A special brand of game-day promotions
The weather forecast for May 5 called for a 74-degree, partly-cloudy day. But as I sat in the 200 level at Wrigley Field, shivering under two T-shirts, a sweatshirt and a jacket, I wondered if all of Chicago's meteorologists had started their Cinco de Mayo celebrations a few days early.
I shoved my hands into my pockets and ignored my too-cold-to-hold Old Style, wishing for a mid-game giveaway. Hat, gloves, scarf -- heck, by that point I would've rocked a Cubs Snuggie with a giant bank logo on it.
In Chicago, the winter gear giveaways shouldn't end until about mid-June, just to be safe. And in Los Angeles, they should reward the last 5,000 fans at the ballpark -- ya know, the ones who stay until the end of the game instead of leaving early to beat traffic.
Marlins attendees deserve protective glasses to cut down the glare from the ballpark's new home-run monstrosity, while in Philly, all children under the age of 10 should be given earplugs to block the sound of swearing fans and helmets to shield against any batteries flying past their heads.
These aren't the only markets missing out on some brilliant marketing tie-ins. So while teams are rolling out the same old crap (ahem, Hand Sanitizer Keychain Day presented by New York Presbyterian Hospital at Yankee Stadium), I'm putting in my bid for a few new ideas:
St. Louis Cardinals
• Mullet Mow-Down Night, presented by Sport Clips: The first 5,000 fans sporting a mullet get a respectable haircut for free. Patrons with rat tails eligible, as well.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
• Albert Pujols Salary Calculator Night, presented by BMO Harris Bank: The bank that wants to help teach kids about the value of money is now helping fans learn the value of a big-league contract. A few taps of the keys will show Pujols is currently making $240 million per home run, $26.6 million per RBI and $10.4 million per hit.
• Jamie Moyer Bobblehead with Bendable, Creaking Knees Night, presented by Aleve For Arthritis: The bobblehead's left hand can hold any of three included props -- a baseball, a bat or a cane!
• Bryce Harper Foam Middle-Finger Night, Presented by O'Douls Non-Alcoholic Beer: The Nationals' young phenom isn't even old enough to drink big-boy beer, but he's already drawing the wrath of opposing pitchers like Cole Hamels. With this giveaway in hand, Washington fans can tell Hamels how they feel about the move without even saying a word.
• Grady Sizemore Coffee Mug Night, presented by Starbucks: The first 5,000 women to enter Progressive Field will get a commemorative Grady Sizemore coffee mug. Winners are guaranteed to pause, create a mental picture and start each day with a smile.
• "Francouer's In Town, Hundys All-Around" Night, presented by Fifth-Third Bank: The rare promotional giveaway celebrating a player from an opposing team. In honor of Royals outfielder Jeff Francouer's unique relationship with the fans in Section 149 at the Coliseum, 100 lucky attendees will receive a $100 bill to be used on beer, pizza or bacon items at the concession stands.
• Brian McCann Eye Patch Night, presented by Pirate's Booty snacks: After getting a teammate's finger in the eye while celebrating his grand slam the other night, Braves catcher Brian McCann joined a list of players who have already suffered odd injuries this season. With the Pirate's Booty Eye Patch, fans and players alike can protect against future hazardous high-fives.
• Century Magnet Schedule, presented by the History Channel: Instead of handing out season schedules, which keep fans' thoughts confined to what is sure to be another losing season, this century-based schedule is a more realistic look at the timeline for the team's rebuilding efforts.