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Wednesday, February 04, 2009
I got a Pottery Barn Kids catalog in the mail today because I'm a suburban father and that's what they send us when they stop sending our wives the Victoria's Secret Catalog.
Anyway, I was kind of interested in one of their new product lines:
Introducing our Major League Baseball collection of officially licensed products.
There's bedding and rugs and framed jerseys and decorative shams and lamps and everything you can imagine. It's pretty cool stuff! The bedspreads come in queen size too, so for the first time in years, Mrs. Shyster may soon be getting a surprise in the bedroom. Since she hates baseball, however, the surprise is likely to be just as disappointing as the last one. Anyway.
My only quibble -- aside from introducing kids to the concept of decorative shams and merchandise that is approximately 200% more expensive than it has any right to be -- is that they seem to be going out of their way to use mascot logos instead of the traditional team logo. This doesn't bother me with the better-known mascots like Mr. Met and the Phanatic, but it seems a bit much to include that stupid Diamondbacks wolf, whatever the green Red Sox thing is, and any number of simply cartoonized animals that aren't even official mascots.
Not to go all old man on you here, but when I was a kid I was fascinated by the actual team logos. They seemed cool and official and maybe even a bit grown up. If someone gave me a gift with baseball wrapping paper or something I would look at it forever, studying the logos and thinking how totally cool they were. There was something excitedly menacing in that realistic Tigers' logo and something almost artistic or poetic in the Cardinals' birdies on the baseball bat see-saw. Sure, those are commercial logos like the Nike swoosh and all of the rest, but I wanted to look at them longer and, more importantly for baseball's sake, I wanted to own more stuff with the logos on them.
My kids get enough cartoons. If I was the kind of guy who bought them decorative pillow shams and got them one with a smiling cartoon bear (Twins) or dinosaur (White Sox) on them, I'm certain that they'd cast them aside when they got older and interested in more grown-up things. My worry, both as a father and as a baseball fan, is that they'd cast aside all that is associated with those silly cartoons too.
Blood is clearly in the water with respect to the Citigroup-Mets naming rights deal, and when blood is in the water, reason is often the first thing thrown overboard:
"They just act as though the taxpayers' money is free money, and they can spend it any way they want. Well, no they can't," says Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D, Ohio), who adds that taxpayers have the right to be upset.
Another article on the subject up and asks "should companies that receive federal bailouts be putting big money into these types of naming rights deals?"
Would I pay the Mets $400 million for naming rights? Probably not (though it may not be the craziest thing in the world). But I'm not running Citigroup, and the people who are (or were) made that decision and signed that paperwork years ago. They have a binding contract, and unless it has some sort of escape clause -- or unless the federal government or the increasingly critical masses want to help them defend the inevitable lawsuit in the event they welsh on the deal -- they are pretty much stuck, no? I'll go a step further and guess that if someone really wanted to take a fine-toothed comb to Citigroup's books, they'd find things way more outrageous than the money currently slated to go to the Mets. No one can get on TV by complaining about those things, however.
In any event, when it comes to existing naming rights deals like this one, it's not a matter of "should." That horse left the barn long ago. It's a matter of "now what?" So please let us ignore anyone with their knives out over the Citigroup-Mets deal -- especially elected officials with cameras in-tow -- unless they have a proposed solution to go along with it.
It's a slow news day, so let's leverage the ShysterBlogosphere for some content:
With the newspaper business in as much trouble as it is, you'd think that reporters wouldn't do stupid things to hurt their credibility like consult blatantly unqualified sources for expert commentary, but they still do it all the time:
Craig Calcaterra, a Columbus, Ohio, lawyer who applies his expertise and baseball passion to a blog called “The Hardball Times,” said yesterday in a telephone interview: “There needs to be a second half to [testing] for it to mean anything. Since Clemens has admitted to taking B-12 shots from McNamee, unless they also can establish those needles were used for steroids or some other performing-enhancing drug, I’m not sure this advances the story.”
Best part: the reporter -- Newsday's John Jeansonne -- was nice enough not to include me yelling at my daughter to stop picking on her brother in the middle of that quote.
As anyone who has read this blog for a long time knows, I am firmly against Kevin Costnerly-funded stadiums, but people continue to be suckered into such deals over and over again.
There's a quote by some author which goes "no winter lasts forever and no spring skips its turn." I can't remember who said it, but he certainly wasn't a baseball fan from Ohio.
Today at THT: