Labor - And A Whole Lot More

Baseball's 'Feel-Good' Promotion
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Hey, baseball fans, don't for a minute think you're safe from the greedy excesses of team owners just because they backed off from their outrageous plan to plaster the bases in mid-June with ads for a new movie that shall be nameless here.

The widespread public outrage that led Major League Baseball's money-chasing executives to drop the ads-on-bases plan obviously had no other effect on them. MLB's President and Chief Operating Officer Robert DuPuy insisted that "any criticism is misplaced," but that the plans for base ads nevertheless were dropped because "it wasn't worth jeopardizing the entire feel-good promotion based on the fact that a few people seemed to object to a small feature of it."

Next, you can be sure, they'll be plastering ads on players' uniforms. We got a preview in this season's opening games between the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Devil Rays that were played in Tokyo because of another outlandish decision by those deep-thinking baseball executives. Television viewers undoubtedly noticed, as MLB very much expected them to, the logos for a maker of photo copiers on the teams' uniform sleeves and batting helmets.

Team owners and players union representatives have been talking for more than five years about putting such ads on all team uniforms, all the time as part of what owner negotiator Tim Brosnan described as an attempt "to find creative ways to bring valuable partners into baseball."

Not to worry, though. Union rep Gene Orza promised that "whatever we do, it will be tasteful." Naturally.

You know, tasteful like the ads that Kentucky Derby jockeys got court clearance to wear on their racing silks this year, a move a leading promoter said "makes the sport of horse racing that much more dynamic."

Tasteful like the corporate logos festooned top to bottom on the jump suits and on the cars of drivers on the NASCAR racing circuit.

Tasteful like the ads on the uniforms of soccer, rugby and basketball teams and even the shirts of umpires and referees in other countries.

Tasteful like the running shoes and warmup suits, shirts and jackets and pants and scarves and neckties and handbags and other items of clothing labeled on the outside by manufacturers with little, if any, complaint from the buyers who thus become human billboards for them - and often eagerly so. Not many complaints are heard, either, from the owners of motor vehicles scrawled front, rear and sides with the maker's name.

Once baseball does begin selling advertising space on players' uniforms, you can be sure other sports will follow. The owners of professional hockey, football and basketball teams, who've also filled their arenas with ads, are no less eager than baseball's moguls to reap yet more ad dollars.

Even members of Congress could get into the act. They could adopt writer Lewis Lapham's suggestion that they wear jump suits decorated with "the trademarks, decals and corporate monograms of their sponsors." During roll call votes, they could also don baseball caps "bearing the insignia of the principal lobby or special interest that they stood ready to defend against the ingratitude of the poor."

Copyright Dick Meister