Last week Craig wrote about how the NBA has approved placing Ads on their jerseys for next season. He also pointed out that MLB will likely do this themselves one day. Naturally the reaction of the fan base has been a mixture of horror and apoplexy. Apparently when you mention the possibility of placing ads on a Major League Baseball jersey this is the first thing that comes to mind:
Sponsorship on uniforms is nothing new of course. Soccer does it as well as other sports. Hell, soccer was the pioneer of ad sponsorship on jerseys. Mental floss has a brief overview of this. Phil Hecken over at Uni-Watch wrote about the NBA’s decision as well, pretty much announcing the end of the world as we know it. I’m guessing he’s trying to channel Gandalf and imagines himself at the top of some tower watching the hordes of advertisements roll down from Mordor.
My take on it? Meh. I’m way ahead of all of you by at least 30 years if not more. I’m jaded. Sponsorship in baseball uniforms is not a new thing. Take a look at this picture from 1980:
That’s Antonio Armas sliding into home plate. Ignore the white arrow pointing at the ball reaching the catcher and instead focus on the number 20 on his back. Gran Cacique is the brand name of a Venezuelan rum (pretty good one too). In good old winter ball the backs of jerseys have almost always been reserved for ad sponsorships of one kind or another, never a baseball player’s name.
Here’s another example from an in-his-prime Omar Vizquel sometime in the early 90’s.
That writing says REGIONAL, shown on the back of the jersey of the runner and it’s a famous beer brand in Venezuela. Over time things have evolved a bit, true. Nowadays we also have small patches on the sleeves and uniform fronts similar to soccer in addition the branding on the back:
Even batting helmets get some advertisement (Those are league wide I think). I’m sure anxiety levels are starting to rise at this point and a few may even be popping pills or opening bottles. All I can say is that the ads, like Marcus Brody, are spread from here to Sudan but tend to blend in and disappear. Your brain filters them out and ignores them. I’m pretty much unaware of them when I view the games. To me this will go the same way as extended netting. People will complain, bitch and moan and then will get used to it. This is pretty much how I grew up watching baseball in the late 80’s early 90’s and it never turned me off and I was never confused as to which team was wearing what. The team colors are still prominent and the team names and logos still are much larger in proportion to the ads. Only the space where a player name would be fills the available space and it’s still dwarfed by the player number.
Thirty years from now we won’t imagine anything different. Once upon a time, putting a player’s name on the back of a uniform was considered sacrilege too. In fact here’s some fun stuff, triple digits and larger letters instead of numbers:
In any case, if you’re fearing that MLB will make you dress up little Jimmy or sweet Sally with his/her favorite team’s jersey emblazoned with Coca-Cola or some other sponsor I am skeptical that will happen. Here’s a sample from the official team store for Leones del Caracas:
All of the official wear for sale I have seen or bought is sans-ads. In the Caribbean the industry is well aware that fans won’t tolerate merchandise with over the top ads. A small manufacturer logo is about as far as I think it will go. Now if you want to see some truly monstrous heinous form of uniform sacrilege check these out:
We too have teams that use ridiculous camouflage inspired uniforms on occasion. At least this one was actually for armed forces day or some such. The team Tigres de Aragua plays in the city of Maracay close to the primary army base so I’m not surprised they did that. What came next was a doozy (in support of the fight against breast cancer):
And you thought MLB was overdoing it with pink bats or pink batting gloves. Man, those people are amateurs! These are one-offs of course. At the end of the day, whatever happens to the uniforms, it will not impinge on my enjoyment of the game. As a friend constantly reminds me:
The Play is the Thing.
So stop worrying, whatever happens will happen. Your brain will learn to remove the fluff. Just focus on the faces, the ball, the gloves, the field etc. After a while you won’t even notice it. It’s called selective attention. Just roll with it baby!