Baseball fans have become accustomed to their seeing their favorite MLB teams donning some special edition gear, including revised versions of the New Era caps normally worn, to celebrate various holidays during games. You’ll see pink stuff around Mothers Day, some blue-tinged hats around Fathers Day, stars and stripes-themed gear on the 4th of July, and so on.
As a fan, I never really cared all that much or paid it more attention other than thinking “Hey, that hat is ugly” or “Hey, that hat is pretty cool! I want one!”...the latter being exactly what the MLB store, and New Era caps, wants us to think. Sure, they’re honoring these hallowed, national holidays, but let’s get real; it’s also important that they slang as many limited edition hats and jerseys as possible.
Hey, I get it. There is a business component of baseball that needs to be attended to, but at what cost?
This Memorial Day weekend, with the country honoring the armed forces service members who gave everything they had for this country, including their lives, MLB teams were wearing jerseys and New Era hats with a camo motif to show their respect towards those fallen heroes. OK, that’s totally fine and a nice gesture.
They took it a step farther this year, though, by making teams wear them all weekend long, as opposed to wearing them only on Memorial Day. OK, I had no problem with that either, really. But then, the Angels...and literally every other MLB team...had to go and tweet this:
You’ve gotta be kidding me, MLB. As mentioned, it wasn’t just the Angels that did this; it was all MLB teams, and the wording on every team’s tweet was barely changed, if at all, so you know it’s some boilerplate social media advertising that was mandated by the higher ups at New Era and willingly carried out by every team’s social media managers.
Memorial Day is one of the more solemn days we have in this country, as we take some time out to remember the people that didn’t come home, that put their lives on the line for each and every one of us, in order that we have the freedom to do cool stuff like enjoy some baseball on a sunny May afternoon. The one thing you DO NOT want to do, or appear to do, on Memorial Day is use the event to sell some stuff and help your business’s bottom line.
It all came off as very “Hey, this is a very important and serious day, so remember the troops that died by buying this hat!” and lots of other baseball fans, writers and players noticed this, too, thankfully.
generations of soldiers died protecting our country and its freedoms- don't forget to buy an official baseball hat to say thank you— Brandon McCarthy (@BMcCarthy32) May 29, 2017
Luckily, that kind of push back to MLB/New Era’s extremely bad taste will make it unlikely that they every pull that kind of crap again. The players wearing the hats on the field is what will sell them; you don’t have to go the extra step and have every team tweet about them, but you FOR SURE don’t need to also make them throw in some copy that comes off as making light of the reason we’re honoring the day to begin with.
To be fair, though, there is some good news to come out of this, that could help MLB/New Era to get off the hook: They paid the USMC to license the camoflauge and they donating the profits to “military-centric” charities. That’s great, and maybe those tweets from every club served as a way to boost the sales and thereby boosting the money the charities will receive. Yet, it’s hard not to think there could have been a better way to go about it.
We’ll have to wait and see next year, if any lessons have been learned, though. Here’s to hoping they did.