Baseball On My Brain


FREE!
January 27, 2008, 11:37 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

With talk of Spring Training being just around the corner, I’m reminded of a running joke a friend and I had a few years ago.

What was the craziest thing you could put after the word “FREE!” as part of a giveaway.

Free kick in the groin!

Free chlamydia!

You get the point.

If you’ve been to enough baseball games — particularly those at the lower levels of professional baseball – you’ve undoubtedly come across some interesting giveaways.

Leaving Tacoma Rainiers games, I was given away free loaves of bread. Limit 4 per customer.

I’ve been handed bobble heads, barbecue sets, baseballs, magnets, lunch boxes, trains, hydroplanes, rally towels, pins, CDs, clappers, ThunderStix, t-shirts, hats, toques, nesting dolls, figurines, snow globes, wobblies, Beanie Babies, banks, pucks, rubber ducks, stuffed animals with a player’s face on them, lunch boxes, baseball equipment bags, trading cards, posters, coins,  and Lord knows how much other stuff that never made it to my shelf.

It really is amazing how much stuff teams give out as “added value” to get you to come to a ballgame.

More amazing is what people will do to get this free stuff…showing up hours before the doors open, buying extra tickets so as to get more giveaways, and literally lugging trash bags full of whatever it is back to their cars. Santa with a Hefty bag.

Without sounding like a stick in the mud traditionalist, what happened to just going to a game? Has it really become that desperate of a situation that teams have to dangle made in China labeled swag to entice the public?

A major league team who shall remain nameless had a radio commercial a while back with a young-sounding mom proclaiming how great the ballpark was. It had a play area, fountain, great mascot, yada yada yada, and then finally she got around to mentioning that they even played baseball there! What a concept!

I understand that there’s a lot of competing interests for the disposable dollar. But aren’t teams just encouraging people to expect more goodies when they come to a game? In some ways it seems like they’re leading to their own implosion (forgive the harshness) when they just can’t deliver value-added goodies without dramatically changing the price of the product. Then what?

So next time you’re drawn to a team barking “Free ____________” in hopes of getting you in the door, ask yourself if you could live without the extra and just be satisfied with the core product. I know I am.

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