Chicago ad agencies angry at the Cubs for hiring a New York firm

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I’m guessing a baseball team hiring service providers like lawyers, accountants and ad agencies from other cities is pretty common, but I’m drawn to this story anyway. Why? Because I was years behind watching “Mad Men,” and in the last month or so I have been catching up, often by watching two episodes or sometimes even three in one evening.

The things we do when we have tons of free time.

Anyway, I’m up to the beginning of season 4, so I’m gonna be all finished and ready when the new season starts in March.  And I’m totally ready to tear into this little bit of Chicago Cubs business gossip:

In the eyes of a lot of local ad executives, the Chicago Cubs have just struck out.  Big time.

The team lost a big chunk of potential fans from Chicago’s advertising industry in recent days when the Cubs rather quietly announced it had retained a New York-based ad agency, quaintly-named The Brooklyn Brothers, to orchestrate its newest ad campaign with the theme line “Baseball Is Better.”

Cut to Don Draper’s office. Don, having just heard some bad news about his wife/mistress/person from his weird past/Roger/Someone, sits back in his chair with an impatient, annoyed look on his face as the creative team pitches him ideas.

Paul Kinsey:  It’s simple. A picture of a player hitting a baseball and the slogan “Baseball is Better.”

Don Draper [pauses, takes a drag from his Lucky Strike]: “Baseball is Better?”  Better than what? You’re asking me to compare Chicago Cubs baseball to all sorts of things to do in Chicago. I hate to say it, but those other things are going to sound better to me now that I think about them.”

Paul [looks down, sullen, defeated]

Peggy Olson [quickly, hopeful]:  Not better than, better when. “Better when the ball hits Waveland Avenune.”  “Better when it’s played in front of ivy-covered walls.”

Don [takes a gulp of Canadian Club]: Too desperate. Baseball is better. It’s always better and always will be. By merely introducing these thoughts we’re suggesting that it’s an argument baseball has to make rather than have it be assumed. Get back at it. Try harder. I can’t do all of this myself.

Don leaves to have a meaningless tryst with a woman far more interesting than his wife Betty.

Alex Bregman shows how easy it is to manufacture “controversy” in baseball

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In most sports it takes legitimate trash talk to create off-day “controversy.” In baseball, it takes the weakest sauce. We saw how weak that sauce was yesterday.

Alex Bregman and the Houston Astros are going to face off against Nate Eovaldi and the Boston Red Sox in Game 3 of the ALCS tonight. It’s worth noting that earlier this season, they hit back-to-back-to-back home runs off of Eovaldi when he was pitching for the Tampa Bay Rays.

Yesterday, in an act which was likely somewhat inspired by self-motivation, somewhat inspired by getting in Eovaldi’s head and somewhat inspired by a simple interest in having fun, Bregman took the video of those back-to-back-to-back homers off of Eovaldi and posted it to his Instagram:

Of course, since this is baseball, where even farting off-key can be construed as “showing up” the opposition or somehow disrespecting the game, it became a thing. Or at least people tried to make it become a thing.

Indeed, it took them a bit to find someone who would help them make it a thing, because Eovaldi himself didn’t care about it a bit, nor did Astros manager A.J. Hinch or Red Sox manager Alex Cora. Eventually, however, they hit pay dirt. Here’s Sox infielder Steve Pearce talking to WEEI.com:

“Wow. I don’t know why he would do that. We do our talking on the field. If he wants to run his mouth now we’ll see who is talking at the end of the series.”

My guess is that almost no one on the planet, Steve Pearce included, would care about this in a vacuum or if they allowed themselves to think through it for more than a second. Baseball culture, though — and let’s be clear about it, baseball media culture — has conditioned most of its players and participants to think that stuff like this is supposed to be controversial, so it actually takes effort not to start dancing to this kind of tune on auto-pilot.

Kudos to Hinch, Cora and Eolvaldi for exerting that effort and not dancing to it. To the press that automatically sought out comment on this and Pearce who dutifully gave it: hey, I get it. It’s hard to resist one’s conditioning. Maybe you’ll be able to resist it next time.