Common sense says it's by design
If the television program Mad Men has taught us anything, it’s that sometimes selling out can be artistic too. That starving artist bit… bah! It takes a real craftsman to take something utterly useless and turn it into something that everyone must have.
Take the plate appearances by Single-A minor league outfielder Bryce Harper of the Hagerstown Suns, for instance. Whenever the slugging high school dropout steps to the plate for the Washington Nationals’ affiliate, the P.A. announcer at Suns games will read a prepared statement:
“Now batting, Bryce Harper, brought to you by Miss Utility, reminding you to call 811 before you dig…”
Look, if you’re going to dig a hole, no matter what the circumstance, it’s a good idea to make a call or two. After all, there are zoning laws in most communities designed to keep folks away from trouble. Say you’re out in the yard digging a hole, just having a day out, and then all of a sudden a water pipe bursts, or underground wires are disturbed, or worse, a time capsule is disturbed long before it’s to be unearthed.
We can’t have that.
Nevertheless, we understand that the folks at Miss Utility are looking out for the people in Hagerstown, Md., and if they can make a buck or two off your potential hole-digging excursions, all the better. But it takes money to make money — or something like that. Besides, this isn’t about Miss Utility or the trench at the property line. No, this is about Bryce Harper and commerce and forward thinking.
“They jumped at the opportunity to be connected with the top prospect in Major League Baseball, knowing that the window of opportunity as a nonprofit to be associated with an athlete of this caliber is very limited,” reads the e-mail accompanying the press release about Miss Utility sponsoring Bryce Harper’s Hagerstown at-bats. All of which I love typing.
Of course, the forethought of Miss Utility illustrates an amazing array of missed opportunities here in Philadelphia. Yeah, sure, the Bimbo Bread company has plastered its logo front and center on the front of the Philadelphia Union’s kits, but let’s take a moment to reflect on Bimbo’s incredible error of foresight…
Where were they when Pat Burrell was in town? Just imagine this nugget from Dan Baker:
“Now batting, brought to you by Beeem-bo, Pat Burrell …”
Too easy? Of course it is. However, why is it that a company in Hagerstown came up with the idea of sponsoring plate appearances before a big league team/company? Oh, the big league teams might trot out something like “purity” of the game with a straight face as if they haven’t already sold every square inch of the ballpark built with public funds as for why they won’t sell in-game announcements, but let’s face it, it’s coming. Considering the Phillies have already milked every dime out of Citizens Bank Park short of raising ticket prices to Yankee Stadium levels and only sell the last legal drug until the seventh inning, this could be the way to go.
Think about it… selling plate appearance sponsorships could be the difference in buying Michael Young to play second base for the short term.