chicago’s Wrigley Field will finally sport outfield signage for the first time ever.

OK everybody, sing it. In the good ole USA, baseball, advertising, on the ivy-covered walls.

You might as well get used to it. Besides, baseball purists, it’s not that big a deal. You’ll live. There’s nothing wrong with advertising in ball parks, per se. Advertising makes the world go around, after all. Except, and here’s what I don’t get, why is there such a complete lack of creativity in ball park advertising nowdays?

Take any photo of an old ball park, and what stands out as much as anything? Really cool outfield ads. Is there some reason why Outback Steakhouse, or better yet, Ruth's Chris, can’t rig up a beautiful “hit the bull, win a steak” sign someplace? C'mon, where's the bleepin beef? And where’s Men’s Warehouse with that “win a suit” outfield ad?

Why, if the TV commercials can be so memorable, is the outfield signage so mundane?

TV's given us “he missed the tag!!” and “hey, you’re Boog Powell!” and “chicks dig the long ball” and Don Drysdale proving himself grease-ball free by showing off a bottle of Vitalis for all the world to see. Yet, on outfield walls across the land, in the plainest way possible, “Albertsons,” “US Bank,” and coming soon to Wrigley, sock advertising. Rah.

The 2005 Spider Man on-the-bases ad campaign wasn't as criminal a thing as it was made out to be. It’s just that the ads themselves were so lame. Had the bases been covered with spider web graphics, like we’ve done below, only better, that would've been cool. And maybe, if the ads were displayed in one ball park only, and for a single day only; and done up like we're doing, now that would’ve been cool. It wasn’t the notion of advertising Spider Man, it was the lack of imagination and execution that bugged me so. Pun intended…

Talkback: Your comments are always encouraged…

Holy Land Hardball: Now this is creative. With Ron Blomberg, Ken Holtzman and Art Shamsky managing teams, and Dan Duquette serving as Director of Baseball Operations, the Israel Baseball League begins play June 24, 2007. And at least the IBL is showing a sense of humor.

Available answers to a fan poll on the league’s website, regarding the IBL’s plan to end tie games with a home run derby, include these:

“Why can’t you have a home run derby and then, if it is tied, have a baseball game to break the tie?”

”Since this is Israeli baseball, it’s fine but I hope the players will be running from third base to first base instead of from first to third.”

The league also sponsors a “Bat” Mitzvah program, where “boys and girls embark on self-directed projects to collect new and slightly used baseball equipment for needy kids in Israel or in various national Maccabiah programs.

And you simply must read this: Scholars find possible references to baseball in the Bible.

Great Nicknames: Rich Garces is working out with the Nashua Pride of the Cam-Am League, and I for one, am rooting for a successful major league comeback. If for no other reason, Garces sports my all-time favorite nickname, “ Señor Snack.”

Count on It: After watching Kerry Wood throw ten whole pitches last week, Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild said this: “He really looked good. It was only 10 pitches, but the fact that he's on his legs tells me that he feels good arm-wise. You could tell he's done a lot of work with balance and really used his legs well. It was good to see."

Skipper Lou Piniella chimed in Monday with: "He threw the ball nice and easy, The ball really comes out of his hand real easy. He's got some good life to it."

Translation: Wood’s good for 15 or 16 innings in 2007…

Analogies: With apologies to Conan O’Brien: Mitch Kupchak is to the NBA what Bill Stoneman is to MLB…

Media Savvy: The line of last week came from Ken Rosenthal, of “Bonds' contract: Mr. Wonderful eventually will relent and collect his $15.8 million. You know, for the good of the team.”

Baby Announcement: Congratulations to Jana and Dan Holsenback, of San Diego, on the birth of their son, Cal. And a fine baseball name it is. Dan promises, "His parents are raising him as a Padres fan but exposing him to other faiths."

Statue for Sandy: The Koufax in bronze campaign continues. Please Vote “Yes on 32.” And tell a friend…

Remember, glove conquers all….








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