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Major League Branding

(AP (file))
Why don't they just slap corporate logos on major league baseball uniforms and get it over with?

After watching the first two games of the World Series (thus the bags under my east coast eyes), I'd thought I was the only one who thought that Fox was spending a little too much time talking about a few of their sponsors.

See, there's this nationally-known taco place (yes, that one – the one that's not Baja Fresh or Chipotle) that has a promotion where if a player steals a base, then they give away tacos to America. It was an interesting eyebrow-raiser the first time I heard it.

Then the second time, I thought "Well, maybe some viewers weren't watching an hour ago."

But as the games have gone on, the promotion has become more than a little sideshow. It's become a consistent component of the broadcast.

And it's not just me. Richard Sandomir at the New York Times thinks so, too.

Game 1 of the World Series was won by the Red Sox.

But it belonged to Taco Bell, which is not related to Cool Papa, Buddy, Gus or Heath.

I've rarely seen a sponsor so overtly and shamelessly integrated into a game, which is great news for those who love what Taco Bell is giving away: crunchy seasoned beef tacos.

And here were Fox's Joe Buck and Tim McCarver in the bottom of the sixth Wednesday night.

"No stolen bases yet in the game," McCarver said, as David Ortiz batted.

"No free tacos for America," Buck said. "At some point it's going to happen."

Then, after Ortiz's flyout, Fox cut to the Red Sox bench where Royce Clayton, who was wired for Fox, and Coco Crisp (their combined 2007 salary: $5.3 million), engaged in 40 seconds of taped, unprompted (?), cheerful chit-chat about how to get those tasty freebies.

Did anyone worry that Manny Ramírez was at the plate? Or was this just a case of letting Taco Bell be Taco Bell?

Then Sandomir read my mind and saw a similar thing happening with the blimp flying overhead, sponsored by a certain satellite TV company.
That please-the-sponsor sentiment was evident when Buck clucked with awe several times during Wednesday's broadcast about the DirecTV starship that hovered above Fenway Park, flashing images from its HD screen. "It's hard to take your eyes off it," he said, as if Alyssa Milano were floating over the Green Monster.
That's a good idea, Richard. Let's have Milano fly the blimp. Well, at least he avoided a gratuitous Jeanne Zelasko blimp joke, which truly would have been fighting words.

And since I'm on the topic of the World Series coverage, I've got to ask: What's the purpose of having an on-screen graphic tracking pitch location in the strike zone, if you don't make note of when the umpire gets a call wrong?

A few times in the two games an umpire has called a pitch a strike, only to have the graphic prove him wrong a few seconds later. I'm not saying that the announcers have to shame the umpires, but they've completely ignored the opportunity to even mention the mistake.

I'm sure wherever he is, Don Denkinger wishes he'd gotten off as easy. Enjoy the games this weekend, readers.

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