By Vince Grzegorek
A couple of years ago some friends and I took a road trip to Chicago to see the Indians play the White Sox on Opening Day. As a promotion that day, the Sox gave out “Rally Socks,” which was just one white sock given to each fan. One of my friends, slightly inebriated and irritated by the Sox fans all around us, held up the white sock and said, “What the hell is this? What do you want me to do with it? Jerk off?”
And so it goes with a lot of promotional giveaways, a frustratingly high percentage of which consists of cheap stuff that you either leave under your seat or throw away while walking out of the game (or drunkenly mock). How cheap? Well, in a world of corporate naming rights and million dollar sponsorships, the Astros don’t even need someone like Coke or Toyota to give you a free tote bag — they just need one lonely dentist. That just screams, “We are giving you something really, really cheap.”
Why should we complain, though? It’s free, so shouldn’t we just sit back and be thankful that we got anything in the first place? Well, not when the stuff they give out is not just cheap, but cheap crap.
Every now and then, however, a team comes up with something really cool. And a lot of the best giveaways this year have been uni-related. For example, my personal favorite of the year so far: Rick Vaughn Glasses Giveaway Night at Jacobs Field, to celebrate the release of the commemorative edition of the Major League DVD. Seriously, who wouldn’t save those and wear them around the office, or to the grocery store, or to your in-laws’ house? Pair them with the Anderson Varejao wig you got earlier in the year at the Cavs game and you’ve got Wild Thing covered from all angles.
The second best uni-related giveaway of the year so far had to be the Rally Cap Night conducted by the Giants. When it comes to the “Is it good or is it stupid?” test, this one definitely lands on the right side. (My only concern would be that to give out rally caps before the game starts would seem to indicate that you expect to need them later on in the game, which would mean that your team would be losing, which seems a bit pessimistic, right?)
Unfortunately, Cap Night also seems to be an instance where teams feel the need to innovate, probably because the tradition has been around so long and the prospects of receiving yet another boring hat doesn’t really bring in hordes of fans through the turnstiles. The result of such outside-the-box thinking tends to be sartorial disaster though, because for every Rally Cap Night or Military Appreciation Night (which Arizona seems intent on screwing up with the ugliest camouflage hat I have ever seen) there are horrendous attempts at being creative and cute. Disgusting. Embarrassing. Ridiculous. *$&#(!@! Cheap looking. Useless. Stupid. Really stupid. Kinda makes you pine for one of those plain old boring cap nights, eh?
Alas, there’s not much you can do. Unless you’re getting a rally cap, some awesome glasses, a bobblehead, a Nacho Libre mask, a Ryan Freel dirty shirt, or this Angels clock (which is only cool because it looks like the uniform has shorts and not pants), then you simply grab your phone holder, imitation World Series ring, poster, or whatever and politely leave it under your seat like a normal person. Maybe next time you look at a schedule you’ll pay more attention to the day when Oakland gives out an A’s tie (which is Father’s Day, by the way).
Vince’s Ticker: Check out a list of the Top 10 major league promotions this year, and then roll on over to this page and marvel at 10 of the top minor league promotional nights ever. … Want to know why the Cubs have over 54 promotional events this year and why the PR people from Boston think Red Sox fans couldn’t care less about giveaways? Check out this article. … If you live in Cleveland and haven’t yet visited the Baseball as America exhibit, get on it right away. Not only is it worth it to spend a couple of hours delving through baseball’s history, but there are plenty of uni-related items along the way. Personal favorites include: Eddie Gaedel’s 1/8 jersey, Knee-Saver pads invented by Sandy Alomar Jr., the special “Star Spangled” White Sox jersey, Curt Schilling’s hat from the 2001 playoffs, and the first catcher’s mask ever used. … Larry Hughes headband watch- The Plain Dealer reported that in Game One against the Nets Hughes went 1-4 for two points and three assists before taking off his headband with 2:30 left in the first quarter, and 6-16 for 15 points, three assists and four steals afterwards. … After catching some flak for his “mussy” haircut at the draft, Brady Quinn showed up to mini camp neatly coiffed. … On a whiny note: I hate that the blue in the Indians’ batting helmets doesn’t match the blue in the jersey or the hats. Right? … Wondering what throwback jerseys might be in store for the Cavaliers in the upcoming years? After going with the orange route this past season, don’t be surprised if this design makes an appearance in the next year or two. I have it from a good source (who spoke personally to Dan Gilbert) that Mr. Gilbert likes this version best and it shouldn’t surprise anyone to see it soon. Personally, I think the design is fantastic and I have nothing to say but, “WHAM with the right hand!”