How I learned to stop worrying and love the Ad Sponsored Uniform

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:

nascar

Just imagine me holding a glove or a bat

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:

ea09d8d677257bcfeeb525cb7f7f4cab

GRAN CACIQUE is not his name

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.

omar-vizquel

Grabbing a fielder’s leg to prevent the double play is not a new thing either. Joey Bats is a just a traditionalist.

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:

 

leones1

Everyone is going for the high-five, #64 is going for the low-five

franklin-gutierrez

Franklin Gutierrez totally oblivious to the fact that he’s a walkin’ billboard. Did I mention they later added a small DirecTV logo just above the L?

 

 

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:

escogido

From the Dominican Republic: Leones del Escogido. Wow, 109? Have they really run out of double digit numbers? BB must be Bat Boy? That’s not very PC.  Shouldn’t it be Bat Person? Also, no. That’s not the Induveca family playing together.

 

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:

FOTO CAMISA LEONES

Nary an ad or sponsor in sight.

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:

uniforme-tigres

Someone pass clydeserra some smelling salts

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):

tigres-rosado

Someone pass professormaddog31 some smelling salts

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!

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14 thoughts on “How I learned to stop worrying and love the Ad Sponsored Uniform

  1. Harsh fan rebukes on social media might actually rock the confidence of some owners, but they will utilize their vast network of media supplicants to calm the waters. The media values access above all else, so get ready for most of the baseball talking heads to condescendingly explain to you how only some naive Bernie Sanders voter would turn down any opportunity to squeeze more money out of this golden goose.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Those leagues mentioned above actually need money just to cover operating expenses. Except for NASCAR, but the average racing fan would proudly display this in their living room. Their brains don’t register tacky.

    Liked by 1 person

    • While true for some leagues, profit and making money IS the name of the business. Unless MLB determines it would be supremely detrimental to their bottom line they would go for it. As an example let’s look at stadium naming rights. MLB teams do not need them (other sports included but focus on the baseball teams):

      http://espn.go.com/sportsbusiness/s/stadiumnames.html

      In most cases those naming rights barely cover the salary of a bullpen arm. It’s a drop in the bucket and yet they do it. Because it doesn’t negatively impact their bottom line. The Yankees won’t do it because they KNOW it’s a huge part of their brand so it would really be detrimental and for absolutely little or no gain in comparison with the cash they’re making hand over fist in other aspects of their operation.

      That said MLB is the most conservative sports institution on the planet. They won’t put up billboards in their player uniforms over night. Like a frog in slowly boiling water they’ll likely start out small and increase it over time. Spread out so you don’t really notice it as it’s going on. And only for the right price.

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    • Yep, season openers in Japan and Australia if I’m not mistaken. There’s a picture of Manny Ramirez with an EMC patch and RICOH on his helmet floating around on the net. By and large these are just “special occasion” events but no doubt it’s MLBs testing ground to see what can be done for ad space in the future.

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      • also against the A’s. and coincidentally the last major league baseball games I actually sat down to watch all the way through. I think it was 2008. and Brandon moss hit a home run of Huston street to send it to extras where the A’s lost.

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  3. personally, i don’t care that much. I mean, its not my team, it belongs to John Fischer. if he wants a big gap ad on the uni’s its his choice.

    ads are part of the game. they always have been.

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