Swing And A Miss Marketing

December 20, 2011

We received a 2012 calendar from a local business yesterday. It’s one of those with the calendar on the bottom and pictures of Chicago on the top. The calendar has helpful reminders like February 10th which shows “Monster Truck Jam, Allstate Arena, thru 2/12; Girls H.S. Bowling Tournament, Rockford, thru 2/11”. Be sure to note that on July 4th there’s an entry for “4th of July Parade, Arlington Heights.”  I grew up in Arlington Heights and it’s got a great 4th of July Parade, but so do lots of communities around here, most notably, right next door in Evanston.

A quick flip through it revealed a curious set of pictures; one that only occasionally shows the beauty of our city.

January: A snow-covered Grant Park
February: The Belmont ‘L’ Stop in a blizzard
March: A very thin view of the very green Chicago River photographed through several nondescript buildings

May: An unidentified White Sox player is fouling off a pitch (the ball is above and behind him as he swings); not hitting a home run or even getting a single.  A foul ball; strike two!  In the background are Sox fans huddled in parkas and ski hats, looking generally displeased.  (It has occurred to me that you could take a picture at a Sox game on the most beautiful day imagined and it could be appropriately captioned “Sox fans looking generally displeased.”)  Not only is the photo of something not-so-great happening, there are a grand total of zero happy people in the picture.

He fouls it off for strike two. And let's immortalize this moment, shall we?













July: Fireworks at the lakefront, although there’s nothing in the shot but smoke, explosions and a few boats in the foreground. A picture taken at a random Wisconsin lake would hardly look different.  Hey, Mr. Photographer!  Have you seen those giant buildings?  They make a wonderful backdrop!

November:  November is my favorite. It’s a photo of a Bears game in Soldier Field. The Brett Favre-led Minnesota Vikings are lined up a the Bears’ 2-yard line and are about to score.  The Bears in the shot are looking around at each other, pointing to one another like they’re not sure who is doing what on the upcoming play.  Now there have been years in which that really is how most Bears games are played, but jeez. At least it’s not snowing!

In a year in which the Bears lose in the NFC Championship Game to the eventual Super Bowl Champs, THIS is the best picture of a football game you've got?!















December: Ice skating in a(nother) snowstorm!

I’ve lived here most of my life and it’s a fact that it might snow in each of the months in which snow is shown falling or having fallen.  I also understand that snow makes for interesting photographs, but looking at the calendar as a whole, you’d swear it snowed all the time and the calendar might be for a more picturesque version of Minot.

That makes seven (7!) of the twelve months with inexplicably bad pictures in them! I’m sure that the nice people who own the business that sent the calendar merely bought it as a completed project and put their advertisement on it as opposed to personally having selected the pictures, so I assign no blame to them.   They were just unwitting sponsors of this train wreck of a marketing piece.

For A Single Set of Rules For Baseball

June 19, 2011

We need to define exactly what “baseball” is.  Do pitchers need to bat or don’t they?  One way or the other.  Having two sets of rules makes as much sense as…nothing.  There are no circumstances in which having two sets of rules for a single sport makes any sense.

Imagine a world in which hockey games in the Eastern Conference get six skaters plus a goalie–except when they’re playing a Western Conference team on the road in which they would revert back to the “traditional” five skaters plus a goalie.  It would create chaos–just as it’s done in baseball (although in more subtle ways).  The game has changed in a fundamental way–perhaps for the better, I don’t know.  But there should be ONE set of standards for the game.

Having become only a sporadic watcher of baseball, the oddity of this situation has grown the less I watch.

Major League Baseball needs to change it.  One way or the other.

The silliest work uniform

April 19, 2011

Im wearing this for the tax deduction.

It is not possible that anyone has a work uniform more silly and less tied to their actual job than baseball managers and coaches.

They’re not going to play in the game.

Heck, if all goes well, they’ll never leave the dugout!

But for some reason, by the 1940’s managers had abandoned wearing “street clothes” (a phrase that I can’t say without thinking of hookers–a character flaw, I’m sure) and exchanged them for a team uniform.  These are fat old men in a sport in which fat and old are not disqualifiers for participation. But even young and relatively thin Joe Girardi, manager of the New York Yankees looks stupid.

Do they do it for the tax deduction?

IRS Publication 529 says:

Work Clothes and Uniforms

You can deduct the cost and upkeep of work clothes if the following two requirements are met.

  • You must wear them as a condition of your employment.
  • The clothes are not suitable for everyday wear.

It is not enough that you wear distinctive clothing. The clothing must be specifically required by your employer. Nor is it enough that you do not, in fact, wear your work clothes away from work. The clothing must not be suitable for taking the place of your regular clothing.

While it qualifies, I’m sure that’s not the reason.  “Tradition,” Tevya says. And yet it wasn’t always thus. At a holiday gathering long ago, I was once told that, “Tradition is what you resort to when you don’t have the time or the money to do it right.”  You’d think that Major League Baseball wouldn’t have that problem.

Are there no mirrors in the Manager’s Offices in these ballparks?  Do they not see how ridiculous they look?

Imagine if NBA coaches had to wear their team uniforms.  People would stop watching the Orlando Magic, coached by Stan Van Gundy, if not the entire league.  No one wants to see that.

Imagine THIS in a basketball uniform. Ye Gods!

Phillies Run Production (Not So Mysteriously) Down

June 2, 2010

Today’s WSJournal notes that prior to May 12, the Philadelphia Phillies were averaging 5.4 runs per game. Since May 12, they’re averaging only 3.4.

What’s so special about May 12? It was the day Major League Baseball warned the Phillies about stealing the pitching signs of teams they were playing.

No sign-stealing = fewer runs.

No spying on opponents’ practices = fewer offensive touchdowns and fewer wins for the New England Patriots.

I’m just saying.

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