Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Cynicism Concerning Special Uniforms

Several times a year now, Major League Baseball dictates that special uniforms appear in either some baseball games or in all of them for a certain day. For example, some are for good causes such as Jackie Robinson day when everybody wears 42 (still think there should be a Larry Doby Day) and yesterday, all teams wore special hats commemorating Memorial Day. At other times of the year, teams will play games with "throw back" uniforms. All of this sounds like a product of good ideas. But perhaps the cynic here just thinks that it sounds more like a good product.

The selling of MLB game wear has become a huge money making business for baseball and its teams. With baseball's unique and seemingly untouchable antitrust waiver, all of this business is controlled by the MLB. The players get a chunk of the money and the rest is split evenly among major league teams (even though some teams' wear is more valuable than others).

So the question is: Are these special uniform days truly for good causes or does it simply provide MLB with new product for its vast apparel wear business? Several teams now have alternate uniforms and hats that are purely a commercial way to sell stuff besides the standard version. The Red Sox red home uniforms seem like a perfect example. There are already special version hats and uniforms such as All Star version and even batting practice versions. You can also buy special "authentic" uniforms like a Yogi Berra version.

The Fan checked out the MLB shop site and perhaps the cynicism is misplaced. Although a replica of Jackie Robinson's uniform is for sale, the Jackie Robinson uniforms don't seem to be found for sale. But you can buy the special patch that went on the uniforms and the baseballs stamped especially for that day.

But, the special caps worn for Memorial Day are for sale with this description: "Special-edition cap to be worn by players for games played on Memorial Day, July 4th and September 11, 2010, to raise awareness for the Welcome Back Veterans Fund." It doesn't say that the proceeds will go to the fund, but that the caps simply "raise awareness."

So maybe the cynicism is warranted. Maybe it isn't. But the prices aren't cheap and they sell like crazy.

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