Not long ago, a couple of guys got together and started printing up shirts with stylized likenesses of Ron Washington on the front, and a Ron Washington quote — “that’s the way baseball go” — on the back. Seems that Major League Baseball doesn’t take kindly to that sort of thing, and they’ve sent a cease and desist letter shutting it down.
This happens a lot. Happened with that Los Doyers thing not too long ago. Happened to Phillies blogger Zoo With Roy recently when he made up shirts with Roy Halladay’s quote about it only getting “funner” from now on. Every other year or so you hear about this sort of thing. And I get it, because that’s the way the law go.
Still, I get a little sad every time some native enthusiasm gets squished by the IP lawyers. Maybe it’s impractical, but I wish the first impulse of baseball in these instances was to strike a deal with the creators of these kinds of products where baseball gets to protect its copyrights and stuff, the creator gets some nominal compensation for his inspiration and the fans get to buy a fun, quirky shirt or bumper sticker or whatever that captures the zeitgeist of the moment.
And really, these things are ephemeral. Ron Washington is going to be fired one day because all managers are fired. The whole “funner” thing with the Phillies probably died the moment Ryan Howard struck out looking. Would anyone really have been harmed if, in the meantime, some people had some fun?