A Merchandising Intervention
What I’m about to say, Baseball, comes from a place of love. I’m so glad to have you in my life. You create a richness to every warm summer evening. You are the murmur of a crowd while a drink sweats in my hand. You bring together peoples from all walks of life and weave a cultural tapestry which binds generations.
But, Baseball, you have an addiction. We’ve known for a little while, seen it grow, but after what you did this past Memorial Day, we simply can’t ignore it any longer. You might as well face it, Baseball, you’re addicted to merchandising.
This is an intervention.
As the rest of the United States awoke to the solemnity of Memorial Day, your member clubs crapped this steaming pile of a tweet in our collective laps.
I don’t care if it was your idea, Baseball, or New Era’s, you both should know better.
A day to honor the freedoms purchased with the blood and sweat of fallen soldiers, and you tell us to “tip” and purchase (foreign made) caps? I don’t see how buying stuff “honors” those brave men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice in the name for freedom. It’s a crass, money-grubbing, no-good, un-American, punk-ass move, Baseball. Were you a batter and I the pitcher, I’d waste no time in throwing heat right at your damn ear hole.
This is to say nothing of the merch designs themselves. Pink for Mother’s Day and blue for Father’s Day I understand. How, though, does camouflage honor the dead? (The answer, of course, is that it doesn’t. Camo is a golden goose of branding, a proven merch-mover of everything from caps and cargo shorts to lingerie and light beer.) If you really want to honor the war dead, baseball, wouldn’t a simple black armband be more appropriate? And if black is too subdued, then what about the symbol of the fallen soldier, the gold star?
Or better yet, you could take a page from Adidas’ book. You could take your cues from Tigers players Justin Verlander, Andrew Romine, Nick Castellanos, and Alex Wilson: use the poppy. Dating back to the horrors of WWI, the simple red poppy has been the symbol of the brave fallen. It’s elegant, understated and wholly appropriate.
But flowers are just too…girly, aren’t they, Baseball? Flowers don’t play well in you key demos, don’t inspire consumerism among the shameless men with a wealth of disposable income and jingoism? Because that’s the heart of your addiction, Baseball: you could very easily do the right thing, honor the fallen as you say you want to, but you don’t. Given the choice between the right thing and making a few bucks, you choose the money.
At least you had the sense to remove Wahoo from Cleveland’s sleeves. At least you didn’t claim honor while demeaning a whole people. Then again, you probably sold a wealth of Block C Cleveland shirts to the jersey-buying woke.
You have a merchandising problem, Baseball. It used to be that a uniform represented its city. Now the uniform represents revenue. You’ve put the cart before the horse, sold a bit of your soul for a quick buck. Baseball is supposed to be the American Pastoral. Now it feels like you’ve sold advertising space on the shores of Walden’s Pond.
Go ahead, baseball, sell your overpriced polyester shirts and your fifty varieties of “fashion cap” in colors unrelated to your teams. But don’t let your addiction drag the very soul of America through the mud. If you want to honor the fallen on Memorial Day, then actually fucking do it. Don’t use the blood of soldiers to hawk your wares. Don’t tweet out ads for camo caps in the solemn hours of Memorial Day.
You have a merchandising problem, baseball. Stop now before its too late.