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A Promotion of Ruthian Proportions
2005-06-10 13:05
by Mike Carminati

Baseball has gotten to the point where the way it can promote itself is with gimmickry or syrupy "Field of Dreams" and "The Natural"-inspired nostalgia. That's why the Red Sox winning the World Series last year was such a great coup for the sport: it incorporated both of those promotional approaches in one great big rowdy package. That's a rarity so baseball has to invent events that they are capable of promoting.

Enter interleague baseball, the game's ugly stepsister that I reported last week had altered the results of possibly ten playoff spots in as many years. But even that aesthetic mess is has become de rigueur. Baseball needed to up the gimmick factor.

So what's a scheduler to do? I can see the boardroom meeting now:

[Dimly lit boardroom with lots of leather and even more scotch, all bearing the label, "Property of Allan H. Selig". An overhead projector sits waiting whirring in the alcohol-laden silence. A Powerpoint cell appears on the screen that reads "MLB Annual Ineffectual Middle Management Suckups Committee". Bud Selig slouches somnolent in an oversized leather chaise lounge in the corner. A peon fans him with an oversized palm leaf. Other than his left hand, which is gently swishing a half-full brandy snifter, and his preternatural drooling, Selig is unmoving, otherworldly, above it all. Men and (rarely) women business suits shuffle in nervously, approach the Selig, bow, kiss its right hand (which it does nothing to acknowledge), and quickly take a seat as far as possible on the other side of the room.]

[The meeting starts.]

Sycophant/Marketing Whiz: OK, Boss, we have some great news for our evil plan
Bud (Jabba-like while reading his mind): Yes, the Red Sox AND the Cubs. It's just crazy enough to work.
[Fadeout amid peals of evil laughter, a few snorts, and intermittent retching into a spittoon.]

What baseball did is pair up the Red Sox and the Cubs in an interleague smorgasbord-a-palooza.

But they couldn't enough let bad enough alone. They have created a line of merchanidise to commemorate the fiasco, the Interleague Collection June 2005 (from Sears).

For $19.99, you can get the evil hat:

Or the evil gold coin, the Highland Mint Boston Red Sox vs. Chicago Cubs 2005 Interleague Matchup Gold Coin to be exact:

Though I have to admit that I kind of like the New York Yankees 4 Line vs. New York Mets 7 Line Cap ($14.99). It reminds me of the crappy subway races on the scoreboard at equally redolent Shea:

2005-06-10 13:44:27
1.   Tom
I honestly thought you photoshopped the subway lines thing. It even looks kinda fake. But no, it's real. . .All too real.

I like that the Cubs/Bosox hat says interleague on it. It's that hat that also informs. Hey, is that from the Cubs/Bosox world series? No, son, it's only a momento of a pointless interleague contest.

2005-06-11 10:27:57
2.   Mike Carminati
If it was Photoshopped, it wasn't me.

"No, son, it's only a momento of a pointless interleague contest."--Yeah, I can't wait for the spring training game hats myself.

2005-06-12 17:22:39
3.   Tom
There are a shocking number of Bosox fans in and around Chicago. I even saw an interleague shirt and hat. MLB is never, ever getting rid of interleague, no matter how much people protest.
2005-06-12 17:53:48
4.   Mike Carminati
Yeah, they're everywhere suddenly. It's like the overnight change in "Shawn of the Dead".

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