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Drop-in ads during radio broadcasts aren’t a new thing. And I kinda like them.

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Just read a column by Bob Greene over at CNN.com which itself launches off Richard Sandomir’s article from last week about “drop-in” ads during radio broadcasts of baseball games. Those are the little plugs you hear meshed into the game action such as “with that RBI double the Orioles have scored the First Financial First Run of the Game” or “and now here’s Terry Collins with the Samsung Galaxy call to the bullpen.” There are a gabillion of those. Mostly radio, but increasingly on TV too.

Sandomir’s article counts them and notes that their use is expanding. Greene neither approves nor condemns, using them as a larger point about how we’re living in a commercialized world so this sort of thing is inevitable. They’re both right about the points they make. There isn’t mention of the fact, however, that while drop-ins are ubiquitous, they aren’t new or really different than that which we heard even in the alleged Golden Age of Baseball.

Mel Allen used to do drop-in ads for Yankees sponsor Ballantine Beer, coining the term “Ballantine Blast.” As in “Mantle drives one to right … it’s gone! There goes another Ballantine Blast! How about that!”  At other times the Yankees were sponsored by Getty Oil. The announcers would refer to homers as “Getty Goners.” Obviously that didn’t happen 60 times a game but it did happen during what were often the game’s highlights. What we’re seeing now is a difference in degree, not a difference in kind.

And to be honest: I sorta don’t hate the drop-ins. I actually kind of like them on some narrow level in that it reminds you that you’re listening to a local broadcast. National games and even a lot of local TV games have gotten so slick with standardized national commercials and advertisers. Bud and Pepsi and big movies and everything else are all over the place. But if you listen to a radio broadcast you hear ads for muffler shops and local restaurant chains and other weird things unique to an area (and in my case foreign to me as I listen to a lot of out-of-town radio broadcasts).

I like hearing those ads for the same reason I like driving on older highways instead of interstates: it’s a small part of America that, for now anyway, is resisting the standardization that is so prevalent. It’s not “pure” or fantastic or anything — it’s still just an ad, or a motel or diner or what have you — but there was a time when you could travel in this country either literally or virtually and be exposed to weird stuff you don’t see in your town. The digital age and national advertising initiatives are helping erase that weird stuff the same way the interstate highway system has erased the apparent differences in communities. And that’s kind of a bummer.

So let’s hear it for weird brands of local sodas — if there are any left — sponsoring a stolen base. Or some local insurance agent with a surname that is common in Minneapolis but weird elsewhere sponsoring that collision on the basepaths. They’re not as good as some old highway through that forgotten town, but they’re the closest things we have to that in baseball.

Oh, and for no reason:

Rick Ankiel drank vodka before a start to deal with the yips

9 Apr 2000: Rick Ankiel #66 of the St. Louis Cardinals winds back to pitch the ball during the game against the Milwaukee Brweers at the Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. The Cardinals defeated the Brewers 11-2. Mandatory Credit: Elsa Hasch  /Allsport
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The story of Rick Ankiel is well known by now. He was a phenom pitcher who burst onto the scene with the Cardinals in 1999 and into the 2000 season as one of the top young talents in the game. Then, in the 2000 playoffs, he melted down. He got the yips. Whatever you want to call it, he lost the ability to throw strikes and his pitching career was soon over. He came back, however, against all odds, and remade his career as a solid outfielder.

It’s inspirational and incredible. But there is a lot more to the story that we’ve ever known. We will soon, however, as Ankiel is coming out with a book. Today he took to the airwaves and shared some about it. Including some amazing stuff:

On drinking in his first start after the famous meltdown in Game One of the 2000 National League division series against the Braves:

“Before that game…I’m scared to death. I know I have no chance. Feeling the pressure of all that, right before the game I get a bottle of vodka. I just started drinking vodka. Low and behold, it kind of tamed the monster, and I was able to do what I wanted. I’m sitting on the bench feeling crazy I have to drink vodka to pitch through this. It worked for that game. (I had never drank before a game before). It was one of those things like the yipps, the monster, the disease…it didn’t fight fair so I felt like I wasn’t going to fight fair either.”

Imagine spending your whole life getting to the pinnacle of your career. Then imagine it immediately disintegrating. And then imagine having to go out and do it again in front of millions. It’s almost impossible for anyone to contemplate and, as such, it’s hard to judge almost anything Ankiel did in response to that when he was 21 years-old. That Ankiel got through that and made a career for himself is absolutely amazing. It’s a testament to his drive and determination.

 

Justin Turner talks “Easy D”

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22:  Justin Turner #10 of the Los Angeles Dodgers warms up prior to game six of the National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on October 22, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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A couple of weeks ago our president wrote one of his more . . . vexing tweets. He was talking about immigration when he whipped out the phrase . . . “Easy D”:

No one was quite sure what he meant by Easy D. Was it the older brother of N.W.A.’s founder? The third sequel to that Emma Stone movie from a few years back? So many questions!

Baseball Twitter had fun with it, though, with a lot of people wondering how they could work it in casually to their commentary:

It wasn’t a scout who did it, but twelve days after that, a player obliged Mr. McCullough:

I have no more idea what Turner was talking about with that than Trump was. We’ll have to wait for the full story in the L.A. Times. But I am going to assume Turner was doing McCullough a solid with that one rather than commenting on the president’s tweet. Either way, I’m glad he made the effort.

And before you ask: yes, it’s a slow news day.