Advertising, as a form of either clever marketing or blatant mind control that robs individuals of their decision-making sovereignty while consigning them to a groupthink circle jerk to which radically independent hipsters apply the delightfully clever and not at all hivemind-y epithet “sheeple,” has been around for a very, very long time. Examples: The Lascaux Cave paintings were part of an ad campaign for Grak’s Real Pit BBQ. Leonardo’s Mona Lisa served as an ad poster for Luigi’s La Bomba Lip Gloss. And Wagner’s Ring Cycle was a lengthy jingle for Günter’s Chainrings Und Sprockets.
Indeed, the history of advertising is a long illustration of coercion disguised as art – or, at the very least, persuasion concealed in an interesting-to-look-at form. It has always been this way, including that time when Warhol marketed soup. Two weeks back, however, advertising took on an entirely new dimension – specifically, a dimension measuring 20 yards by 53.3 yards – when, in the midst of the Ravens-49ers preseason game, a Toyota Red Zone logo appeared onscreen in what is typically just “the Red Zone,” sans any sort of corporate sponsorship that makes viewers want to gouge out their eyeballs and serve them between a pair of poppyseed buns to Roger Goodell.
This got me thinking: I am kind of hungry! While eating I had a second, non-food thought: What if advertisers were to employ a similar strategy on big league baseball fields? One possible plan: Whenever a player makes an exceptional play, be it offensive or defensive, the advertiser’s message appears in the area of play where the player made that play, no exceptions.
What follows is a list of proposed player-advertiser relationships.
Mike Trout/Leatherman Multi-Tools
Billy Butler/Jimmy Dean’s Breakfast Sausage
Hunter Pence/Awkward Family Photos.com
Evan Gattis/Jan-Pro Cleaning Systems
Aroldis Chapman: JW Tumbles: A Learning Playground
Freddie Freeman/Huggies Disposable Diapers
Freddie Freeman/Hugs Pet Products
Freddie Freeman/Tree Huggers of America
Jose “Joey Bats” Bautista/Bat Conservation International, Inc.
Jayson Werth/Bigfoot Discovery Project and Museum
Mike Napoli/James Beard Cooks with Corning
C.J. Wilson/Orange County Continuing & Adult Education
Troy Tulowitzki/Metro Denver Pain Management
Derek Jeter/Manhattan Gift Baskets
Derek Norris/Oakland Animal Services
Brian McCann/New York State Sheriff’s Association
Brett Gardner/Mt. Baldy Lodge (Mount Baldy, Calif.)
Scott Kazmir/Dan’s Auto Parts & Salvage (Emeryville, Calif.)
Pablo Sandoval/Tat Wong Kung Fu Academy (San Francisco)
Coco Crisp/Cap’n Crunch
Ichiro Suzuki/Honda Motorcycles
Ryan “The Hebrew Hammer” Braun/Shmuley’s Kosher Hardware*
Tim “The Freak” Lincecum/“Freakonomics: The Musical!”*
David “Big Papi” Ortiz/International Consortium Of Opium Cartels*
Yasiel Puig/The American Museum Of Misdirected Outrage*
Bryce Harper/Practical Pat’s Barber Shop: Practical Cuts For Practical Men*
Ian Kinsler/Trash Talk: NPR’s Weekly Discussion Of All Things Garbage*
Tyler Flowers/Tyler (Texas) Flowers, Corsages ’N Big Ol’ Boutonnières*
A.J. Pierzynski/How To Win Foes And Influence Frenemies, Inc.*
Melky Cabrera/Selky Melk: Milk For People Who Mispronounce Vowels*
Austin Jackson/The Midgame Trade Co.*
DJ LeMahieu/Colorado Center For Sampling And Turntable Scratching*
Matt Carpenter/American Woodworkers And Wipers Of Feet Local 459*
Adrian Beltre/Scalpies: Scalp Protectors For Men*
Randy Wolf/Canis Lupus Spay & Neuter Centers Of America*
Robinson Cano/The International Center For Effective Nonchalance*
Drew Smyly/Dr. Funkenlifter’s Good-Time Happy Pills*
* indicates that I might have made it up
John Paschal is a regular contributor to The Hardball Times and The Hardball Times Baseball Annual.