Just say no to uniform advertisements

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From the Over My Dead Body Department:

The Houston Texans are reportedly seeking a sponsor to purchase
advertisements on the team’s practice jerseys, the Houston Chronicle
reports. The ad would be on a patch no larger than 3 1/2 by 4 1/2
inches on the left shoulder of the jerseys. To entice potential buyers,
the Texans put team patches on their practice jerseys to show what the
ad would look like.

“It’s a natural evolutionary step in sports marketing,” said Oliver
Luck, president and general manager of the Houston Dynamo. His team
started selling ads on its jerseys in 2007. “It’s probably something
Major League Baseball and perhaps even the NBA will look at,” Luck
said. “It’s a very important piece of the soccer industry . . . Because
soccer is the most popular sport in the world, you have a broad
acceptance from fans around the world that it’s appropriate to put
advertising on soccer jerseys,” he said. “And it’s a small step to go
from a soccer jersey to a football, basketball or baseball jersey.”

I’ve long argued that whenever football comes up with a bright idea,
baseball would do well to look it, understand it, and then do the exact
opposite. This goes doubly true when football gets its ideas from
soccer.

Yes, ads on soccer kits have “broad acceptance” around the world.
Soccer fans also broadly accept ties, loose interpretations of game
time limits, and rampant nationalism as a basis for their rooting
interests. That’s fine. It’s their sport and they can do what they want
with it. But if baseball ever allows soccer-style advertising on
uniforms, I’ll do whatever I can to ensure that such advertisements
serve only as a means of identifying products to be boycotted.

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

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Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.