Baseball is a sport that allows tradition-junkies to mainline that sticky, tar-like tradition right out in the open. No fear of censure. It's like what 17-year-olds think Amsterdam is, but with tradition. And we're okay with this.
Via the San Francisco Business Times, we learn of the next pending crisis that will make the traditionalists twitch:
When you are up at 3 a.m. PDT Wednesday watching the first game, you might notice that the A’s and Mariners are wearing advertisers’ logos on their batting helmets. And the A’s will wear a patch bought by a company named Gloops …
Major League Baseball will be raking in the cash from these deals.
I'll just hazard a guess at what this might look like:
Something like that. And it's probably a harbinger of what's to come. There would be so much money in advertising on uniforms. Baseball is never going to go the "Ichiro! Presented by Meineke Car Care!" route, nor should we expect major-league parks turning into facsimiles of minor-league parks any time soon. But this stuff will start to creep in. A Nike logo on a hat. A McDonald's patch on a jersey. An entire stadium named after a gum company.
And it will be annoying, just as it's annoying that the Oakland A's play in a place known as O.co Coliseum, or that the Giants and Marlins spent years in stadiums that couldn't keep one corporate sponsor. It will be something that we didn't have to deal with 15 or 20 years ago, and if it annoys us, it'll just kill the traditionalists.
The most important thing to remember: Between two white lines that meet at a right angle, they'll still play baseball. There will be balls, strikes, balks, infield-fly rules, blown calls, rosin bags ... everything. And we'll get used to the ads.
More importantly: Baseball will get all sorts of money. More money means it's less likely that the powers-that-be will futz it all up and deal with a lockout or strike. Maybe it means that it's more likely. I'm not an economist, nor am I especially intelligant. But it seems that if the revenue keeps coming in, both sides will have every reason to avoid a work stoppage. That's all I care about, whether it's 2012 or 2032.
Maybe that's naive. But I'm not too worried about a stray patch on a jersey, at least. I am, though, just a little surprised that it hasn't happened already. The season opener almost certainly isn't going to be the last time it will happen. It begins.